AMISH SUSPENSE AUTHOR
Marta Perry's latest book, MURDER IN PLAIN SIGHT, is a romantic suspense set in Pennsylvania's Amish country. How fascinating is that? I was so intrigued I picked it up immediately. Marta has written many books for Harlequin/Steeple Hill's Love Inspired lines (both Love Inspired and Love Inspired Suspense), including the Bodine Family series. She also writes the Pleasant Valley Amish series for Berkley, and this new release marks the start of a third (!) series for HQN!
Marta lives with her husband in a century-old farmhouse in the Pennsylvania countryside, but spends winters at their vacation home in South Carolina. When she’s not writing, she’s active in the life of her church and enjoys traveling and spending time with her three children and six beautiful grandchildren.
MURDER IN PLAIN SIGHT by Marta Perry, HQN Books, December 2010
Did a sweet-faced Amish teenager brutally murder a young woman? To save her career, big-city lawyer Jessica Langdon is determined to defend him—against the community's bitter and even violent outrage. Yet without an understanding of Amish culture, Jessica must rely on arrogant businessman Trey Morgan, who has ties to the Amish community… and believes in the boy's guilt.
Jessica has threats coming from all sides: a local fanatic, stirred up by the biased publicity of the case; the dead girl's boyfriend; even from the person she's learned to trust the most, Trey Morgan. But just when Jessica fears she's placed her trust in the wrong man, Trey saves her life. And now they must both reach into a dangerous past to protect everyone's future—including their own.
Simone: Much of your work involves Amish characters and the Amish way of life, though you are not Amish yourself. What draws you to write about the Amish?
Marta: I’m a lifelong resident of rural Pennsylvania, and my family background is Pennsylvania Dutch, though not Amish. As a result, the Plain People have always been part of my surroundings, and it was natural to introduce some Amish characters in an earlier book I wrote with a Pennsylvania setting, Restless Hearts.
That aspect of the book was so popular that I realized I’d stumbled upon something that I was uniquely qualified to write, and I can draw on my own background and experience to bring an understanding of Amish culture to the reader—at least, I hope so! This has led to the suspense series: Murder in Plain Sight, Vanish in Plain Sight, and Judgment in Plain Sight for HQN and the Pleasant Valley Amish series: Leah’s Choice, Rachel’s Garden, Anna’s Return, Sarah’s Gift (coming in March), and Katie’s Way (coming in November) from Berkley Books.
Simone: You’ve written many books for Steeple Hill’s Love Inspired lines, but this new series is being released by Harlequin’s HQN line. What’s different about this new series?
Marta: When I originally planned this series, I thought it would be for Love Inspired Suspense, but my editors had other ideas! Harlequin, which is the parent company of Love Inspired as well as HQN, made the decision to try and reach a broader audience with these books, focusing on the current popularity of things Amish. As a result, my writing had to change, since the stories are quite a bit longer than Love Inspired Suspense and also much more complicated. My editor and I worked together to be sure the stories are suitable in scope for the longer books.
Simone: Did you do any special research for this book?
Marta: This story revolves around an Amish teenager accused of a brutal murder. Since the Amish typically are not involved with the law, it is much more daunting for an Amish family to navigate the legal system. I already knew what a typical Amish response might be, but I didn’t know all the ins and outs of the legalities that are involved. Luckily my daughter-in-law, Karen, is an attorney with experience in criminal law, and she was only an e-mail or a phone call away.
Simone: You also write books set on the South Carolina coast, as you travel there often. What are some travel tips you have for anyone planning a trip there?
Marta: We’re actually about to take off for Hilton Head, South Carolina, where we have a vacation home. We spend every winter there, and we have a daughter in Charleston, so I’ve had plenty of opportunities to research books set there.
As far as travel is concerned, if you’re going to the southeast coast and you love history, you should plan to spend time working your way up the coast from Savannah to Charleston to find the greatest concentration of historical settings in the smallest possible area. There are delightful small towns along the way, such as Bluffton and Beaufort, which require a few days in themselves. And if you want beach, then head for Hilton Head, Sullivan’s Island, or Isle of Palms. Chances are you’ll be like us, unable to stay away!
Simone: Oh, that sounds wonderful! Where is your favorite place to read?
Marta: This time of year, I want to curl up in my recliner in front of a wood fire in the fireplace with a pot of tea at my elbow. When we’re in Hilton Head, I enjoy sitting in the loft with a view out into the live oaks draped with Spanish moss.
Simone: What’s your favorite scene from Murder in Plain Sight?
Marta: That’s like asking a mother which is her favorite child! I hope each scene does its job—other than that, it’s for the reader to say.
Simone: What is it like writing three different series at once? How do you manage it?
Marta: Crazy-making! However, with the help of my wonderful agent and my equally wonderful editors, we’ve managed to hammer out a schedule that allows me to move from project to project without too much stress. I have several shelves of references on the Amish, and a couple more with information on the southeast coast. A plastic carton lives under my desk with other material about the Love Inspired series, while folders with the chronologies and characters of the other two series are on the wing of my desk. So far I haven’t mixed anything up, but you never can tell!
Simone: What’s next for you?
Marta: I’m busy writing the third suspense novel now, Judgment in Plain Sight, and I just turned in Book 5 of the Pleasant Valley Amish series. I have another of the Pleasant Valley series under contract, and I’ve just been asked to write a suspense novella to be released in a Single Title Anthology by Harlequin, so my schedule is full right now. After that—well, we’ll see, won’t we? There’s seldom anything certain in a writer’s life!
Thank you, Marta!
All right, it's cold where I am in Toronto right now.... and all this talk of the South Carolina coast has got me envious. If you could teleport to one warm place right this minute, where would it be?
One commenter will win a copy of MURDER IN PLAIN SIGHT!
You can find Marta at http://www.martaperry.com/.