Spotlight on “The Brightest and Best” by Olivia Newport

by | Aug 21, 2015 | spotlight

Hello, Readers! Today I am hosting author Olivia Newport on my blog! She and I have a couple of things in common – our love of Historical Fiction and our membership in the ACFW. Speaking of which, the ACFW Conference is coming up mid-September. I will be there…so excited!! So, without further ado, here’s Olivia:

Olivia NewportMeet Olivia! Olivia Newport’s novels twist through time to find where faith and passions meet. She lives in stunning Colorado, where daylilies grow as tall as she is. Her past work includes the Avenue of Dreams series set in 1890s Chicago; the Valley of Choice series of intertwining contemporary and historical Amish stories; Hidden Falls, a digital-first contemporary small-town series; and the Amish Turns of Time series exploring real historical moments of Amish values.

I’m always interested in what inspires authors…so tell us, Olivia, what was your inspiration for your book, Brightest and Best?  This book comes out under the banner of Amish Turns of Time. I’ve had a blast in these stories exploring events in Amish history that illustrate points in time when the Amish made significant decisions that affected the development of their churches. In this case, the question was emerging laws that required the Amish to educate their children in a way that conflicted with their central values. This journey started almost a hundred years ago and endured until they took their case to the Supreme Court in 1972. Brightest and Best intentionally conflates some events to bring the driving themes together in one story.

Interesting. What are some of the more historically significant events behind your story? My research turned up some articulate, impassioned arguments by Amish writers about why they could not separate education of their children from the practice of their faith. While the non-Amish world was pressing for more standardized education, including keeping kids in school longer,  the Amish believed that true education cultivates humility, simple living, and living according to the will of God. They were preparing children not for success in this life but for eternity. For many decades, Amish children attended school with non-Amish children. It was only when public schools became larger, offered more varied curriculum, and required students to remain in school past the eighth grade that the conflicts began.

Do you have any current projects you’re working on? Care to share? I’m putting the finishing touches on a manuscript called Hope in the Land, a Depression-era story that highlights the pivotal role Amish women played in the stability of their households in an economic time when so many people across the country were losing their grasp on hope. Hope in the Land will come out in the spring of 2016.

Brightest and Best coverBrightest and Best by Olivia Newport:

Ella Hilty’s deepest desire is to marry Gideon Wittmer and be a mother to his three children. But before the betrothal and ceremony take place, Ella’s 1918 Ohio Amish community gets caught in a storm of controversy when English government authorities dictate that Amish children must attend consolidated public schools rather than their one-room schoolhouse. 

English schoolteacher Margaret Simpson had given up thoughts of marriage years ago, and she’s content with her peaceful life. But a budding romance and conflict with the neighboring Amish community lead Margaret down a path that she never expected.

Citing freedom of religion rights, Amish parents stand their ground against progressive English laws that threaten to erode their culture and beliefs beyond recognition, but their stance doesn’t come without consequences. Where is the balance between submission to God and submission to a God-ordained government that endangers the church?

Soon Margaret puts her last chance for romance at risk for the only choice her conscience can abide, and all eyes turn to Ella to bring unity to the Amish and understanding to the English.

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Sara R. Turnquist