A lot of authors write about the Amish and Mennonite communities, but Jan Drexler has a special connection to the Amish and Mennonite – her ancestors! Today Jan tells us why she writes, how she learned to do it, and more!
What genre do you write? How did you pick it?
I write Amish Historical Romance. I’m not sure if I chose it or it chose me! I wanted to use family stories that had been passed down to me, and since my ancestors were Amish, Mennonite and German Baptist Brethren, using the Amish setting was perfect.
What are your favorite genres to read? Why?
I like to read most genres, but my favorite is historical fiction. I’ve always loved history, and I enjoy learning it through a well-written story.
How long did it take you complete your first manuscript (published or not)?
I started my first manuscript in October 2010 and finished it in July 2011. The story sold to Love Inspired Historical in May 2012, and was published in May 2013. Those four years were a series of quick lessons in writing and publishing!
Have your follow-up novels been easier or harder to write? Why do you think that is?
With each novel, I learn a little bit more about writing and the best ways for me to approach each step of the process. So writing has gotten easier. I’ve recently started my tenth novel, and I finally feel like I know what I’m doing! (Maybe!)
What’s surprised you the most about the book-publishing process?
The most surprising thing for me is how encouraging and helpful the Christian writing community is. I’ve been mentored along the way by some very fine writers, and I hope I’m able to do the same.
What’s been the most challenging part of getting a book published?
Moving past that panicky feeling and actually hitting the “send” button to let the manuscript go. The thought that someone who knows a lot more about publishing than I do will be reading my story is still pretty intimidating.
What’s your favorite part of the publishing experience?
That’s hard to say, since I’ve learned to love every step. But I think getting that first copy of my newest book in the mail is a feeling that is hard to beat.
For learning the writing craft, which do you prefer – books or conferences? Why?
I love writing conferences, and always learn a lot when I’m able to attend, but I prefer to learn from books. I’m one of those readers who underlines, makes notes, and basically reads a book to death – but that’s how I get the most out of my writing craft books.
If you could recommend one writing conference, what would it be? Why? (If you haven’t attended one, which one would you like to attend? Why?)
I’ve only attended the ACFW conferences, but I don’t hesitate to recommend them. Every time I go, I enjoy meeting new and old friends, learning from the workshops and classes, and the one-on-one meetings with my agent and editors.
If you could recommend one writing book, what would it be? Why?
It has to be “The Moral Premise” by Dr. Stanley D. Williams. I use his methods for story and character development, and they help me delve deep into my story before I even write the first word.
If you could pick any of your novels to be made into a movie, which one would you pick? Who would you want to play the lead roles, and why?
I’d love to see my latest book from Revell, Naomi’s Hope, made into a movie. I think I would choose Bradley Cooper to play the hero, Cap, because I think he could portray Cap’s tenderness, but also his strength under pressure. To play the heroine, Naomi, I would choose Emily Wickersham, because her character on NCIS (Ellie Bishop) reminds me of Naomi sometimes – a strong woman who appears to be too gentle to hold her own against adversity.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
Thank you for having me on your blog!
Jan Drexler brings a unique understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. Jan lives in the Black Hills of South Dakota, with her husband of thirty-five years, where she enjoys hiking in the Hills and spending time with their expanding family. She is the author of The Prodigal Son Returns, A Mother for His Children (winner of the 2013 TARA award), and A Home for His Family (finalist for the 2016 Inspirational Reader’s Choice Award), as well as Hannah’s Choice and Mattie’s Pledge (finalist for the 2017 Holt Medallion).