About the Author
Suzanne has a great admiration for the Plain people and believes they provide wonderful examples to the world. She has an underlying belief in her books–you don’t have to “go Amish” to incorporate many of their principles into your life: simplicity, living with less, appreciating nature, forgiving others more readily, trusting in God.
When Suzanne isn’t writing, playing tennis, or bragging to her friends about her grandbabies (so cute!), she is raising puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. To her way of thinking, you just can’t take life too seriously when a puppy is tearing through your house with someone’s underwear in its mouth.
For years, I was a free lance magazine writer, all non-fiction. When my four children started heading off to college, I read a phrase by Brenda Ueland in her book If You Want to Write (published in 1938!), “Everyone is interested, talented, and has something important to say.” That phrase rolled around inside my mind for a while, until I sensed an “aha” moment. I realized that there was only one person telling me I couldn’t try to write a novel. Me!
And wrote and wrote. Four months later, I had my first novel! Eventually, it was published by a small royalty press publisher, Vinspire, and won some awards. It also caught the eye of a literary agent, Joyce Hart of Hartline Literary Agency. Joyce signed me and connected me to an editor at Revell who was looking for a writer who had some familial connection to the Amish. (My grandfather was raised Plain.) What a journey it has been! Such a gift! At just the right time.
2. How many books have you written and in what genres?
Believe it or not…I think I’m closing in on 30 published books! Some non-fiction, but mostly fiction. Of the fiction, most are contemporary Amish. A few are historical. More historical fiction books are coming up, btw.
3. What writing projects are you currently working on? What can you tell us about these projects?
I’m just putting the finishing touches on The Devoted, book 3 in the ‘Bishop’s Family’ series. It’s wrapping up the story arc, begun in The Imposter, continued in The Quieting (releasing in early May 2016), about the behind-the-scenes of an Amish minister’s life.
4. What does your writing process look like?
Every morning, I try to hit a word count. Those words might get revised dozens of times, but it moves the entire manuscript forward. As I get closer to the deadline, I sort of slip into another world and write/rewrite/edit/revise for hours. Days!
5. Where is your favorite place to write?
The laundry room! That’s my office. Tiny, crowded, but in the heart of the home.
6. How important are the names in your novels? How do you choose names for your characters? Do you have any name resources you would suggest?
One thing interesting about the Amish is that there isn’t a wide variety of names. Most are biblical or very traditional (though now and then I do see some unusual names pop up in The Budget). And there are only about fifty surnames, most of which are regional. So the pool is small to choose from. I have to pick wisely and stick to it.
7. What authors/novels that you enjoy would you recommend?
It might surprise you that I read mostly non-fiction. A book I would highly recommend is Being Mortal by Atul Guwande (all of his books are fab!). The main takeaway point of the book is to figure out what makes your life meaningful. A great question for all of us to think about.
8. Where is your favorite place to read and why?
Wearing my jammies, in my industrial-strength glasses (I’m blind as a bat), and in bed. (Thus…no pix!).
9. What period of history interests you the most?
All of it. Really! I love reading books about other time periods. If I had to pick, probably my two favorite eras are biblical history and early American history. Even though modern daily life might look radically different, so much of being human remains the same.
10. If you could choose someone famous to star in one of your books made to a movie, who would you choose and for which character?
Well, I’ve always been rather fond of Gregory Peck. I think I would cast him in the role as Caleb Zook in The Waiting.
11. What inspired the idea for The Imposter? This is book one in The Bishop’s Family series. What inspired the idea for this series?
The story line for The Imposter delves into the behind-the-scenes of church leadership. It took a lot of research to make sure I could write a credible story. But the drama is wrapped up in a quirky, endearing family, The Stoltzfus clan, who are new to Stoney Ridge. They’re looking for a fresh start, a clean beginning. As we all know, there’s really no such thing! Our past comes along with us.
What drove my story, though, was that I wanted to create a fictional minister, David Stoltzfus, who was based on a bishop whom I greatly admired. The Amish bishop tends to get stereotyped in the worst way—controlling and dominating, joyless, lacking grace. I wanted to show another type of bishop, who shepherded his flock guided by love for God.
12. What other hobbies do you enjoy when you are not writing?
Tennis! I play 2-3 times a week in competitive and recreational leagues. And I’m a big dog lover. As in, I love big dogs. I have raised puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind and am currently a breeder keeper for two girls, Toffee and Vesta. Plus I love to garden and cook.