Welcome to Author Spotlight! Each week will feature a different author. We’ll get the scoop behind their writing life and dish a little. The authors will also be giving away a copy of their latest book. FUN.
The winner from last week’s Author Spotlight with Shelley Shepard Gray is Kathleen Berman! Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your mailing address!
This week we are featuring Mindy Starns Clark and Leslie Gould! To win a copy of their new book, The Amish Seamstress (Harvest House Publishers, 2013) leave a comment on this post.
Our new book is The Amish Seamstress, the fourth and last in The Women of Lancaster County series. It’s a satisfying grand finale, although we were both a little sad that it’s come to an end.
How can readers find you and your books?
How did you come about co-authoring?
Our agent, Chip MacGregor, recognized that our writing voices were very similar and suggested that we collaborate. He was right! Our styles have meshed seamlessly (pun intended). ☺
Winning the Christy in 2012 (Best Contemporary Novel in a Series Category) has to have been our crowning moment as a writing team. Our husbands, publisher, and agent were all with us. It was such a privilege to have The Amish Midwife be a finalist—and then an absolute joy to win. In a way, winning the award as a team made it twice as special, because we were able to share the thrill.
Worst co-author moment?
Lol, we’ve had some all-night editing sessions before deadlines, going back and forth by e-mail to finish the manuscript. But it wasn’t all bad—we developed an amazing sense of camaraderie working that way and it’s much better to share the experience with someone than do it alone.
Because Mindy lives in Pennsylvania and Leslie lives in Oregon, do you do all of your back-and-forth work by email?
Mostly, although we have been able to meet in person and talk through story ideas a couple of times, for example when Leslie was in Pennsylvania doing research. We also talk on the phone when needed to brainstorm plot points and character motivation.
In the eleventh hour, it’s not uncommon for us to start resorting to emergency texts. And in final edits, we’ll even shoot off iPhone recordings, explaining various edits we’ve made, rather than taking time to call or email.
Basically, if there is some form of communication, we have used it in the course of writing these books!
Mindy is great with plotting and pacing, and Leslie is wonderful with character development and infusing emotion into the story. We like to say that together we make the perfect author! ☺
Adding to the mix are the unique elements we bring to the Amish genre. Mindy is generally the one who keeps an eye on the Amish facts and makes sure there are no errors, while Leslie bring a deep insight into the Amish mindset and character. Though neither of us has a Plain background, we have been able to research the topic extensively—both through scholarly research and via personal research trips and relationships—and contribute our own knowledge and impressions to the stories we write.
Finally, though The Women of Lancaster County novels aren’t mysteries, there are strong elements of mystery in each one, thanks to Mindy.
We should point out that our husbands are also gifted with the ability to brainstorm. They have both been enormously helpful in shaping these stories.
What are some of the topics of interest the two of you incorporated into The Women of Lancaster County series?
We both have experienced adoption in our families—Mindy’s brother and Leslie’s daughter—which is a theme that runs through the entire series. We also explored midwifery, Anabaptist history, both leaving and joining the Amish, and Native American history in Pennsylvania. We thoroughly enjoyed the research for the entire series.
One of our early reviewers wrote: Each time I read a new offering from the talented storytellers, Leslie Gould and Mindy Starns Clark, I say to myself, “This is my favorite!” The Amish Seamstress is no exception. From the first page, I was drawn into the story of Izzy Mueller, her search for her career, relationship with Zed, faith journey, and a place that she didn’t feel like an outsider. I loved the masterful way Leslie and Mindy weaved the history of the Indians and Amish together with Izzy’s own ancestry. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a good story! This book will not disappoint!”
The general consensus is that readers are very satisfied with how we tied together the series.
What are you working on now? Newest releases?
Mindy has a nonfiction book coming out this month, called Plain Answers About the Amish Life. She just finished The Amish Groom, which is the first book in The Men of Lancaster County series with co-author Susan Meissner (to be released April 2014.) They are now starting on the second book that series, The Amish Blacksmith.
Leslie is working on The Courtships of Lancaster County series, which consists of four novels inspired by Shakespeare plays. Courting Cate (The Taming of the Shrew) and Adoring Addie (Romeo and Juliet) are already out. She’s finishing up Minding Molly (A Midsummer Night’s Dream) and is currently writing Becoming Bea (Much Ado About Nothing).