The writing team explains the pros (and cons) of keeping it in the family.

Cindy Woodsmall is a best-selling author best known for her Amish fiction. Daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall has edited, brainstormed, and researched books with Cindy for almost a decade. Now they’ve co-written the Southern novel As The Tide Comes In (WaterBrook), a Steel Magnolias-meets-Sweet Home Alabama story set on St. Simons Island. In this interview, the two ladies share how this collaboration came about, Cindy explains why she decided to write her first Southern novel, and Erin reveals her experiences that led up to this book.

Tell us about your new novel, As the Tide Comes In

Cindy: As the Tide Comes In is a journey through loss and renewal set in a gorgeous, unique location. Tara Abbot is a young woman who has set everything aside to raise her half-brothers to adulthood.

But when tragedy strikes, she’s floundering and lost like a rowboat in a squall. But God’s love endures, even through the worst of storms. She encounters a spunky group of life-long friends, as well as a young man who stirs something inside of her that she’s never experienced before.

With your daughter-in-law Erin Woodsmall co-authoring As the Tide Comes In as well as a couple other titles with you, can you tell us what it’s like working as a mother-in-law and daughter-in-law team?

Cindy: It’s been rejuvenating, like opening the windows at the end of winter and welcoming the fresh spring air. Erin has helped me behind the scenes for a lot of years, but to dive into a story as a writing team has been completely different.

The great thing about writing as a team is that each person brings something special to the table. We know different things about life, loss, and love, and we’ve navigated through life as a family for 12 years, so we can rely on each other’s strengths and shore up each other’s weaknesses, both on page and off.

Erin: It’s a lot of fun! I’ve always loved reading and making up stories, but for the first time I’ve been able to use these skills for something tangible.

Cindy is so skilled at her craft of writing, and she has this wonderful intuition about shaping stories. She can really create juicy conflict and ultra-romantic scenes, no explicitness needed! I learn something new every day.

As the Tide Comes In tells the story of Tara Abbott, a woman who has suffered an unthinkable loss. The Glynn Girls—a group of eccentric fifty-something women who live on St. Simons Island—take her in as their own. What message do you hope readers glean from the support they offer Tara?

Cindy: Since the novel’s conception, we liked exploring the difference of helping in a clean, hands-off way verses getting “dirty” and uncomfortable. It’s a great thing to donate to our churches and give to charities and to spend time helping teens or elderly and then return home.

But can we muster the courage to really minister to those who pull us out of our comfort zone? Jesus was all in. To Him it didn’t matter who someone was. He ate with sinners and ministered to the “unclean” of the day. How can we apply that to modern life? It’s not easy!

Cindy, this is your first Southern novel. What inspired you to go in this direction? (And what does this mean for readers who love what you were doing before?)

Cindy: Although I was born in Washington, D.C., and lived in the dairy farming part of Maryland by the time I was nine, I’ve been a Southern gal for over forty years. The South has its own unique culture and stories that have been begging me to write them for a long time.

I’ve had twelve wonderful years of writing twenty-two novels with Amish culture and setting, but I found that writing As the Tide Comes In was refreshing in ways I hadn’t expected.

Still, lovers of Amish fiction need not worry because my heart still belongs to the Amish. I have an Amish Christmas novella titled The Christmas Remedy. And I’m currently writing a full-length Amish novel that is teeming with unique storylines.

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About The Author

Cindy Woodsmall is a New York Times, CBA, and USA Today best-selling author who has written nineteen works of fiction. Her connection to the Amish community has been featured on ABC Nightline and the front page of the Wall Street Journal. Cindy has won numerous awards, and the Wall Street Journal listed Cindy as one of the top three most popular authors of Amish fiction. Cindy and her husband reside in their now empty nest near the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains.