Interview with Tricia Goyer about her new book Beyond the Gray Mountains. (A Big Sky Amish Novel)
LVH: Glad to have you stop by, Tricia. Tell us about the book:
TG: Beyond the Gray Mountains takes us back to West Kootenai, Montana, where readers once again meet up with Marianna Sommer. Marianna is a young woman who found herself in an Amish community very different than the one she grew up in near Shipshewana, Indiana. In my previous three books, Marianna must decide whether to follow the strict Amish ways she’s always known, which includes getting married to Aaron Zook, or opening her heart to new possibilities.
This book begins with Marianna planning her wedding to musician Ben Stone, trying on Englisch dresses. Yet a struggle wages within the hearts of both Ben and Marianna. Are they too different to make this marriage work?
When Ben goes on a horseback trip into the Rocky Mountains with Marianna’s father and uncle, the couple must face their greatest fears when something goes terribly wrong. It’s a story of coming to the end of yourself and discovering the life of freedom that God had planned for you all along.
While this is Ben and Marianna’s story, the setting of the Rocky Mountains of Montana is dear to my heart. Here is a quote from Ben from the first book, Besides Still Waters:
“The place is special, but mostly because how it turns my thoughts.” [Ben] looked around them. “When I look at mountains like that, I have to believe there is a God who is caring, artistic, and a bit on the wild side. I wanted to get to know more of His heart and knew this was the place to do it.” ―Tricia Goyer, Beside Still Waters
Yes, this is a sweet romance, but I want readers to see a caring, artistic God on the wild side within these pages, too.
LVH: I can't wait to read it! How did your interest in writing originate?
TG: My interest in writing started in 1991 when I was sitting in the church nursery with a friend. She told me she was working on a novel, and something inside me lit up. I wanted to do that! After that, I started attending writers conferences, and as a mom of three little children, I got my first novel published in 2003. Exciting! I’ve had over 80 books published since then.
As for my interest in this topic, my family lived in Montana, and I met an Amish couple, Ora Jay and Irene Eash, and they told me their true story of moving from Indiana to Montana. As a couple who lost two daughters in a horse and buggy accident, they came to Montana broken and feeling very distant from God. The friends they met in the West Kootenai community changed everything when they shared their faith in a new way. This couple’s life was transformed when they discovered a relationship with that God could be closer than they ever imagined. This is my desire with these books … and every book I write: to help readers discover God even as they are swept away within the pages of a novel.
LVH: What does your writing process look like?
TG: Well, let me see. John and I have ten children, four of whom live at home. My grandma lives with us, and I homeschool. Plus, I have two podcasts, and I mentor writers through WriteThatBook.Club.
That being said, I have to be very diligent when I sit down to write. First, I write down a basic summary and outline for each book. I understand the theme of the unique story, and I plan scenes that will be exciting yet also go deeper, as my characters struggle with matters of the heart.
Next, I start writing some of the chapters. Since I’ve been writing for so long, I can write a little in this chapter and that chapter and hop all over the book! At the same time, I’m researching. For this book, I read books and watched videos on pack trips deep into the Bob Marshall Wilderness of the Rocky Mountains. Also, one of my dear friends, Rebecca Ondov, was an outfitter for over twenty years. We talked about EVERY little detail of this trip.
LVH: If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
TG: Oh, I love this! I’ve been working with well-known producers to create these novels--set in West Kooteni, Montana) into a Television show for a few years. The pandemic slowed things down, but just last week the conversations started again with a network. So we’ll see!
Also, I already have a document with “Casting Notes” from one of the producers. I hope this doesn’t get me into trouble sharing this. But these are some of their ideas:
Marianna: Chloe Grace Moretz
Ben: Sam Palladio
Uncle Ike: Josh Lucas
LVH: Who was your favorite character in Beyond the Gray Mountains :
TG: It’s a tie between Marianna and Ben! This Amish young woman thinks she wants to play it safe, but her love for Ben (and God!) pushes her out of her comfort zones. And Ben is a well-known musician, but Marianna reminds him of what’s most important in life. Together their hearts heal in beautiful ways.
LVH: What are you working on now? What is your next project?
TG: Oh, there are so many! I’m writing multiple novels this year, but one of them continues with this series. It’s another “unlikely romance” between Marianna’s bachelor uncle, Ike Sommers, and Annie Johnson, former outfitter and owner of West Kootenai Kraft and Grocery.
LVH: Share your bio: Tricia Goyer is the author of more than 80 books. She writes both fiction and nonfiction related to family and parenting. This USA-Today Best-selling Author has won two Carol Awards and a Retailer’s Best Award. She was also an ECPA Silver Medallion Winner and a Christy Award Nominee.
Tricia is also the beloved author of World War Two fiction. She’s also written the bestselling Big Sky and Seven Brides for Seven Bachelors Amish series. She has spoken at events such as MomCon, Raising Generations, and Teach Them Diligently conferences. She hosts two podcasts, The Tricia Goyer Show and the Daily Bible Podcast. Tricia loves teaching others how to write and get published through WriteThatBook.Club.
A homeschooling mom of ten, including seven by adoption, Tricia is also a grandmother to many and wife to John. With a busy life, she understands the importance of making every word count.