Bluegrass Courtship is the second in my Kentucky Corners series for Steeple Hill Love Inspired. It’s the story of a practical small town hardware store owner, Janet Bishop, who finds herself at odds with high-voltage Drew Downing, host of a church renovation reality show called Missionnovation. As you can imagine, I had lots of fun with the clash of cultures and the absurdities of having a television show invade a small town.
What did you learn from your characters while writing this book?
That’s a great question, because characters are always teaching us things. I have a friend who says “you write the book you need to read,” and I believe that to be true. Drew and Janet taught me to look twice at issues and actions, to think about the motivations as much as the results of any project, and to seek the joy that always comes with doing exactly what God wants you to be doing. We make ourselves miserable when we seek our own—God always has the better plan, even if it’s hard for us to see at the time.
How did you come up for the idea of Missionvation?
People ask me how I come up with my concepts all the time, because they are so unusual. I wish I knew the answer. Mostly, they dump themselves into my head without much warning. I’ve cried my way through my share of Extreme Makeover Home Edition episodes, however, and I was always intrigued by the human drama of demolition and reconstruction. And I have a soft spot for larger-than-life characters. So I decided, why not makeover churches? Missionnovation’s big green bus rolled into my head one day and took over, and the rest is… fiction.
You’ve set your current series in bluegrass country. What drew you to Kentucky as a setting?
I was in the region for the Kentucky Bookfair because of the Cincinnati setting of Bad Heiress Day (Cincinnati is just across the river from Kentucky), and fell in love with the area. I began combing the countryside for the perfect small town on which to base a series, and found Midway Kentucky. As I say in my books, Middleburg gets all of its charm—and none of its faults—from Midway. I’ve been back every year since, and there will be four Middleburg books by the time I say goodbye to that charming cast of characters.
You live in a suburb of the windy city — particularly brisk right now. What’s your favorite season in Chicago?
Well, it’s NOT winter. We’ve had far too many sub-zero days this season. I like seasons, and wouldn’t want to live in a 70-degree-every-day climate, but we’ve had extremes this winter. I’m a big fan of early fall—all the color, brisk but pleasant weather, pumpkin pies, kids back to school…all that good stuff.
You’re an avid knitter, in fact, at booksigning you’ll often knit a baby hat while talking to readers. Where did your love of knitting begin? What’s your favorite pattern?
I discovered knitting again when I started writing full-time. It is the perfect counterpoint to crafting words—I read for pleasure, of course, but my brain always seems to “go to work” when I read. Plus, as a mom, I like things that stay the way I put them. Knitting stays knitted. Kitchen counters, closets, bathrooms–and most of life–does not. I love that I take a straight piece of fiber and turn it into just about anything. It’s tactile and creative and very soothing. I don’t have a favorite pattern, although the baby hats are a bit of a specialty because I can usually finish one in a single afternoon such as a bookfair. I’m also really bad at just sitting. I can’t just sit and watch TV or just sit behind a book table, so it’s really in everyone’s best interest if I have my knitting. You wouldn’t want to spend lots of time with me in a meeting or an airport if they’ve taken away my knitting. If I every break an arm, they’ll just have to sedate me for the duration!
I also lead my church’s Prayer Shawl ministry, where we knit shawls and pray over them before giving them to people in need of healing or comfort—that’s been a tremendous experience for me where I’ve really felt God at work in my community.
Your blog has a four day knitter’s itinerary for Charleston, SC. Why Charleston? Are you getting ready to set some books there?
Ha…you’re on to me! Well, that and the fact that I’d never been to the city and my daughter was looking at colleges in the area. Location research is one of my favorite aspects of my work, so the DestiKNITions blog was a way to combine the passions. I was always hunting out the local yarn shops anyway, now I’m just a bit more deliberate (my husband might say obsessive) about it. It’s flexing a whole new set of writing (and, I hope, speaking) muscles, and I always find it’s fun to stretch in new directions. Plus, who could feel bad about an excuse to get new yarn or eat cupcakes?? When I go to ACFW in Denver this summer, you can be sure DestiKNITions will come along for the ride.
Look for Bluegrass Blessings, the third book in the series this summer, with Bluegrass Christmas to wrap up the series for the holidays.
The celebrity host of TV’s Missionnovation, Drew Downing is comfortable with his fame. He’s become accustomed to the cheering, star-struck townfolk that usually welcome him as he renovates churches countrywide. Usually. Then he and his crew set up in tiny Middleburg, Kentucky, to rebuild the church’s storm-damaged preschool. The very lovely, very no-nonsense hardware store owner Janet Bishop is suspicious of Drew’s true motives. It looks like Janet Bishop’s faith—in God, in herself, and in love—needs some serious rebuilding. And Drew Downing is just the man for the job.
From RTBookreviews Magazine:
“Four Stars–With some delightfully humorous moments, Pleiter delivers an appealing romance as well as a story filled with interesting characters”