Today’s #TalkTuesday interview is also our #TeaserTuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, all of which feature The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler . A joint effort by Elise and I! Enjoy!
Chat with Sassy on Goodreads: http://bit.ly/SBgoodreads
The Sound of Distant Thunder by Jan Drexler presents a unique look at the Amish society. This first in a series uses the backdrop of the Civil War as the characters struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires with the national interest.
Jan Drexler brings an understanding of Amish traditions and beliefs to her writing. Her ancestors were among the first Amish, Mennonite, and Brethren immigrants to Pennsylvania in the 1700s, and their experiences are the inspiration for her stories. She takes the saying, “write what you know,” to a whole new level.
The story explores two divisions, North versus South during America’s Civil War, and the Amish Church, Mennonite versus the Old Order Amish. Through the hero Jonas’ eyes, readers see his struggles with his own principles, beliefs and how these affect his life. Twenty-year-old Jonas is taken in by the romance of soldiering, especially in defense of anti-slavery, even though he knows war is at odds with the teachings of the church. When his married brother’s name comes up on the draft list, he volunteers to take his brother’s place. But this means Jonas must put on hold his commitment to marry his long-time love, Katie Stuckey.
As readers turn the pages they seek answers to the questions, will the relationship survive the separation and how will Jonas be viewed in this pacifist Church? Amish traditions and beliefs are brought to the forefront with the Civil War as a backdrop.
Elise Cooper: Why write about the Amish?
Jan Drexler: My ancestors were Amish. Also, I lived in Indiana and they were part of the community so I grew up with them. I think my experiences mostly came from the stories my family told. I explored why we were not Amish anymore. I took a journey into my heritage with the stories growing out of that.
EC: The book touches on the divisions that were happening within the Amish Church?
JD: Jonas does not yet have the conviction or commitment to join the Church because he is unsure about some of its doctrines and teachings. I wrote into the story about the unraveling that actually occurred between the 1830’s and 1878. The seam that bound the change-minded members, Mennonites, and the tradition-minded members together, unraveled thread by thread. And like the greater conflict happening in the United States in the same era, parents and children, brothers and sisters, and neighbors and friends found themselves on opposite sides of the division. But the resulting split in the Amish church didn’t happen quickly. Leaders of the church on both sides worked tirelessly for many years, traveling between the settlements to bring healing to the threatening division. I put into the book about the annual ministers’ meetings, called Dienerversammlungen, that were held during the middle of the century for several years as an attempt to restore unity.
EC: The Amish would be considered conscientious objectors today?
JD: They were non-resistant. As with the Quakers, they thought killing is wrong. But Jonas questions if there is a justification for war during certain circumstances. Most of the “English” world would say they have an equal allegiance to G-d and country, but the Amish feel their allegiance to G-d comes first.
EC: How were the Amish looked upon because of their beliefs?
JD: Back then people could not conceive that someone would not support their country by fighting. Even during the Revolutionary War the Amish had problems because people thought if they did not want to fight they must be Tories. The story takes place in Ohio and I was able to write in the real facts of how an Ohio Congressman was able to get passed that the non-resistance religions could hire someone to take their place or pay a fee that would go to the war effort.
EC: Can you explain this book quote by Jonas’ brother, “If I pay the fee, I’m showing them that my life is more important to me than another man’s.”
JD: The Amish believe as a member of the Church, if they die, they will go to heaven. But they had guilt because they felt if they took a life, and that person was not Baptized, that person would go to hell. I think he wanted to avoid survivor’s guilt. While doing my research I actually read about a man who did hire someone to take his place. Subsequently that person was killed and the man had a very hard time living with that guilt.
EC: Is the Civil War a character or background for the story?
JD: It is more of a background. In specific situations, the characters interact with the Civil War, but are not immersed in it, except for Jonas. I hoped I showed how men 18 to 22 years of age were looking for an adventure. They really believed it would not last more than three months. I read numerous diary entries from that era where boys told their parents, ‘I have to join up now because I do not want to miss out.’
EC: How would you describe Jonas?
JD: Stubborn, intelligent, and caring. He has a softness of heart, but is also stoic.
EC: You also explore how war effects relationships. The heroine, Jonas’ girlfriend is Katie; how would you describe her?
JD: Naïve, loveable, and looking for someone to help her navigate issues.
EC: It seemed she chose Jonas’ mother Lydia as a role model, not her own mom?
JD: She did not have a good relationship with her mother who was tired and depressed. Katie felt she never lived up to her mother’s standards so she gravitated towards Lydia as a substitute mother.
EC: Can you give a shout out about your next book?
JD: The story revolves around Jonas’ unmarried sister Ruby. An Amish family moves to Weaver Creek to escape the Civil War. The wife dies and then the father is left to raise his children on his own. It takes place a few months after this book ends, the spring of 1863.
ABOUT THE BOOK:
The Sound of Distant Thunder
(The Amish of Weaver’s Creek #1) by Jan Drexler (Goodreads Author)
From the talented pen of Jan Drexler comes this brand new Amish series set against the backdrop of the Civil War. She puts her characters to the test as they struggle to reconcile their convictions and desires while the national conflict threatens to undermine and engulf their community.
andFirst Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros
Every Tuesday Vicki @ I’d Rather Be at the Beach now hosts First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, where readers share the first paragraph of a book that they are reading or plan to read soon.
The Sound of Distant Thunder (The Amish of Weaver’s Creek #1)
Looking forward to visiting your blogs and seeing what your Teaser Tuesday and First Chapter First Paragraph Tuesday Intros, are this week!
Luv Sassy x