I’ve never been a girlie girl. And I never intended to write romance. In fact, back when I was in my early 20s and people would ask what I wanted to do when I grew up I’d answer, “Write novels.”
“Romances!?” was the usual snide response.
Insulted, I’d explain, “No. Literary fiction.” The people quizzing me were snobs. And so was I—an ignorant one at that.
My first three novels were considered literary fiction. They earned nice reviews but so-so sales. When my agent asked if I’d be interested in co-authoring Amish novels with Mindy Starns Clark, I jumped at the chance. I had a story that fit the Plain culture perfectly, plus it explored two of my favorite topics: midwifery and adoption. The result was The Amish Midwife, which hit the #1 bestseller spot on both the CBA and the ECPA lists, plus it won a Christy Award last July. Mindy and I are now working on our fourth book in that series.
Recently, I came up with an Amish series of my own, The Courtships of Lancaster County. The novels are inspired by Shakespeare’s plays, and the first is Courting Cate, based on “The Taming of the Shrew.” Although Shakespeare’s story is a farce, it’s also a love story—and so is mine.
As I wrote Courting Cate, my husband was commanding a field hospital in Afghanistan. During that time we celebrated twenty-eight years of marriage, and I contemplated turning fifty. What I realized, as I Skyped with my hubby every chance I could and checked my emails in the middle of the night to see if he was OK, was how important romance actually is.
I know, I know. This is something most women know long before they’re fifty.
But for me, it took growing older and weathering difficult times to realize how valuable the escape of a good story with a happy ending really is. Life is hard. We need stories of hope and redemption. We need to celebrate love and romance. Writing Courting Cate connected me in a deeper way to my husband. Acknowledging the importance of love and romance as part of the gift of marriage has connected me in a deeper way to God’s plan too.
I poured nearly three decades of love for my sweet husband into writing Courting Cate. I think it paid off—it’s definitely a romance. And it was absolutely as satisfying for me to write as my earlier literary novels.