Lamb To The Slaughter
by Karen Ann Hopkins
Welcome everyone! Today I have the honor of being part of a Kismet Blog Tour (interview + giveaway) for Karen Ann Hopkins NEW amish mystery novel, Lamb To The Slaughter. If you've been a follower of my blog for a while then you know how HOOKED am I with Karen's book. She is one of my very favorite authors and her YA series is outstanding!
Lamb To The Slaughter is an ADULT novel which takes place once again in a amish community only this book contains a murder mystery.
- Some Amish Communities aren't so cozy -
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Lamb to the Slaughter by Karen Ann Hopkins
Ebook - 336 pages
Published March 14th 2014
Genre: Adult Fiction > Mystery
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Amazon | Barnes & Noble
Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest. Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate. At first glance, the case seems obvious. The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious. As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting. Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up. Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.*Lamb to the Slaughter is book one of Serenity’s Plain Secrets
1. Tell me a little about your new book, LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER?
Lamb to the Slaughter is an Amish murder mystery that I began writing over a year ago after my agent asked me if I could create such a thing on demand. I became intrigued with the idea, especially since I had personally witnessed some strange and almost creepy goings-on in the Amish community where I lived. I really wanted to delve deeper into the darker side of being Amish, especially in relation to my personal passion, the lives of the teenagers and some of the harsh realities they’re faced with.
Creating a murder mystery was very different than writing the young adult romantic Temptation series. For one thing, I had to be meticulous in planning the plot lines and I actually wrote a pretty detailed draft of Lamb before I ever began writing it. With my previous books, I relied much more on a stream of conscious type writing, allowing some of the plots to develop as I went along. I didn’t have that luxury with a mystery. Mystery readers want the intrigue of a real mystery that keeps them guessing throughout the entire book. In contrast, a straight forward romance is a lot of fun to write, at least for me. It’s more simplistic in nature, that’s for sure.
But even though I was writing a mystery this time, I still wanted to spice it up with some good old fashioned romance and I must say, Lamb has its fair share of love, almost love and love lost. At the heart of the story is Naomi. She’s a pretty young Amish woman with a rebellious spirit. She’s also in love with two boys. One is her handsome and upstanding Amish beau, Eli. The other is Will, an English (non-Amish) teen, who captivates her with his fun and easy going manner. Of course this situation doesn’t end well.
The other romance in Lamb, and a delicious one to write, was between Serenity, the tough-as-nails Sheriff of Blood Rock and the gorgeous building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who used to be Amish and joins her on the murder investigation. Serenity and Daniel have each had their fair share of failed relationships and even though the chemistry between them is undeniable, they’re both stubborn creatures and incredibly intimidated by their growing closeness. There’s a lot of sexual tension between these two, an ingredient that I think makes for a very interesting side story. And as more books develop in this series, I’m sure readers will look forward to seeing whether they end up as a lasting couple.
2. Amish and Murder don't normally go hand and hand. What sparked the idea for your novel?
Contrary to preconceived thoughts about the Amish, they’re very much like everyone else in many ways. They have marital problems, substance abuse issues, disagreements with their neighbors and trouble disciplining their children. They also occasionally deal with crime within their own society. I personally witnessed a feud between families and the Church authority in my community that ended with several families moving away. I’ve also had discussions with both Amish people and those who used to be Amish about violence, depression and mental health issues among the Amish. I was told things that would shock most mainstream people. I wanted to portray the reality of the Amish world, not just the cozy impression everyone has. And there are a lot of edgy tales to tell that’s for sure.
3. What research if any, did you need to do while writing?
Six years ago I moved from the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee to a northern Kentucky Amish community. I brought twenty-four horses with me and set up my established horse-back riding business at the new farm. Within a few weeks of arriving in Kentucky a stream of Amish teens were coming to the arena to participate in riding activities with the English kids (the Amish refer to anyone who isn’t Amish as English). Watching the interactions between the two groups, and observing some obvious flirting going on, I began to wonder how a relationship between the two vastly different cultures could possibly work out. It seemed impossible and incredibly intriguing at the same time, and from there, the seed for Rose and Noah’s story and my first book, Temptation, sprouted in my mind.
I dedicated two years to learning as much about the Amish way of life as I could. Besides my observations at the arena, my life was inundated with the Amish culture as Amish girls babysat my younger children, Amish teens hung out with my own teen sons, as I drove the Amish women to town to shop and even took a Tennessee vacation with an Amish family. I attended five Amish weddings and numerous schoolhouse benefits and private dinners with neighbors. When I was confident that I’d gained enough experiential knowledge, I began writing and a year later, I had an agent and Harlequin Teen had purchased the forbidden love story.
