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Vannetta ChapmanVannetta Chapman holds a BA and MA degree in English and has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving over two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups.  She published an Amish novel with Abingdon Press called A Simple Amish Christmas.  She currently teaches in the Texas hill country, where she lives with her husband. 

Favorite Verse: Jeremiah 29:11. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord. "Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future."


 

 Our Interview with Vannetta Chapman


 

Please tell us a bit about yourself and how you became a published author.


I started writing articles for Christian magazines as a freelance writer twelve years ago when I finished my graduate degree in English at the ripe old age of thirty-six.  After publishing over 100 pieces with Christian family magazines, I decided to write a novel. A Simple Amish Christmas (Abingdon, 2010) was actually the 9th novel I'd completed--and yes, I still hope to sell novels 1-8.

What intrigued you to write Amish fiction?
 
Actually my agent suggested that I write an Amish story, and at first I said no. There were already so many good writers in this genre--including my close friends Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman and Mary Ellis. My agent is persuasive though, so I did an excel chart of all the Amish stories currently on the market. I incorporated their titles, characters, and story blurbs--then I tried to come up with something different. It was easy enough to see what had been successful, and what the appeal of the genre was. I wanted to enter that conversation, but bring something a bit different to it. While researching, I also learned that my grandfather's family was from Albion, PA--so there might be Amish ancestors in my background!

What made you decide to write an Amish mystery series?

That bit of genius was my editor's idea, Sue Brower. I had sent an Amish romance proposal. She loved the writing, but called and said she had a different idea. Would I be interested? I have always loved romantic suspense, both in books and movies, so this seemed like a perfect fit and also like a path God had set for me. Not only was I able to write what I love, but I was also able to explore an entirely new area--Amish in Indiana.

What was the inspiration for Falling to Pieces?
 
So many different bits of inspiration go into a book for me. You'll notice on the cover is a quilt shop--Daisy's Quilt Shop. It's named after my Aunt Daisy. The book is dedicated to my mother who is a skilled seamstress. She first taught me to sew, though I'm just learning to quilt. Deborah is the main Amish character, and her mother is very much patterned after my mother. Probably the main inspiration for this story is the desire for friendship. I see so many people who are isolated by technology, who long to have someone they're close to, like when we were children and had best friends. That's what inspired me to write about the relationship between Deborah and Callie.

How much research went into this story?

A lot! I needed to learn about Shipshewana and the Amish customs in that area, which are quite different from my previous book set in Pennsylvania. I also had all that murder research to do. It does make for very interesting dinner conversation though.

How much of this story is based on fact?

Not the murder, OF COURSE. I adore digging in and finding information on all the details of a story. So, for instance, one of the Amish children in the story suffers from nemaline myopathy, an inherited muscular disorder. Aaron became one of my favorite characters probably because I learned so much about this disease. I also enjoyed researching Labrador retrievers and Agatha Christie--both played big roles in the story.
 
Have you been to Shipshewana? If so, for how long; what area? How did the trip inspire the story?

Oh, yes! My husband and I visited for a week in the summer of 2010, and it changed my story in a lot of ways. People are just different in person than they are on the internet. When you sit down and have dinner with an Amish family, when you walk their farm, listen as they describe their cattle operation, when you walk down the aisles of their flower gardens . . . it not only changes your research and your story, it also changes you.
 
Do you have a favorite character in Falling to Pieces? Why?

Would I be cheating if I said Max, the dog? Ha ha ha. Seriously though, there are many characters in this story that I adore. Deborah is a favorite because I want to be like her--she's calm, logical, and knows how to cook. She's not perfect, but she has her act together most days. She's also a good friend. Callie, on the other hand, is a mess! Somehow that makes her endearing. She has a long way to go, but it's hard to hold that against her.
 
What was the most interesting fact that you learned while researching and writing Falling to Pieces?

I have to pick one? Okay, I did preliminary research and started writing in January of 2010, but apparently I didn't do enough. A quarter way through the story, I needed more information about the police department. While on their site, I learned that Shipshewana is a town of approximately 600 people (I knew that), but they swell to 35,000 on market days. WHAT? (I did not know that.) Talk about changing my plot.

Do you have a critique partner?

I don't currently. I did have a critique group when I lived in the Dallas area, but now I live in the country (small town--almost as small as Shipshewana!). While I could have an on-line critique partner, I'm writing a book every 3-6 months, and I don't want to burden someone with that many pages. I do have several friends who will look at pages when I'm stuck, and I do the same for them. I also have three other friends who are READERS--these gals are so important to me. They read everything I write before I send it to my editor. They're not writers, but they read a lot, and they're very honest with me.

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?

My biggest challenge lately has been my right arm--it's sore from typing so much. I've tried the speech-to-text software, but I'm not very patient with the learning curve. I've also learned to mouse left-handed. And yes, I've gone ergonomic. So there are things I can do to help, and I realize that taking care of my body is important. I've seen the doctor and he tells me to stay off the computer a few days a week. Ha ha ha. He's a funny man. I think I need to learn to use my time at the computer more efficiently.

What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

I love writing. I taught for 15 years at the high school and collegiate level, and I loved teaching writing and literature. I dig words! Having the opportunity to do this full time is a real blessing. Putting words of encouragement on the page, hearing from readers, answering someone's questions--it's all a real joy.

What clubs or organizations are you involved with helping with your writing?

ACFW, FHL, and RWA, and they have all been very encouraging.

Are there any other new projects on the horizon?

Yes! Falling to Pieces is the first in a 3 book series. Book 2, A Perfect Square will be out in March, and it's a fabulous story. I also have a three book Amish romance series with Harvest House which will begin releasing in June of 2012. It's set in the Wisconsin area. Book 1 is entitled Plain School at Pebble Creek.
 
What message would you like your readers to take from Falling to Pieces?

Grace--God's grace, freely given and freely received. That might sound like a funny theme for a murder mystery, but it's really not. Callie arrives in Shipshewana lost and alone, but the story doesn't end that way. I think it's because she lands amongst a people of grace, and she learns to accept that for what it is--an offering from God. She lets it heal her. I think we all have that opportunity, where ever we are.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'd love to hear from readers. They can find me through my webpage (www.VannettaChapman.com) or on facebook (Vannetta Chapman, author). Also I post to my blog 3 times a week (vannettachapman.wordpress.com).

 


 

 Don't Miss!

A Perfect Square, Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series #2 -eBook

A Perfect Square, Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series #2 -eBook
Vannetta Chapman
CBD Price: $7.10

Falling to Pieces: A Quilt Shop Murder - eBook

Falling to Pieces: A Quilt Shop Murder - eBook
Vannetta Chapman
CBD Price: $7.99

A Simple Amish Christmas
A Simple Amish Christmas
Vannetta Chapman
CBD Price: $9.99


 
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