The Writing Life of: Shelley Wilson
This week I am thrilled to be interviewing author Shelley Wilson. Shelley will be sharing with us details of her writing life, telling us all about her latest book ‘The Phantom’s Curse‘, which will be released on the 11th June 2020 and answering a few fun questions too. This post contains affiliate links.
Shelley Wilson is an English author of motivational self-help titles and young adult fantasy fiction.
Her sensible side writes non-fiction books to inspire you to be the best you can be, and her playful side writes young adult fiction to remind you that magic exists.
Shelley Wilson is a single mum of three, has a crazy black cat called Luna and is obsessed with vampires, Tudor and Viking history, and exploring castles.
1) As a child did you have a dream job in mind?
When I was a child, I’d flit between wanting to be a librarian or an archaeologist! I guess writing for a living is a combination of the two.
2) Who was your favourite childhood author (s)?
I’m sure it will come as no surprise to hear me say Enid Blyton. The Folk of the Faraway Tree was my favourite book (and I’ve still got my original copy from the 70s – yes, I’m that old!).
3) Was there a particular point in your life that you realised you wanted to be a writer?
As soon as I could hold a pencil I knew I wanted to be a writer. I would fill notebooks with my stories and give my mum handwritten poems. The first time I thought it might be ‘possible’ was when my English teacher read my story out in class when I was about 15 – it was a proud moment.
4) What is your average writing day like? Do you have any special routines, word count, etc?
I’m a freelance writer as well as an author, so my day is divided between my two hats. Clearing my social media notifications is always first on the to-do list. I pre-plan my social content and schedule everything a month in advance, which takes all the stress out of marketing. I get to enjoy the fun bits of engaging with my followers and sharing any relevant articles/blog posts that would be helpful or interesting for them.
Once that’s done, I’ll work on any client projects such as website copy, newsletters, blog posts, or content planning. I may also run any coaching sessions I have in my diary. I’m an associate for a women in business network too and host sessions across my local area.
Where possible, I write a chapter a day when I’m working on my books. This might be in the afternoon if my client work is quiet, or on a Friday, which is my day off. I’m a single mum to three grown-up children, so finding time to write is never an issue (unless I’m needed to taxi my kids to their various social engagements of course!). My favourite time to write is at the weekend, with a mug of tea (in my favourite mug) and my laptop, overlooking the garden.
5) How many books have you written? Any unpublished work?
To date, I’ve written fifteen books; eight non-fiction, and seven YA fiction. Twelve are published, and three are with my publisher awaiting release dates. I’m currently working on book sixteen which is part of another YA series.
6) Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I’m an obsessive plotter all the way! Once upon a time I was a pantser, but those were the days I half wrote a million books and never completed anything. Since I began outlining and creating my character bios, my productivity has tripled. I now teach my writing students about the benefits of plotting.
Concerning your latest book:
Publisher – BHC Press
Pages – 208
Release Date – 11th June 2020
ISBN 13 – 978-1643970912
Format – ebook, paperback, hardcover
An old evil threatens to rise from the depths of the warded city…
Sixteen-year-old Marianne lives a simple life as a healer in the Link, looking after her younger brother since their parents’ exile. Little does she know how everything will change after attending the blessing in the city of Obanac. After her brother is wrongfully imprisoned, Marianne seeks his release from Crawford Reign, the Lord of Obanac. But she’s faced with an impossible choice—the lord wants her in exchange. To save her brother she turns to the daring outlaw Robbie and his friends for help. Along with the help of Theo, the holy man’s son, a daring rescue soon uncovers rumors of an old sorcerer who may still live and whispers of the phantom’s curse—an evil that requires a host and seeks to destroy the world—threatening to resurface.
With the threat of an old evil rising in Obanac and the attacks of the Black Riders throughout the realm, nowhere seems safe. To save the people of the land and everyone she cares about, Marianne must unlock the secret to who she really is and embrace the mage magic that stirs within her.
7) How did you go about researching the content for your book?
