1. What were you in your life before you became a writer? Did this influence your writing?
It’s more a question of what I wasn’t. I trained as a nurse then retrained as a secretary. The skills I learned took me down a very winding path from sales to marketing, from medical research to education, from patient advocacy to the management of health care, from developing employment opportunities to supporting the UK government’s Department of Health. And while I was training I took a few diversions along the way such as picking and packing vegetables, stacking cheese in a supermarket, washing hair, working in a bar, typing up manuscripts…I could go on.
Did all of this influence my writing? You bet. For a start I learned to touch-type and this, without doubt, has proved to be my most useful asset. In the days when people still relied on secretaries, it was the skill that enabled me to move into junior and then senior management positions while other people were still waiting for someone else to type up their notes. It took me to places I might not otherwise have seen, such as company boardrooms and the UK’s Houses of Parliament, as well as into factories and hospitals, universities and schools, and the offices of everything from supermarkets to small charities. And all of this has influenced my writing.
While typing remains my most useful skill when I am writing, the many, many things I was lucky enough to experience during my working life colour my stories, often without me realising it until I read the finished draft. It’s then that I recognise people I have worked with, places I have been, things I have done…not the real facts of course, but a flavour, a resemblance, a memory that I didn’t know I still had.
2. Are you genre specific or general? Why?
I only write fiction and I guess I’m generalist but with a strong bias towards romance. This means that every book I write has at least one romance as part of the storyline. This is even true of my one children’s book. For me, however, romance can only ever be part of the story. The characters must have careers and ambitions, or families, or problems, or all four together. To me, a romance without those things is not even close to real life, and that goes for the books I wrote in the nineteen eighties (now a vintage collection) as well as the contemporary ones. It is also true of my one ghost story.
3. Did your reading choices have anything to do with your choice of a genre or genres?
I’m not sure that it did. I am a very eclectic reader who enjoys everything from crime fiction to historical novels with the classics and more serious books in between. I also read a great deal of non-fiction because I like to learn new things.
If I’m honest, when I started writing in the 1980s, book club romance was all the rage and publishers were looking for authors who could provide a regular supply of romantic fiction. Because I had always wanted to write I decided to have a go, and the rest is history.
5. What's your latest release?
Remembering Rose (Book 1 – Mapleby Memories)
The idea for this book had been with me for more than 20 years before I began to write it. The whole story evolved from two photographs: the first, taken around 1880, is of a lovely, happy young woman in her twenties, while the second one is of the same woman in her sixties. In the later photo she looks thin and tired and sad, and I wanted to know why. I never will of course, so instead I have imagined her story while weaving in the few facts I knew about her.
6. What are you working on now?
Two books. I have just finished revising Golden Girl, the last of my vintage collection. It will be published by Books We Love in March. This is the third edition of my very first published book and it needed a lot of revising. Set in 1964, before cell phones and computers, and way before social media, it is a snapshot of how life used to be in offices and organisations across the western world, and how women and men behaved in those days that aren’t quite history and yet seem to belong to another world.
The second book, which is still in need of a title, is Book 2 of Mapleby Memories. In it I have taken a secondary character from Remembering Rose and I am in the process of making it her story. This is both easier and more difficult than writing a new book because while a whole village full of characters are readily available, I must remember everything that has already happened to them.
7. Where can we find you?
My new website http://sheilaclaydon.com/ is a work in progress and something I will be working on over the next few weeks. I also have a Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SheilaClaydon.author . This also needs a bit of tweaking because, due to family happenings, I haven’t kept up to date in recent months. I am also on twitter…ditto. And last, but not least, at http://bookswelove.net/authors/claydon-sheila-romance/
My books can be found at Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords and Barnes and Noble, to name but a few.