It's the hottest selling genre in inspirational fiction. In the publishing industry it's fans are known as the "Buggy & Bonnet" crowd. They race to snatch up every new book that has an Amish girl, boy farmhouse and/or buggy on the cover.
Now I have to admit, I used to read those trashy romance novels in my early 30s so when I picked up my first Amish fiction novel to read, I was genuinely curious to discover what all the hoopla was about. I had no idea what to expect but I was genuinely surprised to discover some rather "steamy" scenes but they were done in a very "G-rated" Disney-ish way. Amish women secretly visiting a "Victoria's Secret" type store to please their Amish husbands (and in turn Amish husbands buying their wives nighties from the same place - no kidding.) Who knew? In between the romance plot lines were details about baking, cooking, quilting, and Singings, etc., with Pennsylvania Dutch liberally sprinkled throughout.
I've read several books and the story lines basically all seem to be the same. You could take any one of these books, do a global search and replace on character names, towns, etc., and repackage it with a new book cover and it would sell out irregardless of the similar plot line.
Perhaps people long for a simple life and want to live it vicariously through the characters in these novels without having to actually put in the real hard work? I dare say, I think most of us romanticize the Amish life into something that it is not. Just look at the book covers! If you have seen real Amish people you know they look nothing like the models used for the book covers. I mean, would you buy an Amish fiction if it had the picture of a REAL Amish girl on it? Most of them are....well....PLAIN and not attractive. I have visited Lancaster County in PA a few times and while I find the Amish to be delightful and wonderful people; they look nothing like the Amish book covers. When it came time to do the book cover for my Amish Paranormal fiction "In Plain Sight", it literally took me WEEKS of nonstop searching to find an image of an honest to goodness real young Amish man that was decent looking.
How many of us would actually give up all our every day luxuries to live the way the Amish do? That means no air conditioning in hot and humid weather, no modern means of communication, no music, no television, working very hard nonstop from 5:00 am until 8:00 p.m. six days a week. Having to follow a very strict set of rules that govern every aspect of your life. On the other hand there is the wonderful sense of community, family bonds and friendships that a lot of us have lost (and miss) in the "English" world.
Perhaps the fans want to read romance novels and Amish fiction is a great way to go because it's done with class and involves Christian love and romance; not just passion. It's a guilt-free "guilty pleasure". You can read a romance novel and not feel guilty or convicted by the Holy Spirit for reading "trash".
But honestly, how many times can you read the same plot line over and over and not get burned out over it and long for something different? Will she leave her Amish faith? Will she be shunned? Which Amish girl or boy will they fall in love with and marry? Which life will they choose?
Which brings me to why I decided to try my own hand at Amish fiction. I'm from Southern California. I own an Amish quilt; have visited Lancaster County 3 times and that's about it as far as my experience of the Amish. I was being told I needed to write one because of what a hot genre it is but what's a girl from the land of "fruits and nuts" going to write about the Amish that would be original? In pondering this question, the words to the back cover teaser came to me and that is how I began to write "In Plain Sight". If I was going to do an Amish fiction then I wanted to write something completely new, different and fresh. I asked myself, what would happen if people from another world appeared in an Amish community? What if the Amish began discovering crop circles in their fields and weird lights in the sky?
I was inspired by "Out of the Silent Planet" by C.S. Lewis, a little Romeo and Juliet, the movie "Signs", the book cover of "The Host" by Stephanie Meyer and the rest I made up as I went along. I wrote it in four months and I think it came out rather well. It has the elements of romance, suspense, tension, jeopardy and even humor but with the added twist of the love interest coming from another world. There is also the added bonus of recipes in the back.
If you are curious, watch the book trailer below. There is a "Jewish" surprise on the last page but you will just have to get a copy to read because my lips are sealed. If you do...no peeking ahead and reading the last page!
If you want to get a personally autographed copy they are available through this blog on the MY BOOKS tab. If you have an e-reader, In Plain Sight is available for all e-reader formats.
So tell me...why do YOU read Amish fiction? What about it is attractive to you? Have you ever visited an Amish community or met an Amish person one on one?