The Writing Life of: Sheila Williams
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Sheila Williams. Sheila will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘The Weave‘, which was released on 7th February 2020 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Sheila Williams, author, slipped into this world under cover of fireworks on Guy Fawkes night. 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 (which has remained with her to this day) she endured a period of indoctrination to equip her for her place in society. Freeing herself as soon as possible from such torture, she embarked on a series of adventures – hospital manager, business consultant, life coach, sheep farmer.
Her attempts to integrate into society through marriage failed and she set out alone to discover another world, known as France, where she now resides.
Dark thoughts and black humour lurk within her attracting her to magic, ghosts, Ghoulies and things that go bump in the night. She haunts events such as boot fairs, vide-greniers and sales rooms where many ancient and weird artefacts can be uncovered.
She hibernates over winter with a large stack of DVDs and when spring arrives she may be found cherishing the plants in her garden and holding deep meaningful conversations with the resident toad who, one day, she hopes may turn into her prince.
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 them as she thinks fit.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
Apart from being a vague and waffly super-heroine who saves the world I did at various times want to be a doctor, a vet and a scientist (who also saves the world) but I discovered I was rubbish at maths and science so yielded to the force majeure of my nature.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
I loved Enid Blyton’s Famous Five books and anything with horses in by Monica Dickens.
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
No, I think I just drifted that way. When I was eight I had a story I wrote published in a school magazine but it was twenty years later that I consciously made a decision to write. I wrote mainly articles and features for magazines and did some radio work. Then, even later in life I wrote my two non-fiction books and published some short stories. I published my first novel ‘The Weave’ eighteen months ago.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I’m an early bird so I get up around 6.00. First thing is a mug of tea and then I take my dog Zouzou for his first walk of the day. A quick tidy up in the kitchen and then I start work. Sometimes it’s writing and research other times promo at which I am totally inept. I work until about midday depending on how its going then I break off. I come back to work around 6.00 in the evening and review, make research notes, try to find witty things to say on social media. If I’m at the editing stage I pick up the red pen as well.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
Four books in all. Loads of unpublished stuff as well as half-written and abandoned material.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
A bit of both. I start off with a sketchy outline of where I think the book is going and the characters I want to create. I do what research I think I’ll need to get me started and then, if the omens are propitious I’ll put pen to paper, literally.
Concerning your latest book:
Pages – 239
Release Date – 7th February 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1731093868
Format – ebook, paperback
The Weave – a fantasy mystery…
A Romany Witch, a French Count and an English author, all entangled in a lie told centuries ago…
Struggling author Richard Pease joins the Nonesuch Club – a writers’ retreat in France – run by the inscrutable Oskar. At the club he starts to write again and he thinks his problems are over. In fact they are just beginning. As he uncovers the secrets in the Club he finds himself trapped in a web of intrigue and deception and has more to worry about than writer’s block… such as escaping with his life.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
My latest book ‘The Weave’ is set primarily in the part of France where I live. I used a small town near my home as the main location and did quite a bit of wandering around the out-of-way streets and ruelles. The historical parts of the book I researched on the internet and, for one or two locations paid a visit and I used the history of a local chateau. I needed information about herbs and spiders. The former I found a lot of info on the internet but I also spoke to a few older people in the village who told me some of the lore surrounding herbs. To understand more about how Spiders live and work I used the online sources at the French Natural History Museum.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
I am a slow and rather tentative writer. I find non-fiction easier to write and once the research is done I can count on about 12 months for completion and ready to publish. My two fiction works probably took about 18 months each, maybe a bit longer because I moved to France in the middle of writing one of them.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
‘The Weave’ was the result of a boozy brain-storming session with a friend and it seemed to work because I arrived at the title of my current work-in-progress in exactly the same way.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
There are three main characters in The Weave. Ombrine aka Madame – a gypsy with ambitions and vengeance on her mind. She has a most unusual skill-set! Oskar, an inscrutable, intelligent and educated French Comte and Richard an English author, nervy, a bit neurotic and suffering from writers’ block after the success of his first novel.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
For ‘The Weave’ I used an editor to do a full line-by-line edit which was well worth the money I didn’t actually have. Then, I approached a few agents. One asked to see the full mss but despite one or two polite emails I never heard from her again. In the end, I did what I had done with the other books and self-published.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
I’m in the throes of writing my second novel. I got stuck with this one about half-way and put it on one side for a couple of months. In between, a friend and neighbour encouraged me to write a short memoir about my time as a hill farmer in the Yorkshire Dales. I don’t think I’ll do anything with that but it was fun to write something light-hearted. However, with confinement in France I decided it was the best opportunity to pick up the threads of the second novel and so I have. It’s slow going at the moment but at least I have a destination in mind.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
I think and imagine in a very visual way. I would love to be able to take all the images and scenes that form in my head as I’m writing and have them immediately transferred onto my PC.
2) Do you have any pets?
I have Zouzou a big golden fluffy beast with a will of iron. I call him the Ayatollah. I adopted him about 18 months ago. He’s French naturally, very camera shy and has a typical French preoccupation with food and like his mistress, during our confinement, is getting a bit tubby.
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
Sounds a bit grandiose but something like – ‘A Constant Conflict – Dreams v Reality’
4) Your book has been made into a feature film and you’ve been offered a cameo role, which part would you choose, or what would you be doing?
Oh, I’d probably have a scuttle-on role as one of the spiders. Perhaps one that delivers a coup de grace.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
Actually I can’t afford holidays. I have always been a Francophile and spent many of my holidays in France. Now I live here and I guess you could say my life is one long holiday now.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
‘What exactly are you going to do with that hatchet and those oranges’
I would like to say a big thank you to Sheila Williams for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.