Adina Senft holds an MFA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University, and is currently at work on a PhD in Creative Writing with Lancaster University in the UK. She won RWA’s RITA Award® in 2005, and was a finalist in 2006. She appeared in the 2016 documentary film Love Between the Covers, is a popular speaker and convention panelist, and has been a guest on many podcasts, including Worldshapers and Realm of Books.
Interview by Elise Cooper
Q. What can you tell us about the series?
Adina: This is book one of six. There are six siblings in the Miller family and each sibling gets their own book. Even though it is a different hero/heroine it is the same family where I weave them into all six books. It will be a happy medium between one sentence telling readers about the rest of the family and a few chapters. It is like an Amish family experience to put all the family members in.
Q. Where did you get the idea for the story?
Adina: I was looking for what has not been done with Amish fiction. I thought about a series set in Montana. This past June my husband and I went there to visit the Amish community. We did feet on the ground research. Plus, a friend of mine, the captain of the firehouse where I live is President of the California cattlemen’s association. He invited me to come to his ranch and watch the roundup. The idea was born between him, the Amish community, and it seemed believable and possible that the Amish could possibly raise beef cows in Montana. The Circle M brand is on the cover.
Q. What is it with Amish and horses?
Adina: For them horses are for work, not pleasure. Cattle ranchers would use them for work. A cutting horse is one of the most finely tooled instruments I had ever seen. When I was on the California ranch, within hours the calves were separated from the mothers. It was like watching a ballet where everyone knew their steps. When we were in Montana, the Amish came to the school auction on buggies, bicycles, and the occasional riding horse.
Q. Why the Montana setting?
Adina: Only a few Amish stories are set here. Plus, I used to live in Alberta Canada, and I knew the ranchers are about seven miles north of the Amish community in Montana. The weather, the way people worked with the land, the short period of time of the growing season, and the terrain were all familiar to me. Montana winters are very long and brutal. I had to move the location in Montana because the Amish community lives in the mountains, which does not lend itself to ranching. I have not met an Amish cowboy, but I think they are possible.
Q. How would you describe Daniel?
Adina: The eldest son of a large close-knit family. Very responsible and a nice-looking man. He has a natural command in being the oldest brother. Now at twenty-eight he is still not married because he has been carrying a torch for Lovina for ten years. He is honest, compassionate, patient, and gentle.
Q. How would you describe Lovina?
Adina: She had a childhood backstory of never being wanted and never able to get what she wanted. She lost her ability to make connections with people. She was never treated with joy and welcome. Now she is a good mother, very protective, smart, resourceful, but still fearful, vulnerable. She used to be a closed defensive person, but now is opening up.
Q. Why the visit to the twelve national parks?
Adina: I had the idea from an Amish girl who told me she and her buddies went on a circuit of the national parks. Lovina turned it into an educational experience as well as a recreational one. It was also a grief recovery trip since she lost her husband, and her son Joel lost his father.
Q. What about the relationship?
Adina: She turned down Daniel’s initial proposal of marriage because she never saw herself as worthy. He had hurt feelings. She is confused about her emotions. They are trying to protect themselves from each other, yet the memories of their time together keep creeping in. They need to find trust in each other. She was fearful and he was hurt. He unconsciously compared every girl he met to Lovina, and they never added up. No matter how perfect another woman can be, there is only going to be Lovina for him, even if he does not realize it yet.
Q. In this story, are the Amish modernized?
Adina: They used cell phones, the Internet, and horses. The cell phones and the Internet is right from my research, which they use for business. Because they are spaced so far apart with severe weather, cell phones are needed for a matter of safety. In the book, the mother Naomi does keep it in a cookie jar until they go on the roundup. Since they are in harsh weather communities, they are dependent on their neighbors, including the English.
Q. What can you tell us about the role of the child, Joel?
Adina: He was based on a child I know. He brings people to together through his innocence. He foreshadowed how it could be for Daniel and Lovina. He helps Lovina to connect to the outside and overcome her grief. She notices the setting through his eyes. Joel is curious about the snow, the animals, and the land. At times, he makes her adventurous. He is eight years old, but much older than his years. Joel recognized that the other woman, Susan, was very overbearing and desperate to snare Daniel.
Q. What’s next?
Adina: The Amish Cowboy’s Baby is currently out. It is the youngest son’s Joshua’s story. He is now a father. The third book is about the very shy twin sister, Rebecca, who is always in the background, and overshadowed by her twin sister. It is titled The Amish Cowboy’s Bride and comes out in May.
Review by Elise Cooper
The Amish Cowboy by Adina Senft brings to life the Amish community within the Montana setting. It is a ‘what if’ story. What if there were Amish who became cattle ranchers, and what if the hero and heroine had never had a chance reunion?
Daniel Miller is the oldest of six siblings. He is a rugged Amish cowboy who manages roundups, takes care of the land, helps to raise cattle, and expertly rides horses. He is more like the foreman of the family Circle M Ranch in northwestern Montana.
But at the age of twenty-eight he is viewed as a male spinster because he has yet to get married. His heart was broken ten years earlier when the love of his life, Lovina Lapp said no to his marriage proposal. Instead, she married another man who was recently killed in a hunting accident. To overcome their grief, she accepted an invitation to take her eight-year-old son Joel and visit the national parks. But because the van they were in broke down she and Joel were now stranded in Montana with Daniel and his family. Because Joel was so enthusiastic, she agreed to go with the Millers and their neighbors to bring down the cattle before winter came. But due to weather conditions, money restraints, and other circumstances she and Joel stayed much more then they planned. It became obvious that both Daniel and Lovina still have feelings for each other, but would they allow the walls they built around themselves to fall.
Although there might have some liberties taken, the way the story was presented seemed very plausible that the Amish could be cowboys. Readers will take a journey with the characters and learn about Montana. They will also feel a part of the Miller family and will root for them to have a happy ending.
Adina Senft's Latest
The Amish Cowboy
Daniel is the eldest of the six Miller siblings helping their Old Older Amish parents run the Circle M Ranch in northwestern Montana. Daniel can handle a blizzard, manage a roundup, even birth a calf. But what he can’t do is forget Lovina Lapp, who broke his heart back in Lancaster County and married someone else. When their neighbors gather to help them bring the cattle down from the summer pastures, Daniel is staggered to see Lovina among them. His job is to keep the group safe in the high country. But will he be able to protect his heart?
After a chaotic childhood and a romance with Daniel Miller that ended when he chose Montana over her, Lovina learned the danger of loving a cowboy. She married another man instead—someone who was safe. But after God took her husband in a freak accident, an invitation to go with old friends to visit the national parks seems like a gift. Until she finds herself unexpectedly at the Circle M Ranch, where one look at Daniel tells her there is nothing safe about her feelings for him.