Bestselling Amish fiction author Beverly Lewis has more than 17 million books in print. Her latest novel is The Proving (Bethany House). After five years as an Englisher, Amanda Dienner is shocked to learn her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. Can Mandy fulfill the terms of her inheritance—or will this prove a dreadful mistake? In this interview, the author looks back on two decades of writing Amish fiction, why her latest novel is set at an Amish bed-and-breakfast, and what she thinks of her status as a best-selling author.
Two decades have passed since you published The Shunning (Bethany House), your first Amish novel, and established an amazingly popular genre of fiction. What have the years since taught you?
The reception for my writing has truly exceeded my every hope, and it’s humbling to see how popular The Shunning remains to this day. Every book I write is for God’s glory, as well as about lifting the spirit and stirring the heart. The value of friendship, faith, and family; the need for community—these things are universal, and despite their obvious differences, readers from all walks of life relate to my Plain characters.
The Proving (Bethany House) is your first novel set in a bed-and-breakfast, and a more charming location than the butterfly meadows Amish Inn would be hard to imagine! Are you a frequent guest at B-and-Bs?
Oh, there’s nothing like a peaceful bed-and-breakfast in an out-of-the-way place—the more rural, the better! Setting a novel in a fictional Lancaster County B-and-B has long held a great deal of appeal to me. And once I conceived of the idea of a daughter deciding to return from the English world to run her mother’s cherished inn…well, I knew I had a real story to tell.
Can you share a little more about the plot?
Twenty-three-year-old Amanda Dienner has lived in the English world for five years, so she is shocked to learn her mother has passed away and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. What’s more, the inn will only truly be hers if Mandy can successfully run it for twelve months. Despite misgivings, Mandy accepts the challenge, no matter that it means facing the family and the Old Order community she left behind—or that the inn’s clientele expect an Amish hostess!
Your stories often feature faith themes. Are there any that stand out to you from the proving?
Forgiveness and reconciliation have been a thread throughout many of my books, and this one is no exception. The need to move beyond a difficult past to find healing and hope is a theme that resonates with so many readers at the heart level.
Another strong theme in this book is the need for courage. Both Mandy and my secondary protagonist, Englisher Trina Sutton, find themselves in a place where they need to step outside of their comfort zones. When it comes down to it, it’s their willingness to do so that sets the story in motion!
Your name makes frequent appearances on bestseller lists like the New York Times, and your books have been published worldwide in twelve languages. What do you think of the widespread appeal of your fiction?
Honestly, I still pinch myself! I’m ever grateful for how God has blessed me with the opportunity to share His love through my books; only He could have orchestrated all I’ve experienced as a writer. Every day I am touched to hear from wonderful reader-friends from around the world. As a storyteller at heart, it’s a blessing to have such faithful readers!