Before we get to your talent for writing, let’s learn more about you as a person. What stage of life are you in?
GRANDKIDS! Grandkids galore. I adore them. Family is everything, and the little ones and their parents bring me more joy than I could ever express. My husband and I had birth children and children that we got the hard way—adoption. Our extended family is a beautiful patchwork of colors and personalities, and I wouldn’t trade one of them for all winning lottery tickets in the world.
What is your go-to research when you’re writing? A specific book? A website? An individual?
Usually, I begin by thinking of my grandparents and the stories that they told me about their experiences and colorful people they knew. When writing about the Amish or introducing a new Amish character, I often remember the children I taught in one-room schools, their parents, and their grandparents. I do use the Internet occasionally, but the best information comes directly from my Amish community, from the women shopping in the markets to those friends I buy eggs from, as well as my Amish neighbors. I love to flip through The Budget, an Amish and Mennonite newspaper and –believe it or not—old Amish cookbooks. The cookbooks often have proverbs, jokes, songs, and bits of old time information. My favorite reference book would be John A Hostetler’s Amish Society.
Let’s talk about studying the Amish up close. Where has book research taken you?
Most of my research has taken place over the years in my own backyard. All my life, I’ve lived among the Amish people. I’ve taught in Amish schools, and I have been invited to wedding celebrations and funerals. With Amish friends and acquaintances, I discuss weather, the price of chicken feed, and the birth of new babies, those in our family and those in their communities. I also love to travel to Lancaster to the Amish tourist sites where I cheerfully climb into buggies to bounce and roll down country roads. I have wandered into Amish graveyards and been invited into Amish kitchens. I attend Amish breakfasts and auctions, and I love to shop where they shop when at home and out of town.
What was the first thing you learned about the Amish? What were a few things you had to “unlearn” about them (preconceptions)?
The thing that stands out in my mind on the subject of misconceptions is that the English seem to have difficulty believing is that Amish women are equal to men in the eyes of their faith. They may not serve as bishops or preachers, but they have an equal vote in church affairs. At home, they are not docile housewives who follow their husband’s word as law. In the house, it is often the Amish mother and grandmother who has the final say. Financial decisions are usually made jointly by husband and wife and Amish women often control the household checkbook.
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 write about life and families and faith. The Amish are human. They are not faultless. But on the whole they are a good, hard-working, God-fearing people. Some of my stories touch on the hard facts of life in Amish communities such as abuse, suicide and disabilities, but my intent is to entertain and to lighten the reader’s heart. Those who search for the worm in the apple can certainly find it any book of any genre.
What are your thoughts about the growth of Amish fiction? Why do you think it is such a popular sub-genre?
I am thrilled. I think Amish fiction touches a chord in readers’ hearts, harkening back to small town and early Americana. I’m proud to write stories that reflect happy times and faith in our Creator.
Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
I’m working on another Amish matchmaker romance. Someone near and dear to Seven Poplars returns in search of a second chance at love. I also just started my next Amish mystery, Plain Missing. Yes, I often write 2 books at a time!
Where can readers find you?
I’m passionate about…
Home made ice cream and midwives.
People don’t know I’m good at…
Milking a goat.
Be sure to check out Emma’s latest release, A Husband for Mari!
Emma Miller lives quietly in her old farmhouse in rural Delaware amid fertile fields and lush woodlands. Fortunate enough to be born into a family of strong faith, she grew up on a dairy farm, surrounded by loving parents, siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Emma was educated in local schools, and once taught in an Amish schoolhouse.
When she’s not caring for her large family, reading and writing are her favorite pastimes. She’s the author of the Hannah’s Daughter’s series and The Amish Matchmaker series.
Her latest release is A Husband for Mari.
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