Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than one hundred novels, translated into multiple languages. In her years of researching the Amish community, she depends on her Amish friends for gossip, advice, and cinnamon rolls. Shelley enjoys writing about the Amish and visits Amish communities in Adams and Holmes counties several times a year.
In this interview, Shelley talks about her latest book, A Christmas Courtship, the third book in her Berlin Bookmobile Series.
FF: What inspired the story in your book?
I have always believed in the power of a good book and have tried to show how beneficial both books and libraries can be in the Berlin Bookmobile Series. Both the hero and heroine in A Christmas Courtship were a little awkward and shy. I thought it was great fun to have the librarian recommend romance novels for them to read.
FF: What can you tell us about the main characters in your book?
There are two main characters in this book, Sadie, a widow with three children and Atle, a confirmed forty-something year old bachelor who’s had a crush on her for years.
FF: What character surprised you the most?
Atle! Atle was older, more awkward, and far more romantic than I imagined he could be when I began the book. He became one of my most favorite heroes! He was certainly one of the bravest. I think it’s hard to make oneself vulnerable, and Atle certainly did that.
FF: Why do you think storytelling is such a powerful way to share truth?
I love writing about characters who are flawed and easy to relate to. I think reading stories about made-up characters’ journeys is a comfortable and safe way to learn a little bit about oneself. I know I always learn something new about myself whenever I write a novel.
FF: What kind of research did you do for this book?
I used my experiences with librarians, bookmobiles, and the Amish for this novel.
FF: What do you want readers to take away after reading your book?
As always, my only wish is for readers to be glad that they picked up the book and gave it a try. I love writing a book that people don’t want to put down. Nothing makes me happier than to hear from someone who said that they enjoyed escaping ‘real life’ for a couple of hours while reading my books.
FF: What are the biggest challenges for you as an author writing in your specific genre?
Since there are so many other talented authors in my genre, I think there’s a challenge to keep my novels fresh and current.
FF: What authors or books have inspired you as an author?
There have been a lot of books and authors who have inspired me. I loved the O’Malley series by Dee Henderson because it showed me just how readable Christian fiction can be. I love Anne Perry’s mysteries because they’re well researched, crafted, and written. Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series inspired me because she wrote over twenty books in a series featuring likeable characters who not only fall in love but also help their community. As you can see, I enjoy reading a variety of books.
FF: How has your faith or world view impacted the way you tell stories?
I’ve traveled a lot around the world and enjoy chatting with people from all walks of life. I also taught elementary school for a decade. I think those three things have helped me write the best books I can-I like to feature characters who are imperfect but are still hopeful for the future. To me, that is what a good story or romance is all about-facing challenges but still believing that one’s faith and hope will enable them to overcome any obstacle.
FF: What can you tell us about your next book?
My next novel being released is called Edgewater Road. It’s not Amish but is set in Ross County Ohio and features some secondary Amish characters. Edgewater Road is about a woman moving into her grandmother’s house. She quickly learns that her grandmother had a lot of secrets-and that the key to understanding them lies with her next door neighbor-a gruff ex-con. I’m excited about this novel!
A Christmas Courtship
Berlin Bookmobile Series #3
Shelley Shepard Gray
Genres: Amish, Romance
Release Date: October 19, 2021
In this endearing Christmas tale, a bookmobile librarian knows just the novel to help an Amish bachelor woo his next-door neighbor in the latest installment of the “charming” (Carla Laureano, RITA Award–winning author of Five Days in Skye) Berlin Bookmobile series.
A solitary sort, forty-two-year-old Atle Petersheim spends his time hard at work in his wood shop. But as the days get long, he realizes just how lonely he’s become. When his longtime crush, Sadie Mast, a widow and mother of three, asks him to help her build a room in their barn for her son Cale, Atle can’t say no. Eager to pursue Sadie at last, he turns to bookmobile librarian Sarah Anne Miller for courting advice. More than happy to help, Sarah Anne decides the best way to learn about love is through books—romance novels to be precise.
Between completing holiday orders for her flourishing food business, helping Cale navigate a dramatic new relationship with his boss’s daughter, and coming to terms with the trauma her late husband had inflicted upon her and her children—not to mention Atle showing up at her door with flowers—Sadie is in over her head. Though Atle’s efforts are initially clumsy and his declarations a bit awkward, Sadie can’t help but be charmed by him. He’s patient and kind…and at times even seems to know far more about romance than he’s let on.
Buy A Christmas Courtship from Amazon HERE!