After reading our great Amish excerpts and celebrating our tournament champion, I bet you're dying to know who won this week's clash. Sorry, you're going to have to wait till Friday. But stay with us, because today and Wednesday you get a chance to meet the lovely authors behind the fabulous Cott-competing excerpts.
Today we're chatting with Suzanne Woods Fisher, author of excerpt A, taken from The Waiting.
Hello, Suzanne, what motivated you to write a novel about the Amish?
My grandfather was raised Plain—he was one of eleven children born into an Old Order German Baptist Brethren family in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. I had written a non-fiction book called Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World that became such a wonderful foundation for me. As that book came together, my editor invited me to put in a proposal for Amish fiction…and I ran with it!
Have you visited an Amish community?
Oh yes! Many times. Just this year--I’ve been to Pennsylvania, Ohio and Indiana. There’s nothing like traveling along those Amish back roads, visiting communities, making contacts, and establishing original sources. I think it’s important to visit at all different times of the year, too. In the summer, Lancaster County feels claustrophobic. You can’t see the rolling hills because of the tall corn. In the winter, it’s just the opposite--the landscape is wide open. You can see for miles.
What are a few misconceptions people tend to have regarding the Amish?
The biggest problem I’ve observed is when someone hears one story (usually a negative one) and projects it onto the entire Amish population. There are all kinds of Amish people and all kinds of Amish churches. Each district is self-standing—they have church in the home (unlike other Anabaptists) and split when they get too big to fit in a farmhouse. It results in endless variation from church to church, which I find to be…endlessly fascinating. It’s true that all of the Amish share core beliefs, but they are not “one-size-fits-all” people.
If you were to live among the Amish for a year or two, what would you most enjoy?
The sense of security that comes from living in their community would be wonderful—I really think our local churches can (and should) provide that kind of caring community.
What would be most difficult?
The most difficult part would be trying to keep up with Penn Dutch! It’s a dialect of German that is the first language for the Amish. It’s their first language and the one used at home and church (unless Scripture is being read—then it would be in German).
Who do you believe readers will most relate to in your novel and why?
This story is focused on Jorie King, a young woman who is waiting for her boyfriend
to return from serving the country as a Conscientious Objector. A funny thing happened as I wrote the story—there are four brothers, the Zooks, who stole the show. I don’t know how or when they sneaked in and grabbed the top role…but they did.
Which character did you most enjoy creating?
Ephraim Zook is a 13-year-old boy, awkward, shy, sensitive, with a stutter. He seemed so real to me—I can just visualize him. He was an endearing character.
Readers, Suzanne has a question for you. The cover of The Waiting has a fence on it, and it’s there for a reason. The fence is a symbol—you are crossing into another world as you read this book. I’d love to know why you enjoy reading Amish fiction. What draws you to the simple life?