Cindy's Reviews Welcomes Suzanne Woods Fisher to our blog...and hope you enjoy the interview I did with her..
CR Hi Suzanne can you tell us a bit about yourself?
I’m a wife and mom of four, I live in the San Francisco Bay area and am a raiser of puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. The thing about puppies is…you just can’t life too seriously with a puppy in your life.
CR How did you start writing?
I’ve always loved to write, probably because I wasn’t any good at anything else. Especially math. After college, I wrote for a variety of magazines and became a contributing editor to Christian Parenting Today magazine. A few years ago, I took the plunge into book writing. I started with a small press and, eventually, with an agent’s help, I received contracts with Revell.
CR With so many other authors writing about the Amish, and Amish fiction, what drew you to write about them?
My grandfather was one of thirteen children born into an Old Order German Baptist Brethren (also known as Dunkards) family. He was raised “Plain” and later left to pursue an education. I’ve always had a keen interest in my Dunkard relatives’ lifestyle. My agent, Joyce Hart of The Hartline Literary Agency, remembered that odd fact about me and connected me to a Revell editor. The idea for Amish Peace grew out of a conversation with that editor. I put together some sample stories based on my own family, and after some tweaks, Amish Peace was contracted!
CR How did you manage to gain access to the Amish for your book and get to know
them so personally?
Writing Amish Peace was an amazing experience. A blessing by God! I started with a handful of contacts within the Amish community. One led to another, to another, to another. And many relationships that developed were accidental…stops I made as I drove through the Pennsylvania and Ohio areas. I’m a believer in “full disclosure,” so whenever I met with the Amish, I was upfront about wanting to write a story about them. Afterwards, I sent them the completed essay and asked for permission plus corrections. There were times when I was asked to change the names or identifying details about the subject, but everyone gave permission. I also interviewed experts-in-the-field, so that I felt sure I understood theological issues correctly. All in all, I have developed some lovely friendships with many Amish families, of whom I feel very protective.
CR Can you share an experience or two interviewing the Amish families
for your book?
One family offered to teach me about their dairy cows. I got up early to “help” with the milking (i.e., stay out of the way), and finished up by feeding a bottle to a one-day-old calf! And that was a kick…that little gal acted as if it was her last meal. Nearly swallowed my arm!
On another visit, I met a woman who had four grandchildren in the West Nickel Mines Schoolhouse on that fateful morning in October 2006, when the gunman came in and shot children. One of her granddaughters’ was killed, another was maimed, another escaped, and a grandson was sent outside with the other boys. I also met an 18-year-old aunt of those children. She kept repeating a simple but profound comment, “We just have to keep going on with life.”
CR I don't see alot of mention in the Amish books that I have read about Jesus, do the Amish believe in accepting Jesus as their Savior?
While the Amish and mainstream Protestantism share the same roots in Reformation theology, we do emphasize different things in our faith. I can only speak about the people whom I met…and I do feel that we share the same belief in Jesus Christ as our saving Lord.
Now, I did ask an Old Order Amish bishop about how the Amish view grace, because they do not have the same emphasis on grace that we do. Mainstream Protestantism views God’s grace as free and unending, while the Amish believe there are some strings attached to God’s grace and forgiveness—namely, passing on the forgiveness to others. “If grace covers all,” said this bishop, “why bother being Plain?”
CR Last question, what can your readers except to be coming out soon from you? Bookwise? Do you have any more books coming out soon?
Thanks for asking, Cindy! Soon to follow Amish Peace are three novels about the Amish, starting with The Choice on January 1, 2010. In August of 2010, Amish Proverbs: Words of Wisdom for a Simple Life (Revell).
CR Anything else you'd like to add?
There’s a buzz growing around Amish Peace: Simple Wisdom for a Complicated World. It’s already in its second printing and is also available in audio. It’s been chosen as a book selection by Doubleday, Crossings, Book of the Month 2 and Bookspan. God is good!
Hope you’ll drop me a line! You can find me on-line at: www.suzannewoodsfisher.com