ABOUT AUTHOR: Judith is an award winning and best-selling author of historical fiction for Bethany House Publishers. With a love of history, a dash of romance and a touch of mystery, Judith transports her readers to another time and place. Her passion for history and love of God keep her inspired. Judith and her husband are empty-nesters who live in the Flint Hills of Kansas. Judy blogs with four other historical novelists at

What inspired you to write A Simple Change?

This is the second book in the Home to Amana series. One of the reasons I proposed a second series in the Amana Colonies was because I wanted to set stories in as many of the villages as possible. While the seven villages that comprise the Amana Colonies are very much the same in some respects, each has something to distinguish it from the others. I've attempted to show some of the distinguishing characteristics in each of my books. A Simple Change is set in Middle Amana where readers will learn that beyond farming, there was a huge woolen mill where many of the residents worked. The mill provided a perfect place for my hero to work.

What fascinates you about historicals? What do you look forward to when you pick up one to read?

I love history, so I’m naturally drawn to historicals. Whether reading, writing or researching, I love discovering new and interesting facts from the past. When I pick up a historical to read, I want to be educated as well as entertained. I love a good story, but enjoy learning something new at the same time. I hope that’s what my books do for readers, as well.
What do you hope readers take away from the book A Simple Change? The whole series this was part of?

It is my hope that people will learn about the people of Amana and the Inspirationists’ faith. This was a group of believers who had banded together due to persecution and had begun to live communally while in Europe in order to survive. They continued the practice once they came to America, but members were permitted to leave at any time and if they decided to return, they were welcomed back. There was not shunning as with the Amish and they were permitted to marry and had individual apartments or homes, unlike the Shakers. It is my hope that through reading the series, people have gleaned the truth of their beliefs and the lifestyle these people adopted until 1932.

Out of all the interviews you've ever done, is there a question you wished someone had asked you but didn't  Yes. If so, what is the question and what is your answer?

Because my books are considered “bonnet books,” they are often confused with the Amish. I've always wanted someone to ask me to explain the difference between the communal Amana villages and the Amish. So, here’s the answer: The people of Amana are Inspirationists and were a communal group of forward thinking people who used and developed technology. By Inspirationists, I mean that the group believed in a personal relationship with Jesus and that some members of their group received a word or inspiration from the Lord.

The people of Amana developed the Amana Radar Range and are home to the Amana Corporation, so you can see that they have always been involved in developing efficient methods to complete their work, with the idea that they would then have more time to worship God. The group voted to cease communal living back in 1932, although all seven villages are still in existence. The Amish are NOT communal, do not embrace technology, and are not Inspirationists. The two groups are very different—years ago, they were confused because they were both religious groups, both groups wore dark clothing, and both group names began with the letter “A”.  Other than that, they are quite different.

Nora: THANKS JUDITH for asking this questions and explaining this. Good info!

Can you give us a sneak peek into what you are working on now? When will it be out?

I’m currently giving the finishing touches to the third book in the Home to Amana series, titled A Shining Light. This final book in the series will be set in West Amana and it will release in March 2014.

If you lived in the 1800’s what would you like to experience first hand?

Imagining I was wealthy, I’d like to experience one of those ‘course after course’ lovely meals (minus the corset, of course), while wearing a beautiful gown that made me look like I was wearing a corset. Then I’d like that dinner to be followed by hours of dancing to a string orchestra. What would you not want to experience? Using an outhouses (I have done this and it isn't pleasant) and/or using and emptying slop jars. Why? I’d like to attend a dinner and dance so I could be totally immersed in the conversation and attitudes of the day. As for the dance—well, I think it would teach me a great deal about the events, but I also think I’d enjoy it.

As for why I wouldn't want the outhouse experience:  I don’t think going out to the outhouse in the middle of winter would be fun and in the middle of summer, I can attest to the fact that the smell isn't pleasant! As to emptying slop jars? I’m holding my nose just writing about them.

Nora: Fun Judith! I'm with you about the outhouse!

When you sit down to relax and read, what genre do you turn to?

My first choice is historical fiction or biographies. Do you prefer hardback, paperback or digital when you read? Why? When I’m at home, I prefer to read a paperback. Hardbacks are a little too heavy, but I truly enjoy the feel of a book in my hands, turning the pages, the beautiful covers and filling my bookshelves with a variety of books. When I travel or go for appointments, I prefer digital because of the ease of carrying a digital device with me.  

Judith with Friend Lorna Seilstad

What three things would you rather not live without (besides your family)?

Freedom—what a privilege to live in a free country.
Coffee, LOL. Gotta have my coffee.

Nora: Judith you are the first author to mention FREEDOM!! I have to agree with you my friend. Freedom is an amazing gift and a wonderful privilege! It's something I know I take for granted. Thanks for the reminder!

What movie affected most you when you were young? If you didn't watch movies what books affected you most? 

The Wizard of Oz. Every summer my sister and I traveled to West Virginia to stay with my aunt, uncle and cousin for several weeks. My aunt took us to the drive-in to see the movie and I was absolutely scared to death. Because I was so frightened, I've never liked the movie and have never watched it again. Those flying monkeys were enough to set me to quivering, and I still don’t watch scary movies.

Nora: I was terrified by the Wizard of Oz too. I had nightmares about the witch and the flying monkeys I know what you mean. We watch it on T.V. My parents loved it and watched it every year, I would close my eyes but the image was already in my mind. When I got older I refused to watch it! Yikes that was scary!

You are shipwrecked on an uninhabited tropical island with a group of Christians – all friends and relatives of yours. You all have to work as a team to survive. Many roles have to be filled. Which role do you think you’d play?

If someone else would forage for food and make a fire, I’d be glad to cook and wash dishes. Of course, without a supermarket, I’m not exactly sure what kind of dishes I might prepare, but I’d give it a good try.

Nora: I'm a good dishwasher. My husband Fred is the cook at our house. When It's my turn I break out the cook books. I'm not a chef like he is or it sounds like you might have that gift too!  I need the step by step directions!! Grin!

A friend of yours has a time machine and they will let you use if for a while. Where would you go and what would you do? 

I think I’d like to go back to the period of time when the King of England had Scottish families move to Northern Ireland to settle. That’s the history of my ancestors so once I was there, I’d try to begin my search for them! I’d love to know more about my Scots-Irish heritage.

What was your favorite show on T.V. when you were growing up? Why is it your favorite? If you didn't watch TV what were your favorite books?

When I was young, we didn't have a television—my mother was widowed at a very early age, BUT our neighbors had one and would let us come to their house and watch Howdy Doody. That’s one of my earliest television memories and the show remains a favorite simply because of the nostalgia I connect to it—sitting with neighbor children while their mom cooked supper


I’m always thrilled to hear from readers and thankful for each one of you. Books bring such pleasure and knowledge to the world and I’m thankful God has blessed me with the ability and opportunity to write a few of those books. I blog with four other historical novelists at


Judith, I've enjoyed your interview and look forward to reading your book. Thanks for stopping by and helping us get to know you and your books. I’m thrilled about the 10 book Giveaway Opportunity at TBCN starting the 20th AUGUST. Looking forward to it.

You can encourage here but the DISCUSSION and the ENTRY to the Book Giveaway is at THE BOOK CLUB NETWORK  You must be a member to enter the drawing. It's Free and easy. All comments at to be made at The Book Club network not here!


Nora St.Laurent
TBCN Where Book Fun Begins!


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