Friday, February 20, 2015

WRITING AMISH NOVELS FROM A MAN'S POINT OF VIEW

Writing Jenny’s Choice and Amish from a man’s POV


BY PATRICK CRAIG
         When I first started writing the Apple Creek Dreams Series, I was amazed at the way my characters seemed to spring from the ground, fully developed, letting me see and record all of their strengths and flaws as though I was writing their biographies.
First I wrote about Jerusha Springer and her encounter with God in the Great Storm of 1950 that paralyzed Ohio.  Then I shared the story of Jenny Springer, Jerusha and Reuben's adopted daughter, and her impassioned search for her own identity, whether or not that would take her outside the Amish community of Apple Creek.
 For the third book, I fully intended to write the story of Rachel Hershberger, Jenny's daughter in a book titled The Amish Heiress.
         When I finished The Road Home, I was startled to discover that I had come to love Jenny Hershberger – her strength, her passion, her mind, her love for God – she had captured my heart.  I kept trying to move on to Rachel's tale, but I could not.  So I asked my publisher if I could continue with Jenny's story and they were gracious enough to give me permission to do so.
         So Jenny’s Choice became the rest of Jenny’s story.  For you romantics, it is the story of true love.  For you pragmatists, a gift given and a gift received.  And for those of you who long for adventure, it is the journey of a tiny girl who is found beside a frozen pond in the heart of a blizzard, the road a young woman travels upon to find her way home, and the coming to fruition of the gift that God placed in Jenny's heart.
         As a postscript, some of you may be interested in what it’s like to write Amish fiction from a man’s Point Of View.  As you know, women write the great majority of Amish fiction and the stories tend to be light-hearted romances that work out in the end just because the characters are Amish.  Oh there are a few ladies who can dish out with mysteries and thrillers, my friend Vannetta Chapman being one of them, but they are the exception in this genre.  For me, writing has always been about strong characters facing hard trials. I read plenty of Zane Grey when I was a boy, and adventure and danger were built in to me by reading such books as Betty Zane and The Spirit of The Border
         So when I got a contract to write three Amish novels, I made up my mind that I did not want the series to be your usual light-hearted romance dressed in Amish clothing, but I wanted my stories to be a well-thought-out and uplifting exploration of deep and growing faith in God in the midst of deep trials and desperate situations.  What I really wanted was a new and different approach to contemporary Amish fiction.  Now, a year after Jenny’s Choice, I have finished my fourth Amish book, The Amish Heiress, which will be self-published in a few months and finally tells Rachel’s story.  As I review the manuscript, which turned out to be a real thriller, I have a sneaking suspicion that I may have written myself completely out of the genre.



Summary of Jenny’s Choice

         In the concluding novel to the Apple Creek Dreams series, Jonathan and Jenny Hershberger are happily settled in Paradise, Pennsylvania, on the farm Jenny inherited from her grandfather. But when a tragic accident takes Jonathan’s life, Jenny and her young daughter, Rachel, return home to Apple Creek, Ohio to live with her adoptive parents, Reuben and Jerusha Springer. 
         As Jenny works through her grief and despair, she discovers she has a gift for writing. A handsome young publisher discovers her work and, after the publication of her first book, Jenny is on the verge of worldly success and possible romance.  
         But when a conflict arises with the elders of her church, Jenny must ask herself how far she’s willing to go to pursue her dreams. 
         A touching story of devotion and triumph over adversity.

Meet the Author

Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife Judy make their home in northern California an
d are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.

In 2011 he signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his Apple Creek Dreams series. The books are historical Amish fiction and the first book, A Quilt for Jenna, was released February 1, 2013.  The second book in the series, The Road Home, was released September 1, 2013.  Book number three, Jenny’s Choice, came out February 1, 2014.  His current series is The Paradise Chronicles and the first book, The Amish Heiress, will be out in a few months. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.