Interview with Charlotte Hubbard, Author of Breath of Spring

Please give a warm welcome to Charlotte Hubbard this morning!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in five words or less.

[Charlotte Hubbard] Happy, busy, organized, outspoken . . . colorful. Creative.

(See? I have to have the last word, and that makes six!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Breath of Spring?

[Charlotte Hubbard] Breath of Spring is the 4th book in my Seasons of the Heart Amish series, although you can read it as a stand-alone before you read the previous books. Annie Mae Knepp faces a lot of challenges most girls her age have no clue about because her father, the former bishop of Willow Ridge, has been excommunicated. He’s started a new Plain colony called Higher Ground under dubious circumstances—and because he has his four pre-school age kids with him, Annie Mae is worried about who’s taking care of them while he’s building his new town. She’s also worried that he’s going to get back at her for refusing to go to Higher Ground with him (and she is not figuring that her dad has hired her former wild-child boyfriend to do his dirty work).

When Annie Mae sees her little sibs are being mistreated by her dad’s new live-in, she snatches them back to Willow Ridge—and suddenly realizes that she’s now responsible for raising them. What man in his right mind will ever want to marry her now? Never in a million years does she figure quiet Adam Wagler will find her attractive—and indeed, Adam has his own secret conflicts to settle before he can take on the responsibilities of a wife and a family. It’s truly a book about how love conquers all, and how the Amish take care of each other in good times and bad.

[Manga Maniac Cafe]  Can you share your favorite scene?

[Charlotte Hubbard] I think I like Annie Mae’s 18th birthday party scene the best, because literally everyone in Willow Ridge comes to celebrate with her, and she meets the young Plain cancer survivor who’s gotten a wig made from the long braid Annie Mae’s spiteful father cut off earlier in the story. And when she closes her eyes to make her wish before blowing out her candles, she wishes BIG!

Although, the scene when Annie Mae climbs onto the motorcycle behind Adam to escape her father is pretty neat, too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What gave you the most trouble with the story?

[Charlotte Hubbard] Early on, I realized my hero, Adam Wagler, was too bland and quiet and uninteresting. I knew he needed a secret, a backstory that gave him more depth and conflict—and conflict is something I try to avoid in real life, so I really have to work to put it into a story!

I was at a retreat with a few writer friends, brainstorming, and when one of them said, “He’s got a motorcycle!” I knew I’d found an edgy angle to Adam. Because he’s already a member of the Old Order Amish church, motor vehicles are strictly forbidden, yet beneath a blue tarp in the barn, we discover a vintage Indian Chief motorcycle—and we learn how this reckless purchase in Adam’s teen years brought great heartache to his family that still plagues him. Makes him feel he can’t take responsibility for a wife and a family now. The cycle’s worth a chunk of change—which also plays well into the story—and it becomes an escape vehicle during an intense confrontation between Annie Mae and her vindictive father. And yes, the cops and the bishop catch him driving it . . . without a license.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What’s one thing you won’t leave home without?

[Charlotte Hubbard] If at all possible, when I’m going somewhere in the car, I take along my border collie, Ramona. She loves to ride, she waits patiently while I shop and tend errands, and she’s a hoot at the drive-up window at the bank, where the tellers send her treats in the metal drawer-thingie.

Otherwise, I don’t leave home without my cheapy glasses because I can’t read squat without them now.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Name three things on your desk right now.

[Charlotte Hubbard] Oh my—the desk is a total mess as I finish my final revisions on the next book for this series! Near the top of the heap is my Roget’s Super Thesaurus, a little gray tweed teddy bear that was a gift from a dear friend, and of course the mighty Mac I do all my writing on. When I complete my revising on this next book, I’ll clear off all the mess so I can begin the next book for a different series. It’ll be a mess again in oh, about an hour!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you could trade places with anyone for just one day, who would you be?

[Charlotte Hubbard] Tinker Bell! What’s not to love about being cute and curvy in a strapless, backless, very short dress (without wardrobe malfunctions!) and flitting/flying around waving a magic wand and granting peoples’ wishes? And she never ages, despite the fact that she first appeared in 1904—which makes her way older than I am—although the Disney version of Peter Pan appeared the same year I did.

