To enter, answer the question, below.
1. How did you decide upon the title of The Saddle Maker’s Son?
This is the third book in the series and the first one was called The Beekeeper’s Son. That was my working title. I submitted the manuscript to Zondervan/HarperCollins Christian with that name. The titling committee decided to keep it. They often select the titles for their authors’ works, but they are excellent about asking authors for suggestions and for feedback on proposed titles. The second book in the series is The Bishop’s Son so it follows that the third book would be another “Son” variation. I like that it focuses on the hero rather than the heroine and reflects something that is important to the story.
2. Are any experiences in The Saddle Maker’s Son based on personal experiences? Did you draw upon any stories or movies for inspiration for the novel?
I was drawn to the “what if” involving illegal immigrant children because I spent a year and a half in Costa Rica as a student at the university in my early twenties. Costa Rica is a mecca for political refugees from Central and South America. I lived in a coop with refugees from Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Paraguay. I also dated a man from El Salvador who had been a political prisoner in his country where he suffered torture at the hands of his government. Hearing their stories gave me a different perspective on what goes on in other countries. I also learned the language which helped me with writing Lupe and Diego’s story. Having known a Salvadoran helped me with some of the cultural references. Living in South Texas now I regularly see newspaper articles about the thousands of unaccompanied children who have flooded through the Texas-Mexico border to this region and all the challenges that come with dealing with that influx. It was a story that begged to be told with the only Amish community in Texas located in that region.
3. What were the challenges in bringing the story to life?
Aside from the challenge of integrating two different cultures and languages as touched upon in the previous question, I also had to learn about saddle making. My husband and I traveled to a nearby town called Fredericksburg to visit a retired cowboy who owns his own custom saddle making shop. Tom Kline was a soft-spoken man who was a little uncomfortable being the center of attention, but he was kind enough to walk me through the process and show me around his workshop. It gave me some nice detail to work into my story and give it verisimilitude. When Tobias is setting up the new shop and Levi is showing Susan how to carve leaves into leather, the details came from Tom. It’s always fun to learn about new topics while writing these books. With the Amish way of life, there’s a lot to learn!
4. What was it like coming back to some of the same characters for the third novel in this series? Do you foresee any more stories for this family of characters?
When I propose the series to the publishers, I know which characters are getting their own stories. I was looking forward to writing Rebekah’s story because I knew she would be the ideal person to find Lupe and Diego. She definitely has a mind of her own. I love being able to give Mordecai (who is the father/beekeeper in The Beekeeper’s Son story) another big role to play. My editor says she needs a bumper sticker that reads I love Mordecai. I feel the same way. He’s one of my all-time favorite characters. It was also nice to bring back Jesse and Leila from The Bishop’s Son so that readers can see how they’re doing in the English world. Readers will get another peek at life in Bee County in two upcoming novellas: One Sweet Kiss will tell Martha and Jacob’s story, and an unnamed second story will give Tobias’ brother David another chance at love and bring snow to Bee County for the first time in more than twelve years—much to Lupe and Diego’s delight.
5. Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
My very first published novel, a romantic suspense story called A Deadly Wilderness, received a great review from Publisher’s Weekly so I was totally unprepared when they panned the sequel, No Child of Mine. They said the only likeable characters were the children and the rest were unhappy Christians. You can tell how much it hurt by the fact that I can still quote it after all these years. Unless an editor sends me a review with the proviso that it is a good one, I don’t read them. I don’t seek them out. It’s incredibly subjective and I have enough of my own insecurity without having it fed by bad reviews. I’ve been fortunate that there haven’t been a lot and none as cutting as the one for No Child of Mine (a book of which I am very proud). I would tell authors who receive bad reviews to eat a nice piece of chocolate, take a walk, and get back to work. It hurts, but it can’t be allowed to get in the way of doing what we’re called to do. Repeat after me: It’s one person’s opinion. Opinions are like armpits, everyone has one.
6. What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I just turned in the first book in a new four-book series to Zondervan/HarperCollins. I’m following the lives of four widows who are in different seasons in their lives. The first book is On a Spring Breeze and tells the story of a young woman who unexpectedly finds herself raising a baby on her own. Now I’m starting Beneath the Summer Sun in which the heroine is fifteen years older and has a house full of children. The last thing she’s looking for is love. By the time I get to the last book, I’ll be writing about a great-grandmother who gets a second chance at love. I’m excited about getting to write about older women and how they encounter romance.
To enter the giveaway: Have you ever spent time in a foreign country either as a foreign exchange student or on a mission trip? Where did you go? If no, would you?
Rebekah Lantz feels betrayed and abandoned. Tobias Byler is bound by regret. Can two young runaways from a world away teach them the healing power of a true family?
Rebekah isn’t like her sister Leila, but no one seems to believe that. Ever since Leila made a decision that has haunted her family and their small Amish community, Rebekah has been held to a higher standard under her mother’s watchful eye. Boys avoid her. She simply longs for the chance to be a wife and mother like the other girls.
Tobias Byler only wants to escape feelings for a woman he knows he should never have allowed to get close to him. Moving with his family to isolated
, seemed the best way to
leave his mistakes behind. But even a move across the country can’t stop the past
from accompanying his every thought. Bee County,
A surprise encounter with two half-starved runaway children forces both Rebekah and Tobias to turn their focus on others far more desperate.
In doing so, they discover the key to forgetting the past may open the door to the love and the future they both seek.
Kelly Irvin – Biography
Kelly Irvin is the author of The Saddle Maker’s Son, the third novel in the Amish of Bee County series from Zondervan/HarperCollins. It follows The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series, both from Harvest Housing. She has also penned two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
A former newspaper reporter and public relations professional, Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.