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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The Importance of Research in Writing: An Interview with Wanda Brunstetter

My interview today is with New York Times bestselling and award-winning author, Wanda E. Brunstetter. She is one of the founders of the Amish fiction genre. She has written close to 90 books translated in four languages. 

With over 10 million copies sold, Wanda's stories consistently earn spots on the nations most prestigious bestseller lists and have received numerous awards. Now let's see how she keeps that writing fresh and inspiring.

I am in awe of your expansive body of work. When did you publish your first Amish romance novel? At what time did you think you could make a career of writing?
My first Amish romance novel was published in 1997. Up to that time, I’d written and had published, hundreds of short stories, articles, devotionals, puppet plays, and poems. Even though I wasn’t making much money at first, I still thought of writing as my career.

Do you ever visit the locations you write about?
Yes, all of the books I have written have been researched by visiting the area I chose to write about. In addition to that, I make sure I have a contact in that location so I can reach out to them if I have further questions. I have always done my own research.

An upcoming novel has a Hawaiian location. How did that story come about?
The Hawaiian Discovery is a sequel to The Hawaiian Quilt, and they both came about because we have an Amish friend who has visited the Islands and shared some of her experiences with us. Since my co-author, Jean, and I have been to Hawaii several times, and know some of the people there, we thought it would make for an interesting storyline.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? Starting? Creating a scene? Dialog? Tension?
The hardest part of writing for me is creating an outline for each chapter before I start the actual writing process. Even though I know the beginning, middle, and ending of my books, it can be difficult to create scenes ahead of time for each chapter.

However, having a good outline can prove to be very helpful once I begin writing the book. Even if my characters take me in a slightly different direction than originally planned, the outline serves as a guide and also helps if writer’s block sets in.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
My biggest encouragement comes from hearing from any of my readers that something they’ve read in one of my books has helped them in some way.

We have all experienced rejection. Give me an example of one you’ve had, and how you learned to write past it.
Early in my writing career, I received several rejections for a children’s book. I felt that it had potential, so I revised the manuscript, put it away for a while, and when I brought it out again, it was accepted.

What is some of the best writing advice that you’ve received or could give?
One piece of advice I would give to other writers is to make sure you know your subject well and spend enough time researching the setting of your story, as well as the people you are writing about.

Are there any other points about writing that you would like to add?
There are times when a writer might become discouraged, and as someone told me once, “Never give up. Never leave any stone unturned.”

What is the next book that will be coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
My next book following The Hawaiian Discovery is The Hope Jar. It will be published in August 2018, and it’s the first book in the new Prayer Jars series. Here is a short synopsis:

What happens when making an elderly Amish couple very happy means going along with a lie that gets bigger by the day? Michelle Taylor is not who her new family in Lancaster County believes her to be. The Lapps were looking for their long-lost granddaughter when they met Michelle and she assumed the identity of Sara Murray. 

Once homeless and hopeless, Michelle has come to love her new Amish friends and even considers the idea of romance among them. Finding an old blue jar in the barn that is filled with slips of paper containing thoughts, quotes, and prayers by an unknown author becomes a boost to Michelle’s budding faith— but also convicting. How can she tell the truth without hurting the ones she has truly come to love?

That’s all for today’s interview. I hope it has inspired you to pick up one of her stories. Here are some links to learn more about her books.

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