The beauty of writing fantasy or supernatural fiction is the ability to make it all up, which means research isn’t always necessary. However, for The Phantom’s Curse, I spent a lot of time at Kenilworth Castle (which is local to me) as this was the inspiration for Obanac. I used the Elizabethan Gardens as my herb garden, the Stables Tearoom as the Courtroom, and where the beautiful walks wrap around the castle, I reimagined them as tar filled pits to keep the bad guys out.
8) How long did it take to go from ideas stage to writing the last word?
I do all my plotting on paper and fill a new notebook with my character bios, synopsis, and outline. Once I’m happy that I know the story inside out, I begin to type straight to my computer. At this stage it can move quite quickly. If I get a good writing weekend under my belt I could hit a 5000+ word count. The ideas stage probably takes about a month as I live in my own head and find out who everyone is and what they want. Typing up the manuscript can take between four-six months depending on genre.
9) How did you come up with the title of your book?
I had The Phantom’s Curse in my head before anything else bubbled to the surface. At a book fair I attended a few years ago I realised I had a fan base of 11-year old boys, which is fantastic. They told me how much they loved fast-paced action stories, and weren’t bothered that all my main characters are female. The idea of writing a sword and sorcery novel appealed to me, and I knew I wanted it to be the kind of story these young men would also enjoy. The thought of a big fiery phantom cursing the land popped into my head at that moment.
10) Can you give us an insight into your characters?
When I was a teen, one of my favourite shows was Robin of Sherwood (Richard Carpenter). It influenced me so much. In The Phantom’s Curse, I wanted to reinvent the merry men scenario but make Maid Marion the badass heroine. Any eagle-eyed reader will notice the character names are in honour of Robin Hood.
As with all my YA novels, my mc is female and usually broken in some way. I use each story as a platform to promote inner strength, self-belief, friendships, and how not to give your personal power away – elements that I struggled with as a young adult. In TPC, Maz is forced into the spotlight when she receives unwanted attention from the Lord of Obanac. She has to learn how to stand up for herself, believe in her abilities, and the power of asking for help.
11) What process did you go through to get your book published?
I was incredibly fortunate to sign a publishing contract in 2017 with BHC Press. I’ve worked with the BHC team since 2014 and can’t praise them enough. My journey began as a self-published author but has now shifted. I’m supported by a thriving publisher who works hard for their authors.
12) What’s next for you writing wise?
The Phantom’s Curse comes out on 11th June, and my next non-fiction book releases early 2021. I then have a YA Viking novel ready for release, which I’m incredibly excited about. When I’m not planning out my book launches, I’m working on my next YA series, which is about my favourite supernatural creatures – vampires.
I’m a HUGE vampire fan, yet I’ve never felt drawn to write about them until recently. The characters popped into my head and kept chattering away at all hours, so I figured I owed them a voice. It’s a fun story so far, and I’m enjoying the process.
1) If you could have any super power for the day which would you choose?
Ooh, that’s easy! The ability to time travel. I would love to be able to pop back to chat with the Vikings, Anne Boleyn, and my ancestors throughout history.
2) Do you have any pets?
I have a crazy black cat called Luna (she’s five), and a 15-year old goldfish who will probably outlive me! He’s died twice and come back from his watery grave to swim another day – I kid you not!
3) If you decided to write an autobiography of your life, what would you call it?
Winging it! The life and times of a teenager trapped in the body of an adult! **grabs a notebook and starts plotting**
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?
I think I’d like to play Halia. She’s only got a bit part, but she’s a nymph with magical powers, and that sounds like it would be a fun character to play.
5) Where is your favourite holiday destination?
America. I’m trying to work my way through every state. So far, I’ve visited New York, Florida, California, Arkansas, Philadelphia, and Louisiana. For my 50th I’m planning to do Route 66 (or as much as I can), so I’ll be able to add a few more states to my travel bucket list.
6) A baseball cap wearing, talking duck casually wanders into your room, what is the first thing he says to you?
“You can’t use that plot twist, that’s quackers!” ☺
I would like to say a big thank you to Shelley Wilson for sharing with us details of her writing life and for a wonderful interview.