A Letter from Lancaster County (Harvest House) is the first release in Amish author Kate Lloyd’s Lancaster Discoveries series. Two very different sisters, each dealing with personal challenges and regrets, struggle to find hope and reconciliation. In this exclusive Q&A, Kate gives the inside scoop on her study of Plain people, traits she shares with her characters, and what she hopes her readers will gain from this engaging story.
What were your goals writing A Letter from Lancaster County?
As a fiction author, I strive to entertain and inspire my readers. Without an investment in the story and characters, my reader is apt to skim through to the last page or maybe even close the book. I do so love a novel with a satisfying ending—my objective from the first page. Although sometimes my characters seem to have minds of their own and take the story on a new track, which is fun. I am intrigued with relationships and family dynamics. This story of two sisters begged to be written!
How do you approach writing about the Plain people in a way that is accurate to their way of life?
The main characters in this novel are English or Mennonite rather than Amish, although several Amish play important roles. I’ve done extensive research on the Amish, including traveling to Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, often. I have visited Young Center for Anabaptist and Pietist Studies at Elizabeth College, I correspond with the generous staff, and regularly read Amish-written publications. My husband and I enjoy seeing Mennonite relatives, and I am a member of the Lancaster Mennonite Historical Society.
I’ve been told by Amish readers that they enjoy my books. Before turning in my first Amish manuscript to my former publisher, I prayed to meet Amish people who would read it first. God answered my prayers in the form of an Amish couple and a lovely Mennonite woman. Each gave me the thumbs up, and the Amish couple has become close friends. We pray for each other daily and my husband and I visit them whenever in Lancaster County.
What can you tell us about the main characters?
My two main characters are English sisters from Seattle on a roller-coaster journey toward reconciliation. Both of them could tell you plenty about what’s wrong with the other, and they often wonder how they got saddled with spending this time together in Lancaster County. One character trait they share in common is that their faith lies shallow. I didn’t become a Christian until age 30, and I enjoy writing about people’s journey to know Him as their heavenly Father.
What was the most challenging part of writing the story?
My biggest challenge was keeping the tension between the two sisters without annoying my readers. And also, to give each sister a unique voice. They are purely fictional, yet all of the characters embody some of my personality traits. Even the men.
What do you want readers to take away after reading A Letter from Lancaster County?
I would be thrilled if my readers take away the knowledge that no matter the obstacles, family members can forgive each other. Healing is possible through forgiveness. Also, that the Lord is merciful and available for a relationship the moment we reach out to Him.