Monday, September 27, 2010

Author Interview: Vanetta Chapman

I was lucky enough to be able to do a little Q & A with Vanetta Chapman, the author of A Simple Amish Christmas, which is available at Amazon now for preorder.

Tell us a little about your inspiration for A Simple Amish Christmas?

As I began researching for an original storyline, it occurred to me that Amish women must struggle with some of the same problems the rest of us do. I live in a small town now, but even when I lived in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area, I would see people move away, pursue their dreams, and then move back home. That process of returning home, of trying to fit into our community, is Annie's story. It's a journey that allows her to find God's plan for her life.

Stories about the Amish and their way of life are very popular, what do you think is the appeal?

I think it's a bit of nostalgia, but not simple nostalgia for the past. The Amish do represent the way our grandparents lived to some extent, so when we read those stories we nod and remember a trip to visit loved ones when we were children. But they also stand for a simpler lifestyle, and that's something we can all have right now--if we're willing to slow down an hour each day, or plant an herb garden in the window, or turn off the computer for a little bit each evening. Those are things I talk about on my blog (, ideas we're all discovering together. I think simplicity is the appeal of Amish stories and why they continue to be immensely popular.

Did you do a lot of research to write A Simple Amish Christmas?

Yes! I didn't know how to speak Pennsylvania Dutch before I began writing A Simple Amish Christmas, though as I began learning, so many of those words were familiar to me. My father actually grew up speaking German in his home, and he would occasionally speak in German to us . . . it was fun rediscovering the language. Then of course there were the traditions as well as the setting that I needed to research. I did a lot of reading, and I also took a week-long trip to Shipshewana, Indiana - the setting for my 3 book Amish mystery series which will release next year (Zondervan, A Shipshewana Amish Mystery).

Tell us a bit about the differences in the way the Amish celebrate Christmas from the way the "English" celebrate?

As you would expect it's simpler and more focused on the religious aspects of the holiday. Gifts tend to be handmade and most family members might receive two or three gifts total. First Christmas is celebrated on the 25th and that day is a day dedicated to worship. Then second Christmas is the day when they exchange gifts. Some things are similar though - Amish families gather together and there is a huge meal shared the same as many of us share. Some Amish communities have Christmas trees, although many do not.

Looking at how fast paced the average person's life style is, do you think maybe the Amish have it right, living so simply?

Considering that I'm now working more than two full times job (I teach full time, teach as an adjunct professor and write full time), you might be asking the wrong person! I'm kidding. Of course, as I learn more about the Amish, and more importantly, as I meet Amish folk, I do admire their perspectives and attitudes toward life. But you know, I see that same attitude in small town rural life as well, and then I've even met people in the city who know how to slow down and relax when the day calls for it. Do I think the Amish "have it right?" Yes, personally I do think we need to all unplug more often and interact with those around us, but I think we can do it wherever we are.

What is the one thing you hope readers will take away with them after reading "A Simple Amish Christmas."

I hope they will read within the pages of this Amish tale, a story of God's grace. It doesn't matter where you live, where you've been, or how long you've been away from home -- God has a plan for you. He has a hope and a future for you. That's Annie's story and I think it's God's story that has been written out for each of us.


Anonymous said...

Please write a sequel to let us know what happens to Annie and Samuel. It was a great book that I read twice!

Blog Design by Use Your Imagination Designs using images from the Tea Time kit and the Saturday Night kit by MK-Designs