Author of the Week- Suzanne Woods Fisher

3d Typewriter with blank paper Top View

Welcome to ERG’s weekly Author of the Week Interview! This will be a weekly feature, and I’ll be interviewing popular authors in different genres. If you have a favorite author that you’d like to see featured, make sure to tell them to contact me.

So let’s get started. I’d like to introduce you to Suzanne Woods Fisher. She is a bestselling author of books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. She has a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Amish proverb. You can find Suzanne on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com. Let’s get to know Suzanne!

Tell us a little bit about yourself, your hobbies and interests.

I am blessed! God has given me a wonderful husband, four amazing children, a fabulous son-in-law and daughter-in-law-to-be, two beautiful grandbabies, and the opportunity to write for Him. I’m not saying that the sun is always shining on my little street. My life has its share of ups and downs like everybody else. But overall, I feel so very grateful.

As for hobbies—if I’m not writing, I’m playing tennis, walking dogs, gardening, cooking, or at a Bible study. My favorite things! Though gardening and cooking always gives me sporadic results. Tennis, too. Very unpredictable.

What made you decide to tackle writing as a career?

I’ve been writing as long as I can remember. Over the years, writing has become, for me, a way to work thoughts through, p
raise God and see Him at work in my life.

After college, I started to write for magazines and became a contributing editor for Christian Parenting Today magazine. Then my husband’s job moved us to Hong Kong for four years, just as the internet was developing, and I kept going! I wrote articles in a 44-story high-rise apartment, sending manuscripts 7,000 miles away with a click of a key.

When and why did you start writing novels?

After returning from Hong Kong, I decided to give my first novel a try. For four and a half months, I worked on an antediluvian computer in a cramped laundry room. I didn’t even tell my husband what I was up to. When the novel was completed, I told my family at dinner one night that I had written a book.
“That’s why there’s no food in this house!” my slightly insensitive sons said.
Undaunted by my son’s lack of enthusiasm and the many rejections letters I received, I finally got a contract from a small royalty publisher. That book won two awards and was noticed by an agent. Fast forward…I now have numerous books under contract with Revell.
Writing, for me, is a way to express a love of God and His word. With every book or article, I hope readers get a sense of what faith really looks like in the daily grind. I hope they realize that life can be hard, but God is good, and never to confuse the two.
P.S. I’m still stuck in the cramped laundry room.

Which one of your books or characters is your favorite?
 
Mary Kate (M.K.) Lapp is a character in The Keeper, The Haven, and finally gets a starring role in The Lesson. She has good intentions, but she is always poking her nose into everybody’s business and creating problems. I just loved writing in her point-of-view. Found myself grinning as I typed! She’s that outrageous.
In book 3, The Lesson, Mary Kate Lapp suddenly finds herself teaching school. She hates it. Absolutely hates it. Fern Lapp, her stepmother, introduces her to a career teacher in an Amish school, Erma Yutzy, who is about to turn one hundred years old. Little by little, this ancient woman shows Mary Kate how to inspire her students. Here’s a peek:

Erma covered M.K. hand with hers. “Mary Kate, I was born into a world of horse-drawn carts on dirty paths, gas streetlights, when you could mail a letter for pennies and a box of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes only cost eight cents. Now, I live in an age where there are eight-lane highways and men on the moon and strange little computers that fit in people’s pockets.”
“Most people call those cell phones.”
Erma squeezed her hand. It didn’t matter what they were called. She was trying to make a point. “Mary Kate, do you know what keeps me alive?”
M.K. leaned forward in her chair. “What?” She wanted to know.
“I want to see what happens next.”

Which one of your books was the hardest to write and stretched you the most as a writer?

Co-writing the ‘Adventures of Lily Lapp” series with Mary Ann has been a new experience for me—definitely stretched me as a writer (to be true to Mary Ann’s voice) but the process wasn’t at all hard. In fact, just the opposite. The experience has been a pure delight!

Mary Ann was raised in an Old Order Amish home, married and started a family, but had recently left the church. It’s been a painful experience for her. She started a blog, A Joyful Chaos, as a way to capture the stories of her childhood. It caught fire! She has over 30,000 visitors every month, and the New York Times mentioned it in an article.

