Belle Calhoune here. My guest today is my friend and fellow writer, Alison Stone. Alison and I met in person two years ago at the Romance Writers of America (RWA) Conference in Atlanta, Georgia. I’m happy to say we’ll be seeing each other again in New York City for the 2015 RWA conference in mid July. We write for the same line (Love Inspired), although Alison writes the nail-biting stuff for the suspense line. Welcome Alison!
Do you read Amish fiction? Prior to 2011, I hadn’t.
Amish fiction? That’s a thing? I laugh because those are the questions I get all the time now that I’m the author of several books set in Amish country with Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense.
So, how did I go from never having read Amish fiction to the author of 6 contracted Amish books? Four years ago, I had come this close (imagine me holding up my index finger and thumb an inch apart) to selling to Harlequin Intrigue and then Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense. I had three books go through the revision process with editors only to get rejected. I was so frustrated, but determined. It was then that I attended the RWA conference in New York City in 2011. While there, I attended a workshop given by several Harlequin editors. One of the editors said she was looking for more Amish suspense. Her words rang in my head. Hmmm? Amish suspense? I was intrigued by the idea. I remember the first time I saw an Amish gentleman on a horse and buggy when I was a little girl on my way through Pennsylvania. When my father explained to me that they didn’t drive cars or have electricity I envisioned a sad life without Laverne & Shirley or Happy Days. (You can tell where my kid-priorities were.)
Before I packed my bags at the RWA Conference and left Times Square, I had an idea. What if a plane crashed in the middle of an Amish farm? Right then and there, Plain Pursuit, my first contracted book with Harlequin was born. Amish fiction continues to explode. I’ve had the pleasure of learning a lot about the Amish through my research which has included talking to a professor of anthropology who studies the Amish, visiting an Amish community right outside of Buffalo (Did I mention the Amish make the best candy?), and reading both fiction and non-fiction books about the Amish.
I often wonder why books set in Amish country are so appealing. Is it the allure of a simpler life? Is it the same fascination I had the day I saw the Amish gentleman and his buggy on the side of the road? Or is it simply a good story is a good story regardless of the setting?
As a writer, I think the constraints of the Amish community add to the conflict of the story. Often, I have to think of a creative way for the faithful Amish person to get out of a jam without going against their local Ordnung, a set of rules for the Amish. Or, in other cases, the story takes a twist when an Amish person decides to “jump the fence,” an Amish expression for leaving the community.
Have you ever read Amish fiction? Perhaps if you give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised like I was. I’ll give one random person who comments a print copy of Plain Peril (Amish suspense), my February 2015, release AND a print copy of High-Risk Homecoming (nonAmish suspense), my July 2015 release.
Blurb for Plain Peril (Amish romantic suspense):
After her sister is found dead and her brother-in-law goes missing, Hannah Wittmer rushes back to the Amish community she abandoned to care for her young nieces. Although she makes every effort to blend in, she’s still seen as an outsider—and quickly attracts the attention of a killer. She knows Sheriff Spencer Maxwell is fast on the murderer’s tracks, but the Amish townspeople are as suspicious of him as they are of Hannah. As threats escalate—now targeting Hannah and the handsome sheriff—they’ll follow any trail to uncover a vicious criminal. Even if that trail leads them right to their own backyard…
Blurb for High-Risk Homecoming, my July 2015 release: (This title is not Amish.) After being attacked in her own store, Ellie Winters no longer considers her hometown a safe haven. Nor can she believe the lawman helping her recover is Johnny Rock, her former childhood friend—and the boy who once threw her family into turmoil. Though she’s secretly happy to see Johnny again, he’s only back to stop a drug ring. Too bad the trail leads straight to Ellie’s shop. Despite their rocky history, Johnny knows the pretty business owner can’t possibly be guilty. Now, with Johnny as the only thing standing between Ellie and a killer, he will do anything to keep her safe…and prove he’s worthy of Ellie trusting him with her heart.
Alison Stone’s Bio:
Alison Stone left Buffalo, New York and headed a thousand miles south to earn an industrial engineering degree at Georgia Tech in Hotlanta. Go Yellow Jackets! She loved the South, but true love brought her back North. After the birth of her second child, Alison left Corporate America for full-time motherhood. She credits an advertisement for writing children’s books for sparking her interest in writing. She never did complete a children’s book, but she did have success writing articles for local publications before finding her true calling, writing romantic suspense.
Alison lives in Western New York with her husband of twenty years and their four children where the summers are absolutely gorgeous and the winters are perfect for curling up with a good book–or writing one. Besides writing, Alison keeps busy volunteering at her children’s schools, driving her girls to dance, and watching her boys race motocross.
Sign up for Alison’s Newsletter at www.AlisonStone.com (Home Page)