Vannetta Chapman discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace in Albion, Pennsylvania. A multi-award-winning member of Romance Writers of America, she has published more than 100 articles in Christian family magazines and currently teaches in the Texas hill country.
A Simple Amish Christmas is her debut in Christian fiction. Falling to Pieces, the first book in her Amish murder mystery series set in Shipshewana, Indiana, releases in September.
Your journey in publishing began with article writing for Christian magazines. How long have you been writing fiction?
About six years, though my first inspirational was contracted only a year ago and published in October 2010.
Has God ever provided an unexpected “detour” in your life that turned out to be positive?
Only one? Ha ha. There have been many, although I’m not sure how many were God-provided and how many I created all by my little-self. I can say that God used all those detours to mature me, to create compassion in me, and to help me to see other people the way He does. For example, I was a single mom for three years. That was a very difficult time, but I now understand how lonely and what a struggle that sort of life can be. It definitely influences my writing.
How does your faith play into your writing?
My main goal in writing is to write “fiction full of grace.” By that I mean that I want God’s grace to be evident through my characters’ lives, because God’s grace has been so evident in my life.
A Simple Amish Christmas released October 1 and reached #14 on the CBD fiction bestseller list within a few weeks. It’s the story of a young Amish girl who becomes a nurse before she joins the church. Then she’s called home, and she must find a way to integrate her skills into her community. In the process she falls in love with the man her community uses for their minor medical needs. Annie has to trust that God has a plan for her life, has a future for her that will include her passions, her skills, and the man she has grown to love. I came at this story with the idea that not all Amish women would be happy with an eighth grade education, but that didn’t mean that they would want to leave their church or community either. Annie is the woman who has a foot in each world, and her heart is split in two. Only God can help her find a way home.
Besides entertainment, what do you hope readers will take away from the book?
That God can help us find a place within our communities, no matter where we live. That God has a plan for us, and it is perfect.
You have contracted with Zondervan for a three-book series of Amish murder mysteries set in Shipshewana, Indiana. What can you tell us about the first book in the series?
Falling to Pieces is a fun cozy mystery which centers around two women—Deborah Yoder and Callie Harper. Callie is visiting Shipshewana and is not planning on staying, then she stumbles upon a murder, or what might be a murder. But perhaps more important, she falls into this unlikely friendship with Deborah, an Amish woman her age who quilts, has a large family, and loves to piece things together, even mysteries. When Callie begins to open her heart to Deborah, there’s a chance she can let go of the past which haunts her. And if she can do that, then she can embrace the future God offers.
Why do you think Amish lifestyle stories have become so popular in today’s culture?
I think we’re drawn to the simplicity of their lifestyle. It’s very reminiscent of our grandparents or great-grandparents, but set during our day and age. There’s something charming about that, and also intriguing.
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? Do you have a favorite Amish-style dish?
My favorite dish is always chocolate, and my favorite Amish dish would be their desserts. I especially loved the ones that were warm and buttery, and filled with apple and bread.
This website features writers as well as musicians, so I like to mix it up a bit. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
Surprisingly, yes. I’ve played the piano since I was about ten, played in the praise band at church for quite a few years, and still play at home for the fun of it.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I’d be an old southern hymn, but done with a touch of blues.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
I like the minor chords, but I like to resolve them.
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?
Girl next door—I like blue jeans and boots!
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any.
Three cats, but we adore dogs as well (as you’ll see with my next book cover, and that’s ALL I can say).
Thanks, Vannetta! It’s a pleasure to have you at DivineDetour!
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