Amish romance authors Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, and Vannetta Chapman share about their new Christmas Amish wedding anthology.
The new seasonal anthology An Amish Christmas Wedding: Four Stories (Zondervan) offers four delightful stories perfect for celebrating love, joy, and the everyday miracles Christmas brings. The collection includes new stories from Amish romance authors Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, and Vannetta Chapman.
Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace series. Kelly Irvin is the bestselling author of the Every Amish Season and Amish of Bee County series. Kathleen Fuller is the author of several bestselling novels, including the Hearts of Middlefield novels, the Middlefield Family novels, the Amish of Birch Creek series, and the Amish Letters series as well as a middle-grade Amish series, the Mysteries of Middlefield. Vannetta Chapman is the author of more than a dozen novels, including the Pebble Creek Amish series, and The Shipshewana Amish Mysteries.
In this interview, the authors share what they hope readers get out of their stories, what makes their protagonists compelling, and why storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth.
Ladies, please tell us about your protagonists…
Amy Clipston: “Evergreen Love” features new characters that don’t appear in any of my other books, and I had so much fun telling their story. Ryan Lapp had promised to marry Lorene Bontrager as soon as he was able to build them a house on his father’s farm, but the day never came. Ryan moved away and started working with this uncle as a way to heal his heart after losing Lorene. Five years later, Lorene has settled in to taking care of her father and sister, and she never truly got over her heart ache of losing Ryan. She’s shocked when her younger sister announces her quick engagement to Ryan’s younger brother. As they rush to plan the wedding, Lorene is constantly around the family she almost joined. Worse, she’s forced to face Ryan himself, who has returned to town. As both Ryan and Lorene examine their own feelings, they must decide if they can find grace with each other—and the young people they once were—this Christmas season. There just might still be love in their future.
Kelly Irvin: Both Henry and Leesa had minor roles in earlier novels in my Amish of Big Sky Country series and they stayed with me. Especially Henry. He was a good friend to one of my leading men. He’s a widower who moved from Tennessee to Montana to make a fresh start. He’s not a big talker, preferring to spend time in nature than with people. He works as a guide for tourists who want to hunt and camp in the Kootenai National Forest. Leesa’s beau dumped her during the wildfire evacuations, leaving her hurt and at loose ends. She takes a teaching job, not because she’s suited to it, but because she wants to stay in her hometown of West Kootenai when her family moves away. She really wants to make it work, but her self-confidence is low.
Kathleen Fuller: Mary and Jakob are longtime friends who were always expected to get together. When they finally did their relationship didn’t work out–or so they thought. A wedding of their mutual friend brings them back together. Is the second time the charm for this wayward couple?
Vannetta Chapman: Both Micah and Rachel are “senior citizens,” and they’re not sure what this phase of their life will look like. Micah is widowed. Rachel has never been married and rather doubts she ever will be. And yet they’re trying to contribute to their community, to stay involved, to look forward to every day. They’re trying to believe that God still has a purpose and plan for their lives.
What made you want to tell their story?
Amy Clipston: “Evergreen Love” was inspired by a story one of my friends told me about her Amish friend who was engaged to a man and then changed her mind at the last minute. Years later, however, the couple reunited and found a way to work things out and then build a life together. Since reunion tales are my favorite kind of stories, I couldn’t get that idea out of my mind, and it inspired Lorene and Ryan’s novella. I also love Christmas stories! Weaving the Christmas season into the novella was so much fun. I enjoyed spending time with these characters and I hope that readers will too.
Kelly Irvin: This happens to me often. I have secondary characters who pique my imagination. I want to give them their happily ever after. I felt bad for Leesa’s broken heart. Henry’s such a good guy. He deserves to have love and a family, even if he thinks he’s done with all that. They’re so different. I had such fun throwing them together on an important “project” and watching the sparks fly! This is also Tommy’s story. He is a confused, sad, ten-year-old orphan who comes to live with Henry. He’s suffered tremendous loss and claims not to believe in God. Watching their relationships unfold and grow at home and at school was lovely.
Kathleen Fuller: I wanted to explore the idea of a couple who decided to date because of outside expectations and not because they were romantically interested in each other. Then I took on the challenge of bringing them back together in a believable way. This novella collection was the perfect opportunity to tell Mary and Jakob’s story.
Vannetta Chapman: I live in a small town, so I’m acquainted with quite a few of our senior citizens. They are dear people who still have valuable skills and knowledge to share. I’ve seen some marry in their “golden years,” and I’ve always found that to be a precious thing. I wanted to share that story–the one of a future where we’re not sure what that looks like at all.
What would you like readers to take away after having read your novella?
Amy Clipston: Readers should expect to read a sweet love story full of inspiration and hope. The main characters all struggle with their own crisis of faith as they try to understand God’s plan for them. Throughout the story, they see that no matter what, God is with them through the storm and that second chances are possible when they lean into their faith. In “Evergreen Love” Lorene and Ryan struggle with choices they made that caused the end of their relationship years ago. When they are reunited, they are forced to face the truth about the past. I hope that readers can see themselves in my characters and that my books give them hope and possibly even a deeper faith in God.
Kelly Irvin: Life often throws us curveballs that can be painful and difficult to understand. God’s plan will be revealed to us. We have to trust and obey, even when we don’t feel like it. God is good—all the time. His character is unchanging. We can hang our hats on that in the difficult seasons. I know how easy that is to say and hard it is to do. So I write stories that illustrate how God comes through for us even when our faith seems to ebb.
Kathleen Fuller: I’d love for readers to be entertained by Mary and Jakob’s story, and to experience a bit of Christmas spirit, no matter what time of year they read the book.
