The author of more than thirty Amish romance and romantic suspense stories, Kelly Irvin’s latest Amish romance, The Warmth of Sunshine, releases from Zondervan today. Kelly has also written seven critically acclaimed romantic suspense novels and is the author of a number of Amish romance series, including the Amish of Big Sky Country series, Every Amish Season series, and Amish of Bee County series, among others. She is a two-time finalist for the ACFW Carol Award and the winner of the RWA Faith, Hope & Love Readers Choice Award. Her other works include novellas published in eight anthologies with other best-selling Amish romance authors.
Kelly is a Kansas native and a graduate of the University of Kansas School of Journalism. She is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations expert. She and her husband live in Texas.
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If someone asked you to describe yourself with one word, what word would that be?
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Almost as soon as I learned to read. My sister and I made our own little newspaper in grade school. I always wrote poems and short stories. I escaped life by making up stories in my head.
Is what started you on your writing journey what keeps you on your writing journey… or have your motivations and ambitions changed?
A mixture of both. I love words. I love to make up stories. I love my imaginary friends. Writing is like breathing for me. I can’t imagine not doing it. But I also recognize now that my ability to write is a gift from God. He has blessed me with stories that help hurting people find their way closer to Him. Without beating people over the head, I try to incorporate a spiritual theme readers think about even after they close the book.
You said in an interview on Divine Detour ten years ago that you were a “worry wart.” What do you wish your experienced-writer-self could go back and tell your younger-writer-self?
I can’t believe you still have an interview with me on file from ten years ago! I still worry, but for different reasons. Now that I’m older and dealing with serious health issues, I have to fight off worry that I won’t be able to tell all the stories I still long to tell. So what would I tell a younger me: First I would tell her to hone her craft more before submitting manuscripts to editors and publishers. Then I would tell her not to measure her success by what other writers are doing or the accolades they receive. To enjoy the ride. To savor each book. That life is too short to waste on worry. (Easier said than done!)
Let’s talk about your new book, The Warmth of Sunshine (Zondervan, July 2022). Please tell us about it.
The Warmth of Sunshine is the second book in my Amish Blessings series set in Yoder and Haven, Kansas. The stories revolve around three ways families are affected by adoption. In this particular instance, a young Amish woman’s world is rocked when she discovers she’s adopted and her biological mother is English (non-Amish). I love this series for several reasons, but in the case of The Warmth of Sunshine, I was able to incorporate my hometown of Abilene, Kansas, into the story line. It was fun to visit some of the town’s tourist attractions with my heroine. Here’s the story blurb:
Abigail’s Amish life has always followed a certain path . . . until an Englisch woman disrupts all she’s known to be true.
Growing up Amish, Abigail Bontrager often felt like a square peg in a round hole. Her pie crusts always turned out tough. Her stitches always ran crooked. She was clumsy. Not ideal for an aspiring Amish wife and mother, but her faith and love of her family, which are so much more important, are solid. Plus, her relationship with the attractive and kindhearted Owen Kurtz is moving in the right direction.
Owen is part dreamer, part entrepreneur. His friendship with Abigail has gradually blossomed into a sweet and loving courtship. Inspired by the hope of a future with the girl of his dreams, he decides to take the next step in building a business of his own—in the promising new industry of growing sunflowers.
When an outsider claiming to be Abigail’s birth mother abruptly enters her life, Abigail’s world comes crashing down. Confused and upset, she determined to discover who she really is. Her journey of discovery leads to the possibilities of a new life waiting for her in the Englisch world. But is this new life really worth giving up everything and everyone she’s known? How can Abigail and Owen follow their hearts—and God’s plan—when these new paths now lead them into the unknown?
In this second book in the Amish Blessings series, bestselling and award-winning romance novelist Kelly Irvin shares an inspiring story of following your heart while trusting God to lead you into your future.
What was your real-world inspiration for this story?
I subscribe to an Amish publication called “The Budget Newspaper” in which scribes from Amish communities across the United States (and the world) report on happenings in their districts. A scribe mentioned that an Amish couple was hurting because they had made arrangements to adopt a baby, but the birth mother decided at the last moment not to go through with the adoption. They were devastated. This prompted me to do some research into how adoption is viewed by the Amish (very much the same as in the mainstream world). One important aspect, I think, is that babies are always, in all circumstances, considered gifts from God. That strongly held belief informs these stories. The result was this three-book series Amish Blessings.
Thank you, Kelly! It’s always great to have you as a guest on Divine Detour.
Thanks for having me!
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