Different, But the Same
By Laura Bradford
While I’ve always been drawn to the Amish way of life—one rooted in faith, family, and tradition—I never knew just how fully it would speak to me until I began writing my popular An Amish Mystery series with Penguin/Random House. From the first words of that first book, I loved every moment I spent researching, and writing about, the Amish. It was important to me to debunk myths about the Amish—myths that, too often, are born on ignorance or simply a displeasure for anything different than what is seen as “normal.”
In that cozy mystery series, I created a cast of characters—both Amish and English—my readers came to love every bit as much as I did. They were people they came to care about. Because in those books, in addition to learning about the Amish ways in Lancaster County, readers came to see these people as…people. Just like you. Just like me.
They may dress differently…
They may live differently…
They may work differently…
But beneath all of those surface differences, they smile, and they cry, and they hurt, and they love. Just like us.
The main male character in my mystery series is former Amish. He left after baptism to become a cop. When the series opens, he’s just returned to Lancaster County after nearly seventeen years away. He’s come back because he wants to at least see his family, to know that they’re safe and well. As the series progresses, we see the pain he feels over the loss of those relationships—a pain that brought an added depth to these books and strengthened the reader/character relationship.
Still, as it is a mystery first, I can only delve so deeply.
Which is why, in 2018, I took my love of writing Amish into the world of women’s fiction. In women’s fiction, unlike in romance and mystery, the primary focus of the story is on the main character’s life journey. It may be a journey of reflection, or forgiveness, or understanding, or choices, but it’s all about that character (or characters).
In my 2018 release, Portrait of a Sister, I examined choices and being true to one’s self via a set of identical twins—one who was baptized, one who opted to live an English life.
In my 2019 release, A Daughter’s Truth, I looked at forgiveness via a 22 year old Amish girl who stumbles across a truth she wasn’t supposed to know. It’s a story as much about learning to forgive, as it is about belonging.
In my just released 2020 novel, Piece by Piece, I look at grief and healing, and finding light amid the darkness. In this story, Danielle Parker has suffered unimaginable loss—the kind of loss that can bring a person to their knees and leave them feeling utterly hopeless. But God works in mysterious ways, doesn’t he? And it is through a childhood friend turned pen-pal, Lydia Schlabach that Danielle begins to find hope amid the darkness. It is a story about those angels-on-earth God puts in our path and how, through them—and HIM—we can keep living.
I love telling stories about people we can all identify with in some way (be it a shared journey, or our ability to feel empathy for others) and feeling as if I’ve made people think. About their own heart… Their own priorities…
Up Next For Me
In advance of the release of our Amish Christmas Miracles Collection in November, I thought I’d share a little peek into my short story, The Christmas Program with all of you…
Visit Amish country for one of the most beloved traditions of the holiday season with national bestselling author, Laura Bradford
In the blink of an eye, Leah Miller has gone from assistant teaching in her own district, to being the sole teacher in an unfamiliar classroom, just days before the students’ annual Christmas program. Now, in addition to learning names and preparing lessons, Leah must also make sure the schoolhouse is decorated and the children have learned the many songs, poems, and skits that are such a treasured part of the Christmas season in Amish country. It’s an exciting time for Leah and all of her students…except one.
With the help of Wes Hostetler, a kind and handsome stranger who well remembers the Christmas programs of his own youth, Leah tries everything she can to help soothe little Emily Mast’s fears. But will it be enough to make a difference, or will yet another unexpected wrinkle make it so Leah is the first teacher in the district’s history forced to cancel the beloved tradition?
Laura Bradford is the national bestselling author of more than 35 books and stories, including the just-released novel,Piece by Piece. Her first women’s fiction novel, Portrait of a Sister, was a July 2018 Book Club Pick for Delilah of Delilah Radio and a Summer Book Club pick for Southern Lady Magazine.
Laura also pens several mystery series including; An Amish Mystery series, the Emergency Dessert Squad Mysteries, the Tobi Tobias Mysteries, the Southern Sewing Circle Mysteries (written as Elizabeth Lynn Casey), and the upcoming A Friend For Hire Mysteries. She is a former Agatha Award nominee, and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. Laura enjoys baking, spending time with her family, and being an advocate for those living with multiple sclerosis. Learn more at: https://www.laurabradford.com/
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