Thrill of the Chaste giveaway: Submit your Questions

Thrill Of The Chaste Amish Romance Weaver ZercherI just finished Valerie Weaver-Zercher’s book Thrill of the Chaste: The Allure of Amish Romance Novels over the weekend.  We’ll be having a Q-and-A and giveaway for the book soon.  You’ll be able to enter the giveaway in the traditional way by leaving a comment when we run the Q-and-A.

For an extra entry today, however, you can suggest a question for Valerie about Amish fiction.  We’ll choose a few of the best ones for Valerie to answer in the Q-and-A.

Just leave your question or questions in the comments below for an extra chance to win in the giveaway (you can ask multiple questions, but there is just one extra entry per person).

To give you an idea of possible question topics, Valerie’s book covers a number of areas including writers and readers of Amish fiction, marketing, history of the genre, accuracy, representations of Amish, and the future of Amish fiction.

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    43 Comments

    1. Kate K.

      Cover Art

      My question concerns the cover art of Amish fiction, which frequently features an “Amish” woman in plain dress. Usually the woman pictured has a good deal of makeup, English hair or tweaked eyebrows, and clothes that just don’t seem quite right, such as a kapp that’s the wrong size. In the face of reader pressure for an authentic story, why do the covers of Amish novels frequently look costume-y and fake? Is it carelessness or a marketing strategy? Thanks.

      1. Sandi McIntier

        Make-up & Bookcover

        I lived in Northern Maine before I moved west and I never saw an Amish lady wearing make-up. None-the-less I found them to be more attractive without their make-up on. As a person who very rarely wears make-up I have found that the skin stays younger longer, or maybe that is because of the English climate I grew up in.

        The Book cover would, in my estimation, be a way of selling the book. However, the book cover I am looking at now, shows no signs of make-up on the woman at all. The book is ‘The Wonder of Love’ by Beth Wiseman.

    2. Roberta

      But is there reader pressure for a realistic story from the majority of buyers? The publisher probably doesn’t care if the pressure for realism is coming from only a small number of readers. Does the author actually have any input on the cover art?

    3. Richard and Pauline Stevick

      When did you start working on this book?

      Also, what area(s) of Amish life have been missed or distorted in the novels you have seen? Finally, do you have any inclination to write Amish-themed fiction of your own? Goot glick. “Thrill” is a fine book. Polly is writing a review of it. The Stevicks

    4. Gail

      Accurate portrayal of Amish beliefs

      Which of the authors that you studied portrays Amish theological beliefs accurately and fairly, as opposed to using them as a ‘straw man’ to contrast with non-Amish, evangelical theology?

    5. Marty

      death

      There seem to be a lot of young widows in Amish fiction. Accidents abound. Please address these plot lines and the reality of young widowhood in the Amish community.

    6. Amy Laura

      Main stream Christian....

      I’ve noticed a trend in some Amish fiction of Amish people accepting Jesus as their personal savior. My understanding is that this goes against “most” Amish communities beliefs (I add most because I know there are huge variations). I’m curious as to how common this really is in Amish communities, or is this just an added part of Amish fiction that is being sold to more fundamental Christian readers.

      Thanks!

      1. Loyd

        Main Stream Christian

        Hi Amy Laura,
        With my own experience and what I have learned recently on line, it is quite common for former Amish to accept Christ as their savior. I had all the biblical teachings, thank God as child and teenager, but needed to learn of non Amish ways because of the restrictions imposed on me.
        I left the Amish at the age of 18 and didn’t accept Christ as my savior until I was 45.
        The need for me to leave the Amish drove me to live with extremes at times and that did bring me to realize that I needed Christ in my life. It didn’t make it easier, but I live with a purpose now.

        Hope it helps a little,
        Loyd

    7. Loretta

      ART

      I wonder why most amish communities consider art and drawing something not appropriate for their members. Something that they would have to hide. If you have a love and talent for drawing or painting a picture, I feel it is a God-given talent.

      There is an amish female author living in Lancaster County who has written quite a few books. What could the circumstances be that she is allowed to write/publish and others are not?

    8. New York State of Mind

      I wonder how an author gets the idea for a story? Does is just come to you or does someone suggest something to you and you think that would be nice in a book?

    9. I wonder how the sales of Amish-themed books where the Amish person “jumps the fence” and stays “English” compares with the opposite scenario where the Amish person “jumps the fence” but returns to the Amish.

    10. Betty Hamilton

      Are Amish and Pennsylvanis Dutch the same?

    11. She may answer this question in her book, but does Valerie read Amish romance novels herself?

    12. Judy

      Thrill of the Chaste -question

      Do you use consultants on your books? Whom?
      What is your own connection to the Plain People?

    13. Erin

      Who is your favorite author (Amish fiction and non-fiction)? What is your favorite Amish community?

    14. Susan

      Question

      I have always wondered if Amish folks read any Amish fiction. Or for that matter, what kind of things do they read on a regular basis?

