Thursday, January 20, 2011

Interview with Saloma Furlong

I am very pleased to share this interview with Saloma Furlong, author of the memoir, Why I Left the Amish. Don't forget to enter the giveaway for a copy of the book. Details follow below.

To read my review of Saloma's book, click here to visit Monday's post. 

Karen: Thank you, Saloma, for joining us at Write Now! It’s a pleasure to share a bit of your journey with you. Congratulations!

Saloma: Thank you very much. It is a great pleasure to join you on Write Now!

Karen: What was the catalyst for you to write this book? When did you know that this was something you needed to do?

Saloma: The catalyst for writing the book was twofold: the need to tell my story, and finding I had an audience eager to hear the story wherever I told it. I knew I needed to do this as soon as I left the Amish the second time -- in 1980. I knew the story needed to be told quite some time before I was emotionally able to. I found I had to embark on a healing journey before I could give voice to my story. After several years of therapy, I started writing down my memories with the goal of publishing a book, which was more than 16 years ago. Twelve years ago, I started trying to get my story published, but it wasn't to be. I realize now that my life and my story needed to evolve more, which is what has happened, and what makes the story what it is today.

Karen: How has your family reacted to it? Have they all read it?

Saloma: I've only gotten a bit of a reaction from two of my sisters. I sent them a copy in late December. The little reaction I did get was not a positive one. I don't know if my brothers have read the book.

Karen: When making the transition from the Amish community to the “outside”, what was your biggest surprise?

Saloma: My biggest pleasant surprise was that I found people who understood me, and they didn't seem to need for me to be a certain way first. Asking the questions that boiled up from within me was an acceptable trait in the outside world. My biggest unpleasant surprise was how hard it was to get up the gumption to do things that I had been taught (and internalized the messages) that it was wrong to do -- things such as learning to drive a car, going to movies, and dancing.

Another thing I would add to this is daring to enjoy my life outside the Amish... supposedly all hope of my salvation was lost when I left, yet I found myself forgetting that sometimes and enjoying myself a great deal. Then I began wondering how something that felt so right could be so wrong. Eventually my belief system shifted, and now I realize the only purpose to instilling such a belief system in their children would be to try to preserve and perpetuate the Amish lifestyle.

Karen: Oh my, what a journey. I admire your strength.

On a lighter note, here are a few random questions:

What’s your favorite Amish recipe?

Saloma: Probably the open-faced fruit pies that I learned to make from Clara Yoder. In fact, I made many of these when I was a baker in Shelburne, Vermont.

Karen: Sounds yummy!

Favorite color?

Saloma: My current favorite color is purple. In the past that has been royal blue. The former color was not acceptable in my original community (even though it is in many other Amish communities), but the latter was.

Karen: Favorite writing tool?

Saloma: The computer for writing a book, story, or email. For writing something out by hand, I like a purple Sharpie pen. Until I started looking for just the right pen for autographing books (something that would be waterproof and wouldn't bleed through the pages or run, fade, or smudge), I didn't know Sharpie made a pen. I bought a package of six colors, and the purple one is exactly the one I was looking for to sign books with. So, that is my new favorite writing-by-hand tool.

Lancaster County, PA

Karen: If you could buy any car on the market, what would it be?

Saloma: A 1996 Toyota Camry or Sienna. Right now I have a Toyota Corolla, but I miss the Camry I once had.

Interesting that you asked this question. One of the things I am going to be talking about at my upcoming appearance at the Sunderland Library is how it was customary for Amish parents to provide their teen sons with a horse and buggy. I resented being dependent on the men for horse and buggy rides. One day I said to my mother that this wasn’t fair, the girls didn’t get a horse and buggy. She retorted that girls are more expensive, because the parents have to pay for their weddings. I knew even then that women got a raw deal… the men were handed their independence, while the women were forced to be dependent on men their whole lives long. In mainstream culture, that would be the equivalent of all young men getting a car from their parents, while the women are prevented from having one unless they get married. Even though it took me a while after I left the community to learn to drive a car, I now find it very liberating to have one of my own.

Karen: Best writing advice for aspiring authors?

Saloma: I find the hardest part for me was to hang on to the dream, even when it seemed that all the doors were closed (and locked). I had to have faith and keep hoping that the saying is true that when one door closes, another will open. And sometimes even when a door seems locked, one has to be willing to knock on it anyway. How else is someone going to know to open it? And once a door does open, we need to be willing to walk through it. For me the motto that Thoreau wrote fits for writing and in other facets of life: "Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined."

Another thing I would say is, remember that you don't like every book you read... so you cannot expect everyone who reads your book to like it. That is okay. If someone rejects the book for publication, it doesn't mean that someone else won't like it and want to publish it. If you are confident about your "message" and you know it is something that needs to be in print, don't let rejections stop you from trying to get it published elsewhere. When you receive multiple rejections with much the same advice, then perhaps soliciting and heeding advice from a trusted editor might be in order. However, we all know that writing for publication is not for the faint-hearted, and we need to keep the faith that our dream of publication will come about.

Karen: How many books have you autographed so far? :o)

Saloma: I've autographed approximately 85 books to date. By this time next week, I'm hoping there will be quite a few more. I have two book talks/signings coming up this week.

