Amy Clipston is the award-winning and bestselling author of the Kauffman Amish Bakery, Hearts of Lancaster Grand Hotel, Amish Heirloom, Amish Homestead, and Amish Marketplace Series. Her novels have hit multiple bestseller lists including Christianbook, CBA, and ECPA. Amy holds a degree in communication from Virginia Wesleyan University and works full-time for the City of Charlotte, NC. Amy lives in North Carolina with her husband, two sons, and five spoiled rotten cats.
In this interview, Amy shares some of her thoughts about her latest novel, Breaking New Ground.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
My Amish Legacy Series features the Bontrager family, which includes Duane Bontrager, a widower, and his three grown sons. Breaking New Ground features Korey, who is the middle son, who has been immature and even disrespectful in the previous two books in the series. When his widowed father remarried, Korey was unwelcoming to his kindhearted stepmother. Then he became estranged from his older brother, Tyler, when Tyler fell in love with Korey’s ex-girlfriend, Michelle. But after fourteen months in Ohio, God calls Korey home to make amends. I know that Korey is not a favorite among my readers since many have reached out to me and told me that they don’t like him. I, however, am really excited to tell Korey’s story. He knows he’s been a stinker, and this book gives Korey a chance to redeem himself. I promise that he will have to work for it, and I believe readers will forgive Korey and possibly even like him after they read the book.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
When Korey returns from Ohio, he knows that he needs to forgive his older brother, Tyler, and he misses the close relationship they once had. At the same time, however, he struggles with how to forgive Tyler, and he asks God to help him.
Korey also feels left behind by his family and friends, who want to see him also happily married. Instead of looking for a new relationship, Korey finds himself spending time with Savannah Zook, who is the most outspoken young woman he’s ever met. She’s also confident and brave, having raised her little brother, Toby, from a young age. She and Toby live with their aunt, uncle, and cousins, and they work in their store. Savannah is a fierce protector of Toby, who was often bullied at school.
Savannah suggests she and Korey pretend to date as a way to get her friends—and his family—off their backs, Korey readily agrees. But after feeling betrayed by his brother and his last girlfriend, Korey isn’t quite ready to trust another woman with his heart, though soon, he can’t imagine life without her.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Korey actually surprised me the most, and I’m sure my readers who dislike him will find that ridiculous. When I plotted out the story, my goal was to make sure Korey redeemed himself, and as I began writing, I realized that there’s a lot more to Korey than meets the eyes. Yes, he’s been stubborn, disrespectful, and even hurtful, but deep down, he’s a good man who has been struggling with the grief of losing his mother. I hope my readers finish the book and not only forgive him, but also like him.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
We all struggle as humans, and we can relate to stories about people like Korey Bontrager who fall and then recover by holding onto their faith, even when they’re certain that everything in their life has gone wrong and will never be the same. Authors weave our inspirational messages through our stories, and like my other Amish books, this book talks about God’s ever-present love and grace. I hope that message speaks to my readers and is a balm to the souls of readers who are going through a tough time.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
My next novel, Starstruck, is coming in November, and it’s a contemporary romance set in Flowering Grove, NC, which is the same town where my book Something Old, Something New took place. The story is about Heather, who works in her parents’ restaurant, the Barbecue Pit, and her life takes an unexpected turn when a rock band comes in for a meal one night. I had so much fun writing the story, and I can’t wait to share more closer to the release date.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
With all of my Amish books, I talk to my dear Amish friend, who lives in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. I always share my stories with her and ask her any questions. I enjoy visiting her and learn something new about the Amish way of life every time I go to Lancaster County. I do my best to keep my Amish books as true to the culture as possible.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
In Breaking New Ground, Korey struggles with rebuilding estranged relationships with his family members after he returns home from an extended stay in Ohio. He feels as if his family has moved on without him, and he leans heavily on his faith, asking God to heal his heart and help him find a way back to the closeness he used to have with his father and brother. I hope that my readers are inspired by Korey’s story to find a way to heal their own broken relationships with their family members.
As for Savannah, she struggles with her role as Toby’s older sister. She is convinced that it’s her job to take care of Toby and she sacrifices her own wants and needs for him. Throughout the story, she tries to figure out how to find her own happiness while also making sure that Toby has what he needs. I hope readers can find the courage to go after their dreams while also taking care of their family members.
Lastly, the story is an example of how love can blossom the most unexpected circumstances. So, I hope readers never give up on love.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Since I have written more than forty Amish books, I always strive to create stories that are fresh and interesting. Breaking New Ground is my first book where I dive into complicated sibling relationships, and I hope readers find Korey’s story entertaining and inspirational.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
I love engaging stories that also include a romantic thread, and some of my favorite authors are Denise Hunter, Melissa Ferguson, Kathleen Fuller, and Bethany Turner. I highly recommend their novels!
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
The faith element in my Amish books is always overt, and Breaking New Ground is no exception. I used faith to mold my Amish characters. Their priorities are God, family, and community. In the story, Korey feels disconnected from both his family and his community, and he leans heavily on his faith. He asks God to heal his heart and help him find the words to communicate with his older brother to bridge the giant chasm that is keeping them apart. Savannah is also faithful to her Amish beliefs while she struggles with her role as Toby’s older sister. Both Korey and Savannah pray often and are active with their church youth group. They are Christians, and their faith guides them in their daily lives.
Breaking New Ground
An Amish Legacy Novel
Genres: Amish Romance
Release Date: April 11, 2023
Korey Bontrager and Savannah Zook are just pretending to date—but could their feelings turn into something more?
Korey Bontrager knows he’s been an immature dummkopp. When his widowed dad remarried, Korey was unwelcoming to his kindhearted stepmother. Then he became estranged from his older brother. But after fourteen months in Ohio, God called Korey back to Pennsylvania.
Easier said than done. Back home, Korey feels left behind by his family and friends, who want to see him happily married. Instead of looking for a new relationship, he finds himself spending time with Savannah Zook: the most outspoken maedel he’s ever met. She’s also confident and brave, having raised her younger brother from a young age. And she’s a natural beauty. But, hard as her friends try to convince her otherwise, she has no interest in dating. Her priority is looking out for her bullied brother.
So when Savannah suggests they pretend to date as a way to get her friends—and his family—off their backs, Korey readily agrees. Soon, he can’t imagine life without her. But could Savannah ever truly be part of his future?
Set in the faithful Amish community of Lancaster County, Breaking New Ground gives the most stubborn Bontrager a chance to redeem his story.
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