Episode #3 – Murray Pura

00:00 / 00:38:04

Your listing to “Buggy Talk” where some of your favorite authors, friends, and guests explore the simpler side of life. Here’s your host Amish fiction on Tracy Fredrychowski 

The following transcript is a shortened version of the original recording.

Tracy:    Hey there. Welcome to another episode of Buggy Talk. I’m your host, Tracy Fredrychowski, and each week. I’ll bring you the story behind the stories along with the storytellers. For this week’s episode, we have an award-winning author, Murray Pura. Hello Murray.

Murray: Hey, how are you doing, Tracy?

Tracy:  I am good. Thank you so much for joining us today. We have so many great things to chat about, one being The Amish Menorah and Other Stories, along with some of your other projects. I am so excited to hear about this new collection that you’ve written with the Men of Amish Fiction. It’s only been probably a couple of months since I heard that term. And I don’t know why I hadn’t heard it before.

How did the Men have Amish Fiction come about? 

Murray:  Well, the term isn’t even that old anyway. Tracy, I think, well, you know, the publishing industry and you will understand in certain genres, 75% of the readership female. In terms of the writing in the genre of Amish or Amish romance, it’s probably about 99.9% female authors, right? So, who are these guys? And the interesting thing is over the years, I haven’t always written Amish, but it was the only way I could get into the American market. 

So, I think with this, then it was kind of like the genre was so dominated by female authors, and there was almost a sense, so, well, what are you guys doing here? What do you know about Amish romance? How can you, even though none of them are Amish. Anyway, it was more; I think like what can you possibly know about writing a book where boy meets girl, and you know, they fall in love and an Amish setting. So, we said, you know what, two things, first of all, we can write it. And most all of us have, and we’ve had good sales, but here’s the other thing, some of the stuff being written is just not really truthful to what we know of the Amish experience. 

It can be a very hard life. They have to do with issues. They have drama. Um, they have sin, and they need, you know, recovery, they need redemption, they need restoration just like the rest of us too. Like the rest of the world. That’s because there can be an attitude like, well, you know, there’s nothing really goes wrong in those communities. So we decided to say, well, first of all, we can write this stuff we have and we will. So we said, okay, we’re going to put an anthology together, and we’re going to write. We want it to be a little bit different just in the sense that maybe being a little bit more honest about the struggle of living your Amish life within a world that isn’t, and, and the concerns that can happen within the community. 

So that was how that started. The six of us got together.

Tracy:  Can you name the six men again?

You know, Patrick Craig, who now lives in Idaho and he’s a, been a friend for years and we’ve collaborated and other projects as well, that aren’t Amish. Then there is Thomas Nye, and he farms in an area where there’s a lot of Amish. There’s Jerry Eicher. He’s written lots of books over the years about the Amish. There’s Amos Wyse, he’s written on the Amish on his own, and there’s Willard Carpenter. So there are five other guys besides me

We still want to see the beauty of the Amish life, but we’d like to know how they deal with the hard things, you know, rebellious teenagers, or, you know, um, a death too soon. Like, one of the books I wrote as a Christmas story. I had one where the grandfather is dying, and he’s not only just dying, but willing to die. I mean, he’s willing himself to die. He does not want to live. Of course, I know for some people, Oh, come on, he’s Amish and a Christian. Why wouldn’t he want to live while he doesn’t, he’s depressed. His wife died here a few years earlier. He can’t get over missing her. Nothing’s the same. And he doesn’t really want to be here anymore. So he’s lost the will to fight back illnesses and live. Of course, its a Christmas story, and I couldn’t let him die. 

It has to be very beautiful, and they have to be angels. But nevertheless, most of the story or three-quarters of the story is about them trying to get him to want to live and him pushing back and not wanting to, even though at one time he was kind of like the spiritual leader in the community.

Tracy:  Tell us the name of that, that Christmas book that you’re talking about, because we did talk about it a little bit and somebody may want to go look for it. So, what was the name of that one? 

Murray:    Abigail’s Christmas Miracle. All these books come out of hiding in November prior to Thanksgiving, though, I will say there’s a whole group out there as you probably know that want Christmas in July.

Tracy:    Let’s get back to the Amish Menorah and Other Stories. What was the inspiration for this collaboration?

