Lamb to the Slaughter Blog Tour: Karen Ann Hopkins Guest Post and Giveaway

Friday, May 23, 2014

I have a treat for you guys today! As many of you know, I've been branching out a little bit and sort of stretching my wings, so to speak, on this blog. Having read Karen Ann Hopkins' YA books in the past, I'm thrilled to share with you her new adult Amish mystery and be a part of this amazing blog tour today. So, without further ado, please welcome Karen in sharing how she develops her incredible characters!

The process of developing the characters for my new Amish murder mystery, Lamb to the Slaughter, was much more intense than the way I went about it for my YA contemporary romance Temptation series. In Lamb, I wrote a very detailed outline before I even began writing. Each character had a specific purpose in driving the mystery forward, whereas in the Temptation series, I let the characters develop more on their own with a sort of stream-of-conscious style of writing. I must say, writing a mystery was definitely a more daunting endeavor than anything I’d done up until then.

I think the really intriguing part of Amish fiction for the reader is learning about a group of people from an entirely foreign culture and seeing how they interact with the rest of us. But it’s challenging to get that perfect combination of realism and entertainment. I certainly don’t want my novels to read like documentaries, but I do have to explain a lot about the Amish way of life to my readers so that they understand what the character’s motives are and the reasons they behave the way they do.

An excellent way to accomplish just that is through character development. Below is an excerpt from the first chapter of Lamb. I think it’s a great example of the fine balance between teaching the reader about the Amish, while not being too bulky with details.

I watched intently as the three men leaned over the body for only a moment. After simultaneously bowing their heads and closing their eyes for a silent prayer, they looked up at me with no emotion at all. Their hard eyes stilled my heart.

The bishop spoke, his voice level and calm. “This is Naomi Beiler. She is the daughter of Timothy and Patricia Beiler.”

I pulled the little notepad and pen from my back pocket and began writing.

“Do you know how old she is?” I asked the Amish men.

The bishop glanced at James, who finally spoke. “I do believe she’s the same age as my Roseanna—eighteen.” James Hooley’s nonchalance startled me, but I was careful not to let it show. “Has Naomi been missing?”

The two ministers looked in opposite directions, and neither at me. Bishop Esch took a few seconds to gather his words. “You will need to speak with the Beiler’s about that, Miss. I ask that you give them a few days to deal with the loss of their child.”

I couldn’t help but glance at Bobby who slightly shrugged his shoulders when he met my gaze. Jeremy looked at the Amish men with wide eyes and mouth slightly gaping. Todd held the small smirk of a very amused man. I exhaled and said, “Yes, of course. We’ll give the family time to mourn…but, we’ll need to have a few questions answered for the report today. I promise you, Mr. Esch, I’ll be very discrete when I notify them of the death.”

Too quickly, the bishop said, “Oh, there will be no need for you to talk to them today. I’ll bring the news to their home.” He must have recognized my incredulity at his dismissal of my authority. He added with a somber frown, “It will be much easier for Timothy and Patricia to hear the news from me, rather than a stranger. Your presence will upset them needlessly.”

I was a newly elected sheriff and I already had a young woman dying under strange circumstances in my jurisdiction. As if that wasn’t trying enough, I now had a clash of cultures on my plate too. The worst part was that I got what the bishop was saying. Still, I hated to deviate from protocol on my first investigation in Blood Rock.

I looked to Bobby for the answer. He seemed to be expecting me to do just that and was ready. He nodded his head subtly.

“Jeremy, please escort these men back to their homes.” I focused on the bishop, “Mr. Esch, I’ll honor your wishes on this matter, but I’ll be visiting the Beiler’s in a few days to get some questions cleared up. We need to know what happened to Naomi.”

“Yes, of course.” He tipped his hat to me and walked briskly back to the patrol car with the ministers.

Jeremy raised his eyebrows as he passed by. He was obviously as disturbed by the Amish men’s behavior as I was. Bobby made a soft huffing noise and began to motion to the emergency medical personnel to come over to help him with the body bag when I stopped him.

“Don’t you think those men were acting awfully blasé about seeing a young woman from their community dead in a cornfield?” My voice rose a little higher than I intended. I turned my back to the paramedics who were patiently leaning up against the ambulance, waiting for someone to give them the sign to approach.

Bobby said, “Ms.…ah, Serenity, you had better get used to the fact that the Amish will not be any help to you in your investigation. They don’t like outsiders, and they don’t want them knowing their business.” As my mouth opened, Todd cut me off, “Hell, they’re practically their own nation—not having to pay social security tax or serve in the armed forces. Did you know that they’re done with school in the eighth grade?” “Actually, it’s my understanding that the Amish can be drafted, but they only serve in non-combat roles, such as medical and food service,” Bobby told Todd.

Listening to the men shoot off their knowledge of the Amish made me realize how little I knew about the simple, yet flourishing culture. I’d grown up in town, only a few miles away from the field that I now stood in. I’d spent my time playing soccer, going to movies and hanging out with friends—that did not include any Plain people. The only interaction I’d had with the Amish back then was when I’d worked part-time at Nancy’s Diner in high school. Occasionally, one of the families had come in for lunch. When I’d left Blood Rock for college, I was even more separated from the rural living of the place I’d grown up in—a county that had a relatively small population, but a very large land area.

Before the two men could get into a long, drawn out conversation about the Amish lifestyle, I interrupted, “Bobby, are you telling me that there are different rules involved when we’re dealing with the Amish?”

Bobby smiled as if he was a grandpa humoring his grandchild. “No, that’s not it at all. I’m simply telling you in advance to expect them not to be forthcoming with you. I’ve been dealing with their nonsense for thirty years. I know what I’m talking about. The quicker you wrap this case up, the better.”

Thanks for stopping by today! I love to hear from readers and answer any of their questions (especially the Amish related ones)! 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, 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!

Find Karen: Website. Blog. Twitter. Facebook. Goodreads.


For this tour, we're also offering up a really amazing prize package, so be sure to follow along the tour for more chances to win every day! Up for grabs, we have a $100 Amazon Gift Card, an autographed set of Karen's amazing YA Temptation series and a traditional Amish-style hand-stitched wall hanging/lap quilt with the lone star pattern in country colours. Isn't that awesome? 

To enter, simply fill out the Rafflecopter! This giveaway is open internationally! Be sure to hop along to the next tour stop, as well, and continue entering for more chances to win...
a Rafflecopter giveaway
For a limited time only, Lamb to the Slaughter is available for just $2.99 from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, so be sure to get your copy today!

Find Lamb to the Slaughter: Goodreads. Facebook


  1. I enjoyed this one! And a lot more than I thought I would. The Amish culture and way of life is fascinating and I liked how it worked throughout this story.

  2. It sounds like the author had to do a lot of research while writing. I always appreciate it when authors do that.
    I'm fascinated by the Amish culture, mostly because I know next to nothing about them. I love learning about different cultures via books so this is a must read for me. I've heard some great things about it, so I can't wait to try it.
    Thanks for sharing this post, Melissa!

  3. The Amish and their culture have always intrigued me! I think I would love to read her books. :)

  4. I haven't heard or seen this one before but it actually sounds really interesting. Thanks for sharing! :)

  5. ooh I have been wanting to read something from this author. I like the sound of this and the Amish culture!

    Thanks for sharing! <33

  6. I knew Karen wrote YA but I didn't know she was moving into adult fic, too, that's always good to hear!

    Mands @ The Bookish Manicurist


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