Vannetta Chapman: That God isn’t finished with any of us yet. There’s still work to be done, lives to touch, people to care for. We all have a purpose, and yes–God’s grace is sufficient to see us through all the days of our lives.
How does your faith influence how you write your story?
Amy Clipston: Since I’ve faced many hardships in my life with my husband’s chronic health problems, my books always contain a theme of second chances and renewed faith in God, and “Evergreen Love” is no different. I hope readers walk away from this novella with a belief in new beginnings and a deeper faith that God provides for us and will get us through the storms in our lives.
Kelly Irvin: I approach every story with a Christian world view. How can this story be a light shining in a dark world without being preachy? My first obligation always is to entertain. I want the readers to close the book and still be thinking about the characters and how their dilemmas are resolved. My characters are flawed, imperfect people, just like all of us. I strive to make my stories reflect how we all struggle in our faith at times. Life isn’t easy, but God is with us. Always.
Kathleen Fuller: My faith influences everything I do. When I wrote “Wreathed in Love,” I wanted to tell the story of a couple who get a second chance. God give us more chances than we deserve!
Vannetta Chapman: I think my faith is integral to every story that I write. I firmly believe that God’s grace is what sees us through each day, gives us strength when we’re weak, and gives us hope when it’s hard to find.
Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
Amy Clipston: I believe storytelling is a way to relate to readers and I do my best to make my characters relatable. I always make sure that my characters have layers instead of being one dimensional, and like the rest of us, they aren’t perfect. They have problems, they make mistakes, and they struggle with universal issues, such as being estranged from family members, feeling as if they don’t fit in, suffering with grief after losing a loved one, or feeling disconnected from God. I believe these are issues most of us can relate to since we’ve all experienced loss, suffering, and hurt. I often draw on my own experiences and I recall how I felt when I struggled through these difficult seasons in my own life. In “Evergreen Love” Lorene and Ryan struggle with choices they made that caused the end of their relationship years ago. When they are reunited, they are forced to face the truth about the past. I hope that readers can see themselves in my characters and that my books give them hope and possibly even a deeper faith in God.
Kelly Irvin: From the time we’re small children, sitting on our parents’ laps, we are entranced by stories. They transport us to other places and times. Jesus told stories—parables—to help people understand who He was, how He wanted them to live, and what following Him would mean for them. Stories are an escape, enjoyment, recreation, and simply fun. But they’re also a means of provoking thought, stretching minds, and learning about ourselves and others. People can read stories and draw their own conclusions. Life would be so much less without storytelling.
Kathleen Fuller: Stories transport the reader into the reality of the characters and allow them to experience the world from a different perspective. Even though the characters are fictional, and the world isn’t tangible, it feels that way to the audience. Through the reading experience, they can consider truths in a way they never had before.
Vannetta Chapman: That’s such a great question. In my opinion, we’re willing to consider new or different ideas in fiction that we wouldn’t consider otherwise. Say I’m 80 years old, and I’m feeling that I don’t have much to contribute. When I read a story about how an older person can bring kindness to another life, or fall in love, or try a new venture—then I am willing to consider that. I believe that fiction is a powerful tool for sharing our experiences.
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An Amish Christmas Wedding: Four Stories
By Amy Clipston, Kelly Irvin, Kathleen Fuller, Vannetta Chapman
From bestselling authors of Amish fiction come four delightful stories perfect for celebrating love, joy, and the everyday miracles Christmas brings.
“Evergreen Love” by Amy Clipston
Ryan Lapp had promised to marry Lorene Bontrager as soon as he was able to build them a house, but the day never came. Ryan moved away. Five years later, Lorene has settled in to her old maid role, and she’s shocked when her younger sister announces her quick engagement to Ryan’s younger brother. As they rush to plan the wedding, Lorene is constantly around the family she almost joined. Worse, she’s forced to face Ryan himself, who has returned to town. As both Ryan and Lorene examine their own feelings, they must decide if they can find grace with each other—and the young people they once were—this Christmas season. There just might still be love in their future.
“Holiday of Hope” by Kelly Irvin
Henry Lufkin is one of four bachelors who lived in the West Kootenai, Montana, cabins that were destroyed by wildfires. He’s the only one of them who hasn’t since married, but he likes his solitude. Then an old friend asks him to care for his son, and Henry has to share his small cabin and his life with bewildered and rebellious ten-year-old Tommy. When the child encounters trouble at school, Henry reaches out to Tommy’s teacher. Leesa Yoder never expected to find herself single and teaching sixteen young scholars, and she certainly didn’t anticipate an inexperienced bachelor telling her how to do her job. Amid the flying sparks, can Henry and Leesa see that there might be hope and love in this unexpected situation?
“Wreathed in Joy” by Kathleen Fuller
Mary Wengerd and Jakob Mullet have been best friends since childhood. Pressured by friends and family, they decided to date—with disastrous results. When they break up, their friendship is ruined. A year later, Mary is baking her Englisch friend’s wedding and groom cakes for a Christmas Eve wedding. Mary loves the Christmas season, and had always dreamed of marrying during that time. Now she wonders if she’ll ever marry. After she and Jakob form a tenuous new friendship, Mary breaks her arm. As he steps in to help her with the cakes, Mary is inexplicably and suddenly falling for him. But they’ve already dated, and that ended so horribly. Could it be better this time?
“A Christmas Prayer” by Vannetta Chapman
Widower Micah Miller runs the Amish Tour Company, offering Englischers a glimpse of a simpler life as well as tea at Rachel King’s. Rachel has never married and has recently lost her parents. When Micah comes across an abandoned and injured dog, he gives it to Rachel for company. As Rachel is charmed by the dog and shocked by news of the existence of family she never expected, her heart and mind bend toward the possibilities of change in her life—even toward the possibility of love.