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Shelley Shepard GrayShelley Shepard Gray started writing about the Amish because their way of life appealed to her. She wanted to write stories about regular. likeable people in extraordinary situations-and who just happened to be Amish. She grew up in Houston, Texas, went to Colorado for college, and after living in Arizona, Dallas, and Denver,  she now resides in southern Ohio where she's lived for ten years .  Shelley has been married for twenty years and has raised two kids.

Favorite Verse: Romans 12:12: Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Interview with Shelley Shepard Gray


Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Something readers might not realize is that I grew up in Houston, Texas and later lived in Dallas for five years. My father had a ranch outside of Houston, and I spent lots of weekends there with him-trying not to sneeze! It turns out I’m very allergic to horses and hay. Currently, I live in southern Ohio and am a full-time writer.

How did you come up with the concept for A Texan’s Honor?
I’ve been intrigued for a while about train travel. Around the time I was writing The Caregiver (an Amish romance for Avon Inspire which begins on a train) I started fussing around with the first scene of A Texan’s Honor. I love the idea of a woman having to trust a man she also feared. Next thing I knew, I had the first chapter!

What was your inspiration to develop the story A Texan’s Honor?

I had so much fun with Clayton and Vanessa’s journey in the first book of the series, I was anxious to have another journey. This time, though, I wanted the tension to be higher. As soon as I had that first scene, I knew I had a great idea for a book.

In addition, when I wrote A Texan’s Promise, many of the characters referred to Scout Proffitt. He was Clayton and Corrine’s little brother who they feared they failed. Though Scout is the hero of A Texan’s Dream, I wanted readers to see him as an outlaw. So, that’s where his storyline comes from. Scout deals with a lot in this book.
Why did you choose the Walton gang?  Were they part of historical fact?

The Walton Gang is complete fiction! I wanted a band of outlaws, and the name Walton kind of stuck with me. I had fun inventing the very debonair and lethal James Walton, and imagining the dynamics of being in a gang like that.

Do you have a favorite character in A Texan’s Honor? Why?

A Texan’s Honor is one of the rare books that I’m completely happy with. I enjoyed a lot of the characters. I liked that Jamie was spunky and brave. I liked the Will wasn’t all that warm at first. And I really loved Scout and Kitty’s storyline, though it made me cry. I can’t say enough about how much I enjoy writing these novels for Abingdon Press.

How much research did A Texan’s Honor take?
I had spent so long doing research for A Texan’s Promise, that I had a lot of information in my head. That said, the hardest part was to equate my vision with actual train lines and timetables. Luckily, the editors at my publisher are amazing at locating research information that needed to be corrected. Of course, my emphasis in a novel is always centered around the characters. I want the characters to be as fleshed-out as I can make them.


What are the most interesting facts that you learned while researching and writing A Texan’s Honor?

I learned a whole lot more about life in small-town saloon than I should share! I also found a book with western slang. Not much of it could be used for the novel, but it did produce some interesting dinner conversation with my husband! 

How many books will be in the The Heart of a Hero Series?

The Heart of a Hero series is a trilogy. Scout Proffitt’s novel, A Texan’s Dream, is the final installment.  

What are some of the challenges you face as an author?
Right now, I’m finding time-management a big challenge. It’s easy to get bogged down in emails and other promotional tasks. They can take a lot of time! Some days, I’ll get so busy with emails and Facebook and other work that it will be four o’clock before I ever get started writing my pages for the day.
What aspects of being a writer do you enjoy the most?

Although I absolutely love hearing from readers, my favorite part about being a writer is writing. I’m one of those writers who loves to write! I love sitting at my computer in my pajamas, knowing that I don’t have anything planned for the day except to ‘count pages’. (I always make little ‘x’s on a page to mark off how many pages I get done in one day). Spending all day writing is a great day for me.

What new projects are on the horizon?

Besides A Texan’s Dream, I’m very excited my Amish series for 2012. The series is called The Secret of Crittenden County, and it all takes place in western Kentucky and centers around a murder. It’s been fun to write!

What message would you like your readers to take from reading A Texan’s Honor?
Perhaps that there is something good and bad in all of us. That old cliché, ‘you can’t judge a book by its cover’ really is true. Almost every character in the book has both good and bad traits.

What were your favorite books as a child?

I loved Nancy Drew books, and later Agatha Christie mysteries. I was a voracious reader, and I still am. If it’s in front of me, I’ll usually read it! I’ve also always been a fan of romances-I love books with happy endings. : )

What is your greatest achievement?

Being a mother is always my greatest achievement. That said, getting published was a big event in my life. Making the New York Times Bestseller List was a jaw-dropping moment for me-it went far beyond my biggest dreams.

What do you do to get away from it all?

Here at home, all I have to do is sit on our back deck with a book to get away from it all. I try to spend at least a little bit of time each day reading a novel. I also love to travel. My family went to Alaska last summer, and we’re hoping to go to Costa Rica this winter.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Please visit my website at, or visit me on Facebook. I’d love to hear what readers thought about A Texan’s Honor.




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