KAYSVILLE – Romance lovers, now is the perfect time to come visit Amish country.
Kaysville author Jennifer Beckstrand is set to launch her new series, “The Matchmakers of Huckleberry Hill,” with the Jan. 7 release of “Huckleberry Hill.” The series, set in an Amish community in Wisconsin, follows an 80 year-old couple as they find love for their numerous grandchildren.
“The idea of two old people who match their grandchildren up really resonated with me,” said Beckstrand. “It sounded like so much fun.”
The author, who also set her “Forever After in Apple Lake” trilogy in an Amish community, plans on making this series more open-ended. Beckstrand has the first six books planned, with “Huckleberry Summer” set to come out this June and “Huckleberry Christmas” to be released in late 2014.
She’s also under contract for three more “Huckleberry” books, set to come out in 2015. Even when those stories have been told, however, Beckstrand is happy to keep going.
“(The Helmuth’s) have a lot of grandchildren,” she said with a laugh. “So we could keep this going for a long time.”
In order to prepare for the new series, Beckstrand prepared a family tree for the grandparents, Anna and Felty Helmuth, and their 13 children.
“When you’re starting a new series, you have to really plan out the setting and get the core characters in place,” she said. “It’s kind of scary, because you’re leaving the familiar behind. But it’s also exciting.”
She also visited Amish communities in Wisconsin, where the story is set, to get a sense of the Amish people and their daily lives.
“I met some great people while I was out there,” she said. “I wanted to establish exactly what I wanted as a feel for these books.”
It’s that feeling that’s helped establish Amish fiction as a thriving sub-genre of Christian fiction.
“The Amish are very unique,” said Beckstrand. “People like Amish stories because it’s a contemporary setting, but it feels like you’ve gone back 100 or 200 years to a simpler time.”
The obvious faith of the Amish may also be part of the appeal.
“They’re very devoted to their religion and what it means,” she said. “I think that also draws people.”
For Beckstrand, it’s only one of the many things that make her happy to come back to Huckleberry Hill time and time again.
“I’m excited,” she said. “It will be fun to explore the possibilities and see where it takes me.”