Interview with Amish Romance Author, Stephanie Schwartz
How did you get your books published?
The Pandemic hit. I was laid off. I went home and wondered what to do next. I did some homework and discovered that romance novels make up over half of all paperbacks published in the U.S. each year. I started reading them—romance novels. I had never read any of them. As a midwife I’d only read medical stuff all those years ago. I discovered Amish romance then and decided to try it. I had written 3 non-fiction books on birth and midwifery up to that point. They were translated into Russian and Romanian and I got to go to Romania and give talks on birth and midwifery. After I wrote the Amish series from 2019 - 2022 I then joined our local group of Romance Writers of America and met my publisher there.
Do you have the ending all picked out when you start writing, or does it flow as you go?
No. Not at all. I have a lifetime of experiences from working in Plain communities throughout the Midwestern U.S. and the years of raising our own family without electricity to draw from. So many stories, things I heard from my Amish, Hutterite and Mennonite friends. Funny stories from my children and friends living like we were. I write the stories as they come to me not quite knowing when or how I can wrap them up, much less make them flow, usually quite intimidated in the beginning by the idea of a series at all. More than one book at a time? Are you kidding me?
What inspired you?
I think realizing that I had been given a rare opportunity over the years to see things others usually don’t get to see. It has been a gift and an honor. Now I want to share those things with others and pass along the wisdom that has been freely given to me.
Did you always think you'd be an author?
No. In my teens, I’d decided to be either a surgeon or a nun. I tried the nun thing for a few years and realized I couldn’t hack that. And there are no Jewish nuns, anyway. I met my husband when Reverend Mother introduced me to him almost 50 years ago now. We call her Reverend Mother Yenta.
Do your characters talk to you?
Not yet they haven’t. I talk to them. Sometimes I am them. I am all the grandmothers in my stories imparting wisdom to the next generation. All the other players are my children, friends, acquaintances, and mentors from my past.
How do you organize what you write?
I think about years and experiences and the stories come into my head. I write them down as they pop up, like kindergarteners wiggling at their desks desperately waving their hands and shouting, ‘Pick me! Pick me!’ I never write in sequence or along a timeline. I can rearrange it all later, but I figure life happens randomly. Not in precise order. So I start a book on a certain idea or event and write along those lines until I thoroughly exhaust the subject. Then I will go back and read it all and more stories jump up along the way which I can then add and fill out the book. It is usually only when I get to about 50,000 words that I can think about an ending or leave a hook to keep readers wondering what’s next, allowing for the next book.
What are you writing now?
The next series after the four Amish Nurse books that are now being published, is also an Amish romance saga. Book one of the trilogy will be my 10th book. Some of your favorite characters from the first series might reappear, while others will continue to live happily ever after and ride into the sunset in their horse-drawn buggies. I hope to again capture the very essence of Amish faith and values while navigating the reality in our world of spiritual struggles, dashed hopes, and innumerable challenges that everyday life has in store for us. There are always the answers to prayers to find intense joy in, the beauty of His innumerable blessings, and miracles, too.