Good morning all,
I am so pleased to welcome Sheila Norton into Romaniac HQ for a little chin wag and a slice of Celia’s chocolate cake. It’s a special one, too. You know the type – with the chocolate cream and the white chocolate shavings on top … heaven.
So, firstly a massive hello and welcome, Sheila, it is so lovely to have you here. We hear you have a new book out, can you tell us a little about it?
Thank you – for the lovely welcome and especially the chocolate cake! Yes, I have a new book just out now – YESTERDAY. It’s a Kindle ebook on Amazon, priced at £1.99 and is the story of Cathy, who as a middle-aged journalist in 2004 has to revisit her teenage years during the violent clashes between the Mods and Rockers – and find the answers to some questions that have always haunted her.
‘Yesterday’ is set in the 1960’s, what made you choose this era to write about? Is this the first book you have written within this time period?
Basically, I chose the 1960s because I was a teenager myself then and remember it well! And I also think it was such an exciting era, with such a lot of changes happening, especially for young people. Yes, it’s the first book I’ve set in the 1960s – or in any other period other than the current day. All my other books have been contemporary.
You also have some books under the pseudonym Olivia Ryan, can you tell us a little about those?
I wrote a series of three novels – the ‘Tales from’ series – as Olivia Ryan because my then-editor thought they were a little different from my first five novels and she wanted to promote them as if they were by a ‘new’ author. They’re three completely different stories, but the connection is weddings: the titles are ‘Tales from a Hen Weekend’, ‘Tales from a Wedding Day’, and ‘Tales from a Honeymoon Hotel’. Since I’ve started self-publishing, though, I’ve reverted to my own name, as I feel this is how most people know me and will look for me on Amazon. I’ve published the ‘Sisters’ series this way, and now YESTERDAY.
Which genres do you prefer to read yourself for pleasure?
I’ll try most things! – but my favourite reads these days are usually suspense and thrillers. I do still like Rom Coms too (most of my previous 11 novels fall loosely into this category) especially if they have some emotional depth.
You run the Chelmsford Chapter meeting each month which is for the RNA, do you think regularly meeting other writers face to face is an important factor of being a writer? What benefits do you think this brings to both new and established writers?
Yes, making friends through the Chelmsford RNA chapter has been a definite bonus for me, especially since I retired from my day job at a hospital, as I sometimes miss the stimulation of constant company and conversation with all sorts of people! For new writers, a group like ours is (I hope) somewhere where they can find encouragement and support, and ask questions about their writing in a friendly atmosphere. Those of us who are already established also need that kind of support – we never become immune to the ups and downs of the writing life, or reach the point where we ‘know it all’.
You are a full time writer now – do you have a set routine to get the words down each day or do you wait for inspiration to strike?
Neither, really! I’m fortunate, now I’m retired, that I can write whenever I want to. Having written my first six published novels while working full-time, you can probably imagine how liberating this is! So I resist any form of routine, now – I just write whenever I have nothing else taking priority (e.g. spending time with my three lovely daughters and six gorgeous grandkids!). But I certainly don’t wait for inspiration to strike. That’s fatal! No book would ever get written!
What top three tips would you give an aspiring writer?
- Er … don’t wait for inspiration to strike! Just write – anything – no matter how bad it seems. It can be edited or deleted later but you have to get going.
- Don’t try to write in the style of the latest trend, or try too hard to be clever. Just write in your own voice – it will flow much better and be so much more readable.
- Most important of all: only write for one reason – because you love doing it. Everything else is a gamble.
Can we ask what you are going to be working on next?
There will be another book set mainly in the 1960s – this time set between England and Australia, and centred on a truly heartrending true life situation. I’ve also written the first draft of a contemporary book where the protagonists are all grandparents. I have plenty of experience to call on for this one! And finally I have a plan for yet another book set partly in the Sixties, and partly bang up to date in the current time.
Oooh, time for a Quick-fire round:
- Left or right? Right
- Seaside or mountains? Seaside
- Ebook or paperback? Ebook
- Champagne or cocktails? Champagne
- Pen & paper or straight to computer? Computer
- What or who makes you laugh? My little grandchildren
- Disco or Rock ‘n’ roll? Rock ‘n’ Roll
- Theatre or Cinema? Cinema
- Facebook or Twitter? Facebook
Well, thank you so much for being such a fantastic guest. We wish you all the very best of luck with ‘Yesterday’.
Thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure!
Sheila’s website – http://www.sheilanorton.co.uk/
Writing as Olivia Ryan – http://www.oliviaryan.com/