Becki Willis - Characters with Minds of Their Own
Award winning author Becki Willis, best known for her popular The Sisters, Texas Mystery Series and Forgotten Boxes, has published fifteen books and introduced her imaginary friends to readers around the world. As our Author of the Day, Willis tells us all about her latest book, Plain Roots.
Please give us a short introduction to what Plain Roots is about.
When Taryn finds a clue about the woman who gave her up for adoption almost forty years before, she realizes she’s never outgrown the need to know about her past. She sets out to trace her roots, no matter where they lead. She never expects those roots to be planted among the Amish, or for them to be tangled up with danger and deception.
What inspired you to write this book?
I wanted to share this corner of the world with my readers. While some people scoff at the Amish lifestyle, I’m fascinated by their customs and dedication. I wanted to showcase the fact that while they are different from us, they’re also very much like us in many ways. It wasn’t until I was in the middle of writing that I made a startling correlation between the book and what is happening in our world today. This story may be about the Amish, but in a general sense, it is very timely and relevant to all cultures. It made me question my own perception of other communities. What if I looked at other religions and cultures with the same intrigue I view the Amish? Why do I find Amish prayer caps so charming, when I know nothing about the ghunghat worn by Hindu women? The world would be a richer place if we would explore and embrace our differences, rather than have them define and divide us.
Finding one's roots is a central theme in this book. Why did you find this an important topic to explore?
All of my books have a central theme of family, because it’s what I know. I was fortunate enough to grow up with two very loving and supportive parents who taught me I could do whatever I set my mind on, but I realize that not everyone has that same foundation. Not everyone is grounded by the roots of a family.
Family, however, doesn’t have to be defined by DNA. And as Taryn learns, even when transplanted, roots can be cultivated to take hold and to grow deep and strong.
What fascinates you about Amish culture? How did you manage to describe the Amish way of life in such detail?
For me, the simplicity of the Plain people is like a deep breath of fresh air. As a history buff, interacting with the Amish culture is almost like stepping back in time and seeing what life was like in the ‘olden days’. While our ancestors had no choice but to live and work without modern conveniences, these hardworking people choose to forgo things that most of us consider necessities. I admire their dedication to tradition and religion, but I don’t think I could live that way myself. It’s best that I love it from afar.
As for detailing the lifestyle, I’ve visited the area a dozen times or so over the last several years and have collected information and memories along the way. Just to be certain, I had a Mennonite woman from the area review my book for content. When she was in doubt, she conferred with her Amish neighbor, so I feel confident that the things I’ve shared and described in the book are accurate.
For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I am a huge fan of ebooks and electronic readers! I can carry hundreds of books with me wherever I go. That’s not to say I don’t still collect real books, but they’re less about reading material, and more about keepsakes.( And holders for my dust.)
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I’m fluent in Pig-Latin. And my grandchildren say I have excellent Nana skills.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
All the time! To be honest, I don’t write the way I’m ‘supposed’ to. I don’t really use an outline, because my characters have minds of their own. I usually don’t know what’s going to happen until they tell me.
What are you working on right now?
Cleaning my office! Seriously, when I get engrossed in a book project, my entire house suffers. Why clean, when I can play with my imaginary friends? I’m attempting to straighten my office now, so that I can dive into book two of The Spirits of Texas Inn Cozy Mystery Series without feeling guilty. Immediately after that, with no time for any other cleaning, I’ll start on the highly anticipated book eight of The Sisters, Texas Series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
I love visiting with readers! Feel free to drop me a few lines at [email protected], and I promise to write you back. I won’t bog you down with them now, but check out www.beckiwillis.com to find all my links and social media accounts, or to sign up for newsletters. I’m working on adding my books in more markets, but you can definitely find me at https://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00J4B6MTE.