Courting Cate, Courtships of Lancaster County Series #1Courting Cate, Courtships of Lancaster County Series #1
Leslie Gould
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When Amish farmer Pete Treger moves to Paradise Township, Pennsylvania, he meets Cate and Betsy Miller. Both are beautiful, but older sister Cate is known more for her sharp tongue and fiery temper than her striking appearance. Betsy, on the other hand, is sweet and flirty,and seems to have attracted most of the bachelors in Lancaster County!

However, the sisters' father has made one rule: elder sister must marry first, before the younger can even start courting. Though he finds both sisters attractive, something about Cate's feisty demeanor appeals to him. Soon the other bachelors in the district convince Pete to court Cate. She hardly seems receptive to his overtures, though. Instead, she's immediately suspicious of his interest.

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 Leslie Gould

Leslie Gould is the coauthor, with Mindy Starns Clark, of the #1 bestselling The Amish Midwife and The Amish Nanny. She is also the author of numerous novels, including Garden of Dreams, Beyond the Blue (winner of the Romantic Times Reviewers' Choice for Best Inspirational Novel, 2006), and Scrap Everything. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Portland State University and has taught fiction writing at Multnomah University as an adjunct professor. She resides with her husband and four children in Portland, Oregon.

Favorite Bible verse: Jeremiah 29:11, NIV  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 Leslie Gould


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

I’ve worked as a museum curator, bridal magazine editor, and adjunct professor but currently devote all my professional time to writing fiction. Yay! It really is a dream come true, not that I didn’t enjoy my other jobs. This is just extra special. As far as education, I have a B.S. in history and communications and an M.F.A. in creative writing.

I live in Oregon with my husband and our four children. We love to travel, watch soccer, and enjoy the beauty of our state, from the beach to the Cascade Mountains to the high desert. I also love to read (of course!) attend plays (including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and watch movies. We belong to a wonderful church and fellowship group, and my husband and I offer “old life” support to our local Young Life club.

What is your favorite Bible verse?  (Translation too, please) Why?

“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.” Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

I realize it’s one of those oft-quoted verses, but I first came across it as a freshman in college in the middle of a night when I was panicking about my future. I randomly opened my Bible and pointed my finger, and it landed on that verse, honest! It brought me great comfort then, and it still does, including in the middle of the night when I still sometimes panic, now about my young adult children and deadlines.

What was your inspiration to write Courting Cate?

When I was in graduate school, my Shakespeare professor assigned retelling of plays in short story form. I loved those projects! When I started researching the Amish, it dawned on me that the settings and characters lent themselves to Shakespearean stories. Thankfully Bethany House Publishers agreed.

My character Cate, inspired by Katherina in “The Taming of the Shrew,” came to me quickly with a strong voice and super fun personality. Telling the story from her point of view adds new twists to a classic story.
The Amish inspiration came from the many books on Plain youth that I’ve read and the Amish families I’ve had the chance to meet and interact with.

Is there an Amish community in Oregon? 

The last Amish community in Oregon dissolved in the 1930s. However, there is a large Mennonite community here. All of my children attended a Mennonite preschool/kindergarten, and I love to visit the church the school is affiliated with. I’ve met people from all sorts of Anabaptists backgrounds there, including ex-Amish.


Which Amish communities are you most closely associated with?

I have Anabaptist contacts in both Pennsylvania and Indiana, including Amish and Mennonites that I correspond with who have been very generous with me as far as information and insights.
How much research did Courting Cate take?
I’m constantly reading about the Amish, both non-fiction and fiction. For this novel I focused, in particular, on courting practices, weddings, and the business practices of the Amish in Lancaster County, along with sending off specific questions I couldn’t find the answers to on my own to my contacts. I subscribe to “The Budget” and to “The Connection,” both Amish publications, which also give me more information into the daily lives of Plain families.
I also watched multiple performances of “The Taming of the Shrew” and retellings, including “Ten Things I Hate About You,” plus I reread the play several times, along with a modern translation, and commentaries on Shakespearean symbolism. 

What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing Courting Cate?

A typical Amish wedding can have 300 to 500 guests and both a noon meal and an evening meal are served. Not surprisingly family and friends pitch in to pull it all off!

What was the most difficult aspect of writing this story?

Turning a Shakespearean farce into an Amish romance, but once I figured out Cate’s motivation—what it would take to convince her to marry a man she didn’t love—it all came together. Writing Courting Cate was a ton of fun.
What other new writing projects do you have on the horizon?

I’m currently working on a retelling of “Romeo and Juliet,” the second in The Courtships of Lancaster County series. It’s titled Adoring Addie. Besides drawing on Shakespeare’s play, I’m also relying on an earlier telling of the classic story for a certain plot point. 

What message would you like your readers to take from reading Courting Cate?
I anchored the story on the Bible verse, “My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” II Corinthians 12:9, KJV

And on three lines from Shakespeare:

But now I see our lances are but straws,
Our strength as weak, our weakness past compare,
That seeming to be most which we least are.

“Taming of the Shrew,” V.11.173-75

The takeaway is that often what we consider a strength, something we often capitalize on to protect ourselves, turns out to actually be a weakness. Not surprisingly though, God uses that very weakness to show His power.

I also want readers to think about those they love—and then love them even more. My Army Reserve husband was commanding a field hospital in Afghanistan the entire time I wrote this story. He’s always been my first reader, and he was on this one too. I would email him chunks of the manuscript at a time to read amongst all the stress and danger of his work. I missed him immensely and poured my love for him into this novel.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Please visit my website for more information on my novels and writing process!



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