When a gifted author stirs the pot of her mind, the results can be truly inspirational.
For years the seemingly unrelated topics of reflexology, hummingbirds and the trauma of childhood abandonment lingered in the creative mind of New York Times bestselling author Wanda E. Brunstetter.Then, when she sat down to write THE GIFT, her August novel for Shiloh Run Press, the acknowledged expert on Amish culture blended the three topics into a seamless and heartbreaking story about the healing power of forgiveness.
“I have an Amish friend in Indiana, Irene Miller, who practices reflexology in her home—just as Leah Mast does in THE GIFT,” Brunstetter said about the woman to whom she dedicated this second entry in her Prairie State Friends trilogy. “I have always been fascinated with how Irene utilizes her gift to help others. When I decided to include reflexology in my storyline, she sat down with me and answered all my questions about her practice.”
Having her lead female character give reflexology treatments to the Amish in Arthur, Illinois, enabled Brunstetter to show that, while the Amish will go to doctors, they prefer to treat most common ailments with natural measures.
“It also provided a way to put Leah in conflict with Adam Beachy, the owner of the local hardware store, who insists reflexology is hocus pocus,” Brunstetter explained.
When tragedy strikes, and the emotionally distant Adam finds himself parenting his sister’s three orphaned children, Leah, who is good with children, offers to care for the girls while he works. Eventually, Adam decides he and his heartbroken nieces will be better off if he marries Leah, but he insists it is to be a business relationship only. Leah eventually learns that Adam has never overcome being abandoned as a young child by his mother, who practiced reflexology.
But with Leah’s love and gift for friendship, slowly Adam and his emotionally fragile nieces begin to heal and become a real family. It is when the oldest girl, Amy, is introduced to the feeding and banding of hummingbirds, that the 10-year-old rediscovers the joy in life.
“Another friend, in Pennsylvania, lives in the hummingbirds’ migratory path—they come there by the hundreds,” Brunstetter said, “and she shared with me her experiences with these lovely creatures.”
While Leah and Adam find one another, their friends, Jonah and Elaine, who have suffered through tragedies in the first two books of the series, must wait until Book 3 for their happy ending. That book, THE REVELATION, will be published in February 2016.
Brunstetter’s published books number almost 70. She became fascinated with the Amish way of life when she first visited her husband Richard’s Mennonite relatives. The Brunstetters have Amish friends in several states and enjoy visiting them throughout the year.