I know you have taken great care to portray their lifestyle accurately in your writing. Do you research mostly through the internet, through books, or through interviewing Amish people?
I do all my research firsthand, by spending time with my Amish friends. If there is something I don’t know, I ask, and they have always been willing to tell.
What sparked your idea for the Amish Cooking Class series? And in real life, would it be common for the Amish to regularly associate with people outside their community, as Lyle and Heidi do in the series?
Two things sparked my idea to write the Amish Cooking Class series. First, I wanted to create a series similar to my Amish Quilting Club series, which was very popular with my readers. Only in the new series, people from all walks of life would come to an Amish woman’s house to learn how to cook instead of quilt. The second reason I chose to write this series is because my husband and I have eaten many delicious meals in our Amish friends’ homes, and I thought it would be fun to share some of the recipes with my readers.
While I don’t know any Amish women who teach cooking classes, I do know some who have opened their homes to serve sit-down dinners to tourists and others in the area who want a taste of good old-fashioned Amish cooking. It’s not uncommon to see Amish people associating with people outside their community. In fact, some of my best friends are Amish, and we get together as often as possible.
Do you identify personally with Heidi Troyer? If so, how?
While I enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, I’m not nearly the cook Heidi Troyer is in this book. I’m a professional ventriloquist, and have taught ventriloquism classes, but I don’t think I’d be able to teach a cooking class. I can, however, identify with Heidi in that I care about people and the problems they often face, just as she does in the story.
I know you have published several cookbooks featuring recipes from the Amish community. What is your favorite Amish recipe?
One of my favorite recipes, which can be found in my Wanda E. Brunstetter’s Amish Friends Harvest Cookbook, is Blueberry Crisp. We have several blueberry plants growing in our yard, so when they’re in season, I often bake this delicious dessert.
I understand that you are doing a book signing tour to Ohio in September with your daughter-in-law Jean and granddaughter Richelle, since the three of you collaborated on the upcoming book, The Beloved Christmas Quilt. Sounds like a wonderful family trip! I know you’ve written many times before with Jean; has Richelle written with you before? Does she plan to write more?
This is the first time Richelle has joined me or her mother in writing a book. She has plans to continue writing, either in collaboration or by herself.
What do you enjoy most about doing the book signings?
I enjoy the opportunity to meet some of my readers and talk with them about my books. It’s a blessing when one of my readers tells me that something they read in one of my novels has inspired them to do something or helped them cope during a difficult time. When I meet readers at a book signing, speaking engagement, or via social media, I feel a connection, and friendships develop.