I came up with the idea for The Neighbors of Lancaster County series, three novels about a military family and an Amish family who live side by side, several years ago. At the time I was co-authoring Amish fiction with Mindy Starns Clark and escaping into the world of Lancaster County day after day, but my real world wasn’t quite as peaceful.
My husband, Peter, was part of an Army Reserve Medical Unit and although he hadn’t been mobilized since 2003, there was always the possibility of deployment.
I couldn’t help but compare the world of an Army family to an Amish family.
What would happen if the two became neighbors? What conflict would ensue? How would the children get along? How would the parents react? What if the sister of the Amish man and the best friend of the military man struck up a friendship that led to romance? The possibilities seemed endless!
Fast-forward a couple of years and my husband was mobilized and deployed again, this time to command a field hospital in Afghanistan. While he was gone, I was writing my Courtships of Lancaster County series, seriously escaping the worries of my life several hours every day. But all the while I was also thinking about this other series I had in mind, the one about the neighbors, the one with a family that had experienced some of what we were currently going through.
My husband came home from Afghanistan, and he—along with our entire family—entered a period of recovery. Overall things were fine, but we were all changed in some way.
I wanted to write my series about the Amish family and the Army family more than ever, so I was absolutely thrilled a year ago when I received a contract from Bethany House and finally jumped into the writing.
Amish Promises, the first in the series, is the product of the melding my two worlds: the fictional Amish settings of my writing and my everyday reality. It’s the product of juxtaposing the non-resistance of Plain groups, which I greatly admire, with the dedication of soldiers who have pledged to serve their country. It’s the outcome of realizing the many sacrifices a soldier makes, mostly invisible to those who do not know him or her well. It’s the result of realizing that, for all the things that are different between Christians who are Englisch and Christians who are Amish, we still have a lot in common, including what we hope for our children and our love for the Lord.
Even though they’re non-resistant, incredibly, all of the Plain people we have visited—if the topic came up—have voiced their appreciation for my husband’s service. Again, we have more in common than we think.
Leslie Gould is the #1 bestselling and Christy Award winning author of twenty novels. She and her husband, Peter, live in Portland, Oregon and are the revolving-door parents of four children and three cats. Besides writing, Leslie enjoys church history, Shakespeare, traveling, and going to the movies with her hubby on Friday nights. Her latest release is Amish Promises, the first in the Neighbors of Lancaster County series.
Purchase Leslie’s books here.