What was the most interesting fact that you learned while writing Leah’s Choice?
Probably the details about life in an Amish school were the most fascinating to me. I knew, generally, something about the curriculum and the Amish philosophy of education, but I was surprised to find how involved parents and indeed, the whole community, are in the school...doing the painting and upkeep, helping with various projects, finding ways to raise money to provide what the schools need. It really is a community effort.
How many books will be in the Pleasant Valley Series?
Three books in the series are complete. Rachel’s Garden will be out in March and, as I mentioned, Anna’s Return will be out in June. I’ve recently contracted with Berkley on three more books in the series, which will be out in 2011 and 2012.
What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
I’m finding that the balancing act between doing the actual writing and doing all of the other things involved in publishing is a challenge. For instance, I respond to every letter I receive, and right now the stack of letters on the table next to my chair is getting very high! I think that organizing the work so that I can do the actual writing first is crucial to having a career as an author.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?
I love the moment at which it’s time to start working on a new book, as the characters begin to come alive in my mind and I can hear their voices in my head. Only writers can really be happy about the voices in our heads!
What is your writing style? (Do you outline? Write “by-the-seat-of-your-pants? Or somewhere in-between?)
I tend to be a pretty organized person, and I have a process that seems to work well for me, although I’d be the first to say that it’s not for everyone. I have a spiral notebook for each book, and I begin by writing down everything I know about that initial story idea. As I jot down notes, one thing always leads to another, and before I know it, I’ve worked out the characters’ story arcs, the setting, and I’ve begun to sketch out the plot. Then I begin writing a lengthy story outline. When I start hearing the characters’ voices and seeing the opening scene in my mind, I know it’s time to start the actual writing. I tend to write a first draft as quickly as possible, then going back to rewrite and polish.