    15. Sharon

      I have an Amish friend that is an older male that I talk to when I go visit in this particular Amish community. He is very upset about Amish fiction portraying the Amish in the wrong light. Have you ever thought that you were offending the Amish when you write a novel?

      1. Sharon and Juanita, to clarify, Valerie doesn’t write Amish novels. Thrill of the Chaste is a non-fiction analysis of Amish fiction–a close look at the writers, marketing, readers, themes in the books, and so on.

    16. Juanita Cook

      Do you go to Amish communities to learn more about the Amish and their ways? Do you know any Amish families that can help you with stories you write?

    17. Sheri Disch

      Question

      Do you know of any Englishers who have made the choice to change their lives and join an Amish community, not necessarily because they read Amish based books but because they felt pulled to lead the same life as the Amish?

      1. Richard and Pauline Stevick

        Number of converts to the Amish

        Sheri, According to an ex-convert, then ex-Amish acquaintance of mine, there have been more than 300 converts to the Amish in the last 45 or 50 years. I’m guessing–hoping–? that not many of them made their decision based on bonnet fiction. Hope that helps. Rich rstevick@messiah.edu

    18. MaryAnn Pepe

      Heating the home

      I am currently reading a novel where it is winter in Lancaster County. There is a description about how the upper bedrooms, in an Amish home, are not heated and it was 40 degrees Fahrenheit . Is it true that there is no heating in the bedrooms? How can a human, especially a baby survive?

    19. ANN*H

      I am very interesting in anything Amish. I have read a few Amish fictions. I do know that most are not true of Amish ways totally. Why are there so many Amish romance types of books written? Second question is : What are the feeling of the Amish about the books written? thanks

    20. Don Curtis

      Mark's views

      As most of you know, my son Mark joined the Amish after retiring from teaching school for thirty years at the age of fifty. He is sixty, now, and has been Amish over ten years. He does read Amish fiction. But, there is a difference between Amish fiction authored by and acceptable to Amish and Amish romance novels which are not authored by nor acceptable to most Amish. If you want to find Amish fiction that Amish would read send away for a catalog from Pathway Publishers, the Amish publishing house at Aylmer, Ontario, Canada.
      Mark’s house doesn’t have heating upstairs. He usually has the bedrooms shut off upstairs unless he has company staying the night. Then, he opens the bedroom doors and the heat goes up the staircase. He said that it is correct that most Amish homes don’t have heat upstairs. That’s what quilts and comforters are for. As far as babies go, most Amish parents don’t sleep upstairs. In almost every Amish home the parents sleep on the ground floor. Babies sleep in a crib in the parents’ room.
      Also, unlike most English homes, Amish children rarely have their own room or their own bed. Boys will sleep two to a full sized bed. Sometimes there will be two, full sized beds sleeping four boys. Girls do the same in the girls’ rooms. When you have a family with a dozen children not everybody gets their own private space like with English children.

    21. Don Curtis

      Mark's views continued

      Mark wonders if he will meet this Valerie Weaver-Zercher at the Amish Conference 2013 at Elizabethtown College in June. She is supposed to speak.

    22. Ann Whitaker

      As an author, are you honoring the Amish or “selling” the Amish?

    23. Eugenia

      The English

      What is the general Amish view of the English? Favorable or one of some disdain?

    24. John Lueders

      Plotting the Book

      In your studies, do most of these books have a “plot by numbers” story or do some authors actually come up with some unique storyline or plot devices? Also, do these stories take place in more progressive communities or do some take place, in say, a very conservative, closed community?

    25. Plots, bundling, and plagiarism

      I finally decided to read my first Amish novel, beginning to end. I hadn’t wanted to before because I’ve written a novel with an Amish story and I did not want to get influenced.

      I was a bit surprised by what I found. Besides the plot being telegraphed at every turn and “Amish cliched” I was amazing that the subjects were so sanitized to the point of being no so human.

      I did wonder if the practice of bundling ever comes up in Amish novels and to what extent. Siunce I have only read one, please forgive me if they are common, used slightly, or not at all. I am not sure if my consitituion can weather reading another ten to twenty Amish novels to find out.

      The other reveal was that this famous author was treating Amish subjects as though they were on a “must-use” checklist. The shocker is that I was reading Dr. Kraybills, “The Riddles of the Amish Culture” simultaneously and noticed that they seemed to come up in this best seller’s list author’s book in the same order. (Dr. Kraybill’s book predated this novel by several years.)

    26. Emily J

      Amish fiction or "Amish" fiction?

      While I am sure this varies by community, and even from person to person, I’m wondering if you have a sense of which books are more popular: fiction books about Plain people by Plain (or formerly Plain) people (Carrie Bender, Ervin Stutzman, Mary Christner Bontrager), or “bonnet rippers” by more evangelical authors (Beverly Lewis, etc.)

