Kathryn Cushman has been writing since 2003, published since 2007. Her novels A Promise to Remember and Leaving Yesterday were finalists in the American Christian Fiction Writer’s Carol Awards. Waiting for Daybreak was a women’s fiction finalist in the Inspirational Reader’s Choice Awards.
Almost Amish, her July 1st release, is a contemporary twist on the perennially popular Amish lifestyle books—when Amish lifestyle meets reality television.
Katie and her husband, Lee, along with their two daughters and a collection of pets, live in Santa Barbara, California.
Almost Amish is your sixth novel, and you’re now a full time writer, wife, and mom. Has your writing method and/or routine changed since you set out to write your first book?
I’m always tinkering with my writing method. I like to freeform write, but that tends to get me into trouble, so I’ve begun to plot more in advance. I find this REALLY difficult up front, but it does make things easier as the story progresses. Honestly, though, I’m still looking for that “perfect, fool-proof” method.
This year I have finally developed a fairly constant writing routine (drop daughter at school, run errands, do some housework then write until school is out). Before this year, my life was so chaotic for a variety of reasons, I wrote when I got the chance–at the softball field, waiting for kids outside school, and (unfortunately) hospital rooms.
Let’s talk about Almost Amish (Bethany House, July 2012). Please tell us about it.
Almost Amish is the story of two sisters-in-law who go to live “almost Amish” for the summer as part of a reality show. Julie, the main character, is overwhelmed to the breaking point with modern life. She hopes the simple life will help her family slow down and reconnect. Susan, her sister-in-law, is a very driven Type A. She has very different hopes for how this summer will turn out.
It’s a great premise. What inspired it?
I think most women today are completely overwhelmed by the demands on their time and energy. We keep getting all these great “time saving” appliances, yet I think most women agree that their lives are far more hurried and stressed than their mothers’ lives were. The questions of “what happened to all that time we saved?” and “are we really doing this to ourselves?” gave me the idea for the book. My friend Kristyn was the human inspiration—she is a stay home mother who runs herself ragged helping other people and getting very little credit for it.
God often uses our stories to teach us when we’re writing them. What did you learn (about life, faith, and/or even yourself) in the process of writing this book? Did you do any “hands-on” research, i.e. did you try living “simply” for a few days just to see what would happen?
The biggest thing I learned from writing this book is that I need to be who God called me to be. I also need to let other people be who God called them to be. We are all different, yet we try to put each other and ourselves into one-size-fits-all molds of perfection.
Personal research. I grew up near an Amish community (the one depicted in this book). I saw that life in all its hardships, and never could understand why women would be drawn to Amish fiction until I read one of Beverly Lewis’ books. Then I thought, “Wow, that does sound much simpler than my life.” In reality, I don’t (think) there is much simple about their lives, but they are more focused.
I did do a “Shoo Fly Pie” experiment so that one scene in the book would be accurate. A friend of mine who actually knows what Amish Shoo Fly pie is supposed to taste like was my taste-tester. That was a lot of fun.
Also, I have friend of a friend who works in reality TV (she has worked on shows like “Big Brother”). She was very generous with her time and gave me the inside scoop of how these things work.
What advice would you offer to others who dream of pursuing a full- or part-time writing career?
Getting published requires a lot of work and a lot of patience. You must be willing to study, work, learn, and take critique if you want to succeed.
For those writers who feel that God is calling them to write, I think it’s important to remember He calls us to the task, but He controls the results—getting published, sales numbers, reviews, etc. This is something I remind myself of all the time.
A few fun questions…
What’s the name of the last GREAT book you read?
Words by Ginny Yttrup
What is your current favorite song on the radio or your mp3 player?
Sink or Swim by Tyrone Wells
What verse or story in the Bible best describes your faith journey?
The father of the boy with the impure spirit in the book of Mark. He had enough faith to come and ask Jesus for a miracle, but then had to cry out, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief.” I struggle a lot with having “some” faith vs. having faith period.
Are your family pets still making cameos in your books?
Yes. I named one of the horses in Almost Amish after Popcorn the turtle. (I just couldn’t figure out a way to work a turtle into the story : )
Thanks, Katie! It’s nice to have you back at DivineDetour.
Thank you so much for hosting me!
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For more information about Katie, visit her website at www.kathryncushman.com.
To purchase Almost Amish logon to:
Read Katie’s 2010 DivineDetour interview here.