Q&A: Kathryn Cushman (Almost Amish)
Life is hard and for Julie Charlton and her kids, it's getting to be overwhelming. So, when the opportunity arises to "live simple" as part of a reality TV show, they jump at the chance... but, as they quickly learn, "simple" can be hard too.
1. Tell us about your new book, Almost Amish.
Almost Amish is the story of Julie Charlton, an overwhelmed wife and mother who is exhausted and burned out. When her high-achieving sister-in-law lands a spot on a reality TV show about simple living called “Going Almost Amish,” she invites Julie and kids to join her. Julie hopes this is her chance to slow down long enough to reconnect with her kids and to remember her reason for doing what she does.
2. What was the inspiration for this story?
I think most women today are completely overwhelmed by the demands on their time and energy. We keep getting all these great “time saving” appliances, yet I think most women agree that their lives are far more hurried and stressed than their mothers’ lives were. The questions of “what happened to all that time we saved?” and “are we really doing this to ourselves?” gave me the idea for the book. My friend Kristyn was the human inspiration—she is a stay-at-home mother who runs herself ragged helping other people and getting very little credit for it.
3. What is the theme at the core of this book?
Discovering what God has called us to do and doing it with all our hearts. That can also mean NOT doing something, even if that something is a very good thing, if it is outside of what we are called to do. Even if other people are very adamant that we should be doing that something.
4. Do you envy the Amish way of life?
I grew up near an Amish community (the one depicted in this book), so I saw that life in all its hardships. I never could understand why women would be drawn to Amish fiction until I read one of Beverly Lewis’ books. Then I thought, “Wow, that does sound nice.” In reality, I think the Amish lifestyle is very difficult. I’m thankful for the freedom and comforts I have as a modern Protestant.
5. Did you do any special research for this book?
I did lots of reading and talking to the people who are close to the Amish in Tennessee. For personal research, I did a “Shoo-fly Pie” experiment so that one scene in the book would be accurate. A friend of mine who actually knows what Amish shoo-fly pie is supposed to taste like was my taste-tester. Pie-tasting night was interesting, to say the least. I also have a friend of a friend who works in reality TV (she has worked on shows like “Big Brother”). She taught me so much and helped me work through some of the technical details.
6. Why do you think life is so stressful for modern women?
Truly, I think a large part of that answer falls squarely on our own shoulders. We spend way too much time looking at everyone else and trying to keep up with them, instead of putting our heads down and doing what it is that we do best. Not everyone is a gourmet cook, not everyone is a terrific businesswoman, not everyone is fabulous and patient with a group of preschoolers. We need to celebrate what we do well, we need to celebrate what other people do well, and we need to cut ourselves and each other slack for not doing everything well.