Please tell us a bit about yourself.
I grew up close to an Amish community where I loved their peaceful lifestyle and strong sense of Christian community. I now live by the largest population of Amish in the country where I take weekend trips for research. I enjoy reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, I taught Middle School and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three in the Miller Family series made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards and received the Award of Merit for the Holt Medallion. My current release is An Amish Family Reunion.
How did you come up with the concept for An Amish Family Reunion?
Many of my friends are suffering from the “empty nest” syndrome and are eager for their children and grandchildren to come home and spend time. I especially loved revisiting my characters from the Miller Family series to see how their lives changed over the years. Julia needs to feel useful in life—a common trait she shares with non-Amish women as well.
How much research did An Amish Family Reunion take?
I almost always visit the areas where I set part or all of a book. An Amish Family Reunion was no exception. The story allowed me to spend time in Niagara Falls, where my heroine travels on a rumschpringe trip. What fun to have her fall in love at my husband’s and my favorite vacation destination!
What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing An Amish Family Reunion? Why?
While researching my romantic main plot, I met an Old Order Amish young man of nineteen who earns income as an artist in Holmes County, where my story is set. What fun to invent a story about an artist and a storyteller joining forces to write a children’s book, and then meet young Elmer in real life. One of his drawings is in the back of my book.
Do you have a favorite character An Amish Family Reunion? Why?
Of course, it would by my Phoebe Miller. Readers may remember her from A Widow’s Hope as the six-year-old daughter of Seth Miller. She had suffered paralyzing grief over the loss of her mother. Now she’s all grown up, has a wonderful relationship with her “new” mom, Hannah, and is ready for romance and a new career.
How involved are you in the Amish community?
As involved as I can be as an Englischer. I have made friends who regularly answer my questions, provide me with recipes and Deutsch translations, and also plant the “seeds” for future stories. I spend as much time as I can in Ohio’s Amish Country—the prettiest four-county area of our entire state.