The True Stories That Inspired My Amish Fiction
by Tricia Goyer
I remember first reading Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder in sixth grade. As one who struggled with reading as a child, everything changed when I read that book. I was swept away by the close family ties and their simple life. I wished I could walk across the prairie with Pa or ride along in a covered wagon.
I didn’t consider writing about “the simple life” until an editor asked if I’d like to write Amish fiction. I prayed, and I pondered the idea. I also met with friends who had moved their Amish family from Indiana to Montana. I was hooked as I learned more about the Amish community in Montana!
Beyond the Gray Mountains is the first book in the Big Sky Amish Series, but it follows the storyline of my Big Sky series. The books in that series are Beside Still Waters, Along Wooded Paths, and Beyond Hope’s Valley.
The true story of Ora Jay and Irene Eash, who left their Amish community after losing two daughters in a buggy and semi accident, was the basis for Beside Still Waters. The couple started a new life in a small Amish community in Montana. Ora Jay and Irene faced many challenges and hardships in adjusting to life in this new place. Still, they also found strength and comfort in their growing relationship with God.
I learned Ora Jay and Irene’s story through my daughter Leslie. After hearing their story, I was amazed by their resilience and how their deep faith bloomed even during difficult times. I worked closely with the couple to ensure I captured the Amish community in West Kootenai well. With Beyond the Gray Mountains, I was excited to return to West Kootenai and continue the story of Ben, Marianna, and their family and friends.
I’m also incredibly excited about a unique setting I added to this book. In Beyond the Gray Mountain, some of my characters venture into the Bob Marshall Wilderness of Montana, which covers 1.5 million acres. This harsh and secluded location in the Rocky Mountains has wooded trails and cliffs, lakes and rivers. I knew this would be a unique and exciting setting for this novel. (Not to mention the grizzlies, wolves, elk, mountain goats, and moose that live there—one of which shows up in this novel!) My even characters even see the Chinese Wall, a 12-mile-long, 1,000-foot-high cliff—one of Montana’s most stunning features.
I’ve always wanted to hike, fish, camp, and watch animals in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and I ventured there through the pages of this novel. Also, one of my friends, Rebecca, was an outfitter in the Bob Marshall for twenty years, and she made sure I got every detail right. I hope that someday I can venture into that wilderness on horseback in real life!
Overall, I hope Beyond the Gray Mountains shows the power of love and faith and how strong and resilient the human spirit is when things don’t go as planned. Of course, there is a beautiful romance in this story, too!
Anything that you’ve never been asked before but wished you had been?
Does this question work? “Hey, Tricia, I have a condo at the beach. Would you like to use it to get away to write for a while?” Yeah, I didn’t think so.
What did you do before you were a writer? Well, I was a very young mom! I attended my first writers’ conference when I was 22 and pregnant with my third child. I started writing and homeschooling around the same time. I suppose the “before” was high school. 🙂
Thanks for having me!
Welcome to the Blog + Review Tour for Beyond the Gray Mountains by Tricia Goyer, hosted by JustRead Publicity Tours!
About the Book
Title: Beyond the Gray Mountains
Marianna Sommer always dreamed of a simple Amish wedding, but there’s nothing simple about marrying rock star Ben Stone. She loves him—but what about her traditions? Worse, suddenly Ben has questions—the kind that have him putting their wedding on hold.
Ben loves Marianna, but he has regrets—and fears—that are suddenly getting in the way of his happy ending. He doubts he’s going to “hear from God” in the high mountains like Marianna’s father suggests. But sure, he’ll go…
Other Books In Series
About the Author
Tricia Goyer writes out of her passion for God and her love for family and others. The author of more than 70 books, she writes both historical fiction and nonfiction related to family and parenting.
This USA Today best-selling author has won a two Carol Awards and a Retailer’s Best Award. She was also an ECPA Gold-Medallion Nominee and a Christy Award Nominee and won Writer of the Year from the Mt. Hermon Christian Writers Conference. Tricia’s contemporary and historical novels feature strong women overcoming great challenges. She is a beloved author of Amish fiction, having written the Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors series. Whether for fiction or nonfiction, Tricia’s writing style is vivid and heartwarming, allowing readers to take home more than engaging stories, but also messages that inspire faith and hope. Her goal is to write stories that matter.
(1) winner will receive a print copy of Beyond the Gray Mountains and a $10 Amazon gift card!
Full tour schedule linked below. The giveaway begins at midnight February 27, 2023 and will last through 11:59 PM EST on March 6, 2023. Winner will be notified within 2 weeks of close of the giveaway and given 48 hours to respond or risk forfeiture of prize. US only. Void where prohibited by law or logistics.
Giveaway is subject to JustRead Publicity Tours Giveaway Policies.
Follow along at JustRead Tours for a full list of stops!