Q&A: Shelley Shepard Gray (Thankful)
YOUR NEWEST NOVEL, THANKFUL, HAS A PLOT WITH AN ODD SORT OF LOVE-SQUARE: CHRISTINA, ADEN AND CHRISTINA'S MOTHER AND FATHER. CAN YOU TELL US HOW AND WHERE YOU GO THE INITIAL INSPIRATION FOR THIS NOVEL?
When I began plotting this novel, I wanted to have several plots revolve around the idea of being thankful. I also wanted to focus on how one event can change many peoples’ lives. I thought Aden saving Christina’s life was just the sort of event that would resonate with many characters in the novel. Actually, I never thought of Christina’s parents being central characters in the novel. I simply knew, as a mom, that I would want to take care of both Christina and Aden.
HOW WAS THE WRITING PROCESS FOR THIS NOVEL DIFFERENT FROM YOUR PREVIOUS NOVELS?
I have to say that these characters really spoke to me. Because they felt so ‘real’ to me, I kept challenging myself to make them seem like real people to my readers. For example, no one in the book can really sleep, and they all handle their insomnia in different ways.
CAN YOU TELL US ABOUT YOUR MAIN CHARACTER, CHRISTINA? WHAT MAKES HER AN INTERESTING PROTAGONIST?
I loved how Christina was always going to be fragile in Aden’s eyes, because he knew how close he came to losing her. Yet, she was actually pretty strong.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS WILL GET OUT OF THIS NOVEL?
My biggest hope for every novel is that readers will feel that reading the book was time well spent. I know they have many books to choose from and not a lot of spare time, so it means the world to me when they pick one of my books to read. Beyond that, I hope that Christina and Aden’s story might inspire them to reach out to someone who has made a difference in his or her life.
WHAT FUTURE PLANS DO YOU HAVE FOR THE SERIES?
The next novel in the series is Joyful. It continues the trilogy’s storyline, of Judith and Ben’s efforts to have a child of their own. Joyful also features the Beiler family, who were introduced in Hopeful. Joyful features the romance of Randall Beiler and Elizabeth Nolt.