Before we get to your talent for writing, let’s learn more about you as a person. What are your favorite hobbies when you’re not writing?
I love to cook. I’m not a great cook, but I think that’s why I like it so much. I don’t have any grand ideas of perfection when I’m in the kitchen, I simply like the process of making something out of a bunch of ingredients in my pantry or refrigerator. I also love to travel to places I haven’t been before. My husband and I usually book a trip over a year in advance. I love studying about someplace new and exotic.
What has been the most “risky” think you’ve done in the name of book research? Did it work? Was it helpful?
LOL! I don’t if this was very risky, but I did go on a haunted ghost tour of the Menger Hotel in San Antonio for one of my westerns. The successful part of that tour was I was able to go all kinds of places in the hotel most visitors never see. The not-so-successful part was me being unable to sleep for several nights afterward. I’m a wimp!
Think back to the first time you heard about the Amish. The very first time. What do you remember?
When we first moved to Ohio, one of my neighbors took me to an Amish community about an hour away. The first time I saw one of those diamond shape buggy signs, I felt like I was in a different world.
Let’s go back to your first Amish novel. What do you think about it now? What would be different about it from your most recent novel?
I have a lot of fond memories writing Hidden because I had no expectations for it. Because I was still fumbling around with my research and getting confused about different terms, I concentrated on simply writing a good story. I didn’t think my editor would like it, and I really didn’t expect anyone would read it when it was published! For those reasons, I am very fond of the book. It always reminds me to take chances and not overthink things. And to remember that it’s the story that’s really important. Everything else pales in comparison.
What are the biggest misunderstandings people have about the Amish?
I think one of the biggest misconceptions about the Amish is that they have no concept about how the English live. The Amish I know travel quite a bit and are very aware of what is going on outside their community. They simply choose to focus on their family, faith, and their way of life.
What are your thoughts about the growth of Amish fiction? Why do you think it is such a popular sub-genre?
I’m delighted at the Amish fiction genre is so popular. I think readers enjoy reading about a different culture and imagining a slower pace of life. I also think the popularity of the genre has a lot to do with the quality of the authors who write the novels. These authors work very hard to craft well-written, well-researched novels. I’m proud to be a part of such a group!
Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
I’m currently working on this year’s Christmas book. It’s titled an Amish Family Christmas and it is the fourth and final book in this year’s Charmed Amish Life Series.
Where can readers find you?
Readers can find me on Facebook, on Twitter, and on my website, at www.shelleyshepardgray.com. I also visit a lot of libraries, so there’s a good chance many readers will see me in person at their local library very soon.
My perfect day would be…
Since my children live in different states now, a perfect day for me would be to be with them, my husband, and our dogs. It would also probably involve some kind of Southern food, playing cards, and an afternoon nap.
If I could change one thing about the world, it would be…
That people would be nicer to each other … and maybe that ice cream wasn’t quite so fattening.
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Shelley Shepard Gray lives in southern Ohio and writes full time. A busy wife and mother of two, she spends her days writing and keeping track of her two teenagers. Her two dogs keep her company when she writes in her basement. When not spending time with her family or writing, she serves on several committees in her church. Shelley enjoys writing about the Amish and visits Amish communities several times a year.
Her latest book is A Son’s Vow.
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