What themes or characters tie the books together?

The event described in the books—the Caribou Wildfire—is the springboard for all three stories. Mercy, Christine, and Nora are friends. All three evacuate with their families. From there the stories split.

Mountains of Grace includes the stories of three English characters also impacted by the fire. It’s the tale of a community, both Amish and English, uniting to overcome adversity.

A Long Bridge Home and Peace in the Valley focus more on how Christine and Nora are exposed to beliefs different from their owns. Starting all three stories from the same point in time was a challenge for me as a writer, but it allowed me to examine events from different perspectives for a deep dive into the impacts on the people involved.

What experience or research do you bring to writing about the Amish?

My journey as an author of 15 Amish novels and eight Amish novellas has been packed with research. I have made research trips to each of the communities where my novels are set, including Jamesport, Missouri; Bee County, Texas; and West Kootenai, St. Ignatius, and Libby, Montana.

Writing Amish stories is challenging because each district has its own Ordnung or rules. There is no central church. Those rules affect what clothes they wear, whether they have phone shacks, what kind of buggies they drive, indoor plumbing, if computers or phones are allowed in their businesses, do they ride bicycles, what farm implements they used, and so many other aspects of their lives.

I try hard to create a fictional world that is based on what I know to be true in these communities. Tons of information is available on-line, but nothing beats visiting the community.

I was able to attend school auctions in Jamesport and Bee County. That is so helpful in seeing the many Amish folks who gather at auctions. Firsthand, non-intrusive observation helps fill in many details. I also rely on experts such as Donald Kraybill and his book The Amish for detailed explanations of beliefs, religious rituals, and other important facets of daily life.

How does your faith impact how you how you approach storytelling?

My faith undergirds everything I write. Publishers often call it a “Christian worldview.” For me, it’s knowing that my words likely will influence the faith journey of those who read them. I want that influence to encourage them to think about story themes even after they’ve closed the book. What do they believe and why?

I pray that my stories move readers closer to God. Many of my stories deal with faith struggles in the midst of suffering, tragedy, and hurt. Because that’s the world in which we live. My own struggles are poured into my stories as I am honed by the fire so are my characters. My heartfelt desire is that the stories provide readers with comfort and hope as they are honed by their circumstances.

Click thru to find out why she thinks Amish fiction attracts so many non-Amish readers…

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About The Author

Kansas native Kelly Irvin is an author who writes in the Amish and suspense genres, and been writing nonfiction professionally for more than thirty years, including ten years as a newspaper reporter. She retired in 2016 after working 22 years in public relations for the City of San Antonio Parks and Recreation Department. She is a member of ACFW and Alamo City Christian Fiction Writers. In her spare time, she blogs, reads fiction, and loves her family.