Memoir Readers: Shirley Hershey Showalter Discuss her soon to be published memoir: “Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets a Glittering World” will be published Fall, 2013
Hi Shirley! Can you tell readers a little about yourself?
I grew up in Pennsylvania, went to college in Virginia, grad school in Texas, career years in Indiana and Michigan and have now returned to Virginia, where my husband and I walk and bike on the hills in the Shenandoah Valley where we first met in 1966. I’m a mother and grandmother. I was president of Goshen College (1996-2004) and professor of English there for 21 years. I ended my career as a foundation executive at the Fetzer Institute and have become a full-time writer, blogger, speaker, and consultant since then. My husband and I spent the 2011-2012 academic year in Brooklyn taking care of our infant grandson by day and enjoying the city by night. I’ve had a life of great adventure beyond even my own dreams, and I write in a spirit of continued exploration and gratitude.
Q: Can you tell the readers a little about your memoir?
A: Blush: A Mennonite Girl Meets the Glittering World
Little Shirley Hershey, named for a movie star, grew up with her nose pressed to the window of the glittering world. Three locations shaped her—a family farm, a country school, and Lititz Mennonite Church. She later became a college president and then a foundation executive, but the rosy-cheeked, barefoot farm girl never quite disappeared.
As Willa Cather said, “Most of the basic material a writer works with is acquired before the age of fifteen.” This childhood memoir tells the story of a little girl who yearned to make a big splash in the world and found a surprising way to do it.
Q: What was your true inspiration for writing your book?
A: A combination of challenging myself to go deeper in self understanding in order to locate the values and stories I want to pass on to another generation.
Q: Is there a message you want to give your reader after they’ve read the book and what is the message?
A: There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be great, but you will never become great until you learn the meaning of true humility.
Q: Who would you recommend your book to?
A: Two groups: (A) people over 55 who are interested in simplicity, peace, and kindness and how to teach these things to the young. These people may or may not be Mennonite. They may have read Amish and Mennonite romance novels. (B) And young people who are interested in the story of an old-fashioned girl with lots of verve.
Q: What do you think makes your book unique?
The subtitle says it: Mennonite Girl. There are very few published true stories about Mennonite girls from Lancaster County, PA, the heart of “Pennsylvania Dutch” country. Millions of readers are reading fiction about young Amish and Mennonite girls. Here’s a real story from a real life.
Q: Was your book dedicated to anyone, if so who and why?
To My Mother
Barbara Ann Hess Hershey Becker
In her 87th year
You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.
Robert Louis Stevenson
Q: What is your reason for writing?
To increase the amount of love and forgiveness in the world. To prepare for the hour of my death, one good day at a time, and to help others do the same.
Shirley had cover reveal back in December, watch the video here:
It was my pleasure working with Shirley and getting know her better! Visit her website and Facebook page for updated information on her memoir.