It’s bound to happen. When you write a book and develop your characters, there will come a time when you find that it’s hard to say good-bye to them. After spending so much time with them and knowing them so well, the thought of ending that literary relationship is…well…emotionally draining.
I felt that way about Jake Edwards in my book, Hills of Wheat. He was just a fun character. Different, charming, interesting…and mysterious. Oh yes, and let’s not forget just enough of a romantic to make me fall a little bit in love with him. Call it a crush. Call it puppy love. But it’s there.
I was happy to find a great way to involve him in my next book, Pastures of Faith. It felt like I was seeing an old friend when I was able to integrate Jake and Sylvia into this new book. Just the other day, I asked a friend to read the first few chapters and she made a similar comment about another character that returns from the first book, Fields of Corn: Lillian.
Unlike Jake, Lillian is a real person. She was my friend when I lived on the Amish farm and courted her brother-in-law “Emanuel”. In fact, it was Lillian who often innocently tossed me into situations to be with Emanuel (such as taking pies to sick neighbors or going to market to buy apples for applesauce making). She was so pure of heart and always so happy to be around.
Over fifteen years later, I returned to the Lapp farm and met up with Lillian. She was having a picnic with her daughters on a hill near their house by the carpentry shop. Linda was there…older and on break from being a school teacher. But she looked the same. She was surrounded by lots of daughters and one small son. I joined her for lemonade and chatted with her daughters about their grandfather and how he used to love Linda so much. Their grandfather, “Jonas”, had just had a stroke and wasn’t faring very well. The girls stared at me with broad smiles and sparkling eyes. I doubt they ever heard such stories from an Englischer about their grossdaadi!
When I left that day, they gave me quite a surprise…a small, orange kitten. My family named him Jonas in honor of Jonas Lapp. He lives with my father and mother (who had just lost their own beloved cat) and lives quite a nice life for an Amish barn cat (read: spoiled). Every time I look at that cat, I return to that farm, to those people, to the peace and tranquility of Amish life. I think I’ll always be certain to have an Amish cat lounging around the family…
Thanks, Sue, for reminding me about how good it is to fall in love with characters…both real and imaginary. It was nice to spend time with my good friend, Lillian, once again during the writing of this last book.