A Cowboy in Amish Country
Amish Country Haven Book 2
The Amish Matchmaking Dilemma
Amish Country Matches Book 1
A Cowboy in Amish Country is a heartfelt story that explores the Amish and English values. Unlike most Amish books, this story had an Amish woman, Sue Schmidt, deciding to leave the Amish fold. She feels stifled by the culture and even though she is pregnant, to be a single mom, she does not want to give up the life she loves of herding and working on a ranch. Unfortunately for the English rancher, Wilder Westhouse, that has hired her, Sue’s family lives next door. This story is a great read where readers will take the journey with Sue.
The Amish Matchmaking Dilemma has a progressive Amish woman, Naomi Peachy wanting to share her culture with the English. But she needs the help of the bishop to agree and seeks the help of her childhood friend, Mose Klassen, who is now an Amish scholar. He is initially against any connection with the English, afraid that the Amish culture will be influenced. In addition, Naomi has become his speaking tutor to try to help him find a wife and overcome his stutter. Sparks fly between the two and they soon recognize each other’s worth.
Patricia Johns’ knows how to tug at reader’s hearts with her great characters and plotline. Both stories are uplifting, inspirational, and after reading them people will look forward to the next books.
Elise Cooper: How did you get the idea for the stories?
Patricia Jones: I’m often asked where I get my ideas from, and honestly, I don’t really know! I walk around with story ideas rattling around in my head all the time. I normally start with a certain kind of story I’d like to write, and it builds from there. Sometimes it starts with a character I want to write about, and other times it’s as simple as wanting to write a marriage or convenience, or a Beauty and Beast sort of story. Whatever tickles my fancy at the time.
But with that said, for both books, the inspiration began with the characters.
For A Cowboy in Amish Country, I wanted to write the story of Sue Schmidt, Wollie Schmit’s scandalous little sister who no one forgot after she ran away. What happened to her? And what about her happily ever after? And that is how the story grew.
For The Amish Matchmaking Dilemma, Naomi Peachy is a character from the last book of another series (Redemption’s Amish Legacies, Love Inspired books), and I pitched the story to my editor who suggested that we use her story to start a new spinoff miniseries. This new miniseries is called Amish Country Matches, and it follows six Amish women who the community matchmaker is determined to find matches for.
EC: Why did you have one of the characters stutter?
PJ: I knew Naomi would need a man who’d match her strength. I decided upon Mose’s stutter because my son has a stutter, although not as debilitating as Mose’s. I see how hard my son works to overcome it, and the different strategies he comes up with for school presentations. So that got me to thinking about how much goes on inside of a man that he never says out loud, and how we women long to hear all of it. A story was born.
EC: How much is true about the Amish-including Ordnung?
PJ: I do a lot of research for my Amish stories. The Ordnung is a real collection of rules for a community. Each community has their own Ordnung, and it changes very slowly. Each Amish community is a little bit different. They might have slightly different clothing requirements, or different expectations when it comes to technology. Some communities have no issues with cell phones. Some don’t even have running water! Each community is unique, which is very useful for an author. I create fictional Amish communities that would be much like many real communities, but are still fictional, so I have some flexibility.
EC: Is it a rare case where someone does not return to the Amish-why did you do it?
PJ: In A Cowboy in Amish Country, my heroine ends up staying outside the Amish way of life and marrying her Englisher cowboy. I hope that doesn’t ruin anything for future readers! But if you know romance novels, then you know that Sue and Wilder would end up together. I decided to have Sue marry Wilder and live a life “on the fence,” so to speak, between two cultures, because I think that is something many of us do! I married a man born in Africa, and our relationship and our life is a unique blend of both cultures. As a lot of us grow up, we find our own paths, and the church, or the way of life our parents raised us doesn’t always fit in our adult years. I wanted to show that struggle for Sue. She was raised Amish and she loves the heritage her family gave her, but it doesn’t fit anymore. She loves riding herd and working with cattle. Her skills just don’t fit into the Amish expectations. But how does she make peace with that? How do you keep a family close when you’ve dashed their hopes for you? That was the complicated knot I wanted to work through in this novel.
EC: How would you describe Sue?
PJ: Sue is true to herself. I think that is the core of her. She knows what she wants, and what she’s good at, and she isn’t willing to lie to anyone, including herself. She was born and raised Amish, that will always be an integral part of her, but she doesn’t fit into the Amish life. Being an Amish wife would crush her spirit. She thinks she might be willing to live in those confines for the sake of her baby, but even then, she can’t pretend she’s anything but the complicated woman she is. I loved her honesty. She’s just so determined to live her life authentically that pretending to be anything she isn’t impossible. She’s pregnant, and she won’t apologize for that! She’s willing to accept her life as it comes and do the best she can.
EC: Could you identify with Sue?
PJ: Personally, I really identified with Sue, since I grew up in a conservative church that no longer fits me in my adult years, either. And yet, I love everything my parents gave me in my upbringing. I hope other readers connect with her, too, and see themselves in her.
EC: Do you think she was caught between two worlds: Amish and English-going home or having her freedoms?
PJ: Yes. Her Amish background offered her an “easy” solution. If she just cooperated and went home, she could be a stay-at-home mom for her little one. No worries about paying rent or figuring out a childcare solution. But that came with all the strings attached, and she doesn’t believe that the Amish way of life is the only way to live anymore. The big issue is that her Amish family won’t accept halfway. Sue has found a way to use her own skills as a ranch hand. It’s in no way shocking for Englishers. But for her Amish family; Pure scandal! If she goes home, she must be Amish, 100%. They believe women should stay in the home, cooking, cleaning, preserving food, sewing, and doing hand crafts, which she refuses. She’ll never be part of the family in the same way, either. Either way, she’s losing something very important to her.
