A lifetime spent in rural Pennsylvania and her own Pennsylvania Dutch heritage led Marta to write about the Plain People who add so much richness to the heritage of her home state. Marta has seen over fifty of her books published, and is currently at work on number fifty-seven. She and her husband live in a centuries-old farmhouse on twenty-five acres in a central Pennsylvania valley. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, sewing, gardening, baking, or enjoying her six beautiful grandchildren.
INTERVIEW WITH MARTA PERRY
SS: Tell us a little about yourself.
Hello, and thanks so much for inviting me to participate on The Suspense Sisters site. I’ve been writing for more years than I care to count (!) and have over fifty books in print. I also wrote short stories when there was still a market for magazine fiction, with over three hundred short stories and articles published. I’m currently concentrating on the Amish books I write for Berkley Books, and the romantic suspense novels I write for HQN, as well as doing an occasional project for Love Inspired. My husband and I live in an old farmhouse on twenty-five acres of land in central Pennsylvania, but we flee the winters to our vacation home in South Carolina. When I’m not writing, I love to spend time with my six terrific grandkids, as well as gardening, reading, and sewing.
SS: When did you realize you wanted to be an author?
I read my first Nancy Drew mystery, The Secret in the Old Clock, when I was eight. Most young girls reach the end of the book and want to be Nancy. I reached the end and realized that the stories I loved were written by a real person, and maybe someday I could create stories like that.
SS: What are some of the challenges you face as a writer? Are there aspects of your life that are hard for family and friends to understand? What are they?
My writing life is much simpler now that my children are grown and out of the house. My husband has always been very supportive of my writing, and the flexibility of a writing career means that I can work anywhere—including on planes, in cars, and on cruise ships. It’s a far cry from the days when I’d close my office door and warn the kids not to disturb me unless there was blood or fire!
SS: What genre do you write and why? Are there other genres you’ve written or would like to try?
My books have always been either inspirational romance or suspense with a strong romantic story. I’m dipping a toe into the world of historical fiction with my current series from Berkley, Keepers of the Promise. Each book in the series has two storylines—one set in the present and one in the past. In the first book, The Forgiven, a present-day Amish widow gains courage to face the future through the story of a young Amish woman facing prejudice and heartache during World War II.
SS: How do you create characters? Are they based on people you know?
My characters are always made up, although they may sometimes have traits or mannerisms of people I know or have seen. I always seem to begin the story process with a heroine faced with a seemingly insurmountable problem, and I start writing in my notebook about who she is and what drives her. No one looking at those scribbled notes would imagine they’d eventually turn into a book!
SS: Tell us about your current release.
My current release is WHERE SECRETS SLEEP, Book One in my Secrets series from HQN books. It’s the kind of romantic suspense I love, with an ordinary person thrown into an extraordinary situation and fighting to survive. While finding love along the way, of course!
SS: Where did you get the idea for this book?
The idea for this book, in fact, for the whole series, came when my husband and I were doing one of our favorite things—saying at a bed and breakfast inn. The moment I saw the Victorian Italianate mansion that is The Towers Bed and Breakfast, I knew I had to write about it. Everything about the lovingly-restored interior spoke to me of secrets, and before we left, I had begun to sketch out a slightly larger version of the mansion which could be turned into housing for an Amish quilt shop and several other businesses, and around which dangerous secrets could threaten my characters.
SS: Tell us about your main character.
My main character, Allison, comes to a small town in an Amish area of Pennsylvania fleeing a terrible betrayal. Her primary purpose is to settle the estate of her estranged grandmother, but she soon discovers that won’t be as easy as she thinks. Instead of selling the property and going to a different city to start a new life, she finds she has to solve the secrets surrounding her grandmother’s death as well as come to terms with her own past before she can ever be free.
SS: Is there a spiritual message in your book? If so, what is it?
The spirit message, although not overt in the story, is one that I continue learning again and again myself—that God allows trials to force us to become the people He wants us to be, learning from the past without either running from it or using it as an excuse.
SS: What are you working on now?
Right now I’m doing the revisions to the next book in this series, WHEN SECRETS STRIKE, which will be out in October, as well as writing the third book in my Keepers of the Promise series from Berkley: THE REBEL.
SS: Tell us three things about yourself that would surprise your readers.
I’m a Dr. Who fan. My favorite books are classic British mysteries. I’m a weather geek, constantly following the weather channel!
SS: Anything special you eat or drink while you’re writing?
I don’t get through a writing stint without a cup of my favorite Double Bergamot Earl Grey tea, which caused a crisis when my local grocery store stopped carrying it. Amazon came to the rescue!
SS: Where can readers find you on the Internet?
Please visit my website at http://www.martaperry.com. Or see me on Facebook at Marta Perry books.
SS: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
If readers email me at email@example.com, I’ll be happy to respond with a signed bookmark and my brochure of Pennsylvania Dutch recipes.
Marta is giving away a copy of her book, WHERE SECRETS SLEEP. For your chance to win, please leave a comment, along with your contact information. U.S. only, please.