A few years ago, I stumbled on a series called “The Secrets of Crittenden County” by an author I’d heard of but hadn’t read yet. They were set in Kentucky, which of course always engages my radar and is probably why i picked them up in the first place from my library lol. To say I was hooked is an understatement. And then I proceeded to make my way through the author’s backlist. And that’s how Shelley Shepard Gray became one of my go-to authors whose books I track down as soon as they release (or sooner if I’m fortunate enough to get an advanced copy).
And today I am giddy because I get to chat with Shelley Shepard Gray here on the blog!!
(I’m even giddier because in a little over a week, I get to meet her in person at the CFRR in Nashville…. and you better believe that I’m taking my well worn copies of The Secrets of Crittenden County for her to sign!)
Shelley Shepard Gray writes Amish romances for Harper Collins inspirational line, Avon Inspire and historical romances as Shelley Gray for Harper Collins Christian Publishers. Her novels have been Holt Medallion winners and Inspirational Readers Choice and Carol finalists. Shelley’s novels have appeared on both the New York Times and USA Today bestseller lists.
To date, Shelley has published over fifty novels for a variety of publishers. Her novels have been highlighted in the Philadelphia Enquirer, Washington Post, Time Magazine, and USA Today. She has also been interviewed on NPR as well as numerous regional radio stations.
Let me tell you, when those men get an angry fire in their eyes at the town’s despicable behavior, you will need one of those fans I’m always encouraging you to keep handy. Then when the fire turns into action? Yeah, just plan on slithering into a melty puddle of swoon until the end of the book.
I’m fanning just remembering some of those scenes! Whew.
Hi Shelley! Thank you so much for stopping by the blog – it’s such an honor for me to chat with you 🙂 I start everyone out with a “fast four” so let’s go!
Shelley: Apples~my daughter worked at an apple orchard for 4 years.
Shelley: Summer~I love to sit and write outside in the sun.
Shelley: Dogs, dogs, dogs. : ) I grew up with dogs and have always had at least one. I also happen to be allergic to cats.
Carrie: Somehow, I knew this would be your answer 😉 Zuzu is – needless to say – trying to figure out how to become your new best friend. Or your dog’s new best friend. I’m unclear. But she’s happy with your answer.
Shelley: Coffee. Tea always seems like too much trouble to make.
Around here I like to say that reading is my superpower. If YOU had a superpower, what would it be?
Shelley: Hmm. I would say reading but since it’s taken…I guess I would say baking cookies. I can make a pretty good batch of cookies very quickly.
Carrie: mmmmm that’s a very yummy superpower. And a dangerous one! LOL. With great power comes great responsibility…
Where is your favorite place to write (office, couch, back patio, etc)? Any strange quirks or go-to snacks?
Shelley: I write best in my office on my desktop. I do love writing outside on my laptop, though. The only ‘strange quirk’ I have is that I write the page numbers I hope to get to in my WIP and put little X’s over each one as I type pages.
You are one of my “auto-read” authors, meaning every time you release a book I will be reading it because I’m that confident it will be excellent. In fact, it almost doesn’t even matter what it’s about lol. With that in mind, what genre or story have you always dreamed of writing but haven’t yet?
Shelley: First, thank you. That is an enormous compliment! Yes, I always have a book or a story in mind. Some are historicals set in different time periods. Some are suspense novels. I also have been working on a YA suspense series that I’ve titled but have started to write yet. A lot of my ideas aren’t successful, but I enjoy giving things a try.
Carrie: “Build it and they will come” could be applied here – “Write it and Carrie will read it” 😉
I love the “band of brothers” in your new Lone Star Hero series. How did the inspiration for these characters come about?
Shelley: I grew up in Texas watching old westerns with my father and sneaking his Louis L’Amour novels. So, writing westerns set in Texas gives me an enormous amount of happiness. I came up with this group of men one evening with my husband. He was cooking, I was writing notes, and we brainstormed a series about a man who cared enough about the men he served with to promise to come their aid after the war. That was how Captain Devin Monroe and his band of brothers was formed.
Carrie: I love that you and your hubby brainstormed this series together! So sweet 🙂
The Loyal Heart has a fabulous mix of delightful characters! Of all these characters, who is most like you?
Shelley: Boy, what a great question! I always make up characters who I would like to know. I’m actually not very interesting at all! That said, I guess I’m a little like Devin Monroe, because I am looking after his comrades in each book.
Carrie: I doubt very much that you’re not interesting 🙂 but I love thinking of you as Devin Monroe watching out for the band of brothers.
In The Loyal Heart, there is a little bit of everything – humor, faith, romance, friendship, suspense, history. Which of these elements was your favorite part to write in Miranda and Robert’s story?
Shelley: Since I like to think of myself as a romance writer, Miranda and Robert’s romance was a favorite of mine. I was most proud of the scenes dealing with Miranda’s depression, because I think that was a very real and painful thing that she had to overcome.
Carrie: I loved the romance – of course – but the scenes dealing with Miranda’s depression really stuck with me. It’s not something we see a lot of in historical fiction and I thought you did a fantastic job authentically portraying her struggles.
Shelley – again, thank you so much for taking time to talk with me! I am honestly trying very hard not to fangirl too embarrassingly here. 🙂 Before we say goodbye for today, tell us what‘s coming up next for you.
Shelley: Thank you for hosting me! This has been a lot of fun. Next up, it’s back to Amish novels, with A Sister’s Wish and An Amish Family Christmas coming out in September and October. I’m currently writing Major Ethan Kelly’s novel now. He’s a little bit dreamy, so it’s been a lot of fun!
Carrie: mmmm yes…. Ethan… I’m waiting eagerly for his story! Lol.
Robert came to Galveston to fulfill his promise to a dying man and look after his widow. He didn’t expect to find love in the unlikeliest of places.
Robert Truax, former Second Lieutenant and Confederate officer in the Civil War, made a promise to his comrade Phillip Markham. If anything happened to Phillip, Robert would look after his beloved wife, Miranda. She was his life, his world, his everything.
After the war, Robert is left to pick up the pieces and fulfill his pact. When he arrives at Miranda’s home in Galveston, Texas, things are worse than he imagined. Phillip’s name has been dragged through the mud, everyone in town believes him to be a traitor, and his widow is treated as an outcast. Even more disturbing is her emotional well-being. Miranda seems hopeless, lost, and so very alone.
Robert had thought his duty would be simple. He would help Miranda as quickly as possible in order to honor a promise. But the moment Robert laid eyes on her, his plans changed. He’s mesmerized by her beauty and yearns to help her in any way he can.
He makes it his duty to protect Miranda, turn her reputation around, and to find some way to help her smile again. But it doesn’t prove to be an easy task—Robert knows something about Phillip that could shake Miranda to the core and alter her view of the man she thought she knew so well.
Purchase a copy: http://bit.ly/2ae3eOX
Other Books by Shelley Shepard Gray
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What about you? If you’ve read Shelley’s books, what’s your favorite? If you haven’t … I really must insist you do 😉