First time author, Amy Clipston shares her gift of storytelling with the newest edition to the popular Amish fiction genre, A Gift of Grace (Zondervan, May 2009). This tender story tugs at readers’ heartstrings with issues of difference, belonging, beliefs, culture and values all pulled together to create one mountain of confusion and chaos in this peaceful community.
When Rebecca Kauffman’s older sister, who left the Amish community when she was a teenager, dies in an automobile accident, Rebecca’s life is transformed and she is suddenly left custody of her two teenage nieces. Will she be able to reconcile the two worlds in her home – or will the clash of cultures tear her world, including her marriage, apart?
Instant motherhood, after years of unsuccessful attempts to conceive a child of her own, is both a joy and heartache at the same time. Rebecca struggles to give the teenage girls the guidance they need as well as fulfill her duties to Daniel as an Amish wife.
Rebellious Jessica is resistant to Amish ways and constantly in trouble with the community. Younger sister Lindsay is caught in the middle, and the strain between Rebecca and Daniel mounts as Jessica’s rebellion escalates. Instead of the beautiful family life she dreamed of creating, Rebecca feels as if her world is being torn apart by two different cultures, leaving her to question her place in the Amish community, her marriage, and her faith in God.
A CHAT WITH AMY:
Tell me a little bit about your background and your family.
I was born and raised in New Jersey. I moved to Virginia Beach, Virginia, when I was 18 and attended to Virginia Wesleyan College. In 2006, my family and I relocated to North Carolina. I have one amazing husband, two precious sons, and three spoiled-rotten cats.
What do you like to do in your spare time? Hobbies?
I love to read and (obviously) write. I’m addicted to chick-flicks and watch a lot of Lifetime, Lifetime Movie Network, and Hallmark Channel. I’m an avid NASCAR fan (go #88!), and we used to attend a lot of races before my husband became very ill. I also enjoy just spending time with my boys, watching them race around the yard on their riding toys and dig in the sandbox.
If you could have any superpower, what would it be and why?
I wish I could cure diseases. My husband is on dialysis and awaiting a second kidney transplant after his first transplant in 2004 failed. I wish I could magically make him and others in his predicament well.
What has God been teaching you lately?
God has been teaching me a whole lot about having patience and giving my burdens up to Him while we’re awaiting a matching kidney donor for my hubby. I’m not a matching donor for my husband; however, I plan to give a kidney to someone else in exchange for a matching kidney for him. It’s been a very long and difficult road with my husband’s illness, but prayer and faith have been my companions.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I went through phases where I wanted to be a teacher, a school crossing guard, a nurse, a dentist and a veterinarian. Funny, I never wanted to be a writer even though I wrote as a hobby.
Where are you headed next?
My second Kauffman Amish Bakery book, A Promise of Hope, will debut in January. In the meantime, a romance novel, Betrayed, will hit shelves with Five Star Publishing in September.
How did you get involved in writing?
Writing is like breathing for me. I was writing silly stories and sharing them with friends in elementary school. In junior and high school, I turned to writing fan fiction. After college, my fan fiction transformed into sweet romance novels. Later, I felt the calling to turn to inspirational, and that was when I found my niche.
How do you find time to write?
Since I work full-time, I’m up late at night and write while my boys are sleeping. I stay tired.
What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
Brainstorming and plotting are the most fun. I love getting to know my characters and playing around with storylines.
What was the most difficult aspect of the writing process?
I would say rewrites are the most difficult. While the end result is always much better than the first draft, reworking the story forces the writer to sometimes start over and also reach deeper into his/her soul to find the story.
What would you say to someone who wants to become a published author?
Surround yourself with other writers. Join a group, such as recommend American Christian Fiction Writers and Romance Writers of America, attend local chapter meetings, and sign up for on-line discussion loops. You’ll learn more than you can imagine from other writers, both published and unpublished. Also, it may sound cliché, but don’t give up. Rejection is heart breaking, but you’ll become a stronger writer every time you send out a query.
Where did you get the idea for the book?
I’m half-German, and my father immigrated to the United States with his parents and siblings in 1929. He once told me the Amish speak the same dialect as our relatives, so I feel a connection to them. I’ve always had a great respect and fascination with their faith and simple lives. I began reading other Amish authors, and I was moved to create my own series.
What are the major themes of the book?
The themes are forgiveness, acceptance, and also listening to God and really hearing what He’s trying to tell you.
What kind of research did you have to do for the book?
I read many, many books on the Amish, visited Lancaster, and interviewed a wonderful Amish woman.
With which character do you, personally, identify most and why?
I most identify with Jessica. I remember what it feels like to not fit in since I experienced that often as a child.
What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I hope that readers will feel a sense of hope after reading the book. Sometimes we may be convinced God has forgotten us or that what we’re experiencing isn’t part of His plan. However, things may not go the way we’d hoped, but God is always in control.
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