finalist for The Choice, and a Christy Award finalist for The Waiting.
Suzanne, welcome to Interviews & Reviews!
You are such a prolific writer. How many books have you written?
I think I’m getting close to thirty books, which astounds me! Especially because it never gets any easier.
Do you write fiction, or non-fiction or both?
Both. I started out as a free lance writer for magazines, and developed my research and interviewing skills. As I shifted toward fiction, I found those skills to be helpful to write credible fiction. And then I discovered that fiction techniques jazzed up my non-fiction writing. So I try to encourage aspiring writers to do both.
What is your latest book about?
The Return jumps forward a generation to see how Anna and Bairn and Felix from Anna’s Crossing are settling in, and readers meet a compelling new character in Betsy Zook. Here’s a quick snapshot of the story: Close to the frontier, Betsy’s family is attacked by Indians in a surprise raid and she is taken captive. Hans Bauer, Bairn’s brother, is determined to get her back. When Betsy is finally restored to the Amish church, has she experienced too many changes to fit in?
The Return includes many complicated characters whose stories are woven together perfectly. Did you find it difficult to balance the wills and emotions of each character? Which character was your favorite to write?
After reading The Newcomer, a woman came up to me and said, “Felix! He was my favorite!” I told her to just hold on, because she was going to see Felix as a grown-up (sort of!) in The Return. Felix has probably been one of my favorite characters in this entire series. He’s so unpredictable! Even to me.
As for bringing together all the loose threads into a satisfying end—that’s the joy of writing for me. It’s not easy to do, but it’s such a joy.
Betsy’s captivity comes as a shock, but ends up opening her eyes to new possibilities. How do you think God uses “bad” situations in our lives to show us His goodness?
We live in a broken world, in which bad stuff happens. But God is ever present, always working to redeem our circumstances (Romans 8:28). Redemption is such a miracle—whether it’s illustrated in the natural world (think of Lake Erie, so polluted in the 1960s that it was pronounced “dead”) or in the mess of our own life. To me, it’s the most compelling reason to have faith in a loving God. He brings what is dead (or hopeless) to life.
turning over of goods in the wagon. It wasn’t hard to take those facts and put the design of the wagon into Bairn Bauer’s hands—a skilled ship’s carpenter.
The Conestoga Wagon is considered to be the beginning of transportation in America. The driver was called a teamster, because he drove the team of horses. Today, the trucking union is called the Teamster Union. And the stogie, a cigar, is a shortened version of Conestoga.
One of my favourite parts about reading historical fiction are interesting tidbits like that. Is there a message in your book that you want your readers to grasp?
My greatest hope is that a reader will invite God into the conversation into their life after reading a book of mine. I don’t ever want to whack someone on the head with the Bible like a 2x4, but I do hope they feel closer to a loving God.
On that note what is your favourite Scripture verse and why?
It changes, but right now, it’s Deuteronomy 1:6, when the Lord tells Moses to get the Israelites moving…because “they have camped here long enough.” I think there’s such wisdom in that thought. How many issues or habits in our life need to be put aside, or do we need to move forward on…because we’ve camped there long enough? I sure have a couple that come to mind.
Wow! I feel like I've just had a light-bulb moment. Such a simple statement but filled with great insight. Do you volunteer in your community or church?
I’m a puppy raiser and breeder keeper for Guide Dogs for the Blind, and I spend many Thursday mornings volunteering with little puppies. (Best volunteer job in the world.
That definitely is the best volunteer job in the world! What is something else most people don’t know about you?
I play competitive tennis.
I love that! You seem to have a very full life. Do you have a favorite time of day to write?
Dawn! The Amish have a saying: “There’s gold in the morning hours.” Very true for me—I get twice as much done, and it’s twice as good, before ten a.m. versus anything I do in the afternoon. I wish each day had two mornings!
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Hangeth thou in there.
Finally, can you give us a "sneak peek" into your next book?
The next series is about Quaker Nantucket during the whaling period, when the port was the wealthiest port in the world. All because of the world’s hunger for illumination! (Which, in the 18th and 19th century, meant whale oil.) The first in the Nantucket Legacy series is called Phoebe’s Light, a story about a young woman who seeks love and adventure, and ends up with more than she bargained for.
Thank you so much for stopping by today Suzanne! You can learn more about Suzanne's books at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com and you can connect with Suzanne on Twitter @suzannewfisher. Want to start the series from the beginning? Check out the links below!