Murray: There are six stories. Uh, one of them, Jerry’s is actually a few chapters, from a novel that’s coming. So I guess you could call it a bit of a teaser of the, is coming from the same publisher,

There’s a lot of people that only see the Amish in terms of a tourism thing, if they come through, we have Amish here, there there’s about five communities in Montana, and a lot of people don’t realize that, and they’re spreading out like my home province of Manitoba, right above North Dakota and Minnesota. It has Amish now. So, um, we wanted to write stories that were more realistic. And so, and we also wanted to kind of, well, if the women do these anthologies, the female authors do them all the time. We’re never in them

I had always wanted to use Patrick’s title because it’s the one usual. I said, I, that was part of the thing. We don’t want to have the same cover that you see all the time, because we’re trying to do something slightly different. And so I said, if we use a title, like the Amish Menorah, I said, that’s going to be so different. 

People have said to me, what’s a Menorah got to do with the Amish? And I say, well, you need to read this story. I said, but I will just tell you that there were, there was one last community along we’re still in Germany. Cause most of them had gone, you know, to America, Canada, years before.

If you look on the back cover, it lists the other stories, you know, The Silo or Amish for Summer and my story Lone Star.

Tracy: Tell us a little bit, lone star is your story.

Murray: I wanted to set it in a totally different time period. Sometimes people don’t think about the fact that the first Amish came to America in the early 1700s, before the revolution. And you know, they’ve been around a long time and their clothing today reflects the clothing they wore in the 1880s  I wanted to one set in the old West cause they were here in the old West.

Tracy:  Can you read us the first page?

Murray: Kansas Spring and Summer, 1874,

Saul Miller was driving his wagon into town for supplies. Passing his freshly planted cornfields, he thanked God they were already sprouting in the warm, wet spring weather. He also thanked God he was not just going into town for flour and salt and tools. He was having lunch with a lovely young woman named Eve Sorensen. They had met on several occasions, but never really talked. She had told him she was interested in learning more about his Amish faith. Whether that was true or not he had no idea. He was just grateful she wanted to dine with him.

He had been a happier man once. Always ready with a smile or a cheerful laugh. Until his young wife had been in a wagon rollover. Killed along with their unborn child. This grief had not robbed him of his faith. Indeed, his faith had helped him survive the loss of his wife and child. But his smiles became few and far between. And his laugh ceased to exist.

Eve Sorensen made him smile more often. She was like a sunny day without a cloud in sight. And no twister brooding on the horizon either. Her beauty, as far as he was concerned, was beyond description. One minute in her company made him feel glad to be alive. Something he did not feel very much anymore.

Saul realized he could be imposing. He was six-six, broad-shouldered and dark complexioned. His somber disposition didn’t help any. He regretted the unpleasant effect he could have on people. But he saw no change in the road ahead. A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. Isaiah’s description of Jesus was how he saw himself. At twenty-five, life was hard labor, hard prayer and hard hope. Eve, although not of his faith, was a candle in a very dark room. Perhaps her light would grow. Perhaps diminish.

Tracy: So, you know, as an author, you probably have seen those first-page contest out there all the time. So that definitely would have gotten my vote.

Murray:  You wondered if we would do anything again? Well, just today or yesterday, it was finalized.. We would do another anthology for the fall. And, um, as you know, in publishing, that doesn’t mean we get to write it in the fall. So we get to write it soon. I mean, it basically has to be with the publisher in August.

Tracy:   The same, the same six guys 

Murray:  I believe so.

Tracy:  Where can our listeners purchase this book?

Murray: Well, these this will be available on all the ebook platforms. So, you know, Nook, Kobo, Kindle, Apple, um, it’s also, uh, at hand, it’s going to be as available paperback, Barnes and Noble,  Indigo, but of course, Amazon. 

Tracy: Well, it sounds absolutely wonderful. And what I’m excited about is by you coming on and doing the Buggy Talk with us, I’m hoping to get, well, Patrick’s already scheduled to come on, but Thomas Nye and Amos, we get those, those guys on here too. Then our listeners who are primarily women, we’ll be getting excited about what you guys are putting together as well. So 

Murray:   I’m excited. Yeah. No, that sounds, that sounds great. Thank you so much. 

Tracy:    You’re welcome. Well, I just want to thank you for spending time with us this week. And I look forward to reading all the stories in The Amish Menorah and Other Stories along with any of your other new projects. And we didn’t even get a chance to talk about your other projects, but you know what I’ll have you on again.

Next week we’ll have Lori Stroup Smith as our guests to talk about Pockets of Promise, the first book in her Pocket Quilt Series. So, we’ll see you next week on the buggy talk podcast.