Suzanne Woods Fisher is an award-winning, bestselling author of more than thirty books, including The Moonlight School and the Three Sisters Island, Nantucket Legacy, Amish Beginnings, The Bishop’s Family, The Deacon’s Family, and The Inn at Eagle Hill Series. Suzanne spins heartwarming tales about the Amish way of life. She’s written several books on this topic and has created a fictional community, Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania, where her characters reside. Fisher’s newest novel, A Season on the Wind, invites readers to revisit Stoney Ridge in an engaging story of discovering rare birds in life, feathered and otherwise.
FF: Can you please provide a brief description of A Season on the Wind?
As a young girl, Penny Weaver introduced teenager Ben Zook to birding, and he ran with it. He also ran from the Amish. Now a well-known author of books on rare birds, Ben returns to Stoney Ridge to find his nemesis—a White-winged Tern. Penny always knew Ben would come back one day, back to the Amish, back to her . . . but she hadn’t expected that he has no memory of her.
FF: What was the inspiration for your book?
Long ago, I learned of a rare little bird, a Northern Wheatear, that got knocked off course in a storm and paid a visit to an Amish farm. That little bird set me on a trail to discover more about Amish birders—many of whom are top-notch. It also triggered my own hobby of bird-watching. Today, I’m an enthusiastic amateur birder. More enthusiasm than knowledge, but my interest is keen.
FF: The male protagonist, Ben Zook, has briefly returned to his hometown of Stoney Ridge. But even if he wants to forget his past, it still remembers him. Can you give readers a hint of what this means and how this plays out in A Season on the Wind?
Now and then, life gets divided into “before and after” experiences—a wedding day, a birth, a death. As a teenager, Ben Zook had such a “before and after” moment and chose to run away from it. As Penny Weaver pointed out, he just kept on running. Yet against all odds, here he is, back in Stoney Ridge. To Penny’s way of thinking, only the Lord could have thought to send a rare bird to bring Ben home again.
FF: Ben is an avid birder and has written several books on birding. Why did you choose this profession for one of your main characters?
Penny Weaver introduced Ben to his “spark bird”—the one that ignited his great love of birding. Penny’s younger brother, Micah, has a reputation for a “supersonic” ear for birding. My goal was to have Micah and Ben—one whose education came strictly inside the Amish community, one whose experience had been broadened through world travel—come together to chase a rare bird . . . and see what might happen.
FF: Birding is of great interest to the Amish community. What events do the Amish participate in?
The National Audubon Society has created annual bird-counting events to assess trends of the bird population. Two such events are the Christmas Bird Count and the Great Backyard Bird Count, both of which the Amish participate in. I’ve met Amish teenagers in Ohio who rode bicycles to track birds for the CBC.
Even if you’re new to birding, the Counts are easy to do and provide such help to researchers. If interested, check out this link: National Audubon Society Bird Count, https://www.birdcount.org.
FF: The female protagonist, Penny Weaver, is delighted when Ben returns to Stoney Ridge. His claim to not remember her leaves her confused. How does she work through her disappointment?
Penny’s faith defines her outlook. She believes God brought Ben back to Stoney Ridge to face his past, and she trusts that God will see it through to the end . . . even if that means Ben doesn’t return to the Amish. She’s had enough experience with her faith to let Ben go.
FF: You have used the location of Stoney Ridge, Pennsylvania, as the setting for a number of your books. Do some characters from your previous novels make an appearance in your new book?
Hank Lapp, with his loud voice and shocking white hair, wouldn’t stay away! He is determined to help Ben and Micah find that bird—and makes a mess of things. Bishop David Stoltzfus plays a much quieter and far more wise role than Hank.
FF: What do you hope readers will experience when reading A Season on the Wind?
Aside from the love story (more than one!), I hope readers will finish the book and start noticing the birds in their own backyards. Birds are not only fascinating creatures, but they’re everywhere. They’re a gift to us all, if only we pay attention.
FF: What are you working on next?
A story about two women who start an ice cream shop on Cape Cod—during the summer, of course.
A Season on the Wind
Suzanne Woods Fisher
Genres: Amish, Romance
Release Date: October 5, 2021
Ben Zook had only two loves in his life: books and birds. In a stroke of good fortune, he’d stumbled onto a way to cobble together those two loves into a career, writing books about rare birds. He was as free as a bird–until a chase for a rare White-winged Tern takes him to the one place on earth he planned to never return: his Amish home in Stoney Ridge.
Desperate for photographs of the elusive tern, Ben hires a local field guide, Micah Weaver, and boards at Micah’s farm, planning to “bag the bird” and leave Stoney Ridge before anyone recognizes him. But he neglected to plan for Micah’s sister, Penny.
One long-ago summer, Penny had introduced Ben to birding, even sharing with him a hidden eagle aerie. That was when she knew true love. She’d always hoped he would come back to Stoney Ridge. Back to his Amish roots. Back to her. The only problem? Ben has absolutely no memory of Penny.
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