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Interview with Toni Shiloh

Toni Shiloh is celebrating the recent release of Finding Love, book 2 in her The Maple Run series. As an avid reader who's finally living out her passion for writing, she shares a behind-the-scenes look at her new book.

Tell us about your story’s heroine Delaney Jones.
Delaney Jones is a widow and mom of two boys. I love Delaney because as much as she presents a strong front to others, she has broken pieces inside. Trusting doesn’t come easily since she became a widow. But she has a huge heart that just needs to be coaxed out of hiding. I pictured her as a 30-something Aisha Tyler.

Tell us about your story’s hero Sergeant First Class Luke Robinson.
I adore Luke Robinson. He has a heart for God, his country, and Delaney Jones. I pictured him as Henry Cavill with more facial hair and a Texas accent.

What draws Delaney and Luke to each other? Is there anything that keeps them apart?
Delaney and Luke have that instant attraction, but there’s more to that. Delaney comes to appreciate Luke’s calm and patience in a storm. His steadfastness wins her over. And Luke loves how Delaney treats her loved ones. He knows that she’ll be loyal and treat him right. Of course, Luke feels responsible for Delaney’s deceased husband. It prevents him from going all in. Delaney can’t see past Luke’s Army uniform.

What inspired you to make this story feature an interracial romance?
You know, I never set out to make it an interracial romance. The first draft of Finding Love featured an African American hero. Yet, the story was like sludge and the critiques all said it was kind of flat. I stepped away and just thought about what it was missing and realized I had the wrong hero for Delaney. When Luke walked onto the scene I was surprised that he was white, but it fit him, Delaney, and the story.

What were the unique challenges of writing this novel? What were the joys?
One of the challenges was what I mentioned earlier. I had written 28,000 words with the wrong hero. It crushed me to have to delete those scenes and start fresh. But the joy of seeing how well the next draft flowed freely from my fingertips was worth the initial heartache.

How did Delaney’s husband Parker die and how did his death affect her life?
Parker died in combat while stationed overseas for the US Army. It rocked her world. She sunk into depression for a while, had to move back home with her mother, and gave her a fear of falling in love with anyone wearing a uniform. But it also reminded her that family would always be there to get her through life’s trials.

What or who made Luke want to join the Army? How does his discipline as a soldier affect his approach to life?
Luke’s dad gave him a little nudge as he neared eighteen. He didn’t want his son wasting his life. Since Luke wasn’t up for college right after twelve grades of schooling, he joined the Army and loved it. His discipline helps him catalogue situations and decide how to tackle a project. It also opens him up to new experiences.

You served in the U.S. Air Force, right? Did your real-world experience impact the way that you wrote Luke’s character?
I did serve in the Air Force. I like to think that my military background added a little more authenticity to his character. But the Air Force is still very different than the Army. Thankfully, I’ve been around Army members, some family, some friends, so I wasn’t totally ignorant.

What is it about Delaney that endears Luke’s heart to her?
Delaney’s wit, charm, and character hooked Luke before he even had a chance.

What is it about Luke that Delaney doesn’t trust?
His uniform! How can she trust a man who answers to Uncle Sam to always be there for her? She knows it’s impossible yet her fear doesn’t want to give him a break.

Did you have a song playlist that you played in the background while writing this novel? If so, was there a lyric that fueled a pivotal point in your story?
Yes! I love creating playlists while writing. There’s something about the music flowing in the background that fuels me forward. One particular song, “King of the World” by Natalie Grant, really spoke to me. Delaney kept trying to tell God what to do, how to lead her life, and who to give her for a life mate. But she forgot who the King of the world is.

Who are your favorite authors? Name your top two and tell us how their books impacted your life.
Ack! Only two? That’s so very difficult, but I’ll try. First, Becky Wade. Her book, My Stubborn Heart, hit me in the feels with its sorrowful hero and determined heroine. I absolutely adored this book and wanted to write a book that had that much emotional impact.

Second, Ronie Kendig. As a former military member, I loved that all her characters were in the service. It’s like she cracked open a service member’s brain and extracted all the details that made us, us. Every time I read one of her books I feel a little nostalgic about that part of my life.

When did you “know” that you were an author?
I think the moment came when I was taking a Creative Writing class to help earn credits toward my Bachelor’s degree. Up until that point, I had only dreamed of writing a story. I considered myself an avid reader, which is why I wanted an English degree. The majority of my classes were all literature ones…heaven! When I was in high school, I let fear prevent me from taking a creative writing class, so this time I signed up. Once I wrote that first short story, I didn’t look back.

If you could spend a day with your favorite character from this book, who would you choose and why?
Wow! Such a tough question. As much as I love Luke and Delaney, I would love to spend time with Philip and Preston, Delaney’s twin boys. I have two boys as well, but they’re about 3 ½ years apart. Having twins would be an amazing thing to see for a day.

What do you want your readers to remember most about Finding Love?

That we can trust God. It’s difficult to do, but oh so worth it.


Alexis A. Goring is a passionate writer with a degree in Print Journalism and an MFA in Creative Writing. She loves the art of storytelling and hopes that her stories will connect readers with the enduring, forever love of Jesus Christ.

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