Conversations With Colleen: Meet Author, Sheila Williams, @sheilawwilliams
Hello everyone! This week I’m thrilled to bring you a new author, Sheila Williams. I asked her to pick three or four questions from my huge list HERE. We all aspire to be successful authors and the best way to learn some of the tricks of the trade is to ask questions.
First, please meet my guest, Sheila Williams:
Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world on Guy Fawkes night, under cover of fireworks and bonfires. Outraged to find other nurslings in the nest, she attempted to return to her own world but found the portal closed.
Adopting a ‘make the best of it’ attitude she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. This included learning a language that no-one ever speaks and making complex calculations of no perceivable value.
Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – or to use the vernacular – careers; hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer. She attempted to integrate into society by means first of marriage and then partnered before setting out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.
Always fascinated by these humans amongst whom she dwells, she has developed an interest in psychology, magic, the supernatural, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her.
In her quest to understand this world she pursues knowledge of its history; not of kings and queens but of its ordinary people and how they lived and worked. To this end, she haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient artefacts can be uncovered.
She lives without the box of sound and pictures known locally as television and hence her already limited social skills are further curtailed not having a clue who came dancing with whom or who had talent…or not. She does however have access to something called DVDs and hibernates over winter with a large stack of them.
When spring arrives she may be found cherishing the plants in her garden, whistling with the birds and holding deep meaningful conversations with the resident toad who, one day, she hopes may turn into her prince and keep her in the manner to which she would like to become accustomed.
Her outlets from this unfathomable world include nature, animals (especially funny videos of), books and writing stories. This latter occupation enables her to create her own worlds, populate them and dispose of the residents as she thinks fit. She finds holding the fate of these poor souls in her hands immensely satisfying.Amazon.com
Hi, Colleen. Thanks so much for this interview. I’m really looking forward to our chat.
Hi, Sheila. It’s nice to meet you. What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
I often go back to one writer and one of her novels in particular. She is Daphne du Maurier, and the book is, The House on the Strand.
Some of her other novels, particularly Rebecca are well known but The House on the Strand seems to be less appreciated. Simply put it is a time travel novel where the main character, acting as a guinea-pig for a scientist friend travels back in time to medieval Cornwall in the SW of England.
He finds himself more and more drawn to the period and the characters he meets but cannot connect with, until that period is more real to him than his present day life. It is the psychological aspects that intrigue. Is it all in his head? Does he really time travel? I won’t spoil the story but I do recommend it.
I enjoy Daphne Du Maurier, also. I will have to check out “The House on the Strand.” So, what kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
Since I enjoy research – I probably do too much! I write both fiction and non-fiction so obviously research is important. My usual practice is to do a trawl of the internet to get an overview of what I am researching. During this time I note any books, papers and other resources that I may want to refer to later. For non-fiction this can result in a pretty long list together with, possibly, places to visit or people to talk to. This research often gives me the outline/chapters for the book and then I start writing.
For my fiction – which always incorporates an historical element I get an overview of the period and then, as I write I will do the research in tandem.
For example what were the clothes like? What weapons did they use? I also try to avoid using words that only came into everyday currency much later than the period my writing is set in. By the same token, I try to find a few words/phrases – such as swear words (!!!) that would have been in use at that period.
My aim always is to try and take the reader into the period and help them to use all their senses when imagining the scene. However, since I’m a beginner I don’t know if I achieve this yet.
I know what you mean. When we begin writing we turn into writing students. So, how many hours a day do you write?
I try to keep to a schedule of Monday-Friday mornings for the WIP or research. It doesn’t always happen that way but that’s the theory.
I lunch at midday with a friend whom I use as a sounding board, so it’s often quite lively and productive. He’s a brilliant cook too!
The afternoons I’m generally a bit zapped so don’t start up again until around 4.00pm. Then depending where I am with the WIP it could be quick editing or sketching out the next chapter.
Since I’ve published my first novel, I spend time on promotion and keeping up to date with social media. This can take a lot of time since I’m not (yet) very good at creating promo and am not at all comfortable with it either. However I publish independently and so it is something I have to make myself do.
Weekends I keep for the minutiae of life – shopping, housework, bureacracy (I live in France and I’m sure they invented paperwork) and so on. I love to garden so I’ll try and pinch a couple of hours out pulling weeds.
Living in France must be lovely. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
I have only written three books – one non-fiction, one set of short stories and a first novel.
The non-fiction took about two years in all including editing mainly because it needed on-site research. If I’m honest though, I dillied and dallied with it and probably could have finished much sooner.
The short stories took me about eighteen months including pro editing time and the fact that I got cold feet about publishing it. I had to be pushed into it by a friend.
For my novel, The Weave, I was much better organised. I had given up my business to ‘retire’ and write so I began a disciplined schedule of writing.
This was interrupted by a spur of the moment decision to move to France and the need to do some basic renovations to the house I bought.
I picked it up again last year, completed it, had a pro edit done and finally published it in November last year. So I’m not sure how long I could say it took me. I always get cold feet about publishing; there’s always some final tweaks I want to make which are really just mechanisms to avoid the dreaded moment. But it’s out there now on Amazon and novel number two is on the way.
Sheila, what works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictation, computer or longhand?
It depends where I am with the writing process. I do a certain amount of planning which is always handwritten in a special notebook. The first draft is always longhand.
I can’t really explain but writing direct to the computer seems to put something of a block in the way of my thoughts. I find I start fiddling around with spelling mistakes and punctuation and it distracts me.
Once I have a chapter in longhand (extra-fine felt-tip pen) I type it up in the evenings and before starting I promise myself I will not start changing things around. If I have an idea I note it down in my special notebook rather than work on it immediately.
If I need to look something up I note that down too. Once I have the first draft on the computer, me and my trusty notebook go through it and make whatever changes necessary. I do have some speech recognition software that I’ve never used and now and again, when the arthritis strikes, I’m tempted to do so. Perhaps one day I’ll get my act together and learn how to use it.
Books – Fiction
The Weave – A Romany witch, a French Count and an English author entangled in a lie told centuries ago…
The Siren and Other Strange Tales – Six short stories spanning the twentiethcentury in which the characters learn that death is not always the final curtain.
Books – Non-Fiction
Close to the Edge – Tales from the Holderness Coast
The Holderness Coast in East Yorkshire is a 38 mile stretch of English coastline. It has the dubious honour of being one of the fastest eroding coastlines in the world. Over the centuries more than 30 villages and settlements have ‘gone back to the sea’. The book captures some of the history of this unique coastal strip before it fulfils its destiny and falls into the sea.
How to contact Author, Sheila Williams
Amazon Author Page: https://amzn.to/2WQA38R
Thanks for stopping by to meet Sheila Williams. ❤