Growing up in Ethiopia with parents who worked for the Presbyterian Church, Jane Kurtz developed an early love for reading that eventually sparked a desire to become a writer.

Kurtz's mother read an article on the "100 best books for children" and tried to take as many of those books with her as she could when the family moved to Ethiopia. Kurtz fell in love with books like "Charlotte's Web" and the Winnie-the-Pooh stories. She eventually tried writing her own books, and her first book was published in 1994.

On Thursday, Kurtz stopped by Faith & Life Bookstore in downtown Newton to sign copies of her book "Anna Was Here."

Kurtz said writing fiction is a subjective art and there's no specific formula that works for all writers. She likes to gather ideas from memories, research and life experiences.

"A lot of putting a book together is noticing the funny and interesting things going on in your own life," she said.

Her book "Anna Was Here" is about a 10-year-old girl who moves with her family to Kansas. Kurtz said she was inspired by her husband's Kansas roots and her own experience of living in Hesston for five years.

She said she is excited about the opportunity to return to Kansas and to reflect on the Mennonite community history through fiction.

"It feels like coming home to me," she said.

For more information about Kurtz's books, visit www.janekurtz.com. She also encourages community members to check out the website for the charity Ethiopia Reads, www.ethiopiareads.org.