Meet The Author:
Anna Schmidt is the author of over twenty works of fiction. Among her many honors, Anna is the recipient of Romantic Times’ Reviewer’s Choice Award and a finalist for the RITA award for romantic fiction. She enjoys gardening and collecting seashells at her winter home in Florida.
Author Q & A
Q: This is the final installment of the Women of Pinecraft series. For anyone who missed the first two books, what is this series about?
A: The series focuses on the unique Mennonite/Amish community of Pinecraft in the heart of Sarasota, Florida. I spend my winters in Sarasota and have had the privilege of getting to know several people in this community. While many of the residents are snowbirds like me there is a core population of natives. Each book in the series focuses on the traditions and challenges of living in a “plain” community in the heart of a popular tourist area.
Q: Several characters from the previous two books make appearances in A Mother’s Promise. Who can readers expect to see in the finale?
A: Hester, the fiery do-gooder from book one, A Stranger’s Gift, is Rachel’s best friend and the primary reason she decides to come to Florida. Rachel herself was introduced in book two, A Sister’s Forgiveness, when she counseled the sisters Emma and Jeanne as they found their way to forgiveness. And then there is Zeke—he kept showing up in his quiet way and has been a thread tying all three stories together.
Q: In A Mother’s Promise, Mennonite widow, Rachel Kaufman, moves to Pinecraft following the sudden death of her husband. How does Rachel deal with this tragic loss?
A: Rachel faces her loss by focusing on her son. When her late husband’s brother takes over the farm back in Ohio and makes it clear that he thinks Rachel and her son have had too easy a time of it, she decides to move. Her “promise” is that they will find a better life in Florida.
Q: A Mother’s Promise deals with the issue of bullying. What advice do you have for readers who are the victims of bullying?
A: Do not be a silent victim! Talk to adults you respect and who have shown a willingness to listen. Search out websites specifically devoted to tips for handling bullying. And above all, understand that a bully (like the one in the book) is so often insecure or frightened or struggling with his or her own challenges.
Q: How did you go about researching the Amish/Mennonite community of Pinecraft?
A: I have been fortunate enough to spend the last seven winters in Sarasota and have become a frequent visitor to Pinecraft. When I started the series I recall attending a craft fair there and I just started talking to some of the women—they led me to others in the community who were more than willing to help me get the story right. For A Sister’s Forgiveness, with its courtroom and legal scenes, I was able to connect with a public defender and assistant district attorney who then got me to the others I needed to interview. For A Mother’s Promise I worked with pastoral care people here in Milwaukee. That’s the adventure of writing!
Q: As you say goodbye to all of the women of Pinecraft, which character from the series do you relate to the most and why?
A: You may or may not be surprised to learn that it is Zeke, the homeless veteran who finally puts his life back together in the final book. Why? is a tougher question, but somehow I knew when he kept showing up on the pages that there was a connection. When I found myself facing the final months of my husband’s life while completing the writing of A Mother’s Promise—I began to understand why.
Q: What do you hope readers take away from A Mother’s Promise?
A: There is an innate kindness and gentleness in the Mennonite society—a real sense of community and the idea that we are all our brother’s (and sister’s) keeper. I hope readers will take a moment to examine the way they interact with others and look for ways to fill their relationships with understanding and acceptance.