With: Alison Stone
For years, I had tried to break into the Harlequin series lines that featured romantic suspense. I came close a few times, but I didn’t hear the words, “They’d like to offer you a contract,” until I wrote a novel set in Amish country.
Almost a year earlier, I had been at the Romance Writers of America conference in NYC. I went to a Harlequin workshop and an editor announced that she’d like to see more Amish suspense. Hmm? Amish?
My wheels started turning. I remembered the first time I had ever seen an Amish man with his horse and buggy when I was a little kid. They were trotting along on the berm of a major road while we zipped by, eight passengers packed into my father’s Cadillac (pre-seat era). I was fascinated by the scene. I couldn’t image life without Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley, my favorite TV shows at the time. No electricity. Really? A little part of me thought my dad—who had the greatest sense of humor—was pulling my leg.
The Harlequin editor’s request stuck with me. Before I flew home from NYC, I had an idea. What if a plane crashed on an Amish farm? I loved the idea of two worlds colliding. I arrived home, ordered some Amish books, both fiction and nonfiction and I continued my research by traveling to a growing Amish community south of my home near Buffalo, NY. (Again, who knew?) The plane crash idea eventually morphed into Plain Pursuit and was released by Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense in 2013.
What is it about the Amish that fascinates us? Remember the 1985 movie Witness? No one will disagree that Harrison Ford looks hot in a broad-brimmed hat while undercover on an Amish farm to protect Kelly McGillis who looks rather fetching in her bonnet. Or what about Jodi Picoult’s bestselling novel, Plain Truth? This was eventually made into a Lifetime Movie. What about all the Amish “reality” shows? In 2014, the Amish are hot, hot, hot. And Amish fiction is no exception.
Here’s my take on why readers are drawn to Amish fiction:
The Amish way of life is a throwback to a quieter time. Yet, they live among us. How do the Amish live without modern conveniences? Could you live without your iPad, car, AC, or TV? (However, the Amish are clever at making adaptations to meet their needs.) In some ways, do we envy the quiet way of life without the constant ping of smart phones? Or maybe this is just a romanticized notion. Farm life can be hard.
The setting itself is another character. In my Amish stories, I’ve had to find ways around not having say, a car or a cell phone. Actually, this comes in handy when I want the heroine to be in jeopardy. She can’t always call 9-1-1 or get away in her car. One of these days, I’ll have to work in an escape on a horse drawn buggy.
Two worlds collide. In my stories, I usually have the hero and heroine come from different backgrounds. One is (or was) Amish and the other is “English.” This immediately creates conflict not only in their budding relationship but also in how they look at life and the world around them. And how in the world will the Amish woman and the worldly man ever get their happily ever after?
The Amish setting also provides a unique twist on suspenseful scenes. Think horse and buggy, barn, cornfield, kerosene lamps, and homes without locks. The possibilities are endless.
One final note: One Amish community may differ in subtle ways from other Amish communities. The rules are established within each group. I created a fictional town, Apple Creek, New York. This allows me freedom to create the fictional world I need to tell a good story.
Have you ever read a book set in an Amish community? What do you think the appeal is? If you haven’t read one, why not? I’m giving away one electronic copy of my 2013 Harlequin Love Inspired book, Plain Pursuit (Amazon or Barnes and Noble/US Only) to one person who comments.
My latest romantic suspense from Harlequin LIS, Critical Diagnosis, is out in July. My latest book is not set in Amish country, but I do return to Apple Creek, NY in Plain Peril out in February 2015.
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.
Alison can be found on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AlisonStoneAuthor. Her website is www.AlisonStone.com. Her twitter handle is @Alison_Stone.
Latest release from Harlequin Love Inspired Suspense (inspirational fiction)
Critical Diagnosis Available July 2014
HER PERSONAL PROTECTOR
Researcher Dr. Lily McAllister has dedicated her life to finding a cure for a family disease and now, steps away from a promising new treatment, Lily is attacked. Only the training of army physician James O'Reilly can save her. As the would-be CEO of his family's pharmaceutical company, James's secret dream is to reenlist. But he can't leave Lily with a bull's-eye on her back. Nor can he stay and stop her from pursuing her goal. No one can, including the stalker who shadows her every move. Still, James has lost too many people he's loved—and this time he refuses to lose Lily.
Buy Links for Critical Diagnosis:
DANGER IN AMISH COUNTRY
When her brother is killed in a small Amish town, Anna Quinn discovers she's an unwelcome outsider. But the FBI agent investigating the case is right at home—because Eli Miller was born and raised in Apple Creek's Plain community. Eli left his Amish faith behind long ago, but his heart is rooted in a local cold case he can't forget—a mystery with strange connections to Anna's loss. Desperate to uncover the truth, Anna and Eli are faced with stony silences and secrets…secrets that someone wants to keep buried in the past.
Alison will be giving away a copy of Plain Pursuit to one lucky person leaving a comment or email entry.
Giveaway ends 11:59pm EST July 1st. Please supply your email in the post. You may use spaces or full text for security. (ex. jsmith at gmail dot com) If you do not wish to supply your email, or have trouble posting, please email firstname.lastname@example.org with a subject title of JRS GIVEAWAY to be entered in the current giveaway.