When I was a little girl, I was mesmerized by the power of the magic beans in Jack and the Beanstalk. I even remember imagining what it would be like to have magic beans in my pocket.
So it’s kind of ironic that not too many years later, I’d be bitten by the writing bug. You see for me, writing books is a lot like having a pocketful of magic beans. When you pull them out and look at them, they look like regular ordinary beans. But when you plant them in the ground, they become so much more.
Looking back at the twenty plus novels I’ve written, each one has been born from a single bean—something that I heard or saw or learned that perked up my ears. Sometimes, that bean is really small—a quick fact gleamed on a tour, or a character quirk observed while out and about in everyday life. But small or not, it always sets my plotting wheels in motion.
That’s what happened when, in the fall of 2014, I headed to Lancaster County, PA for my annual research trip. I was exploring the Amish countryside as I always do—taking tours, visiting Amish-owned shops, and chatting with the Amish, when I stumbled across a new-to-me fact I’d not learned during my previous trips…
When it comes time for the Amish to purchases a horse, more times than not they look to retired Standardbred racehorses. Trotters are particularly appealing to the Amish because of the horse’s experience pulling a sulky. These horses are disciplined and can transition well to pulling the family’s buggy.
Suddenly, I had a bean that I wanted in my pocket. I didn’t yet know if it would prove to be magic or not, but I knew it was worth exploring.
Armed with that single bean, I reached out to a reader I know who also happens to own racehorses. Over the next week or so, I fired countless racehorse-related questions at this woman. I didn’t know what I was looking for, specifically, but I knew that as I broadened my knowledge, there was potential to add to that original bean.
The next thing I knew, I had a grieving racehorse owner, a dead farmer, missing money, and an unknown person preying on Heavenly, Pennsylvania’s Amish community for the fifth installment in my Amish Mysteries, A CHURN FOR THE WORSE.
If you have yet to try A CHURN FOR THE WORSE or any of the other four books in the series, now is a great time to check them out!
Laura is a former Agatha nominee and the recipient of an RT Reviewer’s Choice Award in romance. In her free time, Laura enjoys making memories with her family, traveling, baking, and visiting the sea lions at the Central Park Zoo. For more information and all the latest book news, visit her website at www.laurabradford.com.