Today’s guest is Linda Maran, the author of The Stranger. Linda began writing poetry as a teenager and then turned to food and self-help article writing in her adult years. Now, in her sixties, she is blessed to have her first novel published, which has been her goal for many years. She enjoys reading, writing, research, painting, music, playing drums, walking, contemplative prayer, and sampling new eateries. Her personal experiences, both good and challenging, have become material for stories. This helps her to write about what she knows best, which lends authenticity to her platform. She has been married for thirty-eight years, is a practicing Catholic, and has been surrounded by musicians most of her life. She resides in both city and country settings. Wherever Linda is residing, you can find her on Facebook, on Twitter, on her blog, and you can learn more about her debut novel here.
Thank you for being with us, Linda. I’m excited for your brand-new release, a unique Amish story that I’ve seen described as “bonnet” fiction with a suspenseful twist. We discussed the story with your heroine, Kristen Esh, earlier this week, but I’m anxious to hear how you came to write The Stranger.
I have wondered the same thing, until I went back and reviewed my childhood and teen years. I grew up as an only child and the others who were my age on our block had siblings. I loved going over to my friend’s house two doors down to be in a lively household, especially during holidays. I enjoyed having a friend as added company to come over and eat dinner with us. One time my parents allowed a friend to come on vacation with us so I had a companion my own age. I suppose there’d been a sense of loneliness that I can relate to in my main character. It amazes me how it comes forth in the writing.
Kristen’s story is one of a modern-day teen, almost a woman, who is unfamiliar with the ways of the Amish, yet she finds herself living among them. If you were to find yourself in the same situation as Kristen, how do you think you would do?
I am a creature of habit, and the thought of moving away from friends and relatives seems unthinkable. One of my critique partners said that Kristen’s panic upon arriving at the home of her Amish relatives comes forth loud and clear. That must be my own feeling about it coming through.
There is a subtle message in the story concerning appearances and truth and how misunderstandings can separate people from the ones they love. In the Amish setting it is a plot that shines brightly. When I write, sometimes the message or the theme finds me, so I’m very interested in how you may have discovered the theme that fits so well into the story.
Throughout my life I have tried to be ‘me’ in not only how I behave but in how I present myself. Many times, especially before I knew who I was on the inside fully, I’d worn various “masks.” I had many pairs of high heels never worn, flashy jewelry, and other outer adornments that were purchased to impress or to fit in. I never gravitated toward makeup. I guess I was more of a “Plain Jane” and a sweat shirt and jeans kind of gal. So, I loved going where the artsy folks lived because our tastes are similar. I came to know where I fit. It’s a good feeling when you find it and I wanted Kristen to find her ‘fit’ as well. And in my experience, that can only start on the inside, then it just all falls into place.
I smiled when I saw you mention “Plain Jane.” I have to admit it takes an Amish story with a good twist like The Stranger, to get my attention in the genre. One of my other favorite Amish stories is entitled Plain Jayne.
You write so well about the Amish life that I had to ask Kristen these same questions. Today, I’d like to know what things in the Amish life that you would have trouble with accepting, and what would you embrace?
I have trouble with their lack of affection both in public and within the home. Being Italian, we hug and kiss our greetings and older women tend to take your arm when walking. Children are very openly affectionate. I would not do well in a household with an outhouse. I’d have to come up with something to avoid that issue, sort of like Kristen’s under-the-bed chamber pot.
I respect their work ethic and how they help one another in times of trouble with repairing homes, caring for farms and erecting barns. And as a woman, there’d never be a problem with deciding what to wear!
Are you working on a new project, and if so, what can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I am currently editing two novels. One is a contemporary inspirational romance about the world of entertainment and the struggles within such an environment in maintaining a relationship and Christian values. The other is an Amish suspense novel that takes place in the same area as my first novel.
Well, I’m hoping to get the chance to read those novels. Please keep us advised. We’d love to have you visit us again on Inner Source.
More About The Stranger:
When Kristen Esh loses her mom in a tragic accident months before her eighteenth birthday, she suddenly finds herself among Amish relatives she never knew she had. The dramatic change from the Jersey Shore to the remote Stone Arabia in upstate New York is difficult enough, but abiding by the Amish rules and lifestyle is a challenge unlike any other.
When anonymous notes begin to arrive for her to go back to where she came from, Kristen longs for her past life and her mom. As she discovers secrets that unravel her true identity, she finds an unlikely ally in John Wagler, the step-son of her aunt. He lessens Kristen’s fears and encourages her faith.
Interwoven with gradual revelations is the growing love between Kristen and John. One that encourages forgiveness and helps seal Kristen’s fate.