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What kind of research did you do for Material Witness?
I visited Shipshewana again, which is very helpful to me when I'm writing a series about one particular place. I also research on-line and keep a binder with all my notes. For MW the research topics included--quilt restoration, story quilts, John Wayne, tranquilizer guns, handicapped children, Chicago cubs, and 1971 Buick GSX ... among other things.
How did you come up with the plot for Material Witness?
All I knew when I started the book was who my Material Witness would be. I don't "plot" ... Every day I write the number of pages I need to finish in order to meet my deadline. Pretty much I let my characters lead the way.
Share a brief blurb about the book.
Tragedy strikes on the opening night of the Fall Crafters Fair when a woman is killed in the parking lot of Daisy's Quilt Shop, and the only material witness is one of Melinda Byer's boys. The investigation takes a more bizarre turn when detective Shane Black becomes convinced the killer was actually after Callie.
This time it's a madman loose in the largest crowd of the year, and he's looking for something or someone. If they can't figure out what, one of Deborah and Callie's close circle of friends may be next. Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, an Amish boy whose handicap makes him stronger, one brave dog, and a possible hidden treasure ... this time it's nonstop action, danger, and a dash of romance.
What role have your life experiences played in the characters and/or the situations you develop in your books?
We have a special needs daughter, and I was a teacher for 15 years--so I have a lot of experience with special needs children and their parents. I wanted to show the strength these kids have and what life is like for the family of a special needs child.
I do quilt, though I'm a beginner. Callie's friendship with Deborah, Melinda and Esther is also a central theme to all the Shipshewana mysteries. I've been blessed to have friends like these ladies, and I think it helps me to write about friendship and the gift it is in our lives. (Rumors that I've shot anyone with a tranq gun are completely false though--I only RESEARCHED that.)
And I am constantly researching and learning more about the Amish culture. A big thank you to my friends in Shipshe who help me with those details.
Do you see parallels or do you try to avoid using your own personal life as a source of inspiration?
Yes, there are parallels--with special needs children as I mentioned above, and also with the friendship angle. I've had times in my life when I felt terribly alone, times when I wasn't sure what God wanted for my future, but ultimately God's grace has seen me through every trial--and I write that into my characters' lives.
What are your own favorite authors? Genres?
I read a lot! I'll read anything that catches my eye, and I also read a lot of New York Times bestsellers. There's a reason those writers are at the top, and I enjoy studying their craft.
How has your passion for reading impacted your writing?
I adore a good book and poor ones disappoint me terribly. Readers deserve a good story. When they turn the last page, they should walk away with SOMETHING they can take into their world. Life is hard and we often read to escape, but that escape needs to leave us with a feeling of hope.
Describe how you write a book – with your other responsibilities, does it tend to be something you work into your every day, or do you have to “set apart” time to write with open, undesignated blocks of time?
I'm now writing full time, and I spend 8-10 hours a day doing that along with my marketing commitments. I usually take an hour break to exercise, and I try to always be done by 6:00 so I can focus on my family.
What provides your inspirations during that time – i.e. do you go out in nature, do you seek to be in a busy place with people or in a quiet library, etc.?
Music-definitely. I'm also inspired by the people around me. It could be family members or it could be complete strangers.
Do you find the internet to be a helpful or harmful resource in research, advertising, reviewing, etc. your books?
Since I'm a fairly new writer (first book was A Simple Amish Christmas, 2010), the computer intrusion isn't a big problem for me. It's been there since I started! I think overall the internet is very helpful, but like everything else I have to manage my time or I won't finish my work by the end of the day.
Do you use these tools such as facebook as a means of observing the behavior of others which could be the basis of a character, or are you of the ‘old school’ that relies more on personal relationships and “human” touches?
I find inspiration EVERYWHERE, so it would include blogging, facebook friends, and even news stories. I have a prayer time on my facebook page each Wednesday morning, and it's humbling to see people's needs and the way they care for one another.
Vannetta Chapman writes inspirational fiction full of grace. She has published over one hundred articles in Christian family magazines, receiving more than two dozen awards from Romance Writers of America chapter groups. She discovered her love for the Amish while researching her grandfather’s birthplace of Albion, Pennsylvania. Her novel, Falling to Pieces, is a 2012 ACFW Carol Award finalist. A Promise for Miriam earned a spot on the June 2012 Christian Retailing Top Ten Fiction list. Chapman writes Amish fiction for Abingdon Press, Zondervan, and Harvest House. She lives in the Texas hill country with her husband.
webpage -- www.VannettaChapman.com
blog -- http://vannettachapman.wordpress.com
facebook -- www.facebook.com/VannettaChapmanBooks, and
pinterest -- http://pinterest.com/vannettachapman
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Title: MATERIAL WITNESS
Author: Vannetta Chapman
Genre: Amish/ mystery
It is the Fall Crafters Fair in Shipshewana, and Callie is running a thriving business at Daisy’s Quilt Shop, the business she inherited when she came up from Texas to attend her aunt’s funeral. But it isn’t even dark when an elderly woman is murdered in her front parking lot, the only clear witness a seven year old Amish boy, and a shop full of customers.
Detective Shane Black doesn’t like that Callie is once again in a killer’s sites, and the madman roamed loose in the largest crowd of the year. Something about the fabric shops seem to have what the killer is after, and either Callie or one of her friends may be the next target.
Masked identities, antique quilts with hidden messages, and a possible hidden treasure. It’s all included in MATERIAL WITNESS.
MATERIAL WITNESS is book three in Ms. Chapman’s A Shipshewana Amish Mystery series, but it easily stands alone. I have read book one, Falling to Pieces. I missed book two, A Perfect Square, but I wasn’t at all lost in MATERIAL WITNESS.
Callie is the main character and she is not Amish. There are Amish point of view characters in the story, and it is set in the backdrop of the real life town of Shipshewana, Indiana, and a fabric store that could be real.
I enjoyed reading this story, though some of the things didn’t appear entirely realistic, but I had an advance reader copy and they might have been corrected in the final printed version. Fans of cozy mysteries and Amish fiction will enjoy this book. $12.99. 320 pages.