(Carol Stream, IL) Tyndale House Publishers has announced that it has acquired its first novel in the popular Amish fiction genre. Debut author Jolina Petersheim’s The Outcast will release in July.

Sometimes called “bonnet fiction,” novels set in Amish and Mennonite communities have been bookstore staples for years. Asked why the fifty-year-old publishing house is venturing into this category for the first time, Associate Publisher of Fiction Karen Watson cited the distinctiveness of the story, a modern retelling of The Scarlet Letter.

“It is my goal that our fiction be characterized by these words: distinctive, entertaining, hopeful, purposeful, thoughtful,” commented Watson.“ So, distinctive might have been a challenge in an already crowded genre. Having waited so long to enter the genre, we had determined that we would only say yes to something that we simply could not bear to miss the chance to publish.”

Jolina Petersheim is represented by Wes Yoder, who shares Tyndale’s belief in the uniqueness of the story. “It is significant to me as a literary agent with a Mennonite and Amish heritage,” stated Yoder, “that Tyndale has waited to publish in the Amish fiction genre until they could do so consistent with the literary sensibilities that have made their publishing team successful.”

Although the storyline is inspired by a classic of English literature, The Outcast is based on an actual event.

“Though I have a Plain background, I never considered writing about Plain life until I heard a story that I knew needed to be told,” explained Petersheim.“It was one about the power of desire and the reverberating cost after that desire was left unchecked; a story that, shockingly enough, took place in an idyllic Old Order Mennonite community. The Outcast is entirely fictional but based on truth. Sin has repercussions which often hurt those who have not sinned. And yet, there is also redemption if the sinner seeks repentance and forgiveness from God, those he has wronged, and the person with whom he has sinned.“

Jolina Petersheim holds degrees in English and communication arts from the University of the Cumberlands. Though The Outcast is her first novel, her writing has been featured in venues as varied as radio programs, nonfiction books, and numerous online and print publications. Her blog is syndicated with the Tennessean’s "On Nashville" blog roll, as well as featured on other creative-writing sites. Jolina and her husband share the same unique Amish and Mennonite heritage that originated in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, but now live in the mountains of Tennessee with their young daughter.

Tyndale House Publishers, founded in 1962, is the world’s largest privately held Christian publisher of books, Bibles, and digital media. Tyndale has published many New York Times bestsellers. The largest portion of its profit goes to the nonprofit Tyndale House Foundation, which makes grants to help meet the physical and spiritual needs of people around the world. Tyndale was founded to publish Living Letters, which later comprised part of The Living Bible, a contemporary paraphrase of the Bible that became a global publishing phenomenon. Tyndale now publishes the Holy Bible, New Living Translation (NLT), the translation of choice for millions of people.