Thursday, July 25, 2013

***GIVEAWAY*** Interview with NYT bestselling author Karen Harper who says about her Amish series–"An Amish setting is great for love stories and suspense. Love stories: they marry for life and, if an Amish person falls in love with a "worldly" person, it can mean banishment. Nothing like forbidden love! As for the suspense angle, they don't trust the police, don't like lawyers, don't have phones in their homes to call for help."


Against the peaceful night sky, a barn BURNS
 Sarah Kauffman sought permission from her church elders to paint murals on a few of the Amish community's barns. Each was designed like an old-fashioned quilt square, representing a piece of the Amish traditions Sarah loved. 

Reviews on Ms. Harper’s work:
"...Harper, a master of suspense, keeps readers guessing about crime and love until the very end, while detailed descriptions of the Amish community and the Ohio countryside add to the enjoyment of this thrilling tale, the first in the Home Valley Amish Trilogy." - Booklist on FALL FROM PRIDE (starred review)
"Harper's Home Valley trilogy continues with a strong installment that deals with one woman's struggle between wanting to make it in the outside world and staying with what she has always known. The author's likable, engaging characters and a strong plot lend additional strength to her ever-amazing descriptions of Amish life." - RT Book Reviews on RETURN TO GRACE
"Danger and romance find their way into Ohio Amish country in a lively and endearing first installment of the Amish Home Valley series by Harper (Dark Angel)...Readers will likely enjoy a trip into the heart of Ohio's famed religious community and may be tempted to find out what lies ahead for this unlikely crime-solving couple." - Publishers Weekly on FALL FROM PRIDE
"Haunting suspense, tender romance and an evocative look at the complexities of Amish life-DARK ANGEL is simply riveting!"-Tess Gerritsen, New York Times bestselling author
"A compelling story...intricate and fascinating details of Amish life."-Tami Hoag, New York Times bestselling author, on DARK ROAD HOME

Please welcome NYT bestselling author Karen Harper;

Karen welcome to The Reading Frenzy
Hi, Reading Frenzy Readers!

Karen is celebrating the mass market print of her first Home Valley Amish novel Fall From Pride first out in 2011.
Tell us a little about the novel.
The crime in this novel which the Amish heroine and worldly hero struggle to solve (while struggling not to fall in love with each other) is barn arsons--which can be deadly.  Sarah Kauffman paints quilt squares on barns, but she longs to paint her people, faces and all--which is forbidden.  But what is more forbidden is her falling in love with outsider Nate MacKenzie, the arson investigator sent to solve the crimes.  Their mutual battle is to be together and to stay alive while they investigate.

Tell us about the series.
Are there a set number of novels?
In the series do the Amish characters mix with the non-Amish?
The "Home Valley Amish" series was planned as a trilogy--which has now had a fourth book added to it.  The first three are Fall From Pride, Return to Grace and Finding Mercy --and in Nov. 2013, Upon A Winter's Night.   The original trilogy tells the story of three very different but very close Amish friends--and, of course, since the books are romantic suspense, their love stories and the dangers in which they find themselves.  Each woman has a unique romantic situation:  one falls in love with a forbidden outsider; one finds the love of her life the second time around; and one loves a worldly man who actually converts to the Amish life style for her--unusual, but it does happen.
By the way, I've also written an earlier Amish Maple Creek rom/sus Trilogy consisting of Dark Road Home, Dark Harvest, and Dark Angel, (the latter a Mary Higgins Clark Award Winner.) 

Karen you have an Amish Christmas tale Upon A Winter’s Night coming out in October of 2013.
Is this part of the Home Valley Series?
Can you tell us a bit about it?
A fourth book was not originally planned when I wrote the trilogy.  However, the popularity of the trilogy (it was first released in trade paperback, and all the books are coming out again in Mass Market size) suggested a fourth novel.  My publisher thought a holiday-theme book would be fun, and I'd always wanted to do one set among the Amish.  Again, Upon A Winter's Night is a romantic suspense.  It's fascinating to see how differently the Amish celebrate Christmas.  And I hope readers will love the amazing animal secondary "characters" in the novel--camels, for example!

Why do you choose to write about the Amish in your contemporary novels?
I live about two hours from the largest Amish community in the country.  No, not Lancaster County, PA but Holmes County, Ohio.  We have visited there for years, so I base my fictional story setting on the Amish people and places I know.  An Amish setting is great for love stories and suspense.  Love stories:  they marry for life and, if an Amish person falls in love with a "worldly" person, it can mean banishment.  Nothing like forbidden love!  As for the suspense angle, they don't trust the police, don't like lawyers, don't have phones in their homes to call for help. It's hard to escape a pursuer in a buggy, and it's dark out there at night with lanterns instead of electric power!  I've always loved to write books focusing on a small, unusual groups of people and how their culture can clash with the mainstream.  I even got to write a novella with an Amish setting for the anthology Dark Crossings with two other authors.

You write both contemporary and historical fiction.
If you could only write in one genre which would it be and why?
That's a really tough question, kind of like, "Which one of your children do you love more?"  I like writing both, and that's hard to juggle.  Very different speech patterns, beliefs--and yet, people are still people, with emotions that can ruin their lives, with loves they will fight and die for.  I must admit, though, that Queen Elizabeth I, is my favorite historical character.

