This is the first time I've featured an Amish Christmas novella collection. I'm going to put the author pictures up in the order they are answering the questions. Welcome, Kathy, Barbara, and Beth. How did your story for the collection come about?
Kathy: I’ve always been interested in “beauty and the beast” type stories, especially in the reverse. I thought it would be particularly interesting to explore that through the Amish—people who value plainness in appearance. I also wanted to write about pride vs. humility, (hochmut and demut). The Amish strive for humility, which was a hard lesson for the hero to learn.
Barbara: Every writer can probably tell you that a story just “came” to them. I truly felt One Child was a gift from God. When I sat down to write it, it was like unwrapping that gift and getting it on the page. I do love stories about cultures colliding and that’s what happens when an Englisch man shows up on the doorstep of an Amish couple’s home at Christmastime.
Beth: I’m afraid I’ll have to say the story just “came” to me. I believe all my stories are inspired by God. He lets me know when it’s working and when it’s not.
What are you reading right now?
Kathy: Love Finds You in Revenge, Ohio, by Lisa Harris. It’s really good!
Barbara: I just finished revisions and have experienced a temporary eye problem so reading has been sidelined (don’t tell the eye doctor that I’m on the computer!) But Debby Mayne gave me a copy of her If the Dress Fits when I met her at a local Romance Writers of America meeting last month so that’ll be next.
Beth: I just finished A Man of His Word by our own Kathy Fuller. Loved this book! It releases in August. I’m starting Betrayed by Amy Clipston.
What other books have you written, whether published or not?
Kathy: I’ve written over a dozen novels and novellas, my latest being a regency-set mystery romance series for Avalon, and the Hearts of Middlefield Amish series for Thomas Nelson.
Barbara: I’ve sold twenty-one books (fiction and non-fiction). An Amish Christmas and An Amish Gathering (Thomas Nelson) will appear this year. Then I’ll have a three book Amish series for Abingdon Press scheduled to appear in 2010 and 2011.
Beth: I’m working on my fourth novel for Thomas Nelson, in addition to the two collections of novellas written with Kathy and Barbara. Plain Perfect (my debut novel) released in September 2008, Plain Pursuit released this past April, and Plain Promise will be on the shelves in September. I’m contracted with Thomas Nelson for three more novels after that – Plain Paradise, Plain Proposal, and one that we haven’t named yet.
What is the hardest thing about writing a part of a novella collection?
Kathy: This is the third anthology I’ve been involved in, and the hardest part by far was weaving the stories together and coming up with crossover characters. But Beth and Barbara are fantastic to work with, and even though the process was challenging, it was fun, too!
Barbara: I agree with Kathy about weaving the characters together – it took a lot of e-mails! But it was great fun!
Beth: Ditto Kathy and Barbara! Lots of work, but great fun!
How did collaborating with this team impact you?
Kathy: I’ve made two very good friends. :-)
Barbara: I feel the same way! :-)
Beth: I was super honored to team up with these fantastic ladies! Biggest impact is definitely the friendships formed. ☺
How do you choose your characters’ names?
Kathy: I pick names I like. That’s pretty much it, nothing scientific about it.
Barbara: A name will just “resonate: -- it’ll feel right. Once I couldn’t write a character until I changed her name. Sounds crazy but it was almost like she was saying, “I don’t like it! I won’t do anything for you until you change it!” Very stubborn character. There are also certain names that are used in Paradise, Pa., and you can’t stray from those or the story won’t be authentic.
Beth: Picking names is a huge process for me. Sometimes it takes days until the right name fits the character. I’ve been known to change the name midway through a manuscript because, like Barbara, the character was screaming that it just wasn’t the right name!
What did you want the reader to take away from your story?
Kathy: I want the reader to be entertained, to say that reading my novella was time well spent.
Barbara: I hope the reader will feel she’s been for a visit with characters who become friends she’ll want to go back and re-visit.
Beth: My story is about forgiveness, one woman’s ability to forgive two men who both betrayed her. I hope the reader will be entertained, but also think about how freeing it can be to truly forgive.
Are you a member of American Christian Fiction Writers? If so, why?
Kathy: Yes. It’s a great organization. The benefits to writers are too numerous to name, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without being a part of ACFW.
Barbara: I’ve heard great things about ACFW so I intend to join soon.
Beth: Absolutely! I can’t wait to get to the conference in September. Looking forward to seeing everyone in Denver. It’s a writer’s high – the fellowship, the classes, the speakers, hooking up with old friends, and always making new ones!
We did have a lot of fun last year, didn't we, Beth? What is the best piece of advice you received as an author?
Kathy: To persevere. Writing, even after you’re published, is difficult. To be successful you have to persevere.
Barbara: To believe in myself and keep working to get better at writing by studying the craft. And to read, read, read – which I adore doing anyway! (That’s more than one piece –sorry!)
Beth: “Miracles happen to those who believe,” said Mary Sue Seymour, my wonderful agent and friend.
How can readers find you on the Internet?
Thank you, Kathy, Barbara, and Beth. I thoroughly enjoyed spending time with all of you.
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