Suzanne Woods Fisher lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. She has one husband, four children, one son-in-law, a brand new grand-baby, and a couple of dogs. She graduated from
Westmont College in . Santa
Suzanne has contracts with Revell for six more books about the Amish, both fiction and non-fiction. She is also the host of “Amish Wisdom” on toginet.com, a weekly radio program featuring guests who are connected to Simple Living.
How did you come up with the idea for this story?
In every novel, I try to weave some true-to-life elements from the Plain life into the plot line. In The Budget (an Amish-Mennonite newspaper), I had noticed references to Plain families fostering children whose mothers were serving jail terms. The Plain families weren’t trying to convert the children—they cared for them, took them to visit their mothers, and the result was a noticeable reduction in recidivism. I used that piece of information in the plot line for The Lesson.
If you were planning a party with Christian authors of contemporary fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
If you wanted to really shake things up, it would be fun to have a party of six radically different authors (all Revell authors, naturally): Stephen James (suspense), Lorna Seilstad (romantic comedy), Lorena McCourtney (mystery), Irene Hannon (romantic suspense), Janice Thompson (romantic comedy), Mary Ann Kinsinger (my co-author with the children’s Amish stories). Think of the conversation we would have! I would tape questions on the bottom of their dinner plate, so each would have to answer. What’s your best writing tip? What was your most embarrassing moment as a novelist? How long did it take you to get published? What is your biggest fear about being a published author? I could keep going…but I’ll stop now. J
Now let’s do that for a party for Christian authors of historical fiction, what six people would you invite and why?
Sarah Sundin (World War II), Dan Walsh (romance), Jill Eileen Smith (biblical fiction), Ann Gabhart (Shaker fiction), Ann Shorey (western romance), Maggie Brendan (historical romance), Amanda Cabot (western romance), Tricia Goyer (romance). Oops…that eight. But…again, think of the riveting conversation! Same thing…I would provide prompts to get the chatter rolling. Have you ever made a horrible research mistake? What happened then? What time period do you wish you lived in? What made you pick that particular era to write about? If you could write any book you wanted to write, what would it be about? On and on and on…
Many times, people (and other authors) think you have it made with so many books published. What is your most difficult problem with writing at this time in your career?
Keeping my eyes straight forward and not looking left or right. Just straight ahead at what God wants of me. It’s so easy to get distracted and allow “the good to be the enemy of the best.” That’s my 2013 aim: to keep my eyes looking straight forward.
Tell us about the featured book.
If there’s one takeaway value I’d like readers to get out of The Lesson, it’s the impact of love. There is a theme of unconditional love in this story that weaves its way through many characters’ lives and changes them forever.
Please give us the first page of the book.
The year Mary Kate Lapp turned nineteen started out fine enough. Life seemed full of endless possibilities. But as the year went on, a terrible restlessness began to grow inside of her, like sour yeast in a jar of warm water on a sunny windowsill. There were days when she thought she couldn’t stand another moment in this provincial little town, and days when she thought she could never leave.
On a sun-drenched afternoon, M.K. was zooming along on her red scooter past an English farmer’s sheep pasture, with a book propped above the handlebars—a habit that her stepmother, Fern, scolded her about relentlessly. She was just about to live happily ever after with the story’s handsome hero when a very loud Bwhoom! suddenly interrupted her reading.
Most folks would have turned tail and run, but not M.K. She might have considered it, but as usual, curiosity got the best of her. She zoomed back down the street, hopped off her scooter, climbed up on the fence, and there she saw him—an English sheep farmer in overalls, sprawled flat on the ground with a large rifle next to him. The frightened sheep were huddled in the far corner of the pasture. Doozy, M.K.’s big old yellow dog of dubious ancestry, elected to stay behind with the scooter.
M.K. wasn’t sure what to do next. Should she see if the sheep farmer was still alive? He didn’t look alive. He looked very, very dead. She wouldn’t know what to do, anyway—healing bodies was her sister Sadie’s department. And what if the murderer were close by? Nosir. She was brave, but you had to draw the line somewhere.
But she could go to the phone shanty by the schoolhouse and make a 911 call for the police. So that’s what she did. She waited at the phone shanty until she heard the sirens and saw the revolving lights on top of the sheriff’s car. Then she jumped on her scooter and hurried back to the sheep pasture.
The sheriff walked over to ask M.K. if she was the one who had called 911. She had known Sheriff Hoffman all her life. He was a pleasant-looking man with a short haircut, brown going gray around his ears, and a permanent suntan. Tall and impressive in his white uniform shirt and crisp black pants, radio clipped to one hip, gun holster on the other. He questioned M.K. about every detail she could recall—which wasn’t much, other than a loud gunshot. She didn’t even know the farmer’s name. The sheriff took a pen from his back pocket and started taking notes. (What would he write? Amish witness knows nothing. Absolutely nothing.) But he did tell her she did the right thing by not disturbing the crime scene. He took her name and address and said he might be contacting her for more questions.