EC: What about her “English life”?
PJ: Her “English” life is what fits her most comfortably. She loves working with cattle and riding herd. She loves using her skills and that feeling of freedom on horseback. She can’t have that in the Amish world—that’s men’s work. But with Englisher freedom comes a lot more complications. She’s going to be a single mother—and there is nothing easy about that! What’s best for her? What’s best for her baby? What’s even possible? She’s stuck.
EC: Why the comparison with Annie Oakley?
PJ: Annie Oakley was an adventurous woman who became a sharpshooter in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West shows in the 1800’s. She didn’t stick with women’s roles of her day, either. She used her skills and created this fabulous life for herself that defied all of society’s expectations. Sue is a lot like her.
EC: What is the theme?
PJ: For me, the theme was balancing your upbringing with your present self. Who did you used to be? Who were you raised to be? And who are you authentically now?
EC: Describe Wilder:
PJ: Wilder inherited the ranch along with his brother Conrad a few years earlier. For Wilder, this is a fresh start. He stopped drinking, and he’s proving to himself and everyone around him that he can be better than he was. But the land they inherited is smack in the middle of Amish country. Wilder is an outsider, but he sees something in the Amish life that really appeals to him. They’re stable, reliable, and steady people. That’s very attractive to a recovering alcoholic. He’s worked hard to be accepted by his neighbors, but if he follows his heart with Sue, they’ll block him out. He’ll have betrayed his Amish neighbors in a personal way, and what can a new rancher do without the help of neighbors? Wilder uses his work as therapy, so when he hires Sue to help him on the ranch, she’s being welcomed into the most personal part of his life. The ranch is everything to Wilder!
EC: Describe the relationship?
PJ: Wilder and Sue have an immediate connection. They’re both lost souls—they’re both trying to figure out who they are. For Wilder, he’s heard stories of Sue for years, and she’s like the stuff of local legend. When he meets her in the flesh, he’s a little bit in love with her already. For Sue, Wilder is strong, handsome, capable, and calm. He’s everything she needs right now, but she knows that she’s a liability for him. They can’t help how they feel about each other, but if they give in to their feelings and stay together, they both lose a lot!
EC: Role of Wollie, Sue’s brother?
PJ: Wollie is complicated character, because he represents everything most conservative in the Amish culture, but he’s also Sue’s brother. She feels no obligation to act in the “feminine” way her brother expects. They grew up together. They looked out for each other. But when Sue left, she left Wollie behind and he felt personally betrayed. And yet, they’re still siblings. They fight, argue, and truly love each other. He will always be passionately Amish. And Sue will always be his little sister, even if she won’t toe the line, he wants her to. Her brother is very protective of her, and in the end, Wollie is the one who helps Wilder to embrace some of the Amish culture and become more a part of their family.
EC: In The Amish Matchmaking Dilemma describe Mose:
PJ: Mose is a cautious man. He grew up with a debilitating stutter, and he found his outlet through writing. But talking? That’s the hard part. It’s held him back romantically. Women couldn’t see what was going on inside of him, and he couldn’t tell them very well, either. But Mose longs for love and marriage, and he decides to get the help of a matchmaker from another community. He thinks that careful planning can make up for lost time.
EC: Describe Naomi:
PJ: Naomi is energetic, free-spirited, happy, impulsive, a chatterbox. She’s fun-loving, and she truly enjoys connecting with people. That’s why she’s passionate about building bridges between the Amish and the Englishers. How can we help others if we keep them at arm’s length, she argues?
EC: Describe the relationship:
PJ: Naomi and Mose were friends as children. Naomi was the fun one, and Mose just cooperated. It was all Noami needed, really, and she dragged Mose along with her on her adventures. Mose was smitten from childhood onward. But he knows that she’s far too progressive for him, and she can talk right over him with no effort at all. He doesn’t think a relationship with Naomi would work, even if he could convince her that he was worth her heart.
EC: Amish versus English?
PJ: In this book, Naomi is eager to welcome Englishers into their midst so that the Amish can share the beauty of their culture and their faith. How can you be a witness to people when you won’t have a real, honest, personal relationship with them? But the Amish only stay unique and different if they keep outside influences away, and that’s the problem. If they keep to themselves, there is safety and uniformity. If they open their doors and tear down the fences, how can they maintain their unique lifestyle? How can they protect their children from outside influences? But we Englishers wish we could get an inside view of their world. We long to belong with them, don’t we? It’s why we read books with Amish characters and delve into the Amish world through fiction.
EC: Next book?
PJ: My next book that’s coming out in March 2023 is called Her Amish Country Valentine. This is the first book in a brand-new miniseries called The Butternut Amish B&B. This miniseries is about an Amish bed-and-breakfast owner and Amish matchmaker named Belinda Wickey who connects with her Englisher guests as they stay with her and get a view into her Amish world. Belinda is unique in that she pulls her guests right into the middle of her life and gives them a truly inside view into her Amish community. The first book has a workaholic marketing whiz who is staying with her Amish great-aunt Belinda for her sister’s Valentine’s Day wedding. When she lies to her sister and says that she has a date to the wedding, the carpenter working on her aunt’s kitchen cabinets volunteers to be her date as long as it isn’t a lie! He needs them to spend some time together before the big day.