Beverly Lewis is the author of The Postcard and The Heritage of Lancaster County series for adults. She has also written many children's books including The Cul-de-Sac Kids series and Holly's Heart series. Christianbook.com caught up with her recently to talk with her about her work.

How did you get started writing?
I started writing when I was a little girl. I think a lot of writers probably do. I was in fourth grade and I believe that was when I wrote my most ambitious work as a child. It was something like 66 pages on yellow lined paper, on both sides, in pencil. I still have it. It's gotten a little smooshed over the years. It was kind of based on my life. It's a semi-autobiographical story about a young minister's daughter who loved music and wanted to do something with her music. Her parents couldn't afford to have her continue lessons, which was kind of what was happening to me at the time. Also, I decided that I liked to write poetry, and I was taking piano and trying to do lyrics and write songs and things like that. So, even back then, I knew that there was some kind of writing aspiration in me.

You write a lot about the Amish. Why did you choose to use them as a focal point in your books?
I grew up in Lancaster County, and my mother's mother was a horse-and-buggy Mennonite, which is just a step away from Amish. Because so many of my mother's people were Plain, and also growing up in the community—seeing Old Order Mennonite kids in school, seeing the Amish farm right across from our property—I was just very, very intrigued and curious, as a young girl even, by the fact that they could continue to function. It seemed that they were locked in the 1800s, and I just thought that it was very interesting. I wanted to know why they did what they did. I thought that someday I would find out why, because there are so many myths and so many things that are circulated that really aren't true at all. When I got to be older, I started really paying much more attention to their faith, their culture, and their lifestyle.  It's all wrapped up together. So I set out to get to the bottom of some of the questions that I'd had all my life.

So the books came out of that?
Right. Out of my intense interest and my ancestral tree. Although I don't think I can go back far enough to really link it to Amish, but certainly from the outgrowth of the Swiss descendants. There are many Plain People on my mother's side.

Your Heritage of Lancaster County and The Postcard books have been incredibly popular. Are you surprised at the impact they have had?
Well, I continue to be amazed. I think the thing that really touches me is that I get so much mail from people who feel that they know me from having read my books. They feel that they can share intimately with me in a letter. A lot of them say that they felt that my writing was a very intimate approach to things, and many have said that it felt like they were reading something from a best friend; not just a story, but someone who had opened up their heart. I thought, "Wow!" That's really what it's all about, being able to touch people and minister to where their needs are. I never really set out to be a minister or a pastor or preacher. That was my dad's thing. But it is very surprising to me how many people say that their lives have been changed by my books. It just brings tears to my eyes. It's wonderful, and I just want to lift that up to the Lord.

You write fiction for adults as well as children. Do you prefer to write for one age group over the other?
I believe that I was called to write for children. I never was really interested in writing for adults. I thought it was much more of a challenge to write for young people, so I set my goal for that, and for many, many years I have written for every age within that group, including the picture-book age group. 

I know The Crossroad is coming out shortly. It is the sequel to The Postcard. Do you plan to do any more books in that series?
I believe it will be a 2-book set. It came to me that way and I think I will probably stick by it. The Heritage series came very strong in three books, while this story came in two. I don't think there will be one loose end for readers to plead with me for more, although I don't know.

How do you come up with ideas for your books?
I could tell you how things come to me sometimes. It sounds very ethereal. I am a very sensitive person, though I'm not any more spiritual. I wouldn't want to say that I was more in tune with the Lord than anyone else, but late at night the Lord will drop ideas into my mind. I jot them down, and they usually grow very slowly inside of me. By the time it's time to write the story, it's pretty much been simmering for a while already. I wouldn't want to liken myself to Mozart, but maybe I could use an analogy of the way he wrote music. He had thought it out already in his head. He could hear the music already, and so when he wrote it out, it was perfect. It's not perfect when I write, however. I revise a lot and rework. I would say that the Lord gives me ideas. My husband and I toss ideas around a lot. He's very well-read. And I guess when we visit in Pennsylvania, I get all kinds of ideas again.

Do you think that you will do any other adult fiction based elsewhere?
Possibly. I think I have to write about what I'm passionate about and not what the market demands. Otherwise, I don't think it's going to be any fun if I just write what my readers want me to keep writing, although I want to give them the kinds of stories that they are used to getting from me; with the same intimacy, the same connection, hopefully. I'm open to writing whatever I would get from the Lord.

What would you like to accomplish through your writing?
I believe that I would like, as best as I can, to raise the standard of quality fiction on behalf of the Christian market. It's a small market. I believe that we, as Christian writers and Christian publishers, have always sort of looked to the ABA to see what they are doing and then kind of try and mimic it. I think we should be the leaders and be out there. We are the Lord's and we should be setting the standard. I don't know if that will ever happen, but I'm attempting to do what I can to do my part. That is something that has been heavy on my heart for a long time. I strive to offer a wholesome read that even a very conservative Christian would feel comfortable with. I don't want to sensationalize or shock. I just kind of write from my heart, hoping to raise the level of fiction.

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