M.K. stuck around, all ears about whatever she could overhear, fascinated by the meager clues the police were trying to piece together. When the county coroner arrived in his big black van, M.K. decided she had gleaned all she could. Besides, the trees were throwing long shadows. The sun would be setting soon and she should get home to let her father and Fern know about the murder. It was alarming news!
She took a shortcut through the town of Stoney Ridge to reach Windmill Farm as fast as she could but was intercepted by her friend Jimmy Fisher. Standing in front of the Sweet Tooth Bakery, he called to her, then ran alongside and grabbed the handlebars of her scooter to stop her. She practically flew headfirst over the handlebars.
Men! So oblivious.
“I need your help with something important,” Jimmy said.
“Can’t,” M.K. said, pushing his hands off her scooter. “I’m in a big hurry.” She started pumping her leg on the ground to build up speed. Doozy puffed and panted alongside her.
“It won’t take long!” Jimmy sounded wounded. “What’s your big hurry?”
“Can’t tell you!” she told him, and she meant it. The sheriff had warned her not to say anything to anyone, with the exception of her family, until they had gathered more information. She felt a prick of guilt and looked back at Jimmy, who had stopped abruptly when she brushed him off. She liked that he was a little bit scared of her, especially because he was older and much too handsome for his own good.
She glanced back and saw him cross the road to head into the Sweet Tooth Bakery where her friend Ruthie worked. Good! Let Ruthie solve Jimmy’s problem this time. M.K. was always helping him get out of scrapes and tight spots. That boy had a proclivity for trouble. Always had.
Distracted by the dead body and then by Jimmy Fisher, M.K. made a soaring right turn near the Smuckers’ goat farm, and possibly—just possibly—forgot to look both ways before she turned. Her scooter ended up bumping into Alice Smucker, the schoolteacher at Twin Creeks where M.K. had spent eight long years, as
was herding goats across the road into an empty pasture.
A tiny collision with a scooter and Alice refused to get to her feet. “I AM CONCUSSED!” she called out.
M.K. was convinced that
Alice was prejudiced against her. And she was
so dramatic. She insisted M.K. call for an ambulance.
Two 911 calls in one day—it was more excitement than M.K. could bear. She hoped the dispatcher didn’t recognize her voice and think she was a crank caller. She wasn’t! Nosir.
Naturally, M.K. waited until the ambulance arrived to swoop away with Alice, who was hissing with anger. When M.K. offered to accompany
Alice to the
hospital—she knew it was the right thing to do, though the offer came with
gritted teeth— Alice
glared at her.
“You stay away from me, Mary Kate Lapp!” she snapped, before she swooned in a faint.
After M.K. rounded up the goats and returned them to the Smuckers’ pasture, she arrived at Windmill Farm, her home and final destination. She couldn’t wait to tell her father and Fern about the news! She was sorry for the sheep farmer—after all, she wasn’t heartless. But finally, something interesting had happened in this town. It was big news—there had never been a murder in Stoney Ridge. And she had been the first one on the scene.
Well, to be accurate—and Fern was constantly telling her not to exaggerate—M.K. wasn’t quite on the scene. But she did hear the gunshot! She absolutely did.
She knew Fern would be irritated with her for being so late for dinner. Fern was a stickler about . . . well, about most everything. But especially about being late for dinner. The unfortunate incident with Alice Smucker had slowed her down even more. The accident did bother M.K.—she would never intentionally run into anyone. Especially not Alice Smucker. Of all people!
M.K. set the scooter against the barn. She heard her mare, Cayenne, whinny for her, so she went into the barn, filled up the horse’s bucket with water, and closed the stall door. She latched it tightly, her mind a whirl of details. It wasn’t until she had pulled the latch that she noticed her father’s horse and buggy were gone. She peered through the dusty barn window and saw that the house was pitch dark, its windows not showing any soft lampshine. Where could her father and Fern have gone? They were always home at this time of day. Always, always, always.
This day just kept getting stranger.
Interesting. I had wondered what M. K. would be like when she grew up. How can readers find you on the Internet?
Facebook and Twitter might be high-tech, but they are filling an old-tech human need for community. Facebook is a wonderful tool to connect people. After a recent book tour, I realized that over half the people who came to signings were those I’d “met” through Facebook. Another social media twist is my free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Amish proverb right to your iPhone or iPad.
I thoroughly enjoy connecting with readers! I’m easy to find: www.Facebook.com/SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor, my twitter handle is @suzannewfisher and my website is http://www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
Thanks, Lena, for your generosity in sharing my word with your readers!
I always love having you, Suzanne.
- A brand new iPad
- A $15 gift certificate to iTunes
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Lesson, The (Stoney Ridge Seasons Book #3): A Novel - Kindle
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