Friday, March 2, 2012

Why I Write Amish

I had a completely different post for today but my heart told me to write something different. My 96 year old grandmother passed away yesterday. I lost my 98 year old grandmother less than five months ago. Both were strong, Christian women. I was very close to both of them as I grew up, and later when we all lived in the Denver metro-area for many years. My children loved going to their homes because they were filled with things they weren’t familiar with, things of the past, heirlooms, and black and white pictures of unsmiling faces who were their ancestors.

It piqued their curiosity, and opened a new world for them to see Grandma Maurine darn a sock or crochet a blanket for them, instead of throw it away or buy one. She was a master story teller, so I told her to write them down. She did and had the stories published to give to each of her seven children. They returned the favor and gathered their memories together, and had the book published for her. I use some of their stories in my books. This grandma was a prankster, who loved a good joke. She played five instruments and was runner up in the Miss Senior Colorado Contest.

In her younger years my Grandma Isal taught in a one room schoolhouse. Later she lived on a ranch and was the best cook, ever! She canned fruit and vegetables, and made fried chicken that put KFC to shame. This was the real deal, going out to the chicken coop and…you can figure out the rest. But the best were the peaches she canned, straight from the Rocky Mountain orchards on the western slope. She also taught the kids to make their own ice cream, which they still say is better than any store bought.

Remembering all of this made me realize all over again why I like writing about the Amish. It takes me back to my grandparent’s ranch, and to the farm by dad grew up on. Riding horses and pretending we were cowgirls or cowboys if my cousins were there. Winters riding in the sleigh, and summers swimming in the river. And there’s no better place to play hide-and-seek than a farm. We worked hard and played hard. I can still hear my grandmother’s talk about the land, and how they joined together as a family every day doing chores. It’s a lifestyle I’m glad I was able to experience. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be able to create that world in my writing.

Question: What life experiences inspire your writing?


Jillian Kent said...

I'm so sorry you've lost another Grandmother. Keep them close in your heart. And maybe some of the things you learned from them you can put in your novels. Maybe you already do.

I grew up on a farm and learned to work hard from a young age. There were fun times though. Hiding in the corn when it grew high in the fields was a great way to scare cousins and they always got me back. :) I learned a lot about horses and love using horses in my novels as well as other animals.

Also, I spent time in England during my senior of college. This is where my Regency novels take place and that helps with my current writing needs. I'm desperate for another chance to visit though, but that's highly unlikely. Maybe some time in the future.

Anonymous said...


Thanks for the condolences. I'm on the plane to Colorado for the funeral as I write this.
It's so nice to hear about your similar experiences in country life. I don't think anyone can understand or appreciate why it sticks with you and how much you learn from it unless you have spent time doing 'real' chores and the responsibilities that go with that. I love the hiding in the cornfields! Good memories!

I do use the stories my aunts, uncles and grandmother told. My family sees it in my books and love it;)

And I definatley think you should take another trip to England, it's research after all ;)