Karen: How can readers find out more about your book?

Saloma: They can visit my website or my blog. My website has an up-to-date listing of the articles and reviews I know of, and I post new developments about my book on my blog.

Karen: Thanks so much for sharing with us. It’s been a pleasure!

Saloma: You are very welcome. Thank you very much for the interview. It has been a pleasure for me as well.

Saloma Furlong



Giveaway Details

To enter, please leave a comment with your email address. Entries without email address are not eligible.

• Receive an extra entry by becoming a follower, or by reminding me that you already follow.
• Receive bonus entries by posting about this giveaway on Facebook,Twitter, and/or your blog. Please be sure and comment (and link where applicable) letting me know.
• This giveaway is open to US & Canadian residents.
• Deadline to enter is noon Eastern Standard Time, Sunday, January 23, 2011. Winner will be announced Monday, January 24 and notified via email, and will have 48 hours to respond or another winner will be chosen.

If you were in Saloma's shoes, would you have done the same thing? Have you read any memoirs lately?

Happy weekend!

Buggy image credit: Merlin75


  1. Hi Karen - I already entered your contest via previous post. This is so fascinating, and Ms. Furlong's courage uplifting. I really cannot wait to read this book!

  2. What an intriguing memoir, esp. in light of how popular Amish fiction is.
    I'm glad you've been able to discover a life outside of how you were raised, and woohoo for purple, my fave color!

  3. Very interesting! And inspiring. I believe I entered the contest in the previous post. Another good interview Karen.

  4. Very interesting. I suppose any place with the best of intentions can be harmful to some. I'm glad you are doing what is best for you. Hugs. :O)

  5. Lisa,
    Hope you enjoy it, it really is interesting!

    It is a unique contrast to what is perceived otherwise. :)

    Thanks so much!

    There are dysfunctions everywhere I suppose. Glad Saloma's story has a happy ending.


  6. Very insightful interview and post. Thanks.

  7. Hi, girls! What an interesting interview. I've been delighted to get acquainted with Saloma via the blogosphere and am happy that her dreams are coming to fruition.

    Great job, ladies.

  8. Thanks so much, Karen. Saloma's interview was quite insightful. Sincerely, Susan

  9. What an interesting interview. I want to read more!

    Thank you Karen and Saloma!

  10. Warren,
    You are welcome. Thanks for weighing in!

    Yes, I'm glad for her too. A long time coming, you know?

    It was fun and interesting to do! :) Thanks.

    You are welcome. Hope you can get a copy of her book!

    Happy weekend,

  11. Hi Karen and Saloma .. a brave thing to do .. but you had certainty and a faith that there was more than the Amish offered.

    Thanks for the post - always interesting to learn and I'm sure your book will be widely read and well received .. you're an example for us all. Have good weekends .. and I hope the ice doesn't stop your booksignings .. Hilary

  12. I really enjoyed this more indepth look at her feelings about leaving. I don't know if I mentioned it before but I grew up close to Lancaster and the Amish have always held a place in my heart. I would love to read her book.
    terri dot tiffany at yahoo dot com

  13. Wonderful interview and the book sounds like one that countless will want to read. Thanks to both of you for the great post!

  14. Hi Karen & Saloma -

    Great interview! I think your book will be very successful due to the increasing attention given to the Amish community.

    Susan :)

  15. Because we live near many Amish, I am fascinated by their lifestyle, yet feel compassion for the ones who leave and are shunned. I love reading "success stories" like Saloma's. Thank you both for the interview!

    Please enter my name in the drawing. I am a follower. jeanettelevellie(at)gmail(dot)com


  16. Karen, thank you very much for doing this interview... it was a pleasure. And thank you to all for your comments.

    I have signed at least another 100 books since I was interviewed. Please visit my blog for the details of my first book talk. The one in Sunderland was postponed again, so that is now happening on February 5 (hopefully).

    Book orders are streaming in via my mailbox, so it seems the word is getting out...

    Thank you again, Karen, for the review and interview. Good luck with the giveaway.

    Stay warm, everyone! (It's 4 degrees below zero where I am this morning).

  17. Great interview, Karen, and so interesting! Made me appreciate the freedom we women have in Christ.


  18. Hilary,
    She was indeed brave. I admire her courage!

    Yes, I remember you saying something about PA. It really does make you think, doesn't it?

    Thank you. I agree, it has a wide appeal.

    Thank you. I expect Saloma will do well with this.

    Amen to success stories like Saloma's. I hate to see any suffering in any culture.

    It was a pleasure for me as well. Glad to hear orders are coming in. Wish you all the best!

    Thanks! You have a good point! :)

    Blessings all,

  19. Hi Karen,

    This is a very interesting interview!

    I found myself wanting to know more about Saloma's experience. I will definitely get this book. I love reading memoirs and other people's life experiences.

    If I was in Saloma's shoes, I believe I would have done the same thing. I haven't read any memoirs lately. Hopefully Saloma's will be the one I read very soon.

    Thanks, Karen!

    Saloma, I admire your are an inspiration.

    Take care,



Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!