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Tuesday, February 4, 2020

The Discipline of Writing: Author Interview with Kathleen Fuller

You've now published over one million books. Back in 2000, when you first got started did you really think your books would be that popular?
I’d hoped they would be popular, but I didn’t imagine they would be this popular (and I’m so very, very grateful!).

What made you decide to write Amish stories?
My interest in the Amish started when my husband and I moved to Ohio. Being from Arkansas, I was unfamiliar with the Amish. When we moved to Geneva, OH, we were close to Middlefield. Around the same time, Amish fiction was growing in popularity, so I tried my hand at writing it.

Why do you think there's such a large market for their stories?
I think the complexity and swiftness of our society is a big reason why Amish and Mennonite fiction have large appeal. We long for simplicity and we love nostalgia, especially when life is overwhelming. The Amish also represent both the past and the present, which makes the connection to the stories more immediate, as opposed to those that are only historical.

How did you go about finding an agent/publisher? Did you go to conferences? Send out queries? 
All of the above! Going to conferences and belonging to writer’s groups had the biggest impact on me finding an agent. I highly recommend doing both if you’re a new writer.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The first draft, absolutely. I love working with words on the page but getting them on the page is difficult. That’s where discipline comes in—the only way to edit words is to create them, and you have to have the discipline to sit down and write.

What does your editor remind you to do most often?
Good question. Timelines and details are my Achilles heel. I have difficulty keeping track of time in a story, and details like ages, hair color, names, etc. often get mixed up in my manuscripts. I’m so thankful for my editors! It’s also the reason I started keeping a series bible at the end of last year because all the details were getting too unwieldy for me to keep track of in my head.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
I’m most encouraged when people tell me that my books were an escape during a difficult time. I’ve experienced that myself during hard times, so I know how important it is to have a book that can transport you into another place for a few hours.

We have all experienced rejection. How have you learned to write past it?
I’ve treated all my rejections with the same attitude—learn from the experience and move on. Some rejections are a simple “no”, but others are opportunities to improve my writing and my personal character.

I’m not immune to rejection—no one is—but looking at it from a practical viewpoint instead of emotional makes it easier to keep writing.

What has surprised you the most in writing/publishing?
I’d say how stories and characters sometimes form themselves. For example, Cevilla Schlabach, an elderly, spry matchmaker who features in several of my books, came to me fully formed. I personally haven’t known an elderly, spry, Amish matchmaker, so the fact that she’s so easy for me to write is one of those lovely mysteries of storytelling.

What frustrated you the most?
I have to admit it’s the speed at which publishing, marketing, and really, life in general, is running right now. That could be due to the fact I’m middle-aged and can remember a time when cell phones weren’t glued to our hands and when people still sat on the front porch and had conversations with each other instead of getting their information from Twitter, but I do think it’s not just us older folks who get exhausted by the pace.

I’m not sure what the answer is, especially in fields where using technology and social media are super important, but I do think we can take a lesson from the Amish and slow down a bit for our mental, physical, and spiritual health.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
That I need to be organized. I’m still working on that!

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?      
Keep writing. Perseverance is the most important trait you can nurture in yourself. Get a bad review? Keep writing. Sales aren’t what you want them to be? Keep writing. The story won’t take shape? Keep writing. Always keep writing. 

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
My only other tip would be to fall in love with storytelling. Love of stories will get you through the hard stuff.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?
In  January, I released The Innkeeper’s Bride.  Here are the details.
The book returns to the Amish community of Birch Creek, where an inn provides the perfect backdrop for romance.

Levi Stoll moved to Birch Creek with his widowed father, sister, and grandmother to run a much-needed inn in the small town. Within this thriving community, Levi has found his purpose and joy in the new inn. It doesn’t hurt that the move also provides him a fresh start, leaving behind some mistakes he’d much rather forget.

Selah Ropp has returned to Birch Creek after trying to outrun her own unhappiness. Genuinely glad to be back with old friends, Selah starts to work at the inn and can’t deny the sparks that fly between her and the handsome innkeeper. He’s like no man she’s ever met.

But Selah has a past, and she knows Levi will reject her if he discovers it. What she doesn’t know is that Levi is overcoming his own past mistakes while trying to ignore his attraction to his employee. The Innkeeper’s Bride reminds us all that with God’s grace, the past is forgotten, and love will reign supreme.

That’s all for today’s interview. If you’d like to learn more about Kathleen’s writing and upcoming books, here are some links to get you started

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