Author Charlotte Hubbard is here today, talking about writing and her latest book, Breath of Spring!
Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Charlotte!
Thanks so much for inviting me to this interview!
What 5 things should readers know about you?
Hmmm…I love to cook (hence I set this Seasons of the Heart series in a cafe!), I love to crochet afghans, I’ve been married to the same guy going on 39 years now, I also write an Amish series under the pseudonym Naomi King (this was an editor’s request, so my two series from two different publishers wouldn’t compete against each other, sales-wise). And while I appear to be fairly normal and in control of my life, I am really a slave to my border collie, Ramona. She herds me to the office each day and keeps me in my chair, working.
Hmmm. Maybe I should get a border collie, then. Boxer mixes do not have the same priorities–he’d rather I NOT work and just devote myself to walking and playing with him…
Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? What one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle?
Annie Mae has been in the previous books of this series, so readers know her as the unfortunate eldest daughter of excommunicated bishop Hiram Knepp—and this book has her looking over her shoulder, fearing his revenge because she refused to go to his new Plain settlement, Higher Ground, in the previous book. Adam Wagler, our strong-silent-type hero, has been a minor character previously, and he’s just trying to mind his own business—he’s a home remodeler—not looking to fall in love, when Annie Mae’s plight with her father and the four little sibs she rescues just sucks him into her life.
If these two were stranded on a desert island (which, since Amish folks aren’t allowed to fly or travel a lot, would be QUITE an amazing circumstance) they would do very well with just each other for company and their faith to see them through. Old Order Amish believe that all things happen as a part of God’s will, and they would roll with the punches much better than most of us would. They are both very resourceful, can-do characters and they are quite accustomed to living without electricity, cell phones, computers, etc.
LOL–now you know you’ll just HAVE to get them to a desert isle now, right? Can you possibly resist that challenge? 😉
Though I suppose you’re right. Once they’re there it would be rather anticlimactic…still, the getting them there would be something!
If your book were being cast as a movie, who would you want to play the main characters?
This will sound weird, but I haven’t watched TV regularly for probably 20 years, so I’m not up to speed on movie stars! But if Julia Roberts and Richard Gere wanted to play the leads, that would be fabulous! Except they’re both kinda old for the parts…
Confession time: I hardly ever watch TV either–except Downton Abbey and NHL hockey. (But just my team, which didn’t even make the playoffs. Again. Not that I’m bitter.) I often have to do a Google image search when people talk about actors–but not for those two. I do go to the movies occasionally–and I own Pretty Woman, of course!
How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?
Wow, I sold my first story to True Love confession magazine back in 1983. Sold my first book in 1990. I was a school librarian back in the day, and sometimes babysitting the afternoon study halls that congregated in the library just got TOO exciting…so I was scribbling on my first stories a bit then. By the time I was writing books, we had moved to St. Louis and I had walked away from teaching, and was writing confessions full-time for a while. I gradually worked into book-length stories mostly because NOBODY wants to write for True Confessions all their life! But I probably sold 70 or 80 of those stories, through the years.
Those study halls are just so NOT stimulating, it’s true…but teenage angst can be great fodder for fiction! Not that I know this from experience, mind you… 😉
What do you like best about being a writer?
I love working in a home office with a view of the backyard and a schedule I can pretty much arrange as I choose—even though it’s not like I can just foo-foo around for days at a time. This way, my dog Ramona and I can take our walks, do the errands during the week instead of on Saturday, and we just stay home when the snow piles up. It’s also really neat to have a lot of writers for friends! Going to conferences gets us together, and I attend one or two of those each year.
You had me at “stay at home when the snow piles up”!
What is the most challenging part of being a writer?
Right now, I have contracts for back-to-back-to-back books through January 1st of 2016! That’s a fabulous situation, knowing what I will be writing next that far ahead (and knowing the checks will keep coming in). However, this means I am really, really focused on writing one book after another without any time to diddle around (or to contract a major illness, etc.) But I am truly blessed to be writing this Seasons of the Heart series for Kensington, being told my editor will probably go to contract for more books—and even though my Home at Cedar Creek/One Big Happy Family series for NAL will come to a close with book 4 this fall, I have already sold a new Amish series to Harlequin’s Love Inspired line. Like the old gospel song says, I “Ain’t Got Time to Die”.
