Q: Before we get to your talent for writing, let’s learn more about you as a person. What part of the country to do live in?
I live in southern Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati. We moved here in 1999. Before that, we lived in Denver, and before that in Dallas. I grew up in Houston, Texas. Those Texas roots are why you will usually see me in jeans and boots around town.
Q: People don’t know you’re good at…
I’m a pretty good baker. I’m also a fast reader. I usually read about three or four books a week. I’m also really good at sleeping! I usually go right to sleep and sleep for 8-9 hours at a time.
Q: Tell us about your writing habits.
I usually write about six hours every day. A little less if I just started a book, a little more if I’m on deadline. I used to always write first thing, but now I seem to write in the afternoons.
The most unusual thing about my writing style is that I like to work on more than one book at a time. I have a rather short attention span, so skipping around helps me focus. Currently, I am working on next year’s Amish Christmas book and a western historical set in Galveston, Texas.
Q: Let’s talk about the Amish. Getting past the obvious–the bonnets and buggies and beards–how have your deeper insights about the Amish changed as you’ve learned more about them?
When I first started writing about the Amish eight years ago I was constantly trying to get lots of details “right.” I spent a lot of time reading other authors’ books, asking my Amish friend questions, researching blogs on the Internet, and reading library books. Now, I try to concentrate more on the stories, knowing that I can remain true to Amish beliefs without painstakingly checking and double-checking each detail. What has helped has been the opportunity to meet more Amish. The more Amish I know, the more I realize that their beliefs are just as varied as any other group of people.
Q: If you had been born into an Amish family, would you have remained Amish?
Boy, no one has ever asked me that. I honestly don’t know. One thing I truly admire about the Amish is their belief in tradition and family. I would want to honor those things. That being said, I happen to believe that God meant for me to write, and for that I need my computer and all the other “worldly” things that come with this profession.
Q: Have you been influenced by the Amish in a positive way?
Absolutely. I have learned so much about faith and patience and kindness from the Amish. I feel blessed to have made such wonderful friendships.
I think it’s wonderful that this genre is still so popular. I think people still enjoy reading faith-based novels. In addition, many of my readers simply enjoy learning about a different culture. In many ways, Amish fiction is a nice bridge between historical and contemporary fiction.
Q: Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
I’m finishing up A Christmas Bride in Pinecraft, which is the fourth and final book in my four-book series for 2015. All four novels take place in Pinecraft, Florida, which is an Amish vacation community located in the heart of Sarasota. I’ve so enjoyed writing these hopeful, sunny romances! I hope readers will enjoy The Promise of Palm Grove, the first book in the series, which released this month.
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 The Promise of Palm Grove, which you can win a copy of below.
Purchase Shelley’s books here.
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