Hester Detlef just really likes to help people and, as local field director for the Mennonite Disaster Service she gets her chance when a monster of a hurricane comes through. Now she’s determined to rebuild the life of one John Hafner – not just his house and health but his faith. John is a shunned from the Amish church and has no desire to come back into the fold and even less desire to welcome this do-gooder woman into his life. Will Hester be able to break through to John and begin to build a new life? Maybe… together?
WHAT LED YOU TO WRITE A STRANGER’S GIFT?
My agent told me of an opportunity to propose a series that featured Mennonite characters and since I was spending the winter in Sarasota where there is a large and very active Mennonite/Amish community (Pinecraft), I decided to offer that as the setting for my trilogy.
STARTING OUT, WHO WERE THE AUTHORS WHO INSPIRED YOU? WHO INSPIRES YOU NOW?
William Styron, Wallace Stegner, Daphne du Marnier (dating myself aren’t I?). Today I would add to that list: Jodi Picoult, Anita Shreve and Elizabeth Berg.
HOW DOES YOUR FAITH INFLUENCE YOUR WRITING?
I was blessed to grow up in a small town where—because of the size of the community—there were times when the various congregations there worked together in ways larger communities might not experience. For example, because our congregation did not have enough young people to support a youth group, we joined forces with the youth at another church and attended that. In our church building there were two different congregations that took turns using the facility on Sundays but my family and I attended every Sunday regardless of whether it was my congregation or the other one. Once I moved away to a greatly expanded world and sometimes huge communities, I continued to have an interest in other faiths that differed from my own and quickly discovered that it is not our differences that matter—but the ways in which we are the same. THAT is what I try to bring to my work.
HOW LONG HAVE YOU KNOWN YOU WANTED TO BE AN AUTHOR?
How about forever? I remember writing an essay for civics class in elementary school that eventually won a state contest—I was hooked.
WHAT DO YOU MOST HOPE THAT READERS GET FROM READING YOUR WORK?
Peace, a sense that they are not alone in whatever challenges they may be facing.