Please tell us a bit about yourself.
Lori Copeland pens stories to make you laugh and cry. Doses of real life written in fictional form have kept her on the bestseller lists for 28 years. Virginia Smith is the author of twenty inspirational novels, an illustrated children’s book, and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with ecclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Together, we write stories that touch the hearts of readers and bring a smile to their faces.
How did you come up with the concept for the Amish of Apple Grove Series?
Neither of us had aspirations to write Amish fiction, even though in recent years there has been a huge demand for those stories. Our publisher, Harvest House, proposed the idea of an Amish-meets-the-Wild-West series, and we were intrigued. Typical Amish stories appeal to readers because they portray a non-technological society set amid the hustle-and-bustle of today’s society. But in the 1880’s, nobody had electricity. Nobody had television or telephones. Everybody wore long dresses. So what set the Amish apart back then? The more we thought about it, the more we realized our books would be different from typical Amish fiction, and we were excited about the challenge.
How did you decide to collaborate on this project?
We’d written together previously, and had a lot of fun. We feel like our writing skills complement each other’s, so we were eager to work on another book together. Lori has published dozens of historical novels so she already knew a lot about the 1880’s. Virginia’s brother-in-law was raised Amish, and still lives in Holmes County, Ohio, the largest Amish settlement in the world, so she had access to experts for any questions about the lifestyle, beliefs, and society that arose. Working together on this project seemed like a good fit for our individual skills and knowledge.
How did you decide who would write what? How did you communicate during the process of writing and editing?
We approached the three books in the Amish of Apple Grove series the same way we’ve worked together in the past. We got together and spent a few days planning each story. The process involves pacing, and brainstorming, and Internet research, and lots of laughter. Once we have a high-level idea what the story is about, Virginia does the actual writing. We stay in touch through many phone calls and Skype sessions. When Virginia completes the first draft she sends it to Lori, who puts her personal touch on it. Then the manuscript goes back to Virginia for one final read-through before we send it to our editor.
Is any part of Amish of Apple Grove Series true?
Absolutely! That’s the fun part of writing stories with historical settings – we can mix fact with our fiction. The Heart’s Frontier, book one, is set on a cattle drive on the Chisholm Trail, and we used a lot of real details to give the story a sense of realism. A Plain and Simple Heart takes place four years later in Lawrence, Kansas at a time when the women’s temperance movement was gaining strength. The heroine, a seventeen-year-old Amish girl, gets swept into the fervor of the cause. We had a lot of fun having her interact with real historical people such as Annie LePort Diggs and even Carrie Nation. The third book, A Cowboy at Heart (to be released in spring 2013) has the Amish of Apple Grove caught up in another real historical event of the American West, land grabbing by ruthless cattle barons.
Did you include any of your life experiences in the Amish of Apple Grove Series?