Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous.
Understanding more about the Amish
You all know that I'm going to be hooked on Breaking Amish. (Oh, and last night, I figured out when/where Amish: Out of Order airs!) I also admitted to not being an Amish expert and could not answer the questions Jenny and Rachel had. However, I work with a couple of authors that likely can.
In the interview below Suzanne Woods Fisher, a best-selling author of Amish
based non-fiction and fiction, discusses some of the most popular
misconceptions about the Amish people and their lifestyle. In the interview
below, she talks about the research she has done on the Amish, her own family
connections, and what drew her into the Amish fiction genre.
By the way, Fisher is excited to announce the launch of the Amish
Wisdom iPhone appand to share
about her latest fiction release, The Haven (August 2012). Both the
first book in a series for young readers, Life With Lily (written with
Mary Ann Kinsinger who was raised Old Order Amish),and the expanded,
paperback edition of the non-fiction Amish Proverbs (a finalist for the
2011 ECPA Book of the Year) will be available in stores on October 1 if you just can't get enough Amish!
Q: What are some of the
misconceptions the public has about the Amish way of life?
It's always foolish to generalize a population. That's what
happens when people watch TV shows about the Amish--they draw a conclusion and
apply it to 250,000 people. The Amish can't be jammed into one-size-fits-all.
The problem with these TV shows is that they focus on a few Amish who have
chosen to leave...and they left for a reason. The shows are not highlighting
the lives of the 85-90% who choose to remain in the church. Their story isn't
getting told. That's one of the reasons I like to read "The Budget,"
an Amish-Mennonite newspaper--it gives a nationwide picture of the Amish and
you can see the satisfaction and contentment in their lives.
Next myth: Stopping school at 8th grade means that one’s
education stops. So not true! The Amish have a core value of lifelong
learning and mastering concepts. My favorite story is about an Amish man who
ran a dairy until his eldest son was old enough to take over the day-to-day
management of it. This dad then taught himself all about electricity and hired
out as an electrician. Keep in mind—he had never used electricity!
I could go on and on and on.
In your latest fiction series, one of the characters has a heart transplant. It
comes up in this story as well. Are the Amish open to modern medical treatment?
Amish do use doctors and hospitals and are open to modern medical treatment.
They don’t have medical or life insurance because it would require joining with
others who are not Amish. Instead, the church pools money to help families
cover medical costs of their members. Perhaps because they are cost-conscious,
they do make use of alternative health treatments: remedies, chiropractors,
reflexology, etc. Above all, what I’ve noticed is that they have a deep belief
in eternal life, so a grim diagnosis (like Amos Lapp had in The Keeper)
is faced with acceptance and trust in God.
Q: What first drew you to
writing Amish fiction?
My grandfather was raised Plain and I grew up interacting
with my Old Order German Baptist relatives. I was always intrigued by them—lovely,
gentle, kind, faithful people. I admired their simple life—their homes, their
gardens, their interest in things without the need to own things. When my agent
connected me to an editor at Revell who was looking for a writer about the
Plain people, it all came together in a non-fiction book contract, Amish
Peace. That book became a foundation for me to write credible fiction about
the Amish, and was a finalist for the ECPA Book of the Year. I just love that
Q: It seems that the Amish can sometimes be apprehensive
about letting outsiders into their communities. How are you able to research
certain aspects of Amish life?
My relatives have opened some doors for me, and I’ve had the
blessing of making some wonderful Amish and Mennonite friends who are willing
to answer questions and be a resource. I have a full disclosure policy
with anyone I am writing about—they know I’m a writer, they can read and
correct the essays, and then we change names and location to protect privacy.
Don’t get me wrong--I have faced some shut doors! But many open ones,
Q: Amish fiction is such a popular genre of Christian
fiction. Why do you think so many readers love stories of the Amish?
There’s not just one simple answer to that question, but I
think you could combine some current issues and see why the sub-genre is
attractive to readers and continues to grow.
The recession certainly plays a role—this sub-genre took off
as the economy crashed. Amish stories transport a reader into a more peaceful
world—and peace combats financial insecurity and anxiety.
The galloping pace of technology might be another piece of
this puzzle. Isn’t it ironic what little spare time you have despite so many
time saving devices?
The pastoral setting speaks to, and reminds us, of the
soothing effect of nature.
And then…naturally, a love story is always wonderful. Amish
More about Suzanne Woods Fisher:
Fisher is a bestselling author of fiction and non-fiction
about the Old Order Amish for Revell with over 500,000 books sold. Amish
Proverbs, an ECPA 2011 Book of the Year finalist, will be re-released in
paperback in October 2012. Fisher’s interest in the Amish began with her
grandfather, who was raised Plain in Franklin County, PA. She hopes readers are
inspired by underlying themes in her books and incorporate Amish values into
their lives including simplicity, forgiving other more readily, appreciating nature
and trusting in God.
She is the host of the weekly radio program Amish Wisdom,
and the free
iPhone app with the same name debuted last week.