For me, the more I became immersed in the Amish community around me, the thirstier I was for knowledge about them. Some things about their culture leave me scratching my head, while other times I’m humbled by their ways. Their vast differences from us and their secretive ways make them a delightful group to write about.
4. Tell me a little about the main character(s) in the book? Was there one in particular you enjoyed writing about most?
It’s a close call between Serenity and Naomi, but if forced to pick one, I’d have to choose Naomi. She is a typical teenager in so many ways, but she was born into the Amish world, and because of that, her life is very different from what we know. She’s strong and kind and loyal. Her story is a bittersweet one that will keep you thinking about her long after you turn the last page.
Serenity is the person in the book that I think most readers will relate to. She’s the one who is on the outside looking in. Her reactions to the Amish ways and their behaviors, represents how most non-Amish people would think and act when faced with the strange culture. Also like so many of us, she’s looking for love, but she’s stubborn and has her own issues to deal with. Readers will cheer her on to solve the case of Naomi’s death and also to find lasting romance with Daniel.
Daniel is a very interesting character. He grew up Amish, but left the Church when he was nineteen. Afterwards, his life was harsh for many years while he adjusted to being shunned by his family and living on the outside. He resents the Amish and his treatment by them, but deep down, he still has a strong affection for the culture.
There are several other characters in the book that round out the story, such as the dashing Eli, the friendly Will and the shy and slightly jealous Sandra, along with Serenity’s team at the police station.
5. About how long did it take you to write LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER? What did you find to be the most difficult about writing the novel?
It took a couple of months to get the story written and then almost a year more of revisions to make it presentable for public consumption. The most difficult part about writing Lamb was that I went to some uncomfortable places within the Amish society and governing structure in the book. I love the community that I live in and am proud to stay that they’re the best neighbors a person can have, but there were still so many things that I’ve observed and have been told about from the Amish themselves that I was compelled to write a grittier story about the oftentimes misunderstood society.
6. Will LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER be a series like you're YA books or a stand-alone? If a series, how many books will there be?
Yes, Lamb is the first book in a seven to ten book series, featuring Serenity and Daniel’s travels through different Amish communities as they solve crimes and mysteries. These books will be dark and shocking, presenting the Amish in a different light than most people are used too, while still showing all of the Plain people’s endearing qualities at the same time.
7. Do you yourself enjoy reading a good thriller or murder mystery and are there any that inspired your book?
Actually, mystery is not a genre that I usually read. I’ve always been a fantasy reader, loving everything from Tolkien to Martin, Jordan and Hayden, but living beside the Amish has opened up so many possibilities for me that I’ve gladly accepted the challenge of mystery writing. As long as I can get a good romance in there, any genre will do.
8. Is there anything you wish you could go back and change in the book or do differently?
The only thing I would do different is add a few more Naomi chapters. She is such a wonderful character that I think readers would have loved to see even more of her.
9. You don't see a lot of Amish based novels around, what inspired you to write about the Amish in your books?
I grew up in upstate New York and then spent many years in Tennessee and I had no contact with Amish people at all until I moved into the Amish community in Kentucky about six years ago. All I can say is that being around the Amish and their incredibly strange ways got a hold of me in a way that’s hard to describe, except that I was completely smitten and appalled by their lifestyle at the same time. They are good people, and most of them live contentedly in the countryside, but there are things about their rules and faith that create a lot of angst around them also. I was inspired to research and write down what I learned so that others who live far away from them can experience some of the sweet craziness that I have.
10. Describe LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER in 3 words.
Shocking, Bittersweet, Poignant
11. Is there anything else you'd like to add or tell my blog readers?
Thank you so much, Beckie, for hosting me at Bittersweet Enchantment today! I love to hear from readers and answer any of their questions (especially the Amish related ones)! Please contact me on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads or visit me on my website at, www.karenannhopkins.com. I also have a special giveaway going on right now that I’d like to share with you. If you purchase Lamb to the Slaughter on either Kindle or Nook for only $2.99, you can be entered in a giveaway for a three book autographed set of the Temptation series. It includes copies of Temptation, Belonging and Forever! All you have to do is personally contact me on FB, Twitter, Goodreads or my website and let me know that you’ve purchased Lamb and I’ll get you entered. The drawing will be held on May 30th in conjunction with blog tour ending. This is a separate giveaway from the Rafflecopter above. Happy reading! -- Karen Ann Hopkins
About The Author: Karen Ann Hopkins
A native of New York State, Karen Ann Hopkins now lives with her family on a farm in northern Kentucky, where her neighbors in all directions are members of a strict Amish community. Her unique perspective became the inspiration for the story of star-crossed lovers Rose and Noah. When she’s not homeschooling her kids, giving riding lessons or tending to a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats, she is dreaming up her next romantic novel.
Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY.
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