By Rachel Kytonen
A New York Times bestselling author will visit Cambridge for a book signing for her new novel, The Fiddler.
Beverly Lewis, known as the number one author for Amish fiction, just released the new novel in the Home to Hickory Hollow series.
Lewis will hold a book signing at the Cambridge Bible Book Store on Friday, April 20, at 10 a.m. Copies of the novel will be available for purchase, and Lewis will autograph copies, take questions and pose for pictures with her fans.
“I started writing when I was 6 years old,” Lewis explained during a phone interview between her travels on her Midwest book tour. “I would write rhyming poems and kept several journals of this. When I was 9 I wrote my first novel that was 77 pages long. To this day, I still have that manuscript.”
Lewis was born in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch country, and is the best selling author of more than 80 books. A keen interest in her mother’s Plain heritage inspired her to write many Amish-related novels, beginning with The Shunning in 2007.
“I grew up around the Amish,” Lewis said. “My parents were friends with the Amish and I was really fascinated with the way they dressed and behaved, and perceived life.”
Lewis explained the Home to Hickory Hollow series is really a collection of books rather than a continuing saga.
“Each novel will be a related stand-alone that can be read in any order the reader chooses,” Lewis said. “I wanted to write a series where readers can pick up any book and know they will find a satisfying and complete story. Although this new series offers peeks into the lives of some of the most memorable characters from The Shunning and its sequels, the primary characters in The Fiddler are brand-new, with compelling stories of their own.”
Not until her own children were well into middle school did Lewis seek to publish her work, first in magazines such as Highlights for Children, Dolphin Log, and Guideposts for Kids. Her first book followed in 1993, Mountain Bikes and Garbanzo Beans—presently retitled Big Bad Beans (book #22 in the popular Cul-de-Sac Kids series of chapter books).
Lewis’ first venture into adult fiction is the best-selling trilogy, The Heritage of Lancaster County, including The Shunning, a suspenseful saga of Katie Lapp, a young Amish woman drawn to the modern world by secrets from her past. The book is loosely based on the author’s maternal grandmother, Ada Ranck Buchwalter, who left her Old Order Mennonite upbringing to marry a Bible College student.
Her father was a pastor in Lancaster County, heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch community and part of the sub-grouping of Mennonite churches who believe in simple living, plain dress and reluctance for modern conveniences.
“I love creating characters and unique story lines,” Lewis said. “The story lines come to me based on personal experiences and what we are struggling with. My novels are written from the closed, third person viewpoint, looking at it through the eyes of the characters.”
Lewis publishes two novels per year, and writes about six days per week from the Colorado home she shares with her husband, David, who is also an author. But she does often travel back to her home in Lancaster County.
Lewis said some people describe her novels as almost non-fiction, due to the amount of research she puts in.
“I have lived with Old Order Amish on two separate occasions, while doing continued research on The Heritage of Lancaster County trilogy (The Shunning and subsequent sequels),” Lewis said. “My connection to the Plain community comes from my mother’s Old Order Mennonite heritage. Growing up, I was surrounded by Mother’s family at reunions and church gatherings. I remember going to water baptisms and all of us singing without any musical instruments—the rich four-part harmony of voices—happily watching relatives and friends being completely immersed in the Susquehanna River, just as I was baptized later at the age of 12.”
She explained it took her about five months to write The Fiddler.
“Whenever my new novel first comes to my door, I carry it around with me all day,” Lewis said. “Everything about this career has been stunning to me. Here I was, just this little writer, so shy, and this experience has exceeded my wildest dreams. It’s just mind-boggling to me, but I have a lot of joy in selling my stories.”
Lewis said her fans have been very complimentary regarding The Fiddler, and she interacts with them daily on her Facebook page.
“Some of my readers say The Fiddler is my best book,” Lewis said. “Whenever I finish a novel, I usually have to dry my eyes because I’ve sobbed at the ending. I just feel really joyful at the end of a novel.”
When Lewis is not busy writing, she enjoys biking, hiking, playing piano, scrapbooking, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
Lewis is the bestselling author of more than 80 books, and her stories have been published in 11 languages worldwide. Her novels have also been adapted for movies and screenplays. For more information visit www.beverlylewis.com or find her on Facebook.
The Cambridge Bible Book Store is located at 220 South Main St., Cambridge, and can be reached at 763-689-4015.