Karen you did a fabulous interview with Ph. D student Niki Incotzvia here. (anyone interested in historical research and historical fiction should read this)
Where you talk about your love of historical fiction and especially the Tudors. In that interview you mentioned that you picked your characters “from a lot of historical research.”
So I guess this is a chicken and the egg question. Do your characters form from that research or do you know who will be featured and then research them?
I usually find a historical woman who is fascinating:  Elizabeth, Anne or Mary Boleyn, various Tudor queens.  I'm looking for a heroine with a good love story--happy ending--but who has a lot of trials and battles along the way.  I also like a main female character who, for those days, when most women had little power, rises above the restrictions of her times.  However, having said that I start with a particular real woman, I sometimes discover someone I didn't know about in my research and go from there.  For example I just stumbled on the Medieval Joan of Kent for in my novel The First Princess of Wales.  [Side bar here:  an angry reader once returned that book to a B & N in Naples, Florida because "Princess Diana wasn't in it at all!"]

Are you a disciplined writer, do you follow a strict schedule or not so much?
When I'm first "in the book," that is, creating it, I try to write at least 4 hours a day, usually in the morning.  Other days, I have to scramble to find writing time because of the demands of promotion or because 'real life' keeps intruding.  It does take self-discipline to stick to a writing schedule because the contracts I sign have due-dates.

Other authors have mentioned they’ve experienced weird/funny event stories.
Do you have one you can share?
When I was talking about my historical novel, The Irish Princess, one woman told me that she was my heroine reincarnated and could give me some inside info I'd missed!

Karen thank you for spending a little time with us today. I know I’ll be reading one of your novels soon, whether it’s contemporary or historical that’s the question.
Do you have any events in the near future where fans can meet you in person?

If readers live anywhere around Ohio, I sign books at the Buckeye Book Fair every year in November and at the Ohioana Author Day in May. (Both have websites you can Google.)  I try to attend either or both the Romance Writers of America Conference or ThrillerFest in New York City each year.  This year, it's ThrillerFest; next year RWA in San Antonio.  I do answer letters sent to me through my website  Thanks for this chance to chat with readers!

My review of Fall From Pride courtesy RT Magazine

The first novel in Harper’s Amish Home Valley trilogy, scores high marks for amiable characters and sweet romance. The plot drags a bit in the middle, but finishes with a huge, satisfying bang.

Someone is burning down barns belonging to the Amish community in Home Valley. The state sends in arson investigator Nate MacKensie to determine if these crimes are directed toward the church leaders, the Amish themselves or budding artist Sarah Kauffmann. Sarah and Nate work well together as she educates him in the ways of the Amish and he teaches her techniques for investigating suspicious fires. What they don’t count on, don’t need and at first don’t welcome is their explosive attraction to each other. Will they survive to find out if love really does conquer all? 

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  1. The relationships and the inter-action as well as the characters whose lives are involved. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

    1. Hi traveler, thanks for the comment. Yes the interaction of the characters are especially good in these kinds of novels.
      Good luck!

    2. Hi Traveler and others: I want to thank Debbie for the great job she did with this interview and her blogspot! Hope you sign up to win a copy of FALL FROM PRIDE. As I said in the interview, nothing like forbidden love! And I hope everyone enjoys this free trip to Amish country. Best Wishes, Karen Harper

    3. Hi Karen, thanks for the comment. I love interviewing authors. I love finding out things about them that i think readers would want to know.
      Thanks for stopping by

  2. I love novels about the Amish. Having grown up in South Michigan with Amish communities close by, I find the Amish a fascinating culture. The stories written about them always emphasize the wonderful sense of family and community they embody. Can't wait to read this book!

    1. HI Cindy, thanks for stopping by.
      I don't live near an Amish community and they fascinate me too
      Good luck!

  3. Replies
    1. Hi bn good to see you here. Thanks for the comment and Good Luck!

  4. Wonderful review, I grew up close to Lancaster, PA and was always fascinated by the Amish community and ooh there food is so good! I have read different genres regarding the Amish both fictional and non. I love that this is a romantic suspense :) Great interview

    1. Thanks Kim, I do know about the food (Yum) when I was younger on a tour with my daughter's orchestra trip we stopped for a planned lunch at one of their communities I don't remember where though or it could have been Mennonite too I'm not really sure, you know the mind is the first to go :)
      thanks for commenting. I love your updated blog. I urge all my commenters here to stop by and see what a real professional blog looks like

  5. Karen,

    I have been reading your Amish books for years. My favorite is Dark Harvest. I would be thrilled to win the fist of the series!

    1. Hi Marijane, thanks for commenting and Good Luck!!!

  6. Hi Marijane and others: Although I've written other 'small town/rural' settings, the Amish are really fun to write about. They are very welcoming/yet very private. People think the men rule the roost/but the women have a lot of power also, especially in the homes but also in small businesses. I like to have my heroines have a life of their own before getting involved with someone they will love (after struggles, of course!) and choose to spend the rest of their life with. Karen Harper

  7. Thanks to those of you who "chimed in" here. Happy summer reading and please watch for UPON A WINTER'S NIGHT in Nov.--a rom/sus with a Christmas setting. I think you'll love the hero--especially if you like animals. --Karen Harper

    1. Thank you Karen for visiting and commenting too.
      Good Luck to the contestants the winner will be chosen tomorrow morning

  8. I couldn't say what intrigues me most about Amish romance because I've never read one-yet. But I do love a sweet romance ;) Thanks for the chance to win and great interview!

    1. You'll soon find out :)

    2. LOL! Wow! That is so COOL! Thank you, Debbie, and Karen Harper, I look forward to your novels. This will be my first book of yours to try out. I'll give you feedback once I've read it!