Before we get to your talent for writing, let’s learn more about you as a person. What stage of life are you in? (Married? Single? Children? Grandchildren?)
I’ve been married to James for 22 awesome years. We have three kids: Matt, Sydney, and Zoie. Matt and Sydney are both in college and Zoie is finishing her last year of high school, so we’re almost empty nesters. We split our time between Geneva, OH and Little Rock, AR.
What is your go-to research when you’re writing? A specific book? A website? An individual?
I have an Amish friend in Middlefield that I’ve consulted numerous times for research. Amish America is an excellent site with lots of articles and features about the Amish.
Let’s talk about studying the Amish up close. Where has book research taken you?
Middlefield, OH of course—I live 40 minutes from there so I visit several times a year. I also go to Holmes County when I can—it’s 2.5 hours away. I’m hoping to go to Shipshewana and Lancaster in the future.
What was the first thing you learned about the Amish? What were a few things you had to “unlearn” about them (preconceptions)?
The first thing I learned was that there are a variety of Amish—Old Order (which I write about), New Order, Beachy Amish, Schwartzentruber Amish, Andy Weaver Amish, etc. That was a surprise and very interesting. The biggest preconception that was quickly blown out of the water is that all Amish are stern, stand-offish people with zero senses of humor. This is totally not true.
Amish fiction authors are accused of romanticizing the Amish, of glossing over real problems. Some feel very vitriolic about it. How do you respond to that concern?
I do think it’s true—we do idealize the Amish in fiction. But Amish fiction is primarily a sub-genre of Romance fiction, which idealizes romance. People assume that because we write about a current culture that is different from ourselves, that the details in our fictional stories are true (or should be true). Many of us do work hard to get those details as correct as possible within a fictional context. I think the key is to show respect in our stories—respect for their privacy, their community, and their faith. The other thing to remember—every Amish district is different, every Amish community is different, and every Amish settlement is different. The details and “rules” may vary from district to sect to settlement, but we all have our faith in common. Lastly, fiction is an escape. Readers have a lot of “real world problems” in their lives; sometimes they need an escape into a world where peace, community, and faith are valued, even if that world is fictional.
What are your thoughts about the growth of Amish fiction? Why do you think it is such a popular sub-genre?
This dovetails with my previous answer. People are seeking peace, community, and faith. As a people, the Amish live out those values. Also, Amish fiction is seen by many as escapist and uplifting entertainment. The stories make people happy.
Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
I’m working on the third book in the Amish of Birch Creek series, Love Made New. Speaking of fiction, Birch Creek is a fictional town near Canton, OH. I’ve really enjoyed writing this series. I don’t want to give too much away, but the series centers around the Schrock sisters—Sadie, Joanna, and Abigail—and how God restores them after tragedy. A Reluctant Bride, the first book in the series, released in September and An Unbroken Heart (Book 2) will release in March, 2016.
I’m passionate about…
God, my family, advocacy, and telling good stories.
People don’t know I’m good at…
Tennis. At least I used to be when I was younger. I’m picking it up again this fall and I can’t wait to play!
Find out how you can enter to win a copy of A Reluctant Bride below!
Kathleen Fuller was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and now makes her home in beautiful Geneva, Ohio. She’s been married to James for 15 wonderful years and they have three terrific children, three dogs, and an overwhelmed cat. She started writing in 2000, and published her first short story a year later. Since then she has authored several short stories, novellas, and novels.
She has a Masters degree in Special Education and a Bachelors in Early Childhood/Elementary Education. A few of her favorite things: her relationship with Christ, chocolate, autumn, a satisfying book, good friends, a sense of humor, people who don’t take themselves seriously, haunting melodies, and NFL football.
Her latest book, A Reluctant Bride, is now available to order!