(Now I can admit that this question gave me some trouble until I spotted a Tink spiral-bound notebook on my messy desk. Truth be told, I have no idea what real, live person I would trade places with. I kinda like my life just the way it is!)

[Manga Maniac Cafe] You have been granted the use of one superpower for one week.  Which power would you choose, and what would you do with it?

[Charlotte Hubbard] I would love to be able to time travel. I used to write historical romances, so venturing back in time a century or two would be great fun! I would visit people in their homes to see how they really lived—rich and poor alike—because everyday lives fascinate me, as do all different styles of architecture. I would ride in a stagecoach and be a trick-shot artist in a Wild West show and travel aboard ocean liners (things heroines of my earlier books have done) and in general live a much more exciting life than I do as a mere writer. At the end of each day I’d be tired, but it wouldn’t be from spending too many hours in my office chair!

[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are some books that you enjoyed recently?

[Charlotte Hubbard] Because I write Amish books full-time, I prefer not to read many of them. Don’t want to inadvertently pick up on other authors’ styles or plots. Right now I’m really enjoying the Chet and Bernie mystery series—Chet is a dog that flunked out of police K-9 school so he now belongs to P.I. Bernie, and Chet narrates the stories! You smell and taste and laugh at everything Chet experiences as they work on cases, and Chet knows most of the important clues way before Bernie, but of course he can only bark and wag his tail so Bernie has to figure out their cases the hard way. Really funny stories. Really original premise for a mystery series, too.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?

[Charlotte Hubbard] On my website, www.charlottehubbard.com, there’s a contact link (and you can also sign up for my e-newsletter, which comes out with each new book.) Or you can email me at NaomiCKing@gmail.com. I write another Amish series as Naomi King, so that’s my biz email. You can also Friend me as Charlotte Hubbard on Facebook, or Like my Naomi C. King author page.

Thanks so much for the time you’ve spent reading my interview! I hope you’ll enjoy BREATH OF SPRING.

[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you for visiting this morning!

Title: Breath of Spring
Author: Charlotte Hubbard
Publisher: Kensington
Pages: 352
Genre: Amish Romance/Inspirational

As a bright season brings a fresh start to Willow Ridge, Annie Mae Knepp feels she can never make peace with the past. Her disgraced ex-bishop father is furious that she’s has taken her five siblings to live with her. She’s never been truly at home in her faith…or believing in herself. And Annie Mae fears no man will want to take on the responsibilities she’s gladly shouldered. True, her quiet neighbor Adam Wagler has been steadfast and unshakable, helping her through her trials, but he surely couldn’t think of someone so lost as more than a friend. Believing she is unworthy because of her doubts, Annie Mae will find, in a moment of surprising revelation, that God can work impossible miracles—and that love makes all things new.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I’ve called Missouri home for most of my life, and most folks don’t realize that several Old Older Amish and Mennonite communities make their home here, as well. The rolling pastureland, woods, and small towns along county highways make a wonderful setting for Plain populations—and for stories about them, too! While Jamesport, Missouri is the largest Old Order Amish settlement west of the Mississippi River, other communities have also found the affordable farm land ideal for raising crops, livestock, and running the small family-owned businesses that support their families.

Like my heroine, Miriam Lantz, of my Seasons of the Heart series, I love to feed people—to share my hearth and home. I bake bread and goodies and I love to try new recipes. I put up jars and jars of green beans, tomatoes, beets and other veggies every summer. All my adult life, I’ve been a deacon, a dedicated church musician and choir member, and we hosted a potluck group in our home for more than twenty years.

Like Abby Lambright, heroine of my Home at Cedar Creek series, I consider it a personal mission to be a listener and a peacemaker—to heal broken hearts and wounded souls. Faith and family, farming and frugality matter to me: like Abby, I sew and enjoy fabric arts—I made my wedding dress and the one Mom wore, too, when I married into an Iowa farm family more than thirty-five years ago! When I’m not writing, I crochet and sew, and I love to travel.

I recently moved to Minnesota when my husband got a wonderful new job, so now he and I and our border collie, Ramona, are exploring our new state and making new friends.

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May 5

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