Talkshow Thursday: Meet Author Rachel Good
Linda: Thanks for joining me today. Congratulations on your latest release The Teacher’s Gift. The book explores themes of forgiveness and second chances. Where did you find your inspiration for this story?
Rachel: The idea for the story came to me when I was playing with my Amish friend’s daughter, who is on the autism spectrum. Then I met a young hearing-impaired girl with Down syndrome at an Amish secondhand store. I wondered about their schooling, which led to researching and attending Amish special needs schools and centers. Once I started meeting these students, along with their parents and teachers, my heart was touched. The Amish live their belief that each child is a precious gift from God by encouraging their children to live up to their potential and making them a vital part of the Amish community.
As for the forgiveness theme, years ago the Nickel Mines shooting in PA was devastating. A man entered an Amish schoolhouse and shot children. The Amish not only forgave the man, but also reached out to his family. Although as Christians, we’ve experienced the power of God’s forgiveness, the secular world couldn’t believe the way the Amish opened their hearts and embraced those who had hurt them. That tragedy taught me a lot about forgiveness, and that forgiveness can be the key to healing so many hurts. I wanted my Amish characters to live out that truth in the pages of my story.
LM: The age old question for writers – are you a planner or a “panster,” and what is your favorite part of the writing process?
Rachel: I used to be a planner. I had meticulous charts and sticky notes with plot points, but once I had so many deadlines close together, I didn’t have time to do all the planning. Now I write a brief synopsis before I began, so I have an idea of the beginning, middle, and end. Then I plunge in and write.
For me, the best part of the process is the creative part of coming up with ideas for new books. Actually writing them is much harder. Another favorite part of writing is suddenly getting a brainstorm in the middle of the story or realizing that an item or scene I included earlier that didn’t seem particularly important at the time is, in fact, an important element to resolving the plot. That happens often, and I know then that my writing has been led and my inspiration is coming from outside of me.
LM: Research is a large part of any book. How did you go about researching The Teacher’s Gift and did you discover any extra special tidbits of information?
Rachel: I spend a lot of time with Amish friends – doing chores on their farms, babysitting their children, and participating in special events. I try to be as accurate as possible when I choose my storylines and do a lot of research. For The Amish Teacher’s Gift, I spent time with parents and teachers of special needs children, visited schoolhouses, and toured the Community Care Center that teaches Amish and Mennonite children with special needs.
The thing that surprised me most was how up-to-date the Amish are in teaching children with special needs. In the Community Care Center, they had a multi-sensory environment—a room with dark walls and only a small string of Christmas lights twinkling. They’d added a recliner, a hammock, a ball pit (with those plastic balls they have at fast-food restaurants), and headphones for blocking out noise. It was such a peaceful place, I didn’t want to leave, and it works well to calm autistic children. They also used letterboards and many other teaching aids that have been shown by cutting-edge research to be the best. I tried to give the flavor of this in my book, but I wish everyone could tour the center and see it for themselves.
LM: How did you get started as a writer, and how did you decide to seek publication?
Rachel: When my 5 children were ages 8 and under, I needed to do something to help me keep my sanity. 😉 That’s when I started writing. I began by taking the Institute of Children’s Literature course, which was very helpful. My instructor encouraged me to send one of my articles out, and that led to my first published piece in Highlights for Children magazine. Next, I wrote stories that were published in Sunday School take-home papers and Christian women’s magazines.
From there, I began writing articles and books for educational publishers. Then at the Oregon Christian Writer’s Conference once summer, I met my agent, Mary Sue Seymour, who encouraged me to write Amish novels for adults. She sold my first series, but she died before it came out. That was heartbreaking for me. Nicole Resciniti took over the agency, and she has been wonderful about selling my other series. I’m really grateful to all the people along the way who encouraged and mentored me.
LM: You live in a beautiful area of the world, a place many people visit. If money were no object, what is your idea of the ultimate vacation?
Rachel: I love to travel the world. My goal is to visit every continent. I’ve been to all of them except Australia and Antarctica. For me, the ultimate vacation would be seeing penguins in Antarctica. 😊
LM: Here are some quickies:
Favorite movie: Confession time here. I don’t go to the movies or watch TV, so I probably haven’t seen one in ten or more years. I’ve probably seen a dozen in my lifetime. The only one I really remember is Sound of Music.
Favorite author: Madeleine L’Engle
Favorite childhood book: The Little Princess
LM: What is your next project?
Rachel: I’m always working on several projects at once, so I’m working on the next book in this series, The Amish Midwife’s Gift (Nov. 2018) along with two books due to Love Inspired in June—Gift from Above and Big-City Amish. I’m jotting down ideas for an Amish Christmas anthology, and writing two children’s books.
LM: Where can folks find you on the web?
Widower Josiah Yoder wants to be a good father. But it's not easy with a deaf young son who doesn't understand why his mamm isn't coming home. At a loss, Josiah enrolls Nathan in a special-needs school and is relieved to see his son immediately comforted by his new teacher, a woman who sweet charm and gentle smile just might be the balm they both need.
With seven siblings to care for, Ada Rupp wasn't sure she wanted to take on teaching, too. But the moment she holds Nathan in her arms, she realizes she'll do all she can to help this lost little boy. Plus, it gives her a chance to spend more time with Josiah. Falling for a man in mourning may be against the rules, but his quiet strength is the support Ada never knew she needed. And, together, they could have the loving family she'd always hoped for.
Purchase Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B074M66MKP