As Mary Ann and I became acquainted, we talked about collaborating on a book one day. I presented the idea to my editor and…fast forwarding…the proposal was accepted. Actually, we proposed three books: Lily Lapp as a young girl, a move to a new community where Lily meets a horrible boy who torments her, and then in book 3, Lily marries him. (Based on Mary Ann’s life!).

Revell came back with a surprise—four books! And they wanted them pronto. So Mary Ann and I got right to work. All four books are written—the fourth will release this fall. Lily is a wonderful heroine—amusing, endearing, mischievous, and enveloped in a happy family.

Who is your favorite author and book?
 
Ohhhh…that’s such a hard question! I read all kinds of books, fiction and non-fiction, and enjoy all kinds of writing styles. One of my favorite writers is Philip Yancey—I read everything he writes.

What book are you reading right now?

The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger. It’s a great example of “creative non-fiction” in which a true story reads like fiction. But that’s not why I’m reading it—I’m actually studying books about sailing, ocean crossing, and weather systems. Sound odd? Well, next up will be a book I’m writing about some of the first Amish to leave Europe, in 1737. After facing severe persecution, a group sailed to the English colonies to start the first Amish congregation in the New World. Fascinating and true story! I’ll be fictionalizing it because there’s very little known about the actual voyage. Hence…why I’m reading all I can about ocean crossings.

Where do you get your plot ideas?
 
From actual events! In history, in the news, in books. Real life is full of stories, waiting to be noticed and culled. Recently, I heard an unusual fact on the radio—one of those “On this day in history…” kind of facts. Intrigued, I did a little digging and uncovered a jaw-dropping, hard-to-believe-it’s-true story. I pitched it to my editor, who immediately took it to the publishing committee and warned me not to tell anyone else about the story. So…unfortunately, I can’t. But that’s an example of how a story begins.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

Puppies! I’m a puppy raiser for Guide Dogs for the Blind. These pups are a big part of my life (two are sleeping right by my chair as I type). My youngest son started puppy raising when he was in third grade. We went through training as a family and raised “Arbor,” a male yellow lab. Between fifteen and eighteen months, the puppies are recalled for formal training. Arbor became a guide—and we started on puppy two. Then puppy three. Ten puppies later, I’m hooked. Right now I am a breeder custodian for “Tess,” a golden retriever, and “Toffee,” a cross (half yellow lab, half golden retriever).

Raising puppies is kinda like eating potato chips—you can’t stop with one.

Do you have any new books in the works?

I sure do! In fact, right now I’m contracted by Revell Books into 2018—which will be here in the blink of an eye. In the next year, I’m going to switch gears and write an historical novel series. Called “Petticoat Row,” it will be based on Quaker Nantucket during the period when men left on whaling trips and the women ran the island. Centre Street was dubbed “Petticoat Row” because the women managed the shops. Not a bad place to go on research trips! In fact, I’ve had a shockingly large amount of volunteers to be my research assistants for that series. Until…I mention a winter trip and they lose interest.
Ah well…so much for fair weather assistants.

Thanks for hosting me here today! You’re invited to check out Lily’s website at www.adventuresoflilylapp.com. It’s very child-friendly—interactive, with games, puzzles, word searches, downloadable coloring pages, and you can ask Lily a question!

Suzanne Woods Fisher is a bestselling author of books about the Old Order Amish for Revell Books. She has a free downloadable app, Amish Wisdom, that delivers a daily Amish proverb. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area. You can find Suzanne on-line at www.suzannewoodsfisher.com.
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Comments

  1. Linda Landreth says

    Thank you. I enjoyed reading your bio very much. It’s nice to know a little more about the authors I read. We are dog people too and I enjoyed hearing about your puppies. Thanks for all you do!

    • Marcia Sharp says

      Enjoyed hearing more about how and what you write,
      but my very favorite book of yours you never mention;
      Copper Star is just terrific in every way.
      I highly recommend it !!

    • Hi Linda! Thanks for noticing at mention about the pups! I have three at my feet right now…big golden retrievers. Staring at me as I type! Pretty sure they think it’s suppertime, which it isn’t. 🙂
      Warmly, Suzanne

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