Bestselling and award-winning Christian fiction author Beth Wiseman has sold over two million books. She is the recipient of the coveted Holt Medallion, a two-time Carol Award winner, and has won the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award three times. Her books have been on various bestseller lists, including CBD, CBA, ECPA, and Publishers Weekly.
In this interview, Beth talks with us about her latest The Amish Bookstore Series installment, The Bookseller’s Promise.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
Readers love bookstores, and speaking for myself, I love the hint of a mystery within a story without it overtaking the main plot. In The Bookseller’s Promise, non-Amish Yvonne Wilson is on the hunt for a rare book that bookstore owner Jake Lantz has in his possession. Jake promised his grandfather that he would never sell the book even though it is estimated to be worth $100k. Combining a romance, mystery, and a life-changing event for one of the characters, all within the setting of this cozy bookstore, called to me long before I typed the first word.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
There are three main characters: Bookstore owner Jake Lantz, his employee Eva Graber—both Amish—and Yvonne Wilson who isn’t Amish. Yvonne is determined to convince Jake to sell the rare book he has in his possession for a client who is willing to pay a substantial amount of money. Eva is in love with Jake, and at first, she sees Yvonne as a romantic threat in a love triangle that isn’t what it seems. But these three characters surprised me with their individual motivations, which is always nice, and if I’m surprised, then my readers will surely be surprised as well. But as each character makes discoveries about themselves, they learn that sometimes love comes in unexpected ways, friendships develop even amidst tragedy, and one book truly can change a life.
FF: Which character surprised you the most?
Yvonne surprised me the most. I tend to write relationship-driven stories, so as I get to know my characters, I’m often surprised by their motivations. Yvonne wants the book so badly at the beginning of the story due to the large commission she will receive, but what she gets instead will crater everything in her world and lead her to a discovery she never expected.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
As an author of Christian fiction, I think there is a fine line when it comes to the religious aspects of the story. I try not to beat the reader over the head with overt messages about the Christian way of life, and I lean heavily on God to keep me on the right path. I have received many letters from readers who are ‘on the fence’ when it comes to God, but for whatever reason, they were drawn to choose my book from the shelf or via an online outline, not really knowing why. I believe there is a message within the pages meant specifically for that person, so the storytelling must be top-notch and the message clear but not so over-the-top that the reader shies away.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
The Story of Love is book #2 in the Amish Bookstore Series, and readers are back at the bookstore with familiar characters and new people to stir the pot. But as characters make decisions to overhaul their lives, I’ve included a stalker and other elements not normally found in an Amish story. I always include a romance in my books, but they read more like women’s fiction with additional plots that I hope take the story and the reader farther than they expected with an outcome that is both satisfying and thought-provoking. As a side note, The Story of Love is dedicated to one of the best dogs I’ve ever been blessed to love, so I brought my beloved “Blue” back to life in this book. Blue’s arrival on my character’s doorstep, and her fear of the dog in the beginning, mirrors my relationship with my dog. I loved writing about the ways we develop unexpected bonds with our furry friends.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
The setup for the bookstore was in my mind before I even started writing. It’s based on a bookstore I had visited in Pennsylvania; however, my series is set in southern Indiana where I have family. Each trip to Indiana combined business and pleasure. I was able to visit my family, and they were happy to introduce me to Amish families in the area. I continue to go back and forth between Texas and Indiana several times per year, and each time, I learn a little more about the Plain people, although my little grandson grows way too fast between visits!
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
I want readers to be entertained by the story, but it’s also important to me that they find their own takeaway, which I believe can be different for each reader. Perhaps a reader doesn’t believe in God or is angry with God when they start the book. My hope would be that the reader at least reevaluates their beliefs after reading the story. Some readers might close the book seeking a better relationship with a friend, parent, or sibling. In my opinion, the takeaways are placed on readers’ hearts based on their own personal circumstances.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing Amish fiction?
The biggest challenge for me—and I suspect other authors writing about the Amish—is to continue to come up with fresh storylines that haven’t been overdone within the genre. I try to create fresh atmospheres with characters whose motivations aren’t always what they seem, even to the character, lending a surprise element to the story that hopefully inspires and motivates my audience.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
I am inspired by good storytelling, and my reading preferences are all over the place. I enjoy different genres besides just Christian fiction. I like Catherine Ryan Hyde’s books a lot because of her complex characters and relationship-driven stories that always touch my heart. Kristen Hannah is another favorite of mine. She delves deep into her plots, often including historical events that entertain and educate. The Nightingale would be an example of an intricate storyline that entertained me throughout, but I also learned about history without it feeling like a classroom assignment. If I want something a little grittier, I choose a Ruth Ware novel. And, of course, Karen Kingsbury and Francine Rivers are wonderful authors as well.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
This question touches on the biggest surprise I’ve had as an author. I try to entertain and minister in a subtle way when I write my books. But the surprise of my life came with my first published book and has continued with every book I write. My intent might be to bring others closer to God, but I have unknowingly been ministering to myself all along, which has led to an abundance of growth in my own faith journey, and I am grateful that I can share that in the pages of my stories.
The Bookseller’s Promise
The Amish Bookstore Series #1
Genres: Amish Romance
Release Date: April 19, 2022
Yvonne Wilson makes the trek from Texas to Indiana with just one goal in mind: to convince Amishman Jake Lantz to sell her client a rare book from his collection. But Jake is as strong-willed as Yvonne. On the eve of his grandfather’s death, Jake vowed never to sell the book, and he intends to keep that promise. But he can’t say more than that, having never read it and not knowing why it was so dear to his grossdaadi.
Eva Graber has loved Jake since he hired her to work in his bookstore years ago, but he doesn’t seem to notice she’s blossomed into a beautiful woman. When Yvonne shows up and seems like she might turn Jake’s eye, Eva suggests she and Jake should read the book together.
What happens after that surprises them all, and the book leads the trio deep into mysterious questions about life and death, love and loss, and the impenetrable purposes of God.
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