Sunday, May 13, 2018

Let Love Bloom: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill

Interview with Jennifer Beckstrand, 
author of A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill:

Alexis: Why did you title your book “A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill”?

Jennifer: All the Huckleberry Hill books have “Huckleberry” in the title. Even though Sam and Elsie are often at odds with each other, it’s definitely a courtship as they learn to trust each other and work together.

Alexis: Who is Sam Sensenig? Describe his looks, personality, and heart. What motivated Sam to take on the parenting role for his younger siblings?

Jennifer: Sam is tall with curly, light brown hair and blue eyes. Even though he’s in his early twenties, he’s got a lot of responsibility at home. His father is dead, his brother is disabled, and his mother is frequently bedridden. Sam feels a profound obligation to care for the farm and his family because he’s the oldest son and everyone relies on him. He’s quick to jump to conclusions and get angry, especially in defense of his brother Wally, who lost his foot and lower leg in an accident several years earlier. There is no one more loyal than Sam, though sometimes his loyalty is misplaced. If he can see past his own mistaken assumptions about the teacher, they might both be able to help Wally—and fall in love.

Alexis: Who is the schoolteacher in this story and why is she bullying Sam’s disabled brother? Who is Elsie Stutzman? Describe her looks, personality, and heart. How has Elsie’s stubborn streak gotten her into trouble in the past and how is it affecting her present?

Jennifer: Elsie Stutzman comes to Wisconsin to teach at the one-room schoolhouse where Sam’s siblings attend school. Elsie is petite, dark-haired, and feisty, and her strong opinions got her in trouble at her last school. Elsie is not one to back down from a fight, especially when one of her students is concerned. Elsie thinks people have coddled Wally for too long, and she’s determined to treat him like any other child. Wally isn’t happy when Elsie expects more of him, and he makes Sam believe that the teacher is bullying him. Sparks fly when Sam confronts the teacher!

Alexis: Sam and Elsie have a clear mutual attraction but are clearly at odds. Is there hope for a budding romance between these two stubborn hearts? Why or why not?

Jennifer: There is definitely hope, as soon as Elsie can convince Sam that she wants what’s best for Wally. When Sam realizes that Elsie is on his side, it doesn’t take long for him to fall head over heels.

Alexis: Who is Mammi and what role does she play in this story?

Jennifer: Mammi is the Pennsylvania Dutch word for grandma. Elsie’s eighty-four-year-old mammi, Anna Helmuth, loves to find matches for her grandchildren, but she certainly has a hard time getting Elsie and Sam together in this book.

Alexis: What do you love most about writing Amish fiction? 

Jennifer: I love the strong faith and enduring family ties of the Amish. They have chosen to live simple lives in order to bring them closer to God. We could all use a little simplification.

Alexis: What makes this story special to your heart?

Jennifer: A Courtship on Huckleberry Hill is a story of hope and faith and not giving up on someone, even if they’re hard to love. I have a friend who was born with half a leg, and her persistence and determination have always been an inspiration to me. It was truly gratifying to write about Wally coming to realize his worth and potential as a human being.

Alexis: What role does your characters’ faith in God play in this story?

Jennifer: Faith in God permeates Amish daily life. Everything that happens is seen as God’s will. Sam has to learn to put his faith in God instead of piling so much on his own shoulders.

Alexis: What was the most challenging part and the most rewarding, of writing this book?

Jennifer: The most challenging was getting Wally’s disability right without stereotyping him. The most rewarding was seeing the final product. Hopefully, this book gives hope to others and encourages them to never give up.

Alexis: What do you want readers to remember most about this story? Why?

Jennifer: I want them to realize the power we each have to affect other people’s lives for the better. And, I want them to thank a teacher. Teachers touch so many lives, but they’re the most underappreciated group in the world.

Alexis: Thanks for the interview, Jennifer!

Author Bio:
Jennifer Beckstrand is the RITA-nominated, award-winning Amish romance author of The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill series and The Honeybee Sisters series for Kensington Books. 

Jennifer has always been drawn to the strong faith and enduring family ties of the Plain people and loves writing about the antics of Anna and Felty Helmuth and the Honeybee sisters’ aendi Bitsy. 

Jennifer has published nineteen books. She has a degree in mathematics and a passion for Jane Austen and Shakespeare. 

Jennifer and her husband have been married for thirty-four years. They have six children and six adorable grandchildren, whom she spoils rotten.

Book Blurb: 

There's nothing Huckleberry Hill, Wisconsin’s irrepressible eighty-somethings Anna and Felty Helmuth like better than a challenge. And the chance to matchmake their feisty granddaughter is their most delightful task yet…

Elsie Stutzman’s plain-spoken ways got her in trouble once before, so she needs to make a good impression at her new teaching job. But she's not about to let disabled student Wally Sensenig work below his potential. And she definitely won’t put up with his hot-headed older brother sabotaging her efforts, no matter how handsome he is. . .

Sam is nearly at the end of his rope caring for his ailing, widowed mother, working their farm, and raising his siblings. He'll admit Elsie’s ideas are bringing Wally out of his angry shell—but why does she have to be as stubborn as she is pretty? Yet as it turns out, Elsie has taught Sam something about himself as well. And he’ll do whatever it takes to make up for his mistakes—and win her heart forever.

Connect with Jennifer:
Amazon Author Page:

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