Wanda E. Brunstetter didn’t publish her first novel until she was in her mid-50s. It took two more years to publish her second book. But since then she hasn’t stopped or looked back. The prolific and bestselling author has penned more than 100 books—romance series, standalone novels, middle grade titles, and cookbooks—that combined have sold more than 11 million copies.
Never one to be pigeonholed by genre or subject matter, Brunstetter—who is best known for her accurate and honest depictions of Amish life—recently started adding an element of mystery to her stories. At the request of her readers, she decided to write a spin-off from her bestselling Prayer Jars series. The result is The Crow’s Call, her latest novel and the kickoff to her Amish Greenhouse Mystery series, which publishes on March 3.
“I think my readers will be pleased that in this new series I’ve included some characters from the previous series,” she says. “And the fact that a mystery has been added will hopefully provide even more interest.”
The Crow’s Call follows three Amish women who are forced to run the family greenhouse business after a tragic accident kills several members of their family. As the women grieve their lost loved ones and take care of the children, they struggle with the business, which seems to be the target of sabotage. “Having enjoyed visiting various greenhouses,” Brunstetter says, “I thought it would be fun to include a mystery centered around the greenhouse in the story and the family members who help run the business.”
Brunstetter has chronicled Amish life in dozens of novels, and her portrayal of these communities is natural, real, and authentically captures a unique world. She first became fascinated with Amish culture when she met her husband, Richard, who grew up in a Mennonite church, and whose family has Pennsylvania Dutch heritage. But Brunstetter attributes her keen insight into Amish life to her real-life friendships. “My husband and I have many Amish friends from several Amish communities, and we spend a lot of time with them,” she says. “Spending time with Amish friends and really getting to know them and their lifestyle has helped me be able to authentically capture their world.”
The importance and power of prayer plays a large role in The Crow’s Call, as the characters struggle with loss and grief and faith. “The one thing I hope my readers will get from reading The Crow’s Call,” Brunstetter says, “is that even though we are sometimes faced with serious trials, faith in God and a willingness to trust Him can help us endure even the most painful, and sometimes unexplained things.”
The novel, which will be followed by The Mockingbird’s Song in August 2020, also addresses the push and pull between traditional Amish life and the modern world, something that Brunstetter says highlights an often-overlooked aspect of Amish life. “I wanted my readers to understand that Amish young people are always given the choice to decide if they want to join the Amish church or live the modern life,” Brunstetter says. “Sometimes family members leave the Amish way of life, and it affects the entire family.”
“The Amish people have a strong faith in God,” she adds. “Despite sad or unjust events that take place in their lives, they trust God to see them through and realize that without forgiveness there is no healing.”