Today’s Wednesday Writers guest is Patrick E. Craig, a man who writes in a very interesting genre for a guy. I’ll let him tell you all about it. Welcome, Patrick!
Hello Readers! I’m Patrick E. Craig, one of six men who write Amish fiction. If you have followed my stories you know that all six of my books are about the same family, the Hershbergers of Apple Creek, Ohio. The main character or narrator of all of them is Jenny Hershberger, the historian of her family.
Throughout Apple Creek Dreams and The Paradise Chronicles I used a literary device where Jenny was the “author” of all six books, but because of church restrictions she “gave” me the manuscripts to rewrite. This device was a total fiction, but to a large degree, it worked. To my readers, Jenny has assumed a life of her own, and her story will continue in my upcoming cozy mystery series, “The Porch Swing Mysteries.”
In the first four books, A Quilt For Jenna, The Road Home, Jenny’s Choice and The Amish Heiress, Jenny tells the stories of her mother Jerusha, her own life, her marriage to Jonathan Hershberger and her daughter Rachel. Then in The Amish Princess and The Mennonite Queen, Jenny tells the story of two important women in her family’s history, White Deer, the Delaware Indian Princess who is her husband’s Great-Great-Grandmother, and Isabella, Princess of Poland who is the matriarch of the Hershberger family.
In The Mennonite Queen, set in the 1500’s in Europe, I use Isabella Jagiellon who is an actual historical figure, as the central figure of a fictional account. Franz von Waldeck, the Bishop of Münster, Germany, and Jan Bockelson, the self-proclaimed king who led the Anabaptist rebels into a terrible defeat at Münster, also play a central part, but only as support to the story, which is simply the product of my imagination. I also use Isabella to help show the development of the Mennonite faith, through a fictional relationship with Menno Simons, the founder of the church.
I love placing historical figures in the midst of a narration that is simply the product of my imagination. On the other hand, in Jenny’s world, the events in The Mennonite Queen may have happened as written… but you will have to ask Jenny—she is the only one who knows.
P.S. In the fall I will be publishing a box set, The Journals of Jenny Hershberger, which will contain all six books and tell the whole story of the Hershbergers in one collection. Until then you can find them on Amazon, B&N, Apple, Google and any of the many online distributors.
The Mennonite Queen
By Patrick E. Craig
Isabella, Princess of Poland, is raised to a life of great wealth and leisure in the Polish Royal Court, destined to marry a king. But fate or divine providence intervenes when she meets Johan Hirschberg, a young Anabaptist who works in her father’s stable. This chance meeting leads the young couple into a forbidden love. Together they flee Poland and embark on a dangerous journey that brings them, after great peril, to the small parish of a troubled priest named Menno Simons. Catholic Bishop, Franz von Waldek, paid by King Sigismund, Isabella’s father to find the princess at all costs, pursues them across Europe. Isabella does not know it, but if von Waldek captures her, she will have to make a choice that will change the course of European history forever.
Sic Fata Volunt, the Will of Fate
Isabella tossed on her bed, in the grip of a dream. Shouts and screams reverberated off the burning buildings that surrounded her. She was running, running from the heat, running from the chaos, terrified of the soldiers, who were everywhere. The gates of the city rose in front of her but before she could get out they swung open, and a fat man in the robes of a Catholic priest rode in, mounted on a white horse. She screamed…
And then Johan was with her. His powerful arms wrapped around her, infusing her with his strength.
“Come, my love,” he murmured. “This way.”
Together they ran. Isabella was holding a small child whose tiny arms clung to her, and then she saw a small, unguarded door in the wall.
“Through here, my dearest,” he whispered.
His strong hands guided her through the gate. Behind them, a hoarse voice shouted, “Find them, find them now! Kill him and bring her to me, alive.”
Together they hurried along toward the river. Johan’s powerful hands guided her, kept her on her feet and strengthened her, but she could not see the path.
“This way, Isabella. Lift your feet, run like the wind. I am with you, I am always with you…”
Isabella awoke, sobbing and curled in a fetal position, like every time she dreamed of Johan.
Propped with pillows, Isabella lay in her bed, her breathing shallow, her body wracked with pain. Her dark hair was spread around her head like a halo. Beside the bed, her grim-faced doctor stood watching. Angyalka sat in a small chair next to the bed, weeping.
Isabella’s eyes fluttered open. “Ah, my friends… here to bid me farewell?”
She heard Angyalka burst into a fresh paroxysm of weeping.
The doctor leaned down and placed a damp cloth on her forehead.
Isabella reached up and took the doctor’s hand. “Has my son, John, returned?”
“A messenger came this morning.” He gently returned her hand to her side. “John is hastening home. He is sorry for the delay, but Suleiman…”
“Yes, yes. Suleiman…” She closed her eyes. “I will wait for John.”
The next time Isabella awakened, a beloved face was bending over her, the eyes sad, the mouth knit in a frown. “Ah, my son.” She smiled. “Away so long.”
“Only a month, mother. You know how Suleiman is. We must attend to his wishes first. But without him, Ferdinand and the Hapsburgs would take Hungary.”
“Sit, John, and listen.” Isabella took her son’s hand. “I have something important to tell you before I depart this earth.”
“You are not going anywhere, mother. You will live and get well.”
She lifted an eyebrow. “We never lie to each other, John.”
“Let’s not begin now. I am dying. That is a truth we both know. But before I go, I must tell you the one thing I have held from you.” She motioned to him. “Sit here by me.”
John sat. “What is it, Mother?”
Isabella pushed higher on the pillows. “John Sigismund Zápolya, son of the king of Hungary and protector of Transylvania, you are my only heir.” She closed her eyes and then slowly opened them. “But you are not my only son.”
“Not your only son?” John’s eyes widened. “But, Mother, how can that be?”
“My first son, your older brother, is named Abel. I have not seen him since I was a seventeen-year-old. He was the son of my first husband, Johan Hirschberg.”
John stared at his mother, mouth agape. “But, how… when?”
Isabella smiled. “If you will bear it, I will tell you the story…” She stopped for a moment, smiling at the sweet memory. “Long ago, when I was a young girl living at Wawel Castle in Poland…”
Want to read more? You can find Patrick’s books at Amazon
About the Author:
Patrick E. Craig is a traditionally published/independent author. In 2013, Harvest House Publishers published his Apple Creek Dreams series, which included A Quilt For Jenna, The Road Home and Jenny’s Choice. His current series is The Paradise Chronicles and the first book, The Amish Heiress was published in 2015. It remained on the Amazon Top 100 best sellers list for seven months. The Amish Princess was released in 2017 and was followed by The Mennonite Queen in April 2019. In 2017 Harlequin purchased the print rights for The Amish Heiress for their Walmart Amish series. That book went into Walmart stores on April 2 2019. Just recently Patrick signed with Elk Lake Publishers to publish his kids’ mystery series, The Adventures of Punkin and Boo. Patrick and his wife, Judy, make their home in Idaho. Patrick is represented by the Steve Laube Agency.
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