Definition of spotlight: something that illuminates brilliantly.
Meet Mindy Steele!
Bestselling and award-winning author Mindy Steele is a welcomed addition to the Amish genre. Not only are her novels uplifting, they touch all the senses. Her storyteller heart shines within her pages. Research, for her, is just a fence jump away, and her research aims to accurately portray the Amish way of life. Her ability to understand boundaries and customs, giving her readers an inside view of the Plain life, is attributed to her relationship with the Amish.
Mindy and her husband, Mike, have been blessed with five children, ten grandchildren, and many great neighbors.
Let’s chat with Mindy. I know you’re going to love her!
When did you realize you wanted to write a book?
I have always been writing, even before I could spell many words. It’s been a dream of mine since I was very young to be a journalist or novelist. But life happened and I happily focused on my family until the ripe age of 45. God knew I wasn’t ready until I had a lot more to bring to the table. It was then that I read my first Amish novel. Having Amish friends, I know a little about their customs and beliefs, so I wrote Watering Dandelions. The manuscript earned me attention from a few agents and so my career was born. I always say, every book has a purpose, and that goes for even poorly written ones. If I never read the wrong book first, who knows where I would be right now!!!
Why did you decide on Amish fiction?
God’s plan…not mine. I wanted to write Historical Fiction, but apparently I’m no good at it. My first manuscript was written from an English and Amish point of view, and when my agent read it, she said it was my niche. “Write what you know.” Readers know when an author adds too much research, or is just stumbling through pages. The romance side of writing is a bonus. What greater subject to write about than love?
Do you have Amish friends or contacts who make sure that your facts are accurate?
I have been blessed with a few good friends who live the Plain life. A deacon helps me answer simply questions and checks my glossary and a bishop’s wife and daughter helped me with a book cover after buying my books. I smile every time I think of that. The Amish reads my books and so far, no negative responses. Then again, they are wonderfully kind and probably wouldn’t say otherwise.
I’ve met a few interesting women along the way in Ohio, Indiana, and Lancaster, who approached me during events and we connected instantly. I share letters with a basket weaver and love hearing her thoughts and getting new recipes from her. My friend Anna is like family, a sister in so many ways. She’s been very supportive and helpful since my first author event. I have spent many years with a few Amish locals, along with a few men and their families I knew from years previous while working for my father. I recently met a driver, who was once a college English professor. He gifted me a book he felt I would use properly and helped me understand a few things about different communities. Driver Dan will probably appear in my next series.
Without giving anything away, tell us what you like about Cicada Season, your newest in the Miller’s Creek series.
Not the noisey cicadas, that’s for sure. I love so much about this book, but it’s the community as a whole that I love most. Each character gets to be part of the story and many lessons come from them as well as the main characters. I really like Hannah, the strong and brave heroine who had a few hidden vulnerabilities and fears. The strongest folks usually do, and Leon knew the moment he had Hannah knee deep in her biggest fear that he had to help her face her own shortcomings. I admired his willingness to strive to be better, even when challenged. He made quite the hero and watching this young fella grow into a man worthy of admiration touched my motherly heart.
I adore each of the Milford brothers and look forward to many more stories with them. They are each so different, yet, the same!!! Hazel Miller is probably my favorite character to ever write. Plus who doesn’t like the harvest season? Autumn is my favorite time of the year. I love everything about this book.
You have a new book coming out, Bones on the Mountain and it’s definitely not Amish. Why the switch in genres?
I have written historical and contemporary romance too, but as soon as I signed my first contract, my career exploded. Soon you will get to learn more about my other books. I’m a writer, first and foremost, and inspiration comes to me in different ways. The Mountain Protector series was prompted by my husband’s over indulgence in game warden shows, and a hike on the mountain that proved very mysterious. I have no plans to stop writing Amish fiction, nor do I plan to stick to one genre, as there are just too many stories to tell not to write them.
Tell us what you enjoyed most about writing Bones on the Mountain.
Writing a romance with a bit of mystery and suspense was the perfect challenge for my writer brain. I would say the research was the highlight as I got to delve into places I hadn’t considered before. It helped a lot that I know a little about hunting season and all the preparations beforehand. I reached out to a seasoned dispatcher for help. Connie was so full of knowledge, and you will get to meet part of her personality in the book. Learning about being an emergency responder through her eyes, matched with a love for my own mountain, made creating Samantha Quinn one of my most loved characters. I can’t wait until you all get to meet Henry. This book was written for such a hero as him.
Okay, serious question. What’s your favorite dessert? Do you have a recipe you can share with us?
Oh I don’t have a favorite, I love nearly anything set in front of me, but considering my newest release had a setting in an apple orchard, I’ll share an Apple Pie recipe like no other. This recipe first appeared in Christmas Grace, but Hannah Troyer uses it, so it must be good.
And last but not least, what’s ahead for Mindy Steele, Author?
Hopefully, much. 2023 will begin with a re-release of my 3 times best-selling Love Inspired book, His Amish Wife’s Hidden Past. I’m postponing events until fall to catch up and enjoy some family time, but plans for a book tour are already underway. Book Four in the Miller’s Creek series as well as my debut with Barbour Books, will be here, and in between two more Mountain Protector novels will be out into the world. I might have a surprise or two up my sleeve, but you will have to wait for those. All in all, I’ll be very busy writing, and hopefully you’ll be busy reading.