Today, I have the distinct pleasure to introduce an author who has quickly risen high on the favorite author list for many who enjoy the slower-paced lifestyle. Her stories have struck a chord in many readers' hearts, creating a desire for her books that sees them flying off the shelves. Now, she's here and ready to talk to you.
Wanda E. Brunstetter is a best-selling, award-winning author of over 20 novels. She's also had hundreds of stories, articles, poems, word puzzles, devotionals, monologues, and puppet plays published with a variety of publishers. Wanda resides in the state of Washington with her husband, Richard who is a minister. She especially enjoys writing about the Amish because they live a peaceful, simple life, which is something she feels everyone needs in this day and age.
1. You have recently launched a strong genre niche in the Amish stories you've penned. In the pattern of Beverly Lewis, you have reached high acclaim for these stories. Most recently, you've had 4 revised and expanded stories from the Heartsong Presents line re-released, one each month for the past 3 months with the 4th releasing this week. What made you decide to pursue this opportunity and more specifically this focus?
By readers' request, my publisher asked me to revise and expand the four books originally published as smaller Heartsong Presents novels, then later released in the now out-of-print LANCASTER BRIDES collection. My focus on the Amish way of life comes about because of my interest in and respect for the special Amish people I've come to know and love.
2. How much of your own experiences influenced the characters of these 4 books?
In Book 1, "A Merry Heart," I drew from my unhappy childhood experiences that resulted in my being unable to smile and then later, learning how to have a merry heart. In Book 2, "Looking for a Miracle," I used my love for plants and flowers as a focus and a job for my main character to have. In Book 3, "Plain and Fancy," I used my experience with one of my friend's "special" child to show how my main character dealt with learning that her baby had Down Syndrome. In Book 4, "The Hope Chest," I remembered the expectant, joyful feelings I had when I filled my own hope chest over 40 years ago. I used my imagination and the what-if questions to create most of the characters' traits, and especially had fun when I wrote "Plain and Fancy" and asked myself what it would be like for someone who had been raised in the modern English world but decided to join the Amish faith.
3. What themes exist in these 4 books that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?
The main theme in "A Merry Heart" revolves around Miriam learning how to give her bitter spirit and pain from the past over to God and eventually develops a merry heart. One thing that developed as the story progressed in the revised version was Amos Hilty, the widower's point of view, where we learn why he was willing to court someone like Miriam, who had a bitter spirit and needed a merry heart. The main theme in "Looking for a Miracle," evolves around Rebekah, a young Amish woman confined to a wheelchair and looking for a way to support herself, knowing it would require a miracle. As the story progressed, I decided to show how Rebekah's sister, Nadine, coped with Rebekah's handicap and came to grips with the jealousy she felt because of the attention Rebekah got from their family. In "Plain and Fancy" my main theme centered around Laura, a fancy English woman learning to do without modern things and coming to realize the importance of a relationship to God and her family. A secondary theme came about in the revised version when I focused on Pauline, Eli's ex-girlfriend and showed how she felt about Eli's interest in an outsider. The main theme in "The Hope Chest" revolves around Rachel, a young Amish woman hoping for something she can't have--namely her sister's boyfriend. The secondary theme involves Rachel's sister, Anna, who decides to leave the Amish faith and then has to cope with the rejection of her family.
4. What was your most difficult part to write? Your favorite?
"Plain and Fancy" was probably the most difficult, but it was also my favorite story, as I described the way Laura felt during her transition from fancy to plain. My friendship with several Amish people has helped me understand the Amish way of life better, but it was still a challenge to get into Laura's head, since I have not become Amish myself. Like most of my readers, I long for a slower-paced, simpler way of life, where family values and an emphasis on God takes priority over worldly things. So, I had fun pretending to be Amish as I portrayed Laura in my story.
5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?
My next Amish novel is the first in a 3-book series set in Holmes County, Ohio. It's titled "A Sister's Secret," and involves a mystery.
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Now that you've learned a bit more about Wanda, enter for a chance to win a FREE COPY of YOUR CHOICE of the four books. Post a comment now, and you're automatically entered. Winner gets to choose which book you desire as your prize.
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