Eagle Designs
Mary Ellis

Mary Ellis grew up close to an Amish settlement where she loved their peaceful agrarian lifestyle and strong sense of Christian community. She and her husband now live by the largest population of Amish in the country where they take weekend trips to research her books. Mary enjoys reading, traveling, gardening, bicycling and swimming. Before “retiring” to write full-time, Mary taught Middle School and worked as a sales rep for Hershey Chocolate—a job with amazingly sweet fringe benefits. All three in her Miller Family series have made the Christian bestseller lists. A Widow’s Hope was a finalist in the 2010 ACFW Carol Awards. Visit her website at http://maryeellis.wordpress.com/

Amish Fiction: The Quest for Simpler Lives

I’m often asked why I write Amish fiction. The questions invariably come from those who enjoy mysteries, fantasies, contemporary women’s tales—any genre but the one I write in.

Readers of my genre almost never ask, because they already know why I write Amish. It’s the same reason they seek out these stories at their local bookstore or library. Amish fiction is a peek into lives that are simpler than our own yet every bit as fulfilling. Despite our time-saving inventions of microwaves, fast food, cars, and endless modes of communication, our lives have become busier than ever.

But are they better, or have we lost more in terms of family and community relationships than we’ve gained? Certainly cell phones, e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and Skype have made business more efficient, yet in some ways we’ve become lonelier and more reclusive despite all this accessibility. We can be surrounded by a crowd without feeling any connection to people.

For this reason many readers enjoy stories about families who sit around the dinner table discussing the day’s events. Since the Amish are a community-oriented society, someone will always be there to cook a meal, rebuild a house, or help pay a hospital bill. Although their lives are far from perfect, the Amish are never alone. From cradle to grave, they are part of something greater than themselves or their families.

Historical fiction is similar in that readers can escape into a life unlike their own. The tribulations of the colonial settlers or Western pioneers allow us to forget our own demanding bosses or difficult marriages. Yet the Amish continue to grow and thrive in today’s world. Although few outsiders would choose to convert, I respect those who place God first, others second, and themselves a distant third. As a Christian, I’m

challenged by the constant onslaught of distractions to live by Christ’s teachings. Honoring the sabbath is one example in which I’ve taken a lesson from those I write about. Of course, many non-Amish Christians walk exemplary lives of faith and service to the Lord and to their fellow men. But in an agriculturally centered, technologically removed world, somehow that walk looks easier.

When I create my fictional stories about these gentle, God-fearing people, I am filled with the Holy Spirit of God’s love. And if I can share this joy with readers, then I am doubly blessed.

Wolves Among Us