I’ve always been one to love challenges and writing Amish romances definitely fits into that category.
Wait. Let me rephrase that.
Writing GOOD Amish romances fits that category.
You see, there’s a difference between writing good romance and just eh romances.
What’s the difference? you might wonder.
One of the things that I love doing when I’m writing an Amish romance is to create compelling characters that normally would not be drawn to each other. And then, through the story, create a fanciful and fun–but realistic–situation in which they come together and find love. The trick to making this work is in the storytelling as well as the character development. If I can add an element of surprise to the story, that’s even better.
One more thing that makes writing good Amish romances even more challenging is that writers cannot rely on cheap gimmicks such as sex, lust, or any unwholesome settings.
One of my least favorite “real” authors (both on the pages and in person) wrote a story that was alright until one point where gratuitous sex was tossed into the mix. I literally chucked the book into the fireplace and burned it. Not only was I disgusted with the scene, I was infuriated that the scene was added into the story at all.
There was no purpose to adding the scene because the characters were more than compelling without it! So why would a decently recognized author add an unwarranted and very graphic and gross sex scene to the book? Mind you, a book about the AMISH who are very private about matters of intimacy! To me, it was very disrespectful and I lost all respect for that author. When I met her in real life a year or two later, my conviction was confirmed that she was just not a very nice person anyway so I wasn’t missing out on anything there, I reckon.
Crafting a romantic scene without adding graphic sex is an art! Those writers who can create sexual tension without adding sex are, in my opinion, the greatest of Amish romance authors. Personally, I don’t like reading sex in books and I certainly do not like writing it! The closest I ever came to it was a scene in Hills of Wheat which was clean but premarital. Believe it or not, premarital sex does happen in the world of the Amish and Mennonites. They are human, after all. But even cleanly written, non-graphic and non-descriptive premarital sex was met with some rebellion and has since been re-edited for the new publisher who bought the book.
I’m ok with that change.
Take a look at Belle, my most recent release. Belle and Adam develop a sexual tension between them. They are married, after all. But the scenes do not dive into graphic details. Similarly, Amanda and Alejandro from my Plain Fame series (swoon!) had an awful lot of tension between them. The beauty of those scenes was what didn’t happen and what wasn’t said. To me, that is a challenge and I love trying to craft those stories.
Soon I will be embarking on my next Amish series about an Amish woman and her Bulgarian dance instructor. I’m looking forward to crafting a few sweet but intense love scenes between these two as-yet unnamed characters. The challenge will remain in keeping both characters chaste as they learn to love each other under rather unusual circumstances. In fact, I often find myself writing scenes in my head when driving or working outside on the farm. It’s the build up that happens in my head before I actually tackle drafting the story.
For me, that’s the reason I love writing good and clean Amish romance stories.