Tricia Goyer writes out of her passion for God and her love for family and others. The author of more than 70 books, she writes both historical fiction and nonfiction related to family and parenting.This USA Today best-selling author has won a two Carol Awards and a Retailer’s Best Award. She was also an ECPA Gold-Medallion nominee and a Christy Award nominee. Whether for fiction or nonfiction, Tricia’s writing style is vivid and heartwarming, allowing readers to take home more than engaging stories, but also messages that inspire faith and hope. Her goal is to write stories that matter.
In this interview, Tricia discusses Beyond the Gray Mountains, the first book in her Big Sky Amish Series, which is a continuation of her beloved romance series that takes place in West Kootenai, Montana.
FF: What has it been like to re-enter the world of the Big Sky Amish Series?
Have you ever had a close friend you haven’t seen in a while, but as soon as you’re together, you hit it off, and it’s as if you’ve never been apart? That’s precisely how it felt to return to the world of Big Sky Amish in West Kootenai, Montana. I loved spending time with Marianna, Ben, their family members, and the variety of people within the community. It was like going home!
FF: Which of your characters were the most fun to write, and why?
What a tricky question! Marianna is learning what it’s like to expand her view beyond longstanding Amish traditions. Ben is pretty fun because he is a musician (aka “a rock star”) who has settled in Montana. He’s great because, while he loves Montana, he sometimes doesn’t fit in. For example, there’s the one time he shows up to prepare for an outfitting trip in ripped skinny jeans and a tight black t-shirt! I also love Annie because she is 100% based on my friend Rebecca Ondov, who was an outfitter in Montana for twenty years. I just have to think, “What would Rebecca do now?” And what Annie does is SO different from what I do. Annie finds her home in the wilderness, and I’m a Holiday Inn type of gal.
FF: Tell us about your trip to Amish country as you prepared for this series. What was that experience like, and how did it shape your story?
I lived in Montana for fifteen years, and I’ve been to the West Kootenai area dozens of times. I currently have friends who live there who also keep me updated. I also did some virtual visits, watching more recent YouTube videos. Also, a big chunk of the story occurs in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. I watched documentaries, looked at maps, and talked daily with my friend, Rebecca. So while I didn’t visit specifically for this book, it felt like I did! Once, I even texted Rebecca a question, and five minutes later she called me and said, “So I called the sheriff and this is what he said …” Now, that’s a great friend to have!
FF: You’ve written the first book in this series, Beyond the Gray Mountains, but you’ve handed the next two to other authors. Was putting the Big Sky Amish storyworld into Christen Krumm’s and Elly Gilbert’s hands challenging?
What a great question! Both Christen and Elly auditioned for this series. Then, before we got started with the writing, we brainstormed with Susan May Warren, Sunrise’s Publishing Director. So from the beginning, I knew they understood the community and characters. Once I started working with them, Christen and Elly were wonderful about making changes to fit with my storyworld and my characters. It was fun because we all journeyed into West Kootenai together!
FF: What has excited you most about Christen and Elly’s contribution to the Big Sky collection?
Christen and Elly have come up with some fantastic characters and swoon-worthy romances. Each has a unique voice, yet they also fit perfectly in the Big Sky world. Christen loves writing young adult books, and her character is a social media influencer. So there is a lot of humor and fun in her story, On the Golden Cliffs!
Elly has a sweet tenderness to her writing. She wanted characters who weren’t perfect and who had struggles. In Under the Blue Skies, Elly’s main character, Lovina, has a noticeable limp and a facial scar. Yet, she’s also such a helpful, caring person that I was cheering for her from the beginning—and I know readers will be, too. Every community has various people from different backgrounds. I love how their contributions just give us more characters to love.
FF: You’re known for writing stories of faith and hope. What do you hope readers will take away from Beyond the Gray Mountains?
I love this question! In this story, Ben and Marianna love each other but they each have concerns about their upcoming marriage. Ben worries that the media attention will be too much for Marianna. Marianna worries that she won’t fit into Ben’s life as a popular musician. Through the unexpected challenges they face in this story, they must each step out of their comfort zones for the sake of love. I pushed both of my characters to their limits. Each had to depend on God in new ways. I hope readers will walk away with a deeper understanding of how it’s possible to turn to God for strength even during the hardest, darkest moments of their lives. We have moments when we question why hardship comes into our lives. While we still may have questions, I hope that after reading this novel, readers will better understand God’s presence and provision in beautiful ways.
Beyond the Gray Mountains
Big Sky Amish Series #1
Genres: Amish Romance
Release Date: February 25, 2023
Marianna Sommer always dreamed of a simple Amish wedding, but there’s nothing simple about marrying rock star Ben Stone. She loves him—but what about her traditions? Worse, suddenly Ben has questions—the kind that have him putting their wedding on hold.
Ben loves Marianna, but he has regrets—and fears—that are suddenly getting in the way of his happy ending. He doubts he’s going to “hear from God” in the high mountains like Marianna’s father suggests. But sure, he’ll go…
But he might not return. Because high on the continental divide, trouble finds them. Now, it’ll take a miracle for Ben, Abe, and Abe’s brother, Ike, to make it down alive. Maybe Ben will hear from God after all…but if he does, can he become the man he needs to be to save them…and keep Marianna’s heart?
When a runaway horse with a bloody saddle shows up, not only is the media alerted, but Marianna fears she’ll lose them all—her uncle, her father, and her beloved Ben. Suddenly she doesn’t care what the wedding looks like…as long as Ben makes it home.
But is there more to Ben than she knows? And when she discovers his secrets, what sacrifices will she make to save…and marry…the man she loves?
Big Sky Amish Series
Beyond the Gray Mountains (Book 1)
On the Golden Cliffs (Book 2)
Under the Blue Skies (Book 3)
Buy Beyond the Gray Mountains from Amazon HERE!