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Interview with Cheryl Williford

Cheryl Williford and her veteran husband, Henry, live in South Texas, where they’ve raised three children and numerous foster children, alongside a menagerie of rescued cats, dogs and hamsters. Her love for writing began in a Literature class and now her characters keep her grabbing for paper and pen. She is a member of her local ACFW and CWA chapters, loving grandmother, seamstress and watercolorist.

First off, congratulations for being married for over 50 years! I’m sure it’s hard to narrow it down, but could you share a piece of advice with us about establishing a lasting marriage?
People throw the word divorce around too much. Keep it out of your vocabulary and remember, you took a vow for better or worse. Be your mate’s best friend and believe in them. Never give up on God’s plan for both your lives.

What do you like most about writing Amish romance? What drew you to write about the Amish?
I love the people and their plain way of life.

A Love Inspired editor asked me for an Amish book and I agreed to write one, but really didn’t know what I was getting myself into since I hadn’t read that many. After much research I found myself loving the people, their struggles, the trust they have in God’s will for their lives.

What did you enjoy most about writing The Amish Widow’s Secret?
I enjoyed taking a leap of faith that would put my characters into a new part of the American landscape, where bikes and golf carts are the normal mode of transpiration. I allowed Pinecraft, Florida’s different set of rules and beliefs, to stretch my Amish characters to their limits.

What was one thing you learned while writing The Amish Widow’s Secret?
I learned that research takes a lot more time when you fall in love with the people and want to keep reading about their fascinating lives.

Where do your story and character ideas come from?
Most of the time my story ideas come from an article I’ve read or an incident I’ve hear about on the news. I begin that mental conversation all writers have with themselves. What will happen if I change this? Maybe that would happen if she’s alone and scared. A good brainstorming session with my husband usually gets me hurrying to my note pad, my mind brimming with ideas. Sometimes the words flow faster than I can write. My characters are often inspired by people I’ve meet, or have known for years, but sometimes just a gesture can put me in the mood to create a character who’s just like that, but oh so different. I guess you could say I collect personalities. :-)

What (or who) has been the biggest influence in your writing career?
My English Literature teacher in college was my biggest motivating force. I had to write a short story and she gave it high praise. I was already an avid reader, but after her encouragement I was hooked on creating my own worlds. My husband is another influence. The poor man’s been roped into brainstorming and line editing and is my biggest fan.

What author(s) do you look up to? And why?
Because I love a good, well-written mystery, I began reading Agatha Christy while in England and then later turned to P.D. James, but lately my favorite writers are John Brady and Kelly Irvin. John Brady writes strong Irish mysteries about the Irish Guarda and Kelly Irvin, who is a local friend of mine, writes wonderful Amish love stories that inspire me and make me smile.

What are you currently reading?
Right now I’m reading Patricia David’s new book, Amish Redemption. She’s such a good writer and I love her bigger-than-life characters.

Do you have an “all time” favorite book you can share with us? Why is it your favorite?
Oh, I have many favorite books, but one of them is Sweet Blessings, by Jillian Hart. What a touching book. She inspires me to write deeper and with strong emotion.

You say you like to travel, what has been one of your favorite trips you’ve taken?
I’d have to say my favorite trip was the one we took to England. We lived there for several years and I love the people and their slow pace of life. If I didn’t love Texas so much I’d probably still be living there.

What’s up next for you and your writing? Care to share what you’re working on?
Right now I’m line editing my second book for Harlequin Love Inspired. I’m told it should be out the early part of 2016. It’s all very exciting.

Any parting words?
Yes, I do have a few parting words to fellow writers out there who are up late most nights writing, using their lunch breaks to create great scene and structure. Keep writing, keep pushing forward! That first box of advanced books and every box after that makes our sacrifices so worth it. Reaching people for God through the written word is a ministry. He is well pleased. I know. My writing is a “God thing.”

Thanks for sharing with us, Cheryl!

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