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We’ve had the privilege of visiting with Kelly Irvin a few times about her books (Upon a Spring Breeze, The Saddlemaker’s Son, and The Bishop’s Son). I was blessed with the opportunity to visit with Kelly in person last fall at the ACFW conference, and she is indeed a sweet lady! So I’m excited to have her back with us again today to share her newest release, Beneath the Summer Sun. Before we visit, let’s take a quick look at the story.
It’s been four years since Jennie’s husband died in a farming accident. Long enough that the elders in her Amish community think it’s time to marry again for the sake of her seven children. What they don’t know is that grief isn’t holding her back from a new relationship. Fear is. A terrible secret in her past keeps her from moving forward.
Mennonite book salesman Nathan Walker stops by Jennie’s farm whenever he’s in the area. Despite years of conversation and dinners together, she never seems to relax around him. He knows he should move on, but something about her keeps drawing him back.
Meanwhile, Leo Graber nurtures a decades-long love for Jennie, but guilt plagues him—guilt for letting Jennie marry someone else and guilt for his father’s death on a hunting trip many years ago. How could anyone love him again—and how could he ever take a chance to love in return?
In this second book in the Every Amish Season series, three hearts try to discern God’s plan for the future—and find peace beneath the summer sun.
Welcome back, Kelly! What inspired you to write this series or Beneath the Summer Sun in particular?
I saw a blurb by an Amish scribe in their newspaper The Budget that included annual statistics such as number of weddings, number of funerals, number of children, number of baptisms, etc., and number of widows/widowers. That the widow/widowers stat was included made me wonder how widows found their spot in such a husband-wife centered society. I also wanted to write about older women in Amish communities and what life has taught them. That’s how the Every Amish Season series was born. The first book, Upon a Spring Breeze, featured a young, pregnant newlywed who experiences a terrible tragedy. My new release, Beneath the Summer Sun, focuses on Jennie Troyer, a thirty-something widow with seven children. The third book will center around a widowed grandmother, and the fourth, about a widowed great-grandmother. Each are in a different season in their lives but have the loss of a spouse in common, along with their faith and community.
The loss of a spouse would be hard in any culture, but how much more so in one where the family unit is so important! Who is your favorite secondary character in this latest novel, and do you think you’ll include that character in a future story?
My favorite secondary character is Mary Katherine. She is a spunky grandmother who always has something to say for herself. She’s a good friend too. She’s a businesswoman and a writer. A woman of many talents. She does get her own story. The third book in the series is Through the Autumn Air, which gives us a peek into Mary Katherine, a mysterious man who comes into her life, and the mystery of a serious of burglaries of Amish homes. It debuts in September 2018.
She sounds like someone I’d want to meet! Do you have personal experience with any of the events in your story, and if so, could you share about that?
Jenny Troyer experienced domestic abuse that spilled over onto her children during her first marriage. Without getting into specifics, I can say that I had personal experience with this issue as a child. Some of the details and emotions expressed by Jenny and by her son are pulled from those experiences. Learning to trust love and have healthy relationships after being in one that is unhealthy is difficult. When the people who should love you the most, do the most damage to you, you have no role models from whom you can learn how to be in relationships and parent your own children. Jenny has to overcome these obstacles in order to accept that she has the right to a second chance at love.
I’m so sorry you have experience with that. I imagine that would have been challenging to write. What do you hope your readers take away from this novel?
Trust God to use the hurt you’ve experienced for your good and the good of others. He is the God of all comfort.
It’s hard to see it at the time, but He truly does work all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose! You shared a little with me about your own writing, starting with romantic suspense and then switching to Amish fiction. Do you prefer writing one genre over the other? Why?
I recently signed a new 2-book contract with Thomas Nelson Publishing to write romantic suspense. The first book, Tell Her No Lies, will release in January 2019. I’m thrilled down to my tippy toes. I started my career with two romantic suspense novels and then delved into Amish romances. I love writing both. I realized when I was writing Tell Her No Lies how much I missed the genre and how much fun it was. It added a freshness to my writing that had been missing after writing 12 Amish romances and four Amish novellas. I hope my readers will enjoy reading both as much as I enjoy writing them.
Yay! Two new releases over this next year! What are you reading right now?
I’m reading Randy Alcorn’s book, Heaven. It’s incredibly thought-provoking and challenges many of the ideas we have about what Heaven will be like. It also makes me want to do a study of the book of Revelations, which I have never done. I’ve always been afraid to tackle it, but now I think I have to do it!
He definitely piqued my interest when I heard him speak. But yes, Revelations can be a bit intimidating! Can you share (briefly) about something you feel the Lord has been teaching you recently?
He’s been teaching me to trust and stop worrying. I’m not there yet, but I really work at it. Remembering that each day is the day the Lord has made and living within it instead of focusing on a future I can’t control is my goal. With my cancer diagnosis, I’ve also learned that affliction is a powerful tool for a writer. God can use everything for our good. As a writer, I can use my affliction to deepen my stories and touch readers who have experienced similar difficulties in life.
You are an inspiring woman! Thanks so much for taking the time to visit with us today, Kelly!
Your turn! Kelly writes both romantic suspense and Amish romances. Do you read multiple genres, or do you tend to prefer to stick with one or two favorites?
More about Kelly:
Two-time ACFW Carol Award finalist Kelly Irvin is the author of the critically acclaimed Amish of Bee County, Bliss Creek Amish, and New Hope Amish series. Her newest release is Beneath the Summer Sun, the second novel in the four-book series Every Amish Season from Zondervan Publishing. Her work has also appeared in four Amish anthologies, An Amish Market, An Amish Summer, An Amish Christmas Love, and An Amish Christmas. Kelly is a retired newspaper reporter and public relations professional who lives with her husband in Texas. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two ornery cats.
Also by Kelly:
Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy—and the possibility of love?
Beneath the Summer Sun Giveaway:
Kelly has generously offered to give away a paperback copy of Beneath the Summer Sun. Giveaways are subject to the Giveaway Policy.