Jen: Please help us welcome Virgina Smith to Romancing the Book as she celebrates the release of A Plain and Simple Heart, which was co-written by Lori Copeland. Virginia, please share a short bio, including links to where you can be found online.
Virginia: VIRGINIA SMITH is the author of more than twenty Christian novels and over fifty articles and short stories. An avid reader with eclectic tastes in fiction, Ginny writes in a variety of styles, from lighthearted relationship stories to breath-snatching suspense. Her books have been finalists in ACFW’s Carol Award, the Daphne du Maurier Award of Excellence in Mystery/Suspense, the Maggie Awards, and the National Reader’s Choice Award. Her romance novel, A Daughter’s Legacy, received a 2011 Holt Medallion Award of Merit. Learn more about Ginny and her books at www.VirginiaSmith.org, www.CopelandAndSmith.com, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/ginny.p.smith
Jen: Tell us about A Plain and Simple Heart. Where did the idea come from?
Virginia: A Plain and Simple Heart follows the first book in the Amish of Apple Grove series, The Heart’s Frontier. In the first book, Rebecca Switzer is a seventeen-year-old Amish girl whose family gets caught up in a wild west adventure on a cattle drive. In A Plain and Simple Heart, Rebecca is a grown-up lady of seventeen who decides to use her rumspringa to strike out on her own across Kansas in search for her one true love, a cowboy she met four years before. When she meets up with a group of temperance demonstrators, she is swept into the fervor of their cause and runs afoul of the handsome sheriff. From there matters get quickly, and hilariously, out of hand.
Even while Lori Copeland and I were writing The Heart’s Frontier, we knew that Rebecca would star in her own book next. She was just too much fun to play second string forever. We aged her four years, and then searched the history books to discover what was going on in Kansas in 1885. Turns out the temperance movement was just getting started. When we ran across the mention of Annie LePort Diggs, one of the powerful leaders of women’s rights in that era, we knew we’d found the perfect setting for Rebecca’s story.
Jen: What was it like to team up with Lori Copeland?
Virginia: We have such a good time writing together! Our agent introduced us because she suspected we’d work well together. We laughed our way through our very first conversation, and knew immediately we were connected at the funny bone. When we get together for our plotting sessions, the laughter and the story ideas flow. Our strengths complement each other’s, and we shore up each other’s weaknesses. It sounds trite, but in our case, two heads really are better than one.
Jen: Why write about the Amish?
Virginia: Neither Lori nor I ever had any aspirations to write Amish fiction, even though in recent years there has been a huge demand for those stories. Our publisher, Harvest House, actually proposed the idea of an Amish-meets-the-Wild-West series, and we were intrigued. Typical Amish stories appeal to readers because they portray a non-technological society set amid the hustle-and-bustle of today’s society. But in the 1880’s, nobody had electricity. Nobody had television or telephones. Everybody wore long dresses. So what set the Amish apart back then? The more we thought about it, the more we realized our books would be different from typical Amish fiction, and we were excited about the challenge.
Jen: If you could travel in time, either back or forward, where and when would you go? What 3 things would you take with you?
Virginia: I spent quite a few minutes thinking about this question. My first instinct was to say I’d like to travel back to Kansas in the 1880s, because I’m currently writing the third book in the Amish of Apple Grove series, so I’m immersed in that setting. Then I considered going back to biblical times. But then I decided I’d probably just take a short backward hop to, say, around 1960. I’d go armed with as much money as I could scrape together, and a historical stock performance chart so I could invest in some then little-known companies like, oh, IBM, HP and Apple.
Jen: What’s next for you?
Virginia: I just finished up a romantic suspense series called Falsely Accused. The third book, Prime Suspect (following Dangerous Impostor and Bullseye) will release in April 2013. Now I’m heavily into writing A Cowboy at Heart, book 3 in the Amish of Apple Grove series. When I finish this up, I get to start on a brand new series that Lori Copeland and I are collaborating, a historical romance series set in the northwest during the early 1880s. I’m really looking forward to that.