How did you come up with the relationship between Anna and Benjamin?
When I started thinking about writing this story, I began with Anna as the young midwife who was dedicated to her calling but still struggling for acceptance. I liked the character, with all her vulnerability, but I needed to find a hero who would complement her. So I began considering a man who had left the Amish to explore the outside world. They are both daring, in a way, but while Anna finds strength and satisfaction in her faith, Benjamin has looked for satisfaction in the outside world, only to find that what he really wants is home. The idea that the two of them had a past relationship which no one else knew about jumped into being when I started putting them on the page—one of those delightful things that surprise the author!
What is your favorite part about writing holiday books?
I’m a traditionalist, so I like to celebrate each holiday in the same way every year. Christmas brings back lovely memories of Christmases past—being a child on Christmas morning, seeing my own children with their eyes shining, and now enjoying my grandchildren’s awe and wonder. When I write a holiday book I get to experience it all over again through my characters.
Do you have a signature Thanksgiving dish?
The dish I consider my specialty for Thanksgiving is my pecan-crusted sweet potato casserole. For some reason, sweet potato casseroles come in long after the turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy in the Thanksgiving popularity pool, but I love the sweetness of the potatoes contrasted with the crunchy brown sugar pecan topping. If no one else wanted it, I’d eat it all myself!
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
When I was about eight, we moved to a community that had a wonderful library. My mother soon realized that she had a bookworm on her hands, and we spend many happy hours there enjoying stories together. But it was when I picked up my first Nancy Drew mystery that the longing struck. Most little girls read the books and want to be Nancy. I read that first one and wanted to be the person who created her. While I’ve never written a Nancy Drew mystery, I still owe her a great deal.
How long does it take you to write a book?
I think about the idea for a book for a long time before I’m actually ready to start writing, but I guess I can’t count that time! As for the actual writing, I allow myself three months for a shorter novel, like a Love Inspired, and four-five months for a longer book, like the romantic suspense novels I write for HQN Books.
Where do you get your inspiration for Lost Creek’s Amish community?
When I write about the Amish, I always write about Pennsylvania Amish, because that’s what I know. In recent years, more Amish families have been moving into our area of north central Pennsylvania and even farther north. So it was an easy choice for me to set my fictional Lost Creek in a valley very like the one in which I live. If I want to know what the scenery looks like, I just glance out the window.
How many books have you written?
I’ve had over sixty books published, as well as writing a few that never saw the light of day! Do you have a favorite? It’s very hard to pick a favorite, since that’s like choosing among my children. I think my favorite book is actually always the one I’m going to write next!
What book are you reading right now?
Right now I’m reading “The Friendly Air,” a romance by Elizabeth Cadell that was written some years ago. I recently discovered that those older books are seeing new life as e-books, and it’s delightful to re-discover books I once loved.
What are your current projects?
I’m writing a Lost Creek book for Love Inspired, tentatively called, “His Last Love,” as well as doing revisions on my forthcoming Amish romantic suspense, “Echo of Danger,” which will be out from HQN Books in May.
What advice do you have for writers?
Read what you want to write, but also read much more widely, especially non-fiction. You never know when two seemingly unrelated topics will come together in your imagination to create a book, and it will be something that isn’t exactly like everything else the editor has seen.