Patrick, welcome to Writers on Reading! Looking at your Amish books brings such a feeling of nostalgia. It makes me wonder, as a reader do you most often escape into your genre---books with that charming sense of yesteryear and community? Or do you press your nose into a hard-edged political thriller every now and again just to remember you live in our world?
I rarely read books from the genre I write in. That is because I am one of about five men who write Amish romance, and I come from a very different point of view. I am not much into lighthearted romance dressed in Amish clothing, which is what most of the ladies in my genre are writing. I am much more interested in an uplifting exploration of deep and growing faith in the midst of trials and desperate situations. So when I read, I generally read a Zane Grey western or a thriller.
Oh, that's so fun to hear! A real recommendation for Zane Grey. So, what was the most out-of-character book you’ve recently read and what led to your choice?
I recently read A Jane Austen Encounter, an Elizabeth and Richard Mystery Book by Donna Fletcher Crow. I read it because Donna is a new friend and I wanted to explore something she has written. It was very enjoyable and quite different from what I expected.
Donna has great books. Tell your friend I've enjoyed them in the past. I still have her Glastonbury sitting on my shelf for someday when I can invest the time in it. Speaking of time, do you read during the months you spend writing a book or is it either/or for you? If so, what did you read while working on your last book?
I always am reading something. I’ve learned over the years that there is nothing new under the sun and I do not have all the original ideas. So reading other writers while I am writing a book helps me with characters, plot and ideas to solve some problem corners I may have written myself into.
Great point. What was the last book you absolutely couldn't put down? Why?
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. The characters and the story are spellbinding, and it’s a book that taught me much about telling a story while developing real characters. I loved it.
Were you the kind of kid/teen who loved reading? Which novel do you first remember reading?
When I was a kid my parents had a library full of books in a sitting room in our house. There were all kinds of books there, from history books that my father used when he was a teacher, to books that came from my grandmother’s library. I loved to read and spent hours in that room reading the books over and over. When I was in grade school, I read all the books in our school library by the time I was in the fifth grade. My teacher would drive me over to the Junior High library to check out books. I remember reading Moby Dick when I was about eleven.
Oh, that makes me smile! And I imagine your teacher could have guessed you'd be a writer. You mentioned being one of a handful of men who writing Amish fiction. A young man I know claims Witness is his favorite movie—if he had literary bent, I wouldn’t be surprised if he’d pick your genre and add to your ranks. When did you know you wanted to write? Did any or multiple books influence this desire? What about your genre choice?
I had my first article published in the school paper when I was seven. I loved writing and had lots of encouragement from my mother and a very brilliant aunt. My mother also had a friend who worked at the local newspaper, and she had me writing a school column when I was in Junior High. I was editor of the school paper in every school I attended and won awards for writing. I remember reading The Wind In The Willows and being blown away by the wonderful descriptions and characters. I read every Hardy Boy adventure book written and spent many a wonderful hour down at the library in my hometown. When I was a professional musician for many years, my favorite thing to do was write lyrics for songs. I got into Amish fiction because my editor, Nick Harrison, from Harvest House, asked me for an idea for an Amish quilting story, so I sent him one and Harvest House picked it up and asked me to do a series. That’s how the Apple Creek Dreams series came to be.
Great to hear the intimate details. Wind In The Willows (ahem, and Hardy Boys) were favorites of mine, too! Congratulations on truly finding your niche. Has any book stuck with you recently? What created the lasting impressions?
Actually, my latest book, The Amish Heiress, really knocked me out when I did the reread after Lindsay Franklin edited it. It’s a powerful story, and the focus is on our God who is long-suffering with us, even when we make mistakes. I also loved the character of Daniel King who is the kind of man that fathers should raise their sons to be.
Wow, we're going to have to add that one to our reading list. I can say the cover's a knockout, so I'll be looking forward to it. Thanks for joining us, Patrick, and letting us get to know more about you as a reader. Folks, you can continue to connect with Patrick, and discover more about his books, at the links following his bio.
BIO: Patrick E. Craig is a lifelong writer and musician who left a successful songwriting and performance career in the music industry to follow Christ in 1984. He spent the next 26 years as a worship leader, seminar speaker, and pastor in churches, and at retreats, seminars and conferences all across the western United States. After ministering for a number of years in music and worship to a circuit of small churches, he is now concentrating on writing and publishing both fiction and non-fiction books. Patrick and his wife, Judy, make their home in Idaho and are the parents of two adult children and have five grandchildren.
In 2011 he signed a three-book deal with Harvest House Publishers to publish his Apple Creek Dreams series. The books are historical Amish fiction and include, A Quilt for Jenna, The Road Home, and Jenny’s Choice. Patrick’s latest novel, The Amish Heiress, from his new Paradise Chronicles Series, is due out in late June. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.
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