RWA’s RITA Award Author, Adina Senft joins us this week to introduce us to her latest release, The Tempted Soul. Adina is a best-selling author who writes she writes steampunk and contemporary romance as Shelley Adina; and as Charlotte Henry, writes classic Regency romance. Join us as she gives us a peek into her contribution to the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection along with her other projects.
The following transcript is a shortened version of the original recording.
Tracy: Welcome to another episode of Buggy Talk. I’m your host, Tracy Fredrychowski each week, I bring you the story behind the stories, along with the storytellers. For this week’s episode, we have Adina Senft. How are you today?
Adina: I’m very well considering I’m three hours behind you. I guess I didn’t realize that. So you’re just crawling out of bed right now for quite a while, but I certainly appreciate you joining us in the early morning.
Tracy: So, where are you from, Adina?
Adina: Well, I’m from Canada, but at the moment I live on the West coast
Tracy: Well, we have a lot of things to chat about today. One is your part in the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection, but more importantly, I just realized you released a book this week called the Tempted Soul. Would you like to share a little bit about that with us?
Adina: I would be delighted you, so tell us all about it. It’s part of my Whinburg Township Amish Series, which is nine books long, and this is book number three that just came out on Wednesday.
It’s about an infertile Amish couple. It’s the story of how she pursues that and possibly risks her Amish beliefs and how God can control life and bring his will about even in matters such as family and love, and her best friends also help her through prompted by the Holy Spirit.
Tracy: So a nine-book series about all taking place in the same community, right. How do you have the stamina to write a nine-book series and keep it interesting?
Adina: Well, actually, they’re all, but one completed. So the only books that I have yet to write, as soon as I get the Amish Christmas miracle story finished is the final book it’s called the Sweetest Song.
Tracy: So, where is Whinburg Township?
Adina: It’s a fictitious town located in Lancaster County, around the Nickel Mines area, just because I liked the landscape there and it had things like creeks and rivers and the roads kind of went in the right direction.
Tracy: I love that. And I do the same thing. My town is Willow Springs. You get so caught up in, in the characters and the town and the surrounding, you become part of that town. I sort of feel like I live there.
So let’s go on a bit about your writing career before we talk about the Amish Christmas Miracles.
What is it like as a writer, or what are the essential elements of good writing?
Adina: Well, I think that after teaching about writing novels for 17 years, I would know the answer to this a little bit better. I think the things that a reader would look for are the things that are the central spirit of the book, the things that touch their hearts. It can be a setting. It can be characters. It can be the way the plot unfolds like a road ahead of an Amish buggy. But I think the most important thing is the way those three elements, the setting, and the characters and the plot just kind of fold together to create a very real experience in the reader’s mind, at least that as a writer, that’s my goal.
Tracy: I couldn’t agree more, you know, the books that I remember the most are the ones that I can envision myself in the storyline, or I can envision myself in the surrounding. So if the author has done a really good job at painting that picture in my mind, those are the books in the stories that I remember the most
Don’t you think that that’s why readers love Amish fiction because they can escape into a period of a time or another culture and experience it where they wouldn’t be able to do that in real life?
Adina: Exactly. It’s almost like I wrote a paper on this one time, and it’s almost like a vacation of the mind. And, you know, we may not be in a position to have eight children and, you know, do the laundry without a washing machine, but we can go there and have that experience in our minds. It’s like stepping out of life and into somebody else’s.
Tracy: It certainly is. So I have to know what comes first for you, the plot or the character.
Adina: As I might tell my students, they are kind of the same thing because the characters make decisions that then form an action that then form a plot. So if you haven’t got characters, you haven’t got a plot. So I guess the answer is characters, the characters.
Tracy: I love all of the titles of your books. And I looked through them all when I was doing my research on you this week, how do you come up with the titles?
Adina: The titles are the fun thing and the hard thing, the first three titles were not my publisher. We went back and forth for a long time on them because I had thought, you know, The Wounded, The Hidden, The Attempted, and that wasn’t enough for my publisher. So, they took the second set of titles that I submitted and combined them. So now we have The Wounded Heart and The Hidden Life. They work, I guess that’s why they’re publishers and we’re writers.
Tracy: I have to know when did you first consider yourself a writer?
Adina: I was eight.
Tracy: Tell us about that. Because I technically don’t remember anything when I was eight.
Adina: I wrote this little paper about a ghost in our yard, and she wrote at the top of the paper in red gel pen, Ooh, you have me scared. And in my little eight-year-old heart, it was like, wow, I made her feel something. And that, that was the first time I realized that right being a writer could change the way a person feels.
Tracy: So that is spot on. So I have to know, describe your writing space.
Adina: I have my own office when we built this house after the 89 earthquake. It’s got built-in shelving, and it’s got room for tons and tons and tons of books, reference books. And that’s where I do kind of the nitty-gritty and the nuts and bolts of my writing. And then my most productive space you will laugh is out in the backyard with the chickens.
Tracy: I will not laugh because I have a box of baby chickens on my porch right now. So I certainly can relate with you because my favorite writing spot is on our back porch on a swing overlooking our chicken coops
So let’s change gears a little bit. A lot of our listeners know that 14 authors are writing an Amish Christmas Miracles Collection that comes out in November. So I want to hear all about what you are contributing and can you tell us what the title of your story will be?
Adina: It is called the Heart’s Return.
Tracy: And is there a significance to that title?
Adina: I kind of have a weakness for a reunion story. It’s about a man who comes back to the woman who sent him away some time ago.
Tracy: What do you hope your readers will take away from your story?
Adina: I think the thing that is kind of working in my head right now and is sort of fueling the writing is the thought of, or probably this is the theme to that, that God has second chances in his hand and don’t give up hope because he may be able to bring about a Christmas Miracle if you’re willing to, put your life in his hands.
Tracy: So why don’t you go ahead and tell us the inspiration for this story?
Adina: Well, I am a huge Jane Austin fan, and Persuasion is my favorite book.
Tracy: What do you hope your readers will take away from your contribution to this book?
Adina: Well, the theme of a reunion sort of implies a second, so the idea that second chances are in God’s hands. And so if my characters can just bring themselves to submit to God’s will, then he can bring about his will in their lives.
So I know that we talked about your latest release, The Tempted Soul. So what’s next after you finished the Amish Christmas miracles, what’s next on your plate?
Adina: Literally, the end of my dissertation.
Tracy: Oh, my goodness. That doesn’t sound like fun.
Adina: Well, it is kind of fun. It’s, it’s a women’s fiction novel. I’m doing a Ph.D. in creative writing. It’s a women’s fiction novel set in 1927 in the ghost town. Tracy: Well, that wraps up this week’s episode next week. We’ll have Jennifer Spredeman as our guest to talk about her latest project, along with her part in the Amish Christmas Miracles Collection. So we’ll see you next week on the Buggy Talk Podcast