Tuesday, February 12, 2013

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, my newest novel. 
There’s something I hope sticks with a readers after reading The Lesson: 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.  
Amish fiction is all about good characters. The main character in this story is one of my favorites: Mary Kate (M.K.) Lapp. She is one of a kind. Bright, curious, amusing, with a nose for trouble. She means well, acts first and thinks later. We first meet M.K. as a young girl in “The Keeper” and “The Haven.” Fast forward to “The Lesson.” M.K. is nineteen and restless for adventure. It arrives on page one! Two young people with a mysterious past land in Stoney Ridge on the very day a sheep farmer is shot and killed. M.K., who fancies herself a part-time detective, decides the local sheriff needs a little crime-solving help. Naturally, she ends up creating all kinds of complications. Not exactly the “simple” life you’d expect in an Amish novel.  
I’m often asked why Amish fiction is such a “hot” genre. There’s probably a couple of reasons: the tragedy at the Nickel Mines one-room schoolhouse shone a national spotlight on the Amish, then the sub-genre took off as the recession hit in full force. The character-driven stories invite readers into another world, pastoral and uncomplicated, where one feels renewed and re-energized after closing a book. The very goal of inspirational fiction!  
But there’s a deeper layer to the Amish. Those buggies and the bonnets and the beards—they distract us. There’s so much more to learn from the Plain people than how to dress or drive. 
What has touched me in a deep way is the intentional forgiveness of the Old Order Amish. We just don’t emphasize that enough in our modern churches. To the Amish, it’s a daily attitude of “letting things go, big and small.” They place great importance on forgiving others because of Jesus’ words in the Sermon on the Mount: “But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins” (Matthew 6:15). It gives one pause for thought… 
I enjoy writing Amish fiction because it’s a quiet way to point people toward a better life, using Amish characters as the illustration. The Amish are the first to say they aren’t perfect, and I try not to over-glamorize them, but at their best, they are close to the heart of Christ. They make choices that are counterintuitive to human nature (turning the other cheek even if you run out of cheeks, for example). It’s challenging and inspiring to take those moments of decision, common to all of us, and turn them into a story. A good one, I hope!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is the bestselling author of The Keeper, The Haven, ‘The Lancaster County Secrets’ series, A Lancaster County Christmas, as well as nonfiction books about the Amish, including Amish Peace. She is fascinated by faith-based communities. Her interest in the Anabaptist culture can be directly traced to her grandfather, who was raised in the Old Order German Baptist Brethren Church in Franklin County, Pennsylvania. Suzanne is the host of Amish Wisdom, a weekly radio program, is a columnist for Christian Post and has a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Amish proverb. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. 

You can find Suzanne on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com, at www.Facebook.com/SuzanneWoodsFisherAuthor and her twitter handle is @suzannewfisher.  


  1. Yay, Suzanne! I really liked your thoughts on Amish fiction as a "hot" genre.

  2. Love Amish fiction. We all need to try living a simpliar life,even if it is just with small changes.

  3. One of my favorite authors......always a good read!!! 3 Cheers for Suzanne!!!

  4. Thanks for your kind comments! Grateful to be hosted here!


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