The bestselling novelist who helped popularize the Amish romance genre says she "trusts the Lord" with her books and is hard at work on her next title.
Beverly Lewis, 73, has written more than 100 adult and children's books during her career, which began in 1993 with the publication of Holly's First Love, the first in a 14-book series for pre-teen girls. She followed that with a 24-book series for children, The Cul-de-Sac Kids, before releasing her first Amish-themed book in 1997, The Shunning, which was part of The Heritage of Lancaster County series and included two more books: The Confession and The Reckoning.
A musical based on the latter Amish series will be released in theaters on February 20. Called The Confession Musical, it stars John Schneider and Chonda Pierce. Emmy-Nominated screenwriter Martha Bolton wrote the stage play.
"If God gives me a storyline … then I dive into it," Lewis told Christian Headlines when asked how much longer she plans on writing. "I take it one book at a time. It will be 30 years next April that I've been doing this. So I trust the Lord."
Told that some people consider her novels a form of ministry, Lewis responded, "I want it to be, and that's why I continued this long."
Lewis was born in the heart of Amish country in Lancaster, Pa. The Heritage of Lancaster County series was based on the story of her grandmother, who was excommunicated from her old-order Mennonite community. Lewis has written dozens of adult fiction books with an Amish theme.
Readers are attracted to the idealism found in her books, she said.
"[The Amish] cling to the history. They cling to the way things were. And what has worked for them continues to work well," Lewis told Christian Headlines. "... They're about family. It's huge. Their family love is huge. Their faith is huge."
Amish children as young as three and four years old help with chores. The Amish, she noted, don't talk on phones to one another but instead fellowship together, face to face.
"They sew all their own clothes. They grow their own food. They're survivalists," Lewis said. "... A lot of people, during hurricanes or tornadoes or whatever, [people] look at the Amish and they say, 'Oh, they can survive without electricity. … We can learn from them.' There's just so many aspects, I think, that draw my readers to my books because they're constantly learning some of the secret practices that go on."
Fans often write or email Lewis to tell her, "I'm learning to be a better family member, or a better son, or a better friend," Lewis said.
Her next novel will be called The Heirloom.
"It's set in Hickory Hollow. And one of the main characters is Ella Mae Zook – the wise woman of Hickory Hollow. A lot of my readers love her so much. They think she's real," Lewis said, laughing. "... My readers are excited about The Heirloom because they have been wanting to know about her. ... Well, she's in her late 70s in this book, so it's kind of fun for them to look back and see that her life wasn't perfect. … [But] she grew in the Lord through it all."
Photo courtesy: ©Fathom Events, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.