A Conversation with Rachel J. Good
Rachel J. Good writes life-changing, heart-tugging stories of faith, hope and forgiveness. The author of several Amish romance series, she grew up near Lancaster County, Penn., the setting for her novels. Striving for authenticity, she spends time with her Amish friends, doing chores on their farm and attending family events.
When do you find time to write?
Rachel: I’ve always found the hours from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. are my most creative times. Not only is everyone asleep and the house is quiet, but something about the darkness soothes me and helps the words flow. It isn’t always easy getting up in the morning, especially when I have to take care of an active two-year-old during the day.
How do you connect with your characters?
Rachel: I believe we’re all alike under the skin, so we share the same longings, needs and feelings. Everyone meets their basic human needs differently, but if I can get in touch with a time I’ve felt those feelings, even if it’s on a small scale, I can imagine how someone else might react if they’re experiencing the same feelings, but much more intensely. This emotional connection allows me to develop a deep sense of empathy for my characters. It helps me see life through their eyes, even when I disagree with their point of view or actions. That way I can put myself in the mind of any character – even one who’s a villain.
And, of course, those who aren’t readers or writers may not understand how characters come alive. But I actually live with and talk to my characters as if they’re real when I’m writing a book. There’s nothing like sharing all your meals and activities with your characters to make a strong connection. My family often gets to know them as well.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
Rachel: Because I write Amish novels, my greatest inspiration is spending time with my Amish friends and researching interesting aspects of their lives and communities. When I hear their stories about things that are happening with their friends and relatives, it often sparks story ideas. I won’t ever use their stories exactly as they happen because I feel it’s an invasion of privacy, but they form the seeds of an idea.
My biggest inspiration, though, is probably my imagination. I used to get in trouble as a child for having a vivid imagination (some people called my creative inventions lying), but it’s proved to be a helpful trait for writing. Every time I see or hear about an unusual event, I immediately begin constructing an elaborate plot and backstory for why it happened. It may not end up in one of my books, but just the exercise of imagining is good practice for developing plots.
What is one of your favorite ways to connect with readers?
Rachel: Although it’s great meeting readers in person at book events, I also like to connect with them on Facebook. In person, you might only get to speak to readers for a brief time, but on Facebook, we can share our lives. To me, it’s always amazing the bonds you can form on social media when you’re open about your concerns and joys. I can encourage readers, and they’ve always been a major encouragement to me. I also appreciate the fact that we often pray for each other. There’s nothing like knowing readers are praying for you when you’re struggling to meet a deadline or when you’re dealing with a crisis. And I keep them in my prayers when they have health and family concerns.
Current book: An Unlikely Hero in Plain Everyday Heroes
Blind shopkeeper, Benuel, has honed his other senses to solve mysteries, including why an Englischer is stalking Amish twins.
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