It’s no surprise that Mary Ellis writes Amish fiction. She grew up in Eastern Ohio, close to the second largest Amish community in the U.S. She and her husband now live near the largest population of Amish in the country—a four-county area in Central Ohio.
A former middle school teacher and saleswoman for Hershey’s Chocolate, Mary has written for both ABA and CBA. All three books in her Miller Family Series made the CBA and CBD bestseller lists. Abigale’s New Hope made the ECPA bestseller list, and her novel A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the ACFW Carol Awards and a runner-up in the Holt Medallion Awards in 2010.
What was the catalyst that turned your love and appreciation for the Amish lifestyle into writing about it?
When I switched from reading/writing ABA fiction to Christian fiction, I began reading Beverly Lewis, Wanda Brunstetter, and Cindy Woodsmall. I fell in love and was hooked.
How does your faith play into your writing?
It would be impossible to separate one from the other. My writing, spreading the message of Christ’s love for us, is my mission. I love to glorify His name through my stories.
Julia Miller misses her children. They are grown and have families of their own now, but her mother’s heart yearns for a houseful of laughter and joy once again. She plans to gather her chicks together in a summer celebration to remember.
At the farm next door, Julia’s niece, Phoebe, meets Eli Riehl, a young man who charms her—and everyone else—with his exceptional storytelling ability on a rumschpringe trip to Niagara Falls. When Phoebe sketches scenes to illustrate one of his tales, Eli encourages her incredible talent, and together they embark on a lofty and unlikely business venture for two young Amish people—writing and illustrating a children’s book.
Eli’s kindness and appeal extend beyond his knack for words to reach inside Phoebe’s shy heart. But he is an only son with five sisters, and when tragedy strikes at home, Eli gives up his writing to assume responsibility on the farm. Though willing to abandon his dream of becoming an author, he won’t give up his beloved Phoebe. Can their love for a good story develop into something that lasts forever, or will memories of the past stand in their way?
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from it?
I hope my readers will learn that the Amish aren’t much different from other Christian denominations. We all struggle to balance our daily lives with our walks of faith. Life isn’t easy; it’s not supposed to be. There is only One who can lighten our load.
Detours in life can be frustrating—kind of like plot twists in the stories we write—but the outcome is often more intriguing than our original plan. Can you tell us about a recent “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something?
I had been recently rewriting/editing a book that had a January 1st deadline. I thought I would have an easy time of it, but then my dog got very sick and lingered for days before she finally died. Preparing for Christmas, my favorite holiday, also crept up unannounced. But I realized that my family, friends, and time spent with the Lord were more important than work-work-working. The book was turned in only one week late. And I had a lovely (albeit jam-packed) Christmas to remember.
What’s next for you? Any New Year’s writing resolutions?
I am putting the finishing touches on the first of my New Beginnings series, Living in Harmony, and then starting book two, Living in Paradise, right afterward. With three books due within the year, I won’t need a resolution to keep me in the chair in front of my computer.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Popcorn. I eat it every day. I can’t get enough. Good luck to any friend or loved one who shares a bucket with me in front of a movie. They had better have quick hands…
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary talent?
Goodness, no. I wish! My mother wasted her money on my piano lessons, and I sing like a screech owl. But I do sing, however, loudly in church. Pity my fellow parishioners.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
A hand-clapping, foot-stomping Gospel song. If we’re going to raise our voices in praise, let’s not be meek about it!
Are you a major or a minor chord?
I suppose minor, due to my aforementioned lack of musical talent.
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
Are we talking fiction or non?? Because if it’s fiction, I’m the mysterious woman behind dark glasses. If it’s non-fiction, I’m the (boring) girl next door with mousy hair.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
Oh goodness, bad timing to ask this. My favorite dog of my life (and I’ve taken in strays for many, many years and have been fond of them all) just died. She was a springer spaniel named Miss Daisy who loved to flip on her back to get her belly rubbed. If someone broke into the house, Daisy would demand the robbers rub her belly before they carried out the TV.
Thanks, Mary. Sincere condolences on the loss of Miss Daisy. It’s nice to have you a guest as DivineDetour.
Thanks so much for having me. It’s been a pleasure.
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For more information about Mary, visit her new website at www.maryellis.net or her blog at www.maryeellis.wordpress.com, or her Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Mary-Ellis/126995058236.
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