I’m excited to introduce you to two very special people: Roger Rheinheimer and Crystal Linn, authors of the Amish romance series, Amish Forever. This guest posting is written in an interview format, provided by Roger and Crystal. But I think you’ll find it interesting, not just from the perspective of Amish fiction but from the perspective of a behind the scenes view of writing, in general.
How does it feel to be a successful author?
Roger: I’m still blinking! All I can say is thank you to our dedicated readers and the tireless promotional efforts of our amazing publisher, Trestle Press.
Crystal: Thank you for having us, and thanks to our wonderful readers. To be honest, the reality of it all has not sunk in yet because my life has not changed. I still do normal things like cook dinner and walk my dog. I must stop and remind myself that I am indeed a successful author.
What made you decide to become a writer?
Roger: I feel we were just at the right place at the right time. Trestle Press has been a tireless advocate of the authors they represent. I’ve been writing all my life, and this is the most fun so far.
Crystal: There are important writers on both sides of my family. I grew up writing but thought nothing of it. Then, in the year 2000 we decided I would try to get my deceased mother’s stories published. In the process I became published and was stunned by the raving reviews.
Whose idea was it to write Amish Forever?
Roger: Giovanni Gelati of Trestle Press had read my first novel, Amish Snow. He contacted me and asked if I would write an Amish romance novel.
How did Crystal become involved?
Crystal: Roger felt to do a good job he needed a female co-author and he placed an ad looking for a co-author for an Amish romance series. I replied to that ad and, as they say, “The rest is history.”
What is it like to co-author a book?
Roger: First of all, I had never co-authored before and one of the reasons I chose Crystal is because she was an experienced co-author. It’s great. We complement each other well and even with the pressure of deadlines and outside demands on our respective time commitments, have not had any significant disagreements. It’s really been awesome.
Crystal: While Amish Forever is my first novel, it is my fourth book to date. All four were either co-authored or collaborative efforts. It is like joint venturing where the key people sit down and discuss goals and game plans. Then they go to work, do what needs done, and communicate clearly.
Who writes what and how do you get your writing voices to blend together so well?
Roger: We actually sat down recently and had what we irreverently called a “board meeting,” and wrote out a pretty detailed outline of who takes the lead on what. I’ve always heard that there two things cause a partnership to fall apart: failure OR success. Thankfully we have completely avoided that and I think are more in tune than ever. I love the roaring engine, smoking tire scenes and Crystal conveys beautifully the teardrops falling on the vanity panel scenes.
Crystal: Before we start writing the next chapter, or volume, we email each other notes and ideas. I write the first draft and email it to Roger. He adds to what I wrote and writes more scenes then emails it back to me for editing. I edit and email it back to him. He then edits more and either sends it back to me for editing, if needed, or sends it to early readers. After that we give it a final edit and format it. When we are satisfied Roger emails it to Giovanni, our publisher.
Tell me what it is you want your readers to take away from the story?
Roger: I want readers to feel like they got their money’s worth, that the characters came alive for them and, as the saying goes, the story carried them away to another time and place. I want readers to recognize the effort we have put into our craft and say to themselves, “That was a good story.”
Crystal: All of my books are about overcoming, in one way or another. The perfect example is my book: God’s Counterpoint, published in the ONE anthology by Mark Miller and published by Trestle Press. I want the readers of Amish Forever to come away feeling good about the story and feeling encouraged that they, like Ava, can overcome the obstacles in their own lives.
In your opinion, what is the fascination that American readers have with Amish Christian fiction?
Roger: The Amish, I believe, appeal to that fundamental human desire for simplicity and goodness. I think a lot of us envy their unswerving belief in a higher good.
Crystal: I agree with Roger. I also believe that the reader can live the Amish life vicariously, to borrow one of Roger’s words, through the lives of the characters.
What are your future plans? Will there be more books? Will we learn more about Ava and Zeke?
Roger: Early on when we realized how popular this series was going to be I commented to Crystal that if we don’t write more together we need to admit we’re not really serious about writing fiction. We already have several story spinoffs. I especially like the ones involving Abe and Bliss.
Crystal: I look forward to writing more with Roger and, in addition, I have my own writing career. Recently I sent two books to publishers. One is a short story that Giovanni, of Trestle Press, will publish as soon as I make it longer. The other is a non-fiction grandparent’s guide I sent to a publisher I know personally in the Seattle area.
If you’d like to learn more about Roger and Crystal’s work, please visit their websites at http://rogerrheinheimer.com/ and http://crystallinn.weebly.com/.