Friday, August 10, 2018

Researching the Amish -- Vannetta Chapman


Amish garden, Shipshewana, Indiana
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is “How did you become interested in the Amish?” Since I’m new to Love Inspired, I thought it would be fun to share that story here.

My first agent was Mary Sue Seymour. I had written several books, and she’d pitched them to publishers. We always ended up in the top 3 books they were considering, and then they’d pass. I couldn’t figure out what was going on!

Finally Mary Sue wrote me an email and told me that I should write an Amish book. This was in 2009, and there were a lot of Amish books coming out--even more than now. She had publishers calling her asking for more Amish! I thought about it a few minutes and then told her “No.” I was so afraid to tell my agent no, but as I explained to her, we have no large Amish communities in Texas, only a very small one in Beeville and they don’t even have a store to visit. I’d never met an Amish person!
 
Amish school, Cashton, Wisconsin

Mary Sue wrote me back and said she understood. Then she wrote me another email, this one quite long, explaining that I could learn, research, visit, and then write that book. I prayed and fumed and worried and tossed and turned that night, and then finally I decided that if she was going to be my agent I should accept her advice--so I said “Yes!” That was the 9th book I’d written, and the first book we sold. Abingdon Press bought it, and A Simple Amish Christmas released in 2010 and was a huge success.

Since then I’ve published 4 novellas and 16 Amish books (romances and mysteries), including my most recent with Love Inspired, A Widow’s Hope. My husband and I have visited a lot of Amish communities in the last 9 years--communities in Indiana, Ohio, Wisconsin, Colorado, Pennsylvania, and Oklahoma. I’ve met a lot of Amish folks, and I feel fortunate to count them as my friends. I’ve learned a lot, and I’m so glad that Mary Sue pushed me beyond my comfort zone.


What about you? Have you ever done something that scared you just a little and then changed your life in some way? I certainly never saw myself becoming an Amish author! (PS--I would love you to stop by my webpage and look around. You can do so here or follow me on Facebook here.)
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9 comments:

  1. Yes, when I started writing Christian fiction. Thanks for sharing about your research.

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  2. I lived near Amish communities in Ohio and Pennsylvania and always enjoyed shopping at their farmers' markets. My Ohio grandmother was of German descent and cooked foods similar to what the Amish eat. In addition, my husband and I lived in Germany for three years while he was in the military so I was drawn to the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect as well as the heute Deutsch the Amish use in their worship services. All of that to say that I was eager to include an Amish community in my Military Investigations series and then went on to write the Amish Protectors series that is out now. For me, it's been a nice fit.

    Love your stories, Vannetta. You've made the transition seem so natural.

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    1. Oh, Debby. I'm a little jealous. :) I would love to live near or in Amish country. But I do have all these hunky old Texans hanging around, so it isn't all bad.

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  3. Nice to read how you got your start writing Amish, Vannetta! The scariest thing for me as a writer was several years ago when I first decided to try my hand at historical romance. I never thought I could handle the in-depth research historical fiction requires, but I found I actually enjoyed it and eventually wrote two 3-book series. I'm back to writing contemporary romance now, but at least I know that if a new idea for a historical should come my way, I don't need to shy away.

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    1. Hi Myra. I so admire historical authors. After all, I just make stuff up. Oh sure, there's a little research involved, but I don't have to research every little details. :)

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  4. Looking forward to reading your LI. Amish is here to stay :)

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  5. What a great story. I’m glad your agent pushed you, too. Mary Sue was an amazing woman. So glad you are writing for LI Amish. I never dreamed I’d write Amish either and yes, writing that book was a scary, challenging time for me.

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