Shelley Shepard Gray is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of more than 100 books, including Her Heart’s Desire. Two-time winner of the HOLT Medallion and a Carol Award finalist, Gray lives in Ohio, where she writes full-time, bakes too much, and can often be found walking her dachshunds on her town’s bike trail.
In this interview, Shelley talks with about her second book in the Season in Pinecraft Series, Her Only Wish.
FF: Can you please provide a brief summary of your novel, Her Only Wish?
After fighting a series of serious lung ailments throughout most of her childhood, Betsy Detweiler is determined to live her life to the fullest. She returns to the quaint Amish snowbird community of Pinecraft to visit her best friend and spend some time doing activities she’s always yearned to do. Then she meets August Troyer. August is the child of two devoted missionaries and spent his entire childhood moving from one mission to another all over the world. Now he’s managing his aunt and uncle’s public golf course. August is charmed by Betsy’s vibrant personality as well as her determination to live her life to the fullest.
As the two grow closer, each wrestle with duty to their families, the wishes and dreams that they hope to achieve, and their desires to be the people God intended them to be. Each begins to wonder if it’s possible to fall in love too…or if accomplishing all of their goals only leads to disappointment and heartache.
FF: Your female protagonist, Betsy Detweiler, has created a “life list.” What does this list entail?
Since Betsy feels that she was prevented from doing many “normal” activities during her childhood due to illness, she worries that she has been missing out. She calls her list a “life list” because she’s determined to experience a variety of things such as playing a round of golf, swimming, or even riding a bicycle. She feels once she experiences these simple things, she’ll finally be “living.”
FF: How did Betsy meet August Troyer and what role did he play in helping Betsy complete her list?
Betsy meets August on the golf course when he saves her from being hit by a golf ball. Soon he teaches her the basics of playing golf. She, in turn, inspires him to start living his life to its full potential as well.
FF: An underlying theme of Her Only Wish is learning to take risks. Can you expound upon this theme?
I loved exploring how each character in the novel defines what a risk is. Some, like Betsy, view it as an obstacle that might cause physical harm. Others believe that taking risks involves their hearts. Ultimately, each character concludes that in order to achieve his or her goals, some risks have to be taken. They also learn that they didn’t have to take a risk without support. Each character not only had people who loved and supported them but the Lord’s enduring love as well.
FF: Are there other lessons you hope readers gain from reading Her Only Wish?
I hope readers will be inspired to give greater credence to some of their own dreams and wishes. I tried to show that even small goals and wishes have merit. In addition, I hope my readers will be reminded that they are not alone. If they have faith, then God is always with them. That certainly helps me.
FF: Her Only Wish is the second volume in A Season in Pinecraft Series. What was the inspiration behind this series?
An underlying theme in most of my books is acceptance and belonging. For this series, I wanted to highlight three women who yearned to be accepted for who they were instead of who everyone else wished for them to be. Setting this series in sunny Florida has been an added bonus!
FF: What makes this series stand out from the other books you’ve written?
Though I’ve written many trilogies, I feel this series is particularly close-knit. Each book is intertwined with the other novels in the series. I’ve created a true community for my characters. I hope readers will feel like they, too, could enjoy having a season in Pinecraft.
FF: What do readers have to look forward to in the rest of this series?
The series will conclude with Her Secret Hope. It focuses on the last “wallflower” and is in some ways the most heart-wrenching. I think readers will be rooting for Lilly Kurtz as much as I have been.
Her Only Wish
Season in Pinecraft Series #2
Shelley Shepard Gray
Genres: Amish Romance
Release Date: June 6, 2023
The time for playing it safe is over
Sheltered yet adventurous, Betsy Detweiler is on a mission to get out of Kentucky and experience new things in life. She’s got a list–a life list. What better place to start than with her friends in beautiful Pinecraft, Florida?
From the moment Betsy walks into the Snow Bird Golf Course to sign up for lessons, August Troyer is mesmerized. Betsy is a mass of contradictions–beautiful yet awkward, outgoing yet unsure, joyful yet hesitant. She’s like no one he’s ever met before, and as the only child of missionary parents, he’s met a lot of people.
As Betsy and August embark on a month of enjoying life to the fullest, they’ll encounter several reasons to back off and play it safe. But playing it safe has its own consequences. This tender romance reminds us that life–and love–requires a fair amount of risk.
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