Posted on August 15, 2023 at 8:00 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek
Today we're interviewing author Beverly Lewis, who writes Amish fiction, including the upcoming release The Heirloom.
Lewis, born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, has more than 17 million books in print. Her stories have been published in 12 languages and have regularly appeared on numerous bestseller lists, including the New York Times and USA Today.
Lewis and her husband, David, live in Colorado, where they enjoy hiking, biking, making music, and spending time with their family.
SADYE: How did you come to see yourself as a writer, and what inspired you to seek publication?
BEVERLY: I began writing when I was nine years old, hiding my handwritten stories and poems in my bottom dresser drawer.
Years later, when my children were in middle school, I let my husband read some of those very early writings, curious what he might say.
Well, Dave, who is well-read, was so impressed with my little-girl stories, he urged me to send my most recent articles and stories to magazine editors to see what might become of it.
So, it was Dave who spurred me on initially, and some years later to write books for children and teen girls.
Not until the mid-'90s did I attempt to write a story for adult readers loosely based on my maternal grandmother’s excommunication and eventual shunning from her very strict Plain community in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.
My first novel for adult readers, The Shunning, had originally been intended for my immediate family and my mother’s close relatives exclusively. But after several editors read it, I was encouraged to share my grandmother’s heartbreaking story with the rest of the world.
SADYE: Tell us something about your writing process that’s unusual or that you haven’t revealed before.
BEVERLY: Quite often, I rewrite scenes up to twenty times. Yes, I happen to love rewriting, reshaping and making my stories as polished as possible for my wonderful readers.
SADYE: What have been the most surprising, rewarding, and challenging parts of your writing career?
BEVERLY: Early in my writing career, following the release of The Shunning, I began receiving letters from Amish women who said that my description of their way of life was so accurate. “How do you know so much about our secret practices?”
Of course, I was pleased to explain that I had grown up around the Lancaster County Old Order Amish, even stayed with two different Amish families in that area while doing my research. And that my mother’s mother had been Old Order Mennonite.
The most challenging aspect of my thirty years of writing novels has always been the dreaded deadlines. An editor once told me with a suspicious grin on her face that there was a reason the word “dead” was stuck in there.
SADYE: What has been the most touching or memorable piece of reader feedback you’ve received?
BEVERLY: Numerous teen girls have told me with such enthusiasm that my “Holly’s Heart” and “SummerHill Secrets” series of book seem like they were written just for them, like “a private letter from a best friend.”
SADYE: What experience in your past or general aspect of your life has most affected your writing?
BEVERLY: Definitely the theme of adoption, since each of our three children were adopted as infants. I was truly blessed to bond with my boy/girl twins just a few hours after their births.
Years later, I was happy to help our older daughter locate her bio mom, which eventually led to her meeting her bio dad, as well. Julie was not looking for a mom or dad replacement, she told me. She was just curious, as are many adoptees, to know what they looked like and if she resembled either or both of them.
That heartwarming journey most certainly influenced the writing of several of my Amish-related novels, especially The Shunning.
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Categories: Author Interview