    27. Sandi McIntier

      Wunderbaar!

      I love to read these books on the Amish women and their families. It is so refreshing to read a book that has no worldly, or offensive material in it. I love the plain and simpleness of their lives and wonder to myself if I am not really Amish at heart. Well done to all of you for these fascinating novels and insights.

    28. Millie

      Amish Fiction

      Some years ago, my husband and I took a camping trip to Ohio. (He was from PA and had relatives in Canton, Ohio.) When asking about a restaurant to get some dinner, we were directed to an Amish Buffet and then my obsession(?) with the Amish was ignited. The following day, we found a golf course for my husband and I had noticed a billboard advertising a Mennonite Museum – so I set out to find it. I think I stayed there several hours and was so filled with a little bit of information that I gathered there. I bought the book, “Roseanna of the Amish” and that triggered my desire to read more – which I have. I buy any and all Amish books listed on the CBD website and as I read them I ship them on to my relatives to read. They, in turn, give them to their church library or charities that appreciate them. So all of the books I have read are still in circulation. I don’t care about the authenticity; I care about the way the book is written. Some authors are so much better than others and I enjoy them most. I must say that nearly every book has given me Christian insight for myself and I consider all of these books a blessing.

    29. Char

      Are there certain identifiable characteristics that make the difference between the best-sellers and the lesser-known authors? What do the better-known authors include/exclude/emphasize that the others don’t? Or is it more a matter of writing to a certain market? [evangelical Christians, etc.] Someone mentioned a formula for writing Amish-themed fiction, and I guess maybe some authors may follow a certain pattern, especially in books that are in a series. Although I enjoy Amish fiction, they do start to all blend together and sound similar at some point. Thanks.

    30. Alice Mary

      Male Amish

      I often wonder about how Amish males are portrayed in Amish fiction. How do real Amish men act/live as compared with those portrayed in Amish fiction? How does this compare with “English” men in other (non-Amish) romance novels? Is there more of a preference for “goody-goody” guys, or do “bad boys” (comparatively speaking) win out more often than not?

      Alice Mary

      1. Loyd

        Male Amish

        Hi Alice Mary,
        I will attempt to answer your question with my own experience. I grew up Amish and took on the lifestyle of a “bad boy”, getting a car at the age of 18, going to Sarasota, Florida for 9 mo. working and partying. I guess similar to the series on TV, but 40 yrs ago.
        I always felt like I didn’t want to be Amish, and because of different circumstances in my life, was driven by a need to do so with impulses and to extremes at times.
        I was much later diagnosed with a bi- polar disorder. I am finally on a medication that helps me deal with the hi and lows.
        I guess, I was like ” English” guys, but driven by a different need to prove I didn’t need to be Amish.
        Hope this helps a little.
        Loyd

    31. ADalton

      Why is it that many people prefer reading Amish romances by non Amish authors, rather than non romance books by Amish or ex-Amish people?

    32. Barb

      Why is Amish “branding” so popular, and do you think it will last?

    33. Readers

      I,too, am interested in whether Amish actually read the Amish novels or just us Englishers.

    34. Greg Miller

      Four basic plots

      According to the NY Times, Amish books have four main plots and all else is a variation of these four.

      1. Elizabeth Hodges

        That is very interesting that they only have four major plots.

    35. Liz D

      Historical Amish novels versus Contemporary

      Hi Valerie,
      I’m interested to hear your thoughts on the ‘market’ for historical Amish fiction and Contemporary. It’s my perception that more historically set novels (the definition for historic fiction I realise is a whole new can of worms, but for this maybe working to ‘outside of the majority of living memory’) seem more popular within Amish fiction. From your analysis are there any reasons for this?
      Also, is there a ‘type’ of reader for Amish fiction?
      I’m absolutely fascinated by the growth in popularity of Amish fiction – sadly I dont live in the US otherwise I’d have immediately booked tickets to attend the conference and hear your paper on this when I heard about it!

    36. Kathy Rowe

      Book Giveaway

      I have actually had an Amish family that I was visiting tell me not to believe what I read when I mentioned that I read the Amish fiction books. Do they believe they are not being portrayed acurately enough? I thought the more well known authors did a lot of research before writing their stories.

    37. Elizabeth Hodges

      Thrill of the Chaste giveaway:

      If some Amish men read Amish Fiction Novels do they ever find the romance portion of some of the stories corny or hokey. The reason I ask is because when I first started reading them I needed something to take the focus off a dismal diagnosis of MS. I didn’t notice at first how silly some of the courting depictions were. When I started reading more than one author it seemed as though almost every novel had this phrase “Her heart skipped a beat” Sometimes it was his heart. No discredit to the writers but I just find this phrase so ridiculous. They portray the characters as level headed and then they temporarily loose a pulse because someone glanced at them or held their hand. I just wonder how Amish men or women describe that moment in their relationship when they first hold hands or that special someone takes note.