How did you come up with the relationship between Amos and Linda?
JAB: Because the novella is part of my Amish Hearts series, I knew one of the Stoltzfus brothers would be the hero. It seemed like it was the turn for Amos, the brother who owns the general/grocery store at the Stoltzfus Family Shops in my imaginary Lancaster County town of Paradise Springs. Because readers wouldn't know a lot about him at the beginning because he's not been front and center in the previous titles, I decided to give him a heroine who knew nothing about herself. I hoped the readers would find it interesting to learn about the two of them together. As I'd suffered from a short-term memory loss (after an accident) thirty years ago, it seemed like a "natural" fit for Linda to go through some of what I went through.
What is your favorite part about writing holiday books?
JAB: It gives me a chance to celebrate the holiday twice in one year. While working on the novella, I had Christmas music on and simply enjoyed letting Christmas go from the "twelve days of" to an extra couple of months.
Do you have a signature Thanksgiving dish?
JAB: I do. I make what we call graham cracker pie. My grandmother made it every year for Thanksgiving, and I now do the same. It's simple -- graham cracker crust, vanilla pudding filling and meringue topping, but everyone in the family considers it an absolute necessity for the end of the meal.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JAB: I always spun stories for my younger sisters, but I finally put pen to paper when I was around 12. I was supposed to be doing a history assignment about the trans-Atlantic emigration, and, all of the sudden, the story of a 12-year-old girl making that journey filled my head. I wrote my first novel in high school and have since buried it at the back of my file cabinet.
How long does it take you to write a book?
JAB: It depends on the book and how the characters and story cooperate with me. Usually I can write the first draft in around 4 weeks. Then it needs to sit while I get disconnected with the story and start something else so I can come back for the final draft with fresh eyes.
Where do you get your inspiration for the Stoltzfus Family Shops?
JAB: The Amish are close-knit, and they drive buggies and make other decisions in the hopes of being able to spend more time together. So I thought: If all these brothers needed to make a living off the family farm, how would they keep that family closeness and still have learned skills to provide for themselves and family? Having them all working nearby allows the brothers to pop in and out of each other's stories.
How many books have you written? Do you have a favorite?
JAB: Over 110 books. My favorite is always the one I'm going to write next because I'm excited about spending time with the characters and to see how the story unfolds.
What book are you reading right now?
JAB: I'm reading science fiction at the moment -- just started Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Power Play. I never can read what I'm currently writing.
What are your current projects?
JAB: I'm currently writing the 6th book in the Amish Hearts series. It's the story of Micah (the next to last brother in the family) and the girl who broke his heart, but now needs his help.
What advice do you have for writers?
JAB: Read, read, read and write, write, write. Repeat. Also don't think that every word you've written is golden. Any project can be made better through hard work and good editing.