Why would someone who lives in Oregon write Amish fiction?
“What’s the story behind the story” is a question I hear now and then. The story of how I ended up writing Amish fiction when I live in Oregon, where there hasn’t been an Amish settlement since the 1930s, is actually pretty short. When my agent, Chip MacGregor, asked if I’d be interested in writing Amish fiction, I didn’t think I was. But when he asked if I’d be interested in co-writing with Mindy Starns Clark, who had already published Amish novels and lives in Pennsylvania, I said I’d think about it. I’m so glad I did.
Like so many others I’d been fascinated with the Amish for years, plus I’d visited Lancaster County decades before, so I wasn’t surprised that my interest in the culture grew and grew the more research I did. What was surprising was how familiar the Amish people I met seemed. Chalk it up to my Swiss ancestry (where the Amish originated) or my own Anabaptist roots or a mother who was very purposeful in her parenting, especially about spiritual things.
Another surprise for me was my idea for a solo Amish series. It didn’t come from researching the Anabaptist movement. Or from visiting Amish families in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and Elkhart County, Indiana. It came from a class in my MFA program at Portland State University before I ever considered writing Amish fiction. More about that in my next post.