Matthew Yoder is a young Amish man who can’t wait to start over in Missouri. Shanna Stoltzfus is a prodigal daughter who’s turned her back on her Amish roots. When a lack of finances forces her to return home, she develops a close friendship with Matthew. But when her disagreements with her father and his way of life start to put his health in danger, she is forced to take a close look at where her loyalties lie.
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A HARVEST OF HEARTS?
A contract. I needed blurbs for two more books when I pitched the first one to my agent and the publishers, and that came to mind. Then a lot of prayer when they bought it and it came up to be written! I’m a seat of the pants writer and don’t plot things out. So, it was so fun watching this book come together. I love Shanna and Matthew.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
Oh, Beverly Lewis is a favorite. I love her Amish books, and have since her second one came out. And I discovered her on accident. I went into the Christian Bookstore in Grand Rapids Michigan and was browsing books, and the clerk said “Have you read Beverly Lewis?” I said no, and she went and got book one and two in her first series. I was hooked and couldn’t wait for another book to come out. And I love Suzanne Fisher Woods, Colleen Coble, Kristin Billerbeck, Denise Hunter, Jenny Jones, Sandra Bricker, and so many other authors. I couldn’t possibly name them all. But they all inspire me.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
Faith is an absolute part of who and what I am. I couldn’t write a word without God and faith being a part of it in someway. I spend prayer and Bible time before I start writing every day, and I pray over scenes, and in the last book I just wrote, Promised to Another (April 2012), I prayed when I reached the “sagging middle” and wow, God came through big time.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
Forever. I don’t remember ever learning how to read – I just knew how. I was reading constantly in kindergarten until my teacher discovered I read in the “big kids” part of the library. Then she made me stay in the kindergarten section. That really put a damper on my reading. I mean, really, who wants to read “See Tom run!” when there was a whole world of books out there? So I started reading my mom’s collection of Grace Livingstone Hill books. As I got older I had this thought, “We need more Christian fiction out there.” I started writing in third grade. My fifth grade teacher told me that I should consider writing – and so did my seventh grade English teacher. I had some poems published in sixth grade. But I just played with it until I got older and decided to really try writing a book. Then I had a lot to learn.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
There are no accidents. Things don’t just happen by chance. Every good gift, and every perfect gift, comes from above, from the Father of Lights. This is true. But He expects us to develop those gifts, and to bring honor and glory to His name. So Shanna, who has this wonderful gift for nursing, and a heart so full of compassion, can’t be in it just for Shanna. There’s a bigger picture. and she needs to see God’s perspective. And that God is working behind the scenes in the reader’s life too.