Old Order Amish Author Linda Byler On Writing 39 Novels

Linda Byler is rare in the world of Amish fiction writing. She is an actual member of an Old Order Amish church in an industry dominated by non-Amish writers. That’s one reason I found this recent profile of Linda so interesting. It begins charmingly with Linda not being totally sure how many books she’s actually written since first picking up the pen in 2003:

While writing is her vocation, she is hard pressed to recall exactly how many novels she has written. At first, she said it was 34 but counted again and decided it was 38 but with a book out on July 2, she said, “I guess that would make it 39.”

Linda is a successful writer who has sold hundreds of thousands of books, but in true Amish style deflects focus from that aspect of her life:

“I don’t want to be remembered for my writing,” Linda Byler said, who sat sideways on her couch on a warm summer day. “I want to be remembered for being a good mother.”

In the article we learn something bout Linda’s books. Her first character was a five-year-old Amish girl named Lizzie which she based on herself. Readers followed Lizzie’s story as she grew into a young woman over the course of several novels. Other series have been set outside of Linda’s home state of Pennsylvania.

Byler’s writing style is charming as well:

These days Byler writes between 15 to 20 pages per week to maintain her demanding schedule.

“I just sit down and think what I think out on the page,” she said. “It is easy for me to write my thoughts and I try to portray life as it is, as it really is.”

“As a child, I could imagine too, too much,” she said. If she read about rabid bats, she became vigilant about thwarting them.

“Big foot? I would go around the house and make sure every curtain was closed because it was very real to me.”

“I guess I am more perceptive than others,” she said. “When I write, it’s just like making a quilt. I start with one idea and just add on.”

The full profile is well worth reading (find it here). Linda is described as frank, direct and bold in the article. It’s suggested this may be a secret to her appeal and I can believe it.

You can also listen to Linda speak about her writing in the video below. It’s short, but there is a lot in there of interest. “Sometimes I still feel unsure if what I’m doing is going to be allowed,” Linda explains. “But so far, most people accept it.”

On her characters: “Usually a character I write about is someone I’ve encountered or watched.”

On how outsiders view the Amish: “There are a lot of misconceptions about our life. I think we are kept in an ideal that’s too high.”

Finally, this comment I thought was worth noting: “Humility is just something that we are constantly trying to keep. But it’s harder and harder as our way of life changes away from the farm.”

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    1. Joe Z.

      Love those Linda Byler books

      Quite a few years ago, while in a bookstore in Intercourse, PA, I was bemoaning the fact that much “Amish” fiction was not very good, and even writers who could write often didn’t seem to like the Amish. One of the sales people suggested I try Linda’s books, as she herself is Amish. Some of her early writing is a bit rough, but over the years it has improved. She has written about (fictional) communities in various areas, from many different periods. I highly recommend reading her work.

    2. No wonder I like her books.

      I’ve read several of Linda By Lee’s books but never knew she was Amish. That makes them even more special.

    3. KimH

      I’ve read a couple of Linda Byler’s books. You are right, she is VERY prolific. I see them everywhere.
      I think its neat that shes Amish and writing these books. I agree with her that some writers dont portray the Amish as accurately as they could.. On the other hand, these books are fictional and isnt it Writers License to create what you want?
      The problem comes when people believe they are true representations of the Amish.

      1. I’m amazed at 39 books in 18 years. I don’t believe I have the gene for creating fiction, which makes it more impressive. On the flipside, it does sound like the books are published without a lot of heavy edits – she sends them in, and they probably do some copyedit but didn’t sound like they’re back and forth very much on changes. Based on my own non-fiction writing experience, that edit phase can be 50% of the work 🙂

    4. Lydia Good

      Who knew?

      I had no idea that Linda Byler was a real authentic Amish housewife. I had heard of her books but never read any. I read one Amish bonnet book many moons ago and decided that I didn’t need to read any more. There were too many minor details that were incorrect and it annoyed me. I may have to read one of her books.

      1. I have not read her but if you like authenticity, it sounds like she is definitely worth a try. I can imagine for anyone with an Anabaptist/plain background that the details which are “off” can stick out like a sore thumb.

    5. Jan Moser

      So thankful for this oooportunity!

      I enjoyed the video and since we built our house waaay out in the country, I had to wait througha lot of buffering but it was worth it!! In my review of one of Linda Byler’s books, I lamented that she would not be able to read it, and that I so wished that she could see my review. I am delighted to have a chance to write something that might be read by her, because she provides wonderful books with authentic characters, moving storylines and thought-provokin ideas. Linda Byler is among my all-tioe favorite writrss. I appreciate her frankness, by not turning her Amish characters into saints – but rather human beings like we who are Englisch. In this time when our spirits sometimes are wearied by seemingly never-ending division, I so appreciate her diverse characters’ reminders that we can get along with, live with and love those who differ from us! And oh, how I love the soft spot that her characters have for animals – from naming fish to beeding birds, to my personal favorite – showing a love of working dogs.

    6. A lovely woman and a fine writer.

      Linda is my go-to person for verifying facts about the Amish in PA. And she’s a good cook! Thanks for highlighting her as she can’t use the internet. She told me she writes her manuscripts by hand and can’t see her online reviews. No wifi in her house. I feel blessed to call her a friend.
      Thanks, Erik!

    7. Jan Moser

      My Favorite Author of Books about Amish life!

      When I have previously written reviews of Linda Byler’s books for iBooks or Bookbub, I have regretted that she probably would never have the chance to read them – so I am delighted to have a chance to write something that she might actually see! One of my favorite things about her books are the AUTHENTICITY of the characters. They are real human beings, like we Englischers, and I appreciate the down-to-earth nature of her characters. Instead of intimidating, they are endearing. They have some of the same struggles, worries and joys that the rest of us do. I also have been touched by her characters’ soft spots for animals – from naming fish to cherishing the “working dogs” out West, which sounded a lot like a beloved Blue Heeler / Catalouha mix that I love. I am only getting started in devouring all her books – but so far, I have enjoyed each one, and I am excited to learn that there are a total of 39 (so far!)! So many books, so little time!