Kelly Long joins us to discuss her recent release, The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain (Kensington, November 2014).
Rachel: Your most recent release, The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain (November 2014) is with a mainstream publisher. Why do you think that readers are so drawn to the Amish way of life, even if they don’t consider themselves religious?
Kelly: The Amish are a fascinating, enduring, and incredibly grace-filled people. The Amish life is perceived socially as almost an antidote to the technological age and satisfies many people who long for simplicity. Of course, the Amish struggle as all do, but their sense of community holds broad appeal for a world otherwise separated by distance and time.
Rachel: Given that your earlier Amish novels were written for a Christian publisher, what made you decide to write a series for a mainstream audience?
Kelly: To a large extent, I wanted to share aspects of the gospel with a much broader audience. I also wanted the opportunity to explore more controversial issues than are usually permitted in the CBA.
Rachel: Your novels have always been considered to be more on the “edgy” side of Christian romance, particularly with regards to the portrayal of marital love. Given that many romance novels end on the wedding day, I’ve found it refreshing to read about the love (physical, emotional and spiritual) between a husband and wife. Why is this a topic that comes up in the majority of your novels?
Kelly: Sex is a healthy part of marriage—ordained by God as a gift…. And, after my first novel was read by an Amish man, I asked him if there was anything I left out or could have done better—Dan said, “I have 13 children, Kelly. I love my wife. I kiss my wife…Don’t neuter my people.” I’ve never forgotten that—ever. I feel like the proverbial “closing of the bedroom door” leaves little room for the vital exploration of what healthy relationships look like in full.
Rachel: Is Ice Mountain a real place? If so, why did you choose it for the setting of your new series?
Kelly: A very real place in Coudersport, Pennsylvania. I choose it because my dad, who passed away, actually suggested it as a setting. We used to go there a lot when I was a child to see the Mine. There is something heavenly about the place that seemed to suit the tenor of the novels.
Rachel: If your readers could only take one message from The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain, what do you hope it would be?
Kelly: I would hope that those who have suffered in abusive earthly father relationships would catch a glimpse of God as being their real Father and discover that He can make up for the past.
Rachel: What originally drew you to write about the Amish?
Kelly: I’ve been blessed to have been raised around the Appalachian Amish of Clinton and Centre Counties of Pennsylvania, and my Dad was good friends with an Amish man. I wanted to celebrate a people I knew well and share that with the burgeoning interest of readers.
Rachel: More importantly, why have you stayed with this genre? Do you ever feel burned out, or consider writing a different type of novel?
Kelly: I think if I started feeling burnt out that I would need a long break or to engage in some other aspect of writing. So far, God has given me stories and patience, for which I am grateful. I’ve stayed with Amish because it provides a microcosm to some extent in which to study spiritual and social issues as well as to explore cultural differences.
Rachel: When can we expect to see your next book? Can you tell us a little bit about it?
Kelly: An Amish Man of Ice Mountain comes out in May, 2015. This is one of the most difficult books I’ve written as it deals with a hero who’s been sexually abused. But Joseph King is a survivor and so is the Englisch woman he falls in love with—Great Story– if I do say so myself!
Kelly Long was born and raised in North Central Pennsylvania where there was an Amish hitching post at the small grocery store in her town. She loves to write Amish romance and is the author of a number of different novels including Threads of Grace, Sarah’s Garden, An Amish Love with Beth Wiseman and Kathleen Fuller, and Lilly’s Wedding Quilt. Her latest title is The Amish Bride of Ice Mountain. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and children. You can connect with Kelly on Facebook.