Glowing Author #18
If you haven’t heard of Shelley Shepard Gray’s novels, you soon will. They have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Time Magazine, and USA Today. The third in her Sisters of the Heart trilogy, FORGIVEN, won the Holt Medallion award for Best Short Inspirational Novel of 2009. Recently, she was interviewed by NPR. Pretty good introduction, don’t you think? So…
Welcome, Shelley! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Well, let’s see. I grew up in Houston, Texas, and before writing, I taught elementary school for ten years. I currently write Amish Romances for Harper Collins’ Avon Inspire line, and will soon also be writing western historical romances for Abingdon Press. I also write for Harlequin’s American Romance line as Shelley Galloway. I live in southern Ohio, have been married for 20 years to my college sweetheart, and have two kids, one of whom is a sophomore in college, the other a senior in high school.
Wow, you’re a busy lady! You have a Christmas novel coming out, don’t you? Tell us about that.
GRACE is set in the Brenneman Bed and Breakfast, which is also the setting for my Sisters of the Heart trilogy. It’s about two lost souls who end up at the inn for Christmas, and the owners of the inn who at first aren’t real thrilled to see them there. I’m really proud of the book. I LOVE Christmas novels!
So who is your favorite character in it?
Though I truly loved my hero and heroine, I’d have to say my favorite character is Katie. She was the heroine of WANTED, so it was nice to “see” her again.
Oh, you surprised me! I was betting you’d say Melody. Why Katie?
Well, she reflected a lot of the feelings I sometimes have during the holidays. Sometimes I want everything to be just so~and of course real life isn’t like that!
Last Christmas Eve our beagle ate a whole tin of chocolate and then promptly… uh, “divested it” at midnight. Woke up everyone in the house, including all our visiting relatives. Next thing you know, we’ve got out the carpet cleaner at one am! That was one family activity I definitely would have liked to have skipped.
Tell me, Shelley, do you find that you put a little of yourself into your characters, or do you create them to be completely different from you?
I try to make my characters better than me! They always say better things, look better, and are far more organized. I’m always a little bit scattered.
Well, you get to edit them. We don’t get to edit ourselves!
Seriously, I don’t think I can help putting a little bit of myself in my characters—but many of them have far different experiences than I have had.
The power of fiction! So often where a person has lived and what she has experienced can influence her writing. Are there any specific locations or experiences that have popped up in your books?
For my Amish novels, I’ve tried to visit the place where I’ve set the book as much as possible. That was very true of my Sugarcreek series. I absolutely love going to Sugarcreek in northern Ohio, and I think readers could tell. For my westerns, since I grew up in Texas and lived in Colorado for ten years, those locations played important parts.
I so agree about spending time in the place where the book is set. That first hand knowledge comes through in so many ways. So how do you balance your writer’s life with the rest of life?
Because of my deadlines, I pretty much write every single day. However, I still am able to take time off in the afternoons. Right now, I make sure I write about ten pages a day, six days a week. I write in the mornings, and then do revisions and other work in the afternoons Monday through Friday. I’m usually done around four or five in the evening. I try my best to not even look at a computer on Sunday. A day off is a great thing! I’m able to have this schedule because my daughter is very busy going to school, sports, work, and her friends, and my husband travels a lot. Of course, when I was in the carpool land, my days were very different!
Do you have a writing mentor?
Not a writing mentor, but I do have an amazingly wonderful critique group. We’ve been together for ten years. When we started none of us were published. Now we’ve all seen some success, so we’ve grown a lot together. We still meet every other Friday morning, and often travel to conferences together, just so we can room together and have slumber parties.
Ahhh… the writing life! Thanks, Shelley, for sharing your time with us.
Visit Shelley on her website: www.shelleyshepardgray.com
or “friend” her on Facebook
“Every mistake I’ve made has been helpful in the long run. All we can do is try our best, and pray for guidance.”
Shelley Shephard Gray