By Christine M. Irvin
Wanda Brunstetter is an award-winning writer and author of almost 50 books with a combined total of over 5 million copies sold. Wanda likes to write about the Amish and helped pioneer the Amish fiction genre. Her first novel about the Amish was published by Barbour Publishing in 1997. Most of her books are about the Amish, including a series of children’s picture books featuring mischievous Rachel Yoder. She has also written two Amish cookbooks as well as three books of devotions, numerous short stories, articles, poems and puppet plays.
When Wanda met her husband, Richard, she became interested in the Amish culture. Her husband was raised in the Mennonite church and his family is part of the Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. Wanda and her husband like to travel. Their many visits to Amish
communities helped them develop friendships with Amish people across the country. Wanda became even more interested in the Amish faith when she found out her great-great grandparents were Anabaptists. Wanda does all the research for her novels. She strives to give an accurate portrayal of the Amish life.
In addition to writing, Wanda is a woman of many talents and interests. She enjoys gardening, bird-watching, photography, beach combing, traveling and visiting her Amish friends. She is even a professional puppeteer and ventriloquist.
Wanda is a member of several organizations: Romance Writers of America; American Christian Fiction Writers; Northwest Christian Writers Association; and The Fellowship of Christian Magicians. Wanda and her husband have two children and six grandchildren.
I recently had the pleasure of asking Wanda some questions about her work. Here are my questions and her answers.
Q: What was it like growing up? Where did you live? Any siblings? What did your parents do for a living? Etc.
A. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington in a family of four — my parents, me, and my younger sister. My father worked at the newspaper in Tacoma, and later became president of the Typographical Union in that area.
Q: When did you first decide you wanted to be a writer? Was there any major event in your life that brought you to this decision, or did it come about naturally?
A. When I was in the second grade and wrote a poem about a moth, my teacher said I had talent and encouraged me to keep writing. From that moment on I knew I wanted to become an author some day.
Q: When did you decide you wanted to write about the Amish? Why did you want to write about the Amish?
A. My husband grew up in a Mennonite church in Pennsylvania, and one of our Mennonite friend took us to meet an Amish family he worked with in a paint contracting business. After visiting with this warm and friendly family I realized that even though the Amish dress differently than we do and live a different lifestyle, they really aren’t that different from us. Soon after that we began to make other Amish friends, and as I got to know them personally I decided to write Amish-themed novels so my readers could know and understand the Amish the way we do.
* When was your first novel about the Amish published? Who published it? And, was it part of a series?
My first novel was Amish and it was called “A Merry Heart.” It was Book 1 in a series of four and it was published in 1997 with Barbour Publishing’s book club, Heartsong Presents. A few years later I was asked to expand the books in this series and they were then re-released as full-length trade fiction novels.
Q: Have you written anything besides books about the Amish? If so, what have you written?
A. I have also written some historical novels and novellas. My most recent historical series is called “The Brides of Lehigh Canal.” It was fun to research this series, since my husband grew up not far from the Lehigh Canal in Pennsylvania and we were able to get a lot of accurate research information.
Q: What are you working on right now?
A. I am currently writing a stand-alone Amish-themed novel that will be published in 2012. I’m also working on an Amish-themed children’s book, which will also come out in 2012.
Q: Future writing plans?
A. When I finish the projects I’m working on now I’ll begin writing Book 3 in my Kentucky Brothers series.
Q: Is there anything else you would like to add or would people to know about you?
I recently had a new website developed, and besides information about me and my books, there is a lot of information about the Amish way of life, as well as a reader forum where people visiting the site can leave comments or ask questions. The address for my website is: www.wandabrunstetter.com.