I hear you! That’s fantastic, though–congrats!
What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?
I am in the final revision stage of HARVEST OF BLESSINGS, which is the next book after BREATH OF SPRING (comes out 2/15). This fall, EMMA BLOOMS AT LAST will complete that Cedar Creek series and I also have a novella in a Christmas anthology called AN AMISH CHRISTMAS QUILT. These books are all written and finished. Next year, along with HARVEST, I’ll have THE CHRISTMAS CRADLE out in October (same Seasons series) and I think my first book for Harlequin will be out then, as well.
I’ll definitely be checking out that Christmas anthology–quilts!
What authors and/or books have inspired you?
This is a hard one. A lot of my writer friends are good about encouraging me, brainstorming with me, coming to signings, etc. although I can’t really say that any one of them was a writing mentor, as such. I will salute my good friend Karyn Witmer-Gow, who usually writes as Elizabeth Grayson, for convincing me to join the RWA group in St. Louis right after I sold my first book. Writing is a solitary job, and you just have to have like-minded friends to stay sane…because only another writer really knows how it is to have voices in your head, or to get a bunch of rejection letters, etc. I belonged to that group for more than 20 years before we moved to St. Paul 3 years ago when my husband took a new job. So now more than ever I look forward to seeing these longtime friends at conferences while I’m meeting up with new writers in new groups here in the Twin Cities.
Excellent answer 🙂
What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?
Because I don’t want to pick up on other authors’ ideas, characters, etc. I rarely read Amish fiction these days. I tend to read all over the board–just finished Alice Hoffman’s ILLUMINATION NIGHT, and am ready to start Spencer Quinn’s 4th book in the Chet and Bernie mystery series. Now THAT is an extraordinarily funny series, because Chet (a dog who flunked out of K-9 police academy) tells the stories from his dog point of view! So you know how everything smells and sounds, and you experience the chase scenes and the shoot-em-up scenes from Chet’s viewpoint. His sense of logic and smell usually lead him to all the pertinent clues right away, but because he can’t talk to Bernie, his P.I. partner, Bernie has to figure out who dunnit the hard way. Really funny stories.
Sounds wonderful! Adding to my TBR…again…
Please share a favorite scene from your books with our readers.
This is the scene where Annie Mae first sees her father’s house in Higher Ground—and then sees his new “girlfriend” with her pre-school age sibs. Her old boyfriend, Yonnie Stoltzfus (who now works for her renegade bishop father), has given her a ride in his fancy BMW Spyder:
…they approached the largest house in town. The lower half of the house was red brick and the upper story was painted a rich buttery gold, accentuated with gables and windows. The front porch spanned the entire width of the place and had a pillared railing . . . the double front doors were made of glossy wood, with oval glass insets. This home seemed anything but Plain, and nestled on the highest point of town, it seemed to be watching over its neighbors—or lookin’ down on them, she thought. The large building still under construction behind it resembled the huge horse barn Dat had left behind, so Annie Mae had no doubt that this was where her father had transplanted the rest of her family. She held her breath. Yonnie slowed the car so she could stare through the low-slung windshield.
“Happy now?” he muttered. “As you can see, your sibs are living pretty high on the hog, and—”
“But who’s takin’ care of them while Dat’s gettin’ this town built?” she demanded. “It’s been two months since any of us have seen them, and—”
One of the front doors burst open and out ran Joey and Josh, who were leading Sara and Timmy by the hand. Even with the car windows closed, their loud crying and distressed expressions made Annie Mae’s heart constrict. The kids were rushing down the front steps as fast as their little legs would carry them.
“Stop the car!” she blurted. Instinctively she grabbed for the handle, and then realized she had no idea how to open these outrageous doors. “Yonnie, I have to—”
Right behind the kids came a scowling young woman who brandished a paddle Annie Mae recognized from out in the barn back home. Because she’d been in charge of the kids’ discipline after their mamm passed, Dat had kept the paddle out there mostly as a warning. But this young woman looked angry enough to thrash them with it.
