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Hey Miss Sheelagh! I’m so glad you are taking a little time out of your day to hang out with me. Let’s start with a few easy questions.
What do you drink when you’re writing?
Flavoured water and if I am writing most of the day – I will take a break to have an Earl York (one tea bag of Earl Grey & one bag of Yorkshire tea brewed together in the pot.)
Do you have any pets?
Yes, Floss, a two year old Labrador-Springer mix. My ordination present from my family was a flat-coated retriever called Noah. Walking Floss is my daily downtime. Most of the time she lies on the sofa in my study and supervises me working.
Beach or mountains?
Depends – I love water and walking along the coastline in England is wonderful. But I am not one for sunbathing much – may be one afternoon with a good book. Otherwise I would go for the mountains. Fresh air, exercise in God’s great creation all around.
PC or Mac?
I just need something to write with, surf the net and communication so no point in a MAC.
What was the last book you read?
I sometimes read two at a time – I have just finished Stephen King’s On Writing & The Quaker Cafe by Brenda Bevan Remmes.
What author(s) has/have really influenced you?
Virginia Wolf – ‘To The Lighthouse’ is an all time favourite – I love the way she weaves nature with human events and relationships in the novel. I enjoy James Becker – he is excellent at the fast-pace thriller and always researches his stories well. A few years ago, I was working as a chaplain on the Italian holiday park and came across a novelist, Marina Fiorato, who writes historical romantic novels. For Christian fiction I enjoy Catherine Fox, an English novelist, who writes about the Church of England in a very real but humorous way.
What does your family think of your writing?
I have two grown up children. My son is keen on script-writing, so he has been very helpful as a sounding board for when I get in to trouble with my plots. My daughter has an English Degree and will critique my work sometimes. I think their attitude is – whatever makes Mum happy. I tend not to talk much about with the wider family.
How does your faith influence your writing?
It gives me code of conduct. My bench marker has always been I will not write anything I would be uncomfortable for my own family to read. As they have grown up this has broadened out, but at its core is keeping to the Christian values I try to live my own life. Having said all that, I guess if anyone reads Demons of Sphinx, (my new novel yet to be published) they might challenge me on it. This is because I wrote it for the inquiring non-Christian so it tackles issues by debating rather than preaching. So it would be considered ‘edgy Christian writing’. Natural Talent is tame in comparison.
How did you come up with the title for your book (and what is the title)?
I went through several titles for Natural Talent and decided on this because at the end of the day good acting will always come through in the end and Aaron, the MC, does find a new talent as a detective.
How quickly did you connect with your MC?
I usually have my main character(s) walk about in my head for a while before I start writing. In this case because of my involvement with youth and fringe theatre, I tapped into the young actors I had met to build up characters. I never quite know how my MCs will turn out until I have written the first draft.
Did any part of this story make you cry while you were writing it?
Yes, there is one character who discovers a big secret about their past. It’s quite sad and I would have loved to given her a happier conclusion to her situation but that would have been unreal.
What part of writing this book did you struggle with?
Usually I underwrite, but in the early draft but it came out at 140K words. I had to cull it down to 75K. Painful. Very painful, but worth it as the heart of the story gradually came out.
What part of writing this book did you celebrate the most?
Difficult to say – there are several points along the writing process that have me going ‘whoopie’. When I got to the end of a scene I know works well or finished a draft. Getting constructive feedback is always great because it means someone else cares about the work too. Writing is a very solitary occupation.
When a reader reaches the end of your book, what do you hope you’ve left them with?
First and foremost, that they had a good read and enjoyed it. Second, that they might have a better understanding of the themes in it and even want to know what happened next to the characters.
Back in the studio and learning to handle the trappings of fame, rising actor Aaron Summers soon learns that the real action is happening off camera when someone tries to sabotage the film he fought with his parents to do. Determined to stay in the picture, Aaron discovers a new talent when he turns detective. Can he unmask the saboteur before studio bosses axe the film and answer the question on everyone’s lips; who on earth wants to trash the very film that could make them all stars?
Get a copy of Natural Talent here: Amazon UK
This final question will wrap up our interview:
What is your dream writing space and do you have it already?
I would love a little hut (central heated as it gets cold here in the UK) by the sea.
Sheelagh is a writer and vicar living in the northeast of England. She worked as a youth and community worker before becoming a priest in Church of England in 2005. Natural Talent is her debut novel. She writes both secular and Christian writing. For more information please go to her website.
Where can we find you online?
Thank you for spending time with me today! It’s been a pleasure having you on the blog and getting to do this interview with you. Do you have any final words for our readers?
Watch this space – I have completed writing a trilogy set in the USA and England. The first book, Demons of Sphinx, is out for submission at present.