Today we have with us author Vannetta Chapman. Please give her a warm welcome as she tells us all about what she's been up to.
Kari: Can you tell us a little bit about where you're from, what you do for a living, and your family?
Vannetta: I was born in LA, spent a few years in Connecticut so we could be near my father's mother, then moved to Texas so we could be near my mother's parents. We've been here since. I teach high school and college English, so I do have a full time job plus my writing. My husband and I have 4 children between us - a 31 year old daughter, 27 year old twins, and the youngest is 22. We recently just celebrated our final college graduation, which wrapped up 14 years of college tuition. I wanted to dance across the stage, but my family held me back.
Kari: Before you started writing novels, you wrote over 100 magazine articles. What first got you interested in writing books instead of articles, and what sparked your interest in writing about the Amish?
Vannetta: When I finished my graduate degree in English I did first start on the road to publication through freelancing for Christian magazines. You can still find links to some of those articles on my webpage at http://www.vannettachapman.com/Articles.html. I very much enjoyed that and even had some short stories published, which of course led to longer short stories, which led to NOVELS! Give a writer an inch and they're going to, well, you know . . . My agent had several clients who were already published in the Amish genre (including Amy Clipston, Beth Wiseman and Mary Ellis), and she encouraged me to try my hand at it.
Kari: Your inspirational novel A Simple Amish Christmas just came out October 1st. Can you tell us about it?
Vannetta: I started this story with the conviction that Amish families, and Amish women in particular, face the same problems that we do. They suffer the same heartbreaks, feel the same joys, and work just as hard every day. What is different is the community they live in and the way they approach some of those problems. I knew there were already quite a few books out there about Amish women who had left there community, but I wondered about a woman who never intended to leave. Who loved her faith and her family, but also loved to read, loved to learn, maybe even loved to help others who were hurting. How would she satisfy that desire in her heart to help others and still find a way to use her talents within her community, because surely God intended for her to do both. That's the story of Annie, and I very much enjoyed writing it.
Kari: You have a new cozy mystery series coming out in September 2011 called the Shipshewana Amish Mystery Series. Can you tell us about this series and what drew you to writing mysteries?
Vannetta: I do, and I'm very excited about this series with Zondervan. I have always loved suspense. I read a lot of suspense and I've written a few contemporaries that my agent is still shopping around. When Sue Brower received my Amish romance proposal, she liked my writing, but didn't need another romance writer - she had Amy Clipston. (I love you, Amy!) Sue called me and asked if I'd be interested in writing an Amish mystery series. I'll be honest - I thought it was a prank call. I kept checking my phone screen to see if the call originated from Grand Rapids! The series is set in the town of Shipshewana, Indiana and will center around an Amish woman and an English woman who form a friendship. At first they do this in order to keep a quilt shop in business, but soon they're deep in the midst of a murder plot. It's a wonderful stroy and was fun, fun, fun to write. I'm working on book 2 now, and I'm surprised at the situations these two keep finding themselves in.
Kari: Who are your favorite mystery authors?
Vannetta: As I said above, I read a lot of SUSPENSE, so I've had to learn to tone it down a bit for mysteries. : ) I did peruse a lot of cozy mysteries before I began writing this one, and the one that I adored the most was Alexander McCall Smith's "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency." I've now read almost all of them - they're often my reward at the end of the day when I've reached my word count. This is also a good example of a book that isn't necessarily a CBA book but is an excellent, clean read. I know these have been out a while, but I had never read them before. They're very well crafted stories, and I think it helped me that they're set in a different country. I was able to see how he used setting to enrich his stories, and the characters are beautifully drawn while not detracting from the plot at all.
By the way, my links are as follows - - and of course I am on FB.