This week we welcome Kelly Long as our featured author at Novel PASTimes. Kelly grew up in the Allegheny Mountains of Pennsylvania and was connected with the Amish people and their culture from an early age. “The Amish fed me when I was young,” she says. “Ripe, red tomatoes the size of softballs” that they sold at roadside stands. Today, Kelly writes Amish romance for Thomas Nelson.
Welcome, Kelly! How did you get started writing? Did you have a dream of being a published author?
I started writing in nonfiction and truly dabbled with ideas for fiction…nothing more. Then, I was encouraged by a fellow author, Maggie Brendan, got an agent and just got started. It wasn’t a dream at first, but it has become one to me! I also think that part of that dream lies in the fact that I am writing in an emergent subgenre of literature, Amish fiction.
After you started writing seriously--how long was it before you were published?
I know this sounds really bad and spoiled even, but I wrote a proposal in a week and had it sell in a week---that was Sarah’s Garden with Thomas Nelson. It was then that I learned the value of a good proposal.
That’s exciting! Since having that first book published, you’ve been called both the “Deeanne Gist of Amish fiction” and the “Queen of Edgy Amish Romance.” How do these perceptions mesh with your writing in reality?
The Amish are a passionate people—passionate about the land, their families, and their faith. I try to capture some of that passion in my writing, and occasionally, that comes across in intimate kisses or warm conversation. But my goal is always to bring life to the heart of the romance as well as to remember that “…the greatest of these is love.” And, of course, I am extremely honored by the comparison to Deeanne Gist…she is amazing!
What’s the most surprising thing you’ve done in the name of research for your books?
In the name of research, I have trespassed, pretended to be press, called prestigious professors, paid too much money for books, and generally bugged the Amish.....
Arms of Love is a story of passion and pain … it is Amish historical and traces the Amish to their first roots in America. But it is also a tribute to those with PTSD; I've experienced the ravages of this disorder in the lives of two loved ones. It's not pretty. AOL is also a romance, twining first love with the realities of death and war and producing an impassioned, heartfelt growth in the lives of the lovers. AOL is also unique because it provides a Novel Bible Study at the back of the book. It's a four-week study, using the novel as a launching point for Biblical application in the reader's daily life. In all, it's a book that will intrigue readers on multiple levels … romance, history, shared trauma, and redeeming love.
And next, I'm in a novella collection called An Amish Kitchen, have just finished the sequel to Lilly's Wedding, called Threads of Grace, and have begun work on a book called The Amish Brides of Ice Mountain. I want to commend all mothers who maintain a full-time job and have children with disabilities! I have two children on the autistic spectrum and much of what I do "next" is influenced by the things that I learn from them.
Have your characters ever done something that sent you in a completely different direction than you thought the story would take?
Come back tomorrow for Kelly’s answer to this question and more. Leave a comment with your answer to this question to be entered in a drawing on Friday morning to win a copy of one of Kelly’s books: What is your favorite thing about reading Amish fiction?