Is there a name that comes to mind when you think of Amish fiction? Well, if you're like many people. that name would be Wanda E. Brunstetter. She's been given the title of 'Amish Country's Most Beloved Storyteller' and a list of her books would definitely prove this. More than 12 million of her books have been sold and she often has titles on the New York Time Best-Seller list!
Recently, Ms. Brunstetter had an online visit with some of her Facebook fans and she's graciously allowed me to share that conversation with all of you.
First of all, how do you come up with ideas for your books and series?
"Ideas come to me from several sources, such as things I have heard about or seen firsthand, spending time with our many Amish friends, things I have experienced in my own life, and of course, things that come from my imagination."
As you continue to write, is it harder to come up with more book ideas?
"It could be, I suppose, because so many topics have already been covered. However, there is nothing new under the sun, and it’s sometimes just a matter of looking for ways to tell a story that’s already been done in some new way. In addition to that, there are new things happening all around me that often spark ideas for my novels."
The three books in The Amish Greenhouse series were very popular because of the mysteries involved. Are there any more mysteries in your future plans?
"No, I currently don’t have a mystery series planned, but if a good idea for a mystery novel or series pops into my head, then I will definitely want to write it."
What about an Amish historical fiction?
"I have written a historical novel about a Quaker woman that was titled Woman of Courage. At this point, I haven't written a historical book about the Amish but maybe someday I will."
A few years ago, you wrote two books set in Hawaii, The Hawaiian Quilt and The Hawaiian Discovery. Do you plan more books set in Hawaii?
"I don’t currently have any plans to set more stories in Hawaii, but if enough of my readers requested it, perhaps my publisher would be on board with the idea of me writing another book or series set on one of the Hawaiian Islands. I've been to Hawaii, but if I did another book set in Hawaii, I probably would make another trip there for inspiration. I know I would enjoy it. 🙂"
Wanda, your latest book is The Apple Creek Announcement, the third book in the Creektown Discoveries series. Will there be any more books featuring Orley and Lois Troyer?
"No, there are just the 3 books in the Creektown series."
Do you have a favorite character in this series?
"Lois Troyer is probably my favorite character from that series. She reminds me of some of the Amish women I know, and I borrowed her name from my cousin, Lois, who is fun-loving and has a positive attitude."
What is the message that you hope readers will receive from The Apple Creek Announcement?
"I hope they will see the importance of honesty, forgiveness, and the necessity of seeking God’s will in every aspect of our lives."
Your Amish novels are so popular! Why do think this is true?
"I believe it’s because reading novels about the Amish takes people to a more simple way of life. Like myself, readers are drawn to the Plain people’s peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and close family ties, which is in stark contrast to the chaos and busyness that plagues so many modern “English” people today."
You've also co-authored a number of books with your daughter-in-law, Jean Brunstetter, and your granddaughter, Rachelle Brunstetter. Does it take longer to write a book by yourself or when co-writing with Jean and Richelle?
"The majority of books that I write by myself are longer stories with about 100,000 words, so those take me longer than writing a shorter novella for a collection."
Wanda, you are such a prolific author! Do you know how many more books you plan to write? Any idea how much longer your fans can look forward to your books?
"I am currently writing the second book in a new 3-book series, as well as a novella in a new collection that will be coming out in the fall of 2023. In addition to those books, I am contracted to write ten or more books within the next five years."
Chat participants were also interested in Ms. Brunstetter's personal life, including her favorite foods and her thoughts and observations about Amish customs.
Is there a favorite dish or meal that you like to prepare, and do you have a favorite holiday dessert?
"I enjoy fixing Amish haystack and have served it many times to my family. Pumpkin pie is one of my favorites. I also make a no-sugar apple pie that’s really delicious."
Yum, these all sound delicious! Do you have an all-time favorite Amish recipe?
"Lemon Shoofly Pie is a favorite, especially with my husband, who grew up in Pennsylvania and has eaten his share of several kinds of Shoofly Pie. We also like Funny-Cake pie which is a Mennonite tradition."
Will you share a favorite Simple Living Tip from the Amish?
"At every Amish gathering I’ve ever been to, there’s been a lot of visiting going on. For the Amish, simple living involves spending time with their family and friends. I enjoy visiting with friends or family members without the distraction of TV in the background."
What about Amish traditions? Is there one that's especially intriguing?
"One tradition I find particularly interesting is the way Amish bishops and ministers are chosen. Instead of going through seminary or a home-study course, and then being called to a church by a vote from the church board, like many of our English churches do, Amish ministers are chosen by the drawing of lots."
FINALLY, do you have a suggestion about becoming friends, or even a pen pal, with someone who is Amish?
"If you live in or have plans to visit Amish country, it's easy to befriend an Amish family by visiting places they go, like bulk food stores in the area, farmers' markets, farm stands where the Amish are selling their local produce, or any of the stores run by Amish people. If you don't live in Amish country or have any way to visit the places where they live, I would suggest taking out an ad in one of the newspapers read by the Amish, such as The Budget, a newspaper in Sugarcreek, Ohio."
Thank you for allowing me to share your thoughts today. It's such a pleasure to learn more about the person responsible for the books that we all love to read!
ABOUT WANDA E. BRUNSTETTER
New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. With over 12 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nation's most prestigious bestseller lists and receive numerous awards.
When Wanda visits her Amish friends, she finds herself drawn to their peaceful lifestyle, sincerity, and family ties. She and her husband, Richard, have been blessed with two grown children, six grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.