adding touch of realism in an imaginary world, Amish romance, Catherine Castle's Wednesday Writers blog series, Every Amsih Season series, Facts in the Fiction, Kelly Irvin, researching for fiction, Upon a Spring Breeze
Amish romance author Kelly Irvin is back on Wednesday Writers with a new Amish romance, Upon a Spring Breeze, which is the first novel in her four-book series, Every Amish Season. Kelly has been a frequent visitor to Wednesday Writers’ blog series, sharing behind the scenes information on her Amish romances, including The Beekeeper’s Son and The Bishop’s Son. I’m always glad to have her visit. Today, she’s going to talk about The Facts in the Fiction. Welcome back, Kelly.
Do you know what it’s called when a sow gives birth? Me neither. Do you know a sunflower’s scientific name? Me neither. Do you know when the Purple Martins arrive in northwestern Missouri and how they like their houses built so snakes can’t slip into them? Me neither. At least I didn’t until I wrote Upon a Spring Breeze. What do you know about bird flu? Every time I start a new novel, I realize just how little I know about anything. With the advent of twenty-four-hour access to news, CSI TV programs, and Internet Google search, we can learn about these subjects with relative ease. And readers expect their authors to get the details right.
My heroes in Upon a Spring Breeze include Aidan Graber, who is a chicken farmer who decides to expand his sources of income to include hogs. I was fortunate to be able to interview via telephone a man near Austin, Texas, who has a farm where he raises chickens and hogs. I also interviewed via email a state trooper in Missouri who was involved in the quarantine of farms affected by bird flu. These interviews provided the underpinning for Aidan’s farming experiences and expertise.
I used to be a newspaper reporter in another life so I understand the art of research and interview. It was never my favorite part. I love to write, but I’m an introvert. I struggle with making the phone call to someone who might not want to talk to me. That’s not a good quality in a reporter. As an author, I’ve overcome my natural inclination to make it up as I go along. It may take me a few days—or weeks—but eventually I make the call. It’s good for me to come out of my hidey hole and talk to people in the real world.
For Upon a Spring Breeze, I had the most fun with the flowers and the plants. It’s easy to get information about growing flowers from the Internet. What grows best, when it grows best, and where it grows best. That helped me flesh out the character of Dusty Lake. He works at a nursery and plans to get his degree in environmental science someday. He knows there are sixteen species of Helianthus (sunflowers) in Missouri. They are grown worldwide for seeds and oil as well as ornamental uses. At one time Missouri was a leader in the production of sunflowers. Dusty will talk your ear off about flowers if you let him. It’s one of the things Bess Weaver, my heroine, likes about him.
Aidan, on the other hand, knows all about raising chickens and he also knows it’s called farrowing when sows give birth. He knows they have a gestation period farmers could set a calendar by. Three months, three weeks, three days. And they have two or three litters per year.
But Aidan is more than a farmer. He loves to watch the beautiful birds that migrate through Missouri in the spring, including the Purple Martins. That’s why he fixes up the Purple Martin houses and brings Bess to see them. Their arrival reflects the continuing cycle of life. They return every year to the same houses to have their babies. Bess can count on that.
“He held Joshua up, his face close to the little one, talking as if the conversation was just between the two of them and the baby could understand every word. ‘I added insulation to the apartments so it won’t get too hot or too cold in there. And I threw some pine needles into the compartments. I read something that it makes them think the houses have been occupied before. They like the idea that others came first.’”
How do they keep the snakes out? Aidan added a stovepipe baffle to the pole about four feet off the ground. It wobbles and keeps the snakes from shimmying up the pole.
The details give the scenes that touch of realism that allows readers to lose themselves in an imaginary world. The characters come to life. I love that feeling. I hope my readers do too!
Once Upon A Spring Breeze
by Kelly Irvin
After a devastating year, a spring breeze promises more than new flowers.… It promises a new chance at love.
Bess Weaver, twenty and expecting her first child, is in the kitchen making stew for her beloved mann, Caleb, one minute, and the next she’s burying him after a tragic accident. Facing life as a young widow, Bess finds comfort only in tending the garden at an Englisch-owned bed and breakfast—even as she doubts that new growth could ever come after such a long winter.
Aidan tries to repress his guilt over his best friend Caleb’s death and his long-standing feelings for Bess by working harder than ever. But as he spends time with the young son his friend left behind, he seems to be growing closer to the boy’s beautiful mother as well.
When a close-knit group of widows in her Amish community step in to help Bess find her way back to hope, she begins to wonder if Gott has a future for her after all. Will she ever believe that life can still hold joy—and the possibility of love?
Is your curiosity piqued? You can find Kelly’s book Upon a Spring Breeze at:
About the Author:
Kelly Irvin is the author of Upon a Spring Breeze, the first novel in the four-book series, Every Amish Season. Library Journal called Upon a Spring Breeze “a moving and compelling tale about the power of grace and forgiveness that reminds us how we become strongest in our broken moments.”
Kelly also penned the Amish of Bee County series, which includes The Beekeeper’s Son, which received a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly, calling it “a delicately woven masterpiece.” She is also the author of the Bliss Creek Amish series and the New Hope Amish series. Kelly’s novella, A Christmas Visitor, appears in the anthology, The Amish Christmas Gift. Her novella, Sweeter than Honey, is included in the anthology, The Amish Market.
She wrote two romantic suspense novels, A Deadly Wilderness and No Child of Mine.
A former newspaper reporter and retired public relations professional, Kelly is married to photographer Tim Irvin. They have two children, two grandchildren, and two cats. In her spare time, she likes to read books by her favorite authors.