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.”