(CBS Local)– Shelley Shepard Gray is a New York Times best-selling author and has written over 50 books about the Amish community. Her new book called “Perfect Amish Romance” from Simon & Schuster, is part of a new series where she explores the relationship between Aaron Coblentz and Kayla Kaufman and the challenges they face from their Amish families as they fall in love.
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As Coblentz is studying for the GED in order to get promoted at work, he asks the town’s bookmobile driver Sarah Anne Miller if she has any books he can use to study. Instead of books, Miller offers a tutor who ends up being Kaufman. Gray was interested in writing this book for a number of different reasons and she is excited for her fans to check it out.
“One of my favorite things to do as a writer before quarantine was going to visit libraries,” said Gray, in an interview with CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith. “One time I was sitting at a luncheon and they just happened to be librarians for the bookmobile. They were telling me about going and helping their Amish patrons and making sure they had the books and materials they needed. That conversation stuck with me for years. I was able to start a new series set in Ohio and I thought I could combine my love for libraries, my fascination with the bookmobile and my love for writing about the Amish.”
Gray’s book is out January 19 wherever books are sold. The author enjoyed exploring the concept of a bookmobile driver playing matchmaker between Aaron and Kayla. Gray has friends in the Amish community and she’s always made it a point of emphasis to humanize these folks and accurately portray their lives.
“When I first started writing about the Amish, I had only been to the Amish stores to get cinnamon rolls,” said Gray. “I knew there were buggies and I knew they had triangles on their buggies and I knew everyone was nice and that was the extent. I met a couple at church and they had a best friend who was Amish. I slowly got to develop a relationship with all the Amish people there and they helped me. You can’t pretend the Amish are perfect or paper dolls. Just because they all look alike, doesn’t mean they’re the same. For example, in Holmes County, Ohio, there’s 40,000 Amish. You take a group of 40,000 people anywhere and you are going to have a whole assortment. Some lovely people and some not so much. I really enjoyed trying to humanize.”
Watch all of DJ Sixsmith’s interviews from “The Sit-Down” series here.