Amish Romance Christian fiction author Leslie Gould is a Christy Award-winning and #1 bestselling author of over 35 novels, including her Lancaster County Amish Series. She holds an MFA in creative writing and, besides writing fulltime, teaches at Warner Pacific University. She and her husband live in Portland, Oregon, and are the parents of four adult children.
In this interview, Leslie shares some insight behind her new Plain Patterns Series book, A Patchwork Past.
FF: A Patchwork Past, like others of your recent novels, is written with a contemporary and historical timeline. Why did you choose that style? What opportunities and challenges does it have?
In Requiem for a Nun, William Faulkner wrote, “The past is never dead. It’s not even the past.” I agree with Faulkner. The past is only a split second away in our memory, and not only our own past but also the pasts of our parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, communities, nation, and world—as long as those stories have been shared. I love exploring that in dual-time (or time-slip) novels.
I especially love that Amish dual-time stories provide historical backgrounds for Plain communities. I think it’s easy for people to sometimes think Amish communities don’t change. Or it’s easy to think they weren’t affected by historical events. Neither is true and contrasting historical time periods with current Amish life shows that.
The challenge with writing about the Amish in any time period is getting specific details that weren’t or aren’t documented correct. I dig deeper, asking questions and reading more, but if I can’t find the answer I have to make a decision, with help, about what would be plausible. The challenge with writing dual-time novels is connecting the contemporary and historical threads. There needs to be a solid, shared theme that runs through both stories.
FF: Learning about Amish involvement in helping survivors from the Great Chicago Fire must have been fascinating. Tell us more about the research that went into your historical timeline.
The seed of the Amish involvement in the story came from my friend Marietta Couch, who grew up Amish in Elkhart County, Indiana. She remembers hearing as a child that her Amish ancestors donated supplies after the fire and some of the men even helped with rebuilding in Chicago.
Besides tugging on the heartstrings of those living near Chicago who were close enough to help, the story of the fire—the 300 dead and the one in three residents who were displaced—touched the entire world. Material donations from across the nation arrived by train (thankfully most of the Chicago railroad tracks survived) and financial donations arrived from around the world. Specific donations, from water from the Joseph Brewing Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to 5,000 sewing machines to a financial donation from England to rebuild the city library and make it public, made all the difference for the people of Chicago.
Although 1871 seems like a long time ago, as far as sources, there’s a plethora concerning the Chicago Fire and the aftermath, including eye-witness accounts, newspaper reports, and photographs. It is a well-documented, historical event, complete with detailed maps, which made the research absolutely fascinating.
FF: Tell us more about Sophie Deiner. What qualities make her a main character you (and readers) cheer for? Are there any elements to her that you had never included in a character before?
Sophie has Lupus, and a flareup forces her back to her Amish parents’ farm to rest. Writing about an autoimmune disease was a first for me. Considering how many suffer from autoimmune diseases, it became an important part of the story.
Although I didn’t realize it when I started planning the novel, Sophie turned out to be one of those main characters who would practically write the story. She’s a go-getter who is fighting past trauma, which makes her all the more in-tune with others who struggle to overcome challenges.
FF: What ties the books in the Plain Patterns Series together?
In all three of the stories—Piecing It All Together, A Patchwork Past, and Threads of Hope—Jane Berger, the owner of the quilt shop Plain Patterns, tells the historical tale. She’s a never-married Amish woman in her 60s, and she’s especially drawn to young women in her quilting circle who are struggling to find their places in the world. Jane encourages them through stories of strong Amish women from the past.
Could the Past be a Patchwork for Mending the Present?
When wild child Sophie Deiner—the daughter of an Amish bishop–is forced to return to Nappanee, Indiana, quilt-shop owner Jane Berger is one of only a few who welcome her back. It’s the last place she wants to be, but Sophie’s recent illness requires that she lay low for a while.
As Sophie recovers, she befriends a group of migrant workers and is appalled when one of them is detained and threatened with deportation. Sophie begins advocating on their behalf but soon finds herself opposed by an ex-boyfriend, who is the farm foreman.
As Sophie finds respite from the world in the quilt shop, Jane begins to tell her the story of her Amish ancestors who rescued survivors of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, many of whom were Irish immigrants. And Sophie is more convinced than ever that she needs to fight for the powerless. But when digging deeper makes conditions even worse, has she chosen a fight she can’t win?
A Patchwork Past
Plain Patterns #2
Genres: Amish, Romance
ISBN-10 : 0764235230
ISBN-13 : 978-0764235238
Buy A Patchwork Past from the FF Store HERE!
Buy A Patchwork Past from Amazon HERE!