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.