“You brats have gone and done it now!” she screamed as the four children scattered on the snowy lawn. “You are the stupidest, meanest little—”
Annie Mae grabbed Yonnie’s arm and stuck her face in his. “Let me out of this car. Now! That woman will not hit my kids with that paddle.”
Yonnie stared at her in disbelief, but he pushed a button and the doors began their ascent. “Fine. If that’s how you want it—”
She ducked and propelled herself outside before the doors had gone halfway up. “Joey! Josh!” she cried as she dashed toward them. “Sara, it’s me, punkin! You and Timmy come over here to Annie Mae!”
Oh, but their tear-streaked faces looked pinched and their clothes were hanging on their too-thin bodies—and they were out here in the cold without any coats. Her heart hammered frantically as she called to them again, hurrying through the ankle-deep snow. “Annie Mae!” the twins hollered as one. Across the yard they sprinted, their arms stretched toward her, followed by her sister and Timmy. “Annie Mae, save us! Save us!”
Her soul lurched at their words. When Josh and Joey rushed against her, she nearly fell backwards from the force of them. She hugged them hard, and for once they didn’t fuss when she eagerly kissed their chilled faces.
“Annie Mae!” little Sara squealed as she led Timmy as fast as he could toddle. “It’s weally you!”
“Jah, it is, angel.” She instinctively caught Timmy when he launched himself at her, and then she grabbed Sara in her other arm. “Ach, but ya must be freezin’,” she muttered. “Let’s get ya outta here—”
“You there! What do you think you’re doing?” the young woman demanded as she stopped several feet away from them. Her kapp was askew and her face was flushed as she struggled to catch her breath. She raised the paddle as though it were a club.
“And who’re you?” Annie Mae challenged, stepping forward with a fierce scowl. “Obviously ya don’t have a clue about keepin’ kids—”
“I’m their new mamm, but they don’t listen to a thing I—”
“Nobody paddles my sibs! And ya won’t be usin’ that thing on me, either,” Annie Mae declared hotly. “Put it down!”
The young woman slowly lowered the paddle, staring at Annie Mae as she backed away. “So . . . who are you?”
“I’m their big sister. C’mon, kids—let’s go home.” Annie Mae gently bumped Joey with her backside to get him and Josh to let go of her legs.
“But you can’t just take—Hiram never said anything about a—”
Annie Mae stopped dead still, clutching Timmy on one hip and Sara on the other. Josh and Joey were still clinging to her as though frightened for their lives while she processed what she’d just heard. The young woman in front of her was dressed in a bright flowery dress made from a Plain pattern, still gripping the handle of the paddle as she stared at Annie Mae. She didn’t look to be any more than nineteen . . . so if she was calling herself the kids’ new mamm . . .
“Dat didn’t say a lot of things to a lot of people when he started up this town,” Annie Mae muttered. “So I’ll just take these kids off your hands, and we’ll all of us be a whole lot happier. Come on, boys. Walk with me now.”
She turned on her heel to start for the road and stopped.
The car was gone. The kids and this girl in the flowery dresshad been caterwauling so loudly, Annie Mae hadn’t heard Yonnie drive off.
And doesn’t that just figure? she fretted as she looked up and down the street. Not another soul seemed to be around any of the new houses, and she saw no vehicles, either. I’ve gotten myself into another pickle, Lord, and I don’t know what I’m gonna do . . . so I guess we’ll just keep walkin’ til we figure it out.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.
Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.
Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.
I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.
Title: Breath of Spring
Author: Charlotte Hubbard
Genre: Amish Romance/Inspirational
As a bright season brings a fresh start to Willow Ridge, Annie Mae Knepp feels she can never make peace with the past. Her disgraced ex-bishop father is furious that she’s has taken her five siblings to live with her. She’s never been truly at home in her faith…or believing in herself. And Annie Mae fears no man will want to take on the responsibilities she’s gladly shouldered. True, her quiet neighbor Adam Wagler has been steadfast and unshakable, helping her through her trials, but he surely couldn’t think of someone so lost as more than a friend. Believing she is unworthy because of her doubts, Annie Mae will find, in a moment of surprising revelation, that God can work impossible miracles—and that love makes all things new.
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