Today I chat with Shirley Hailstock writer and author of numerous romance novels. For transparency you should know that I have known Ms. Hailstock (Shirley) since 1998; when I say 'known her' I mean in a way that many fans know their favorite authors. When I started a writing group for authors of color, Shirley joined very early. It is because of writers like her that I am so fond of the romance genre. Although I am a long-time fan, and have followed her in her book writing journey I realized I knew nothing about her personal life. Today changes that.
1. Shirley as a fiction writer, how do you manage to separate your family commitment time and your writing time?
I learned years ago to compartmentalize home and work. I am home during the day and often find myself running errands. When I daughter arrives from school, I give her my undivided attention. After she goes to bed, my time is mine and I write without interruption. If Iím really pressed with a deadline, I find something for my daughter to do that allows me to write at the same time.
2. You write romance and what is called "women's fiction," what made you choose these genres?
This is what I was reading. I loved romance and loved adding details around the core story to make it richer and make the reader want to find out what was motivating the characters to reach concurrent goals. I also find I can incorporate other types of stories under the romance umbrella, i.e. adventure, suspense, paranormal elements, etc.
3. Was there anyone in particular that influenced your call to write?
Being a writer wasnít one of my goals for a profession. I was able to write stories, but didnít really think of it as anything other than doing the prescribed schoolwork. Long after I got out of college a friend challenged me to write a book. So I sat down and wrote one. After she read parts of it, she encouraged me to try and get it published. This is when the writing bug bit me and from then on I wanted to be a published author. .
4. How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends on the book, however, Iíd say I average about 5-6 months for a 50,000-70,000 word book.
5. How does your family feel about having an author in the family?
They are very proud. When I visit family usually some friend of theirs comes by and asks if Iím the one whoís the writer. They usually tell me how much my family talks about me.
6. Have you ever gotten an idea for a book from a family member? Where do your ideas come from?
Iíve never gotten an idea for a book from a family member. Some want to be characters in the books. Others donít. Iíve never used any of them as characters, although I have used a few of their names. Itís hard to say where ideas come from. They pop into my head at different times. I could be out somewhere and overhear a conversation that sparks an idea. I could get an idea from watching television or reading someone elseís book.
7. Any advice to those who have a family to take care of, but are also aspiring to become an author?
This is advice I give, but few people listen to. Most just say they donít have time. My motto is "we always have time to do what we want to do." So if a person wants to write, they should make it a priority. Make the sacrifice of getting up an hour early and writing or making sure your family knows that you have a writing time. And stick to it. If you can cultivate a process where noise is not an issue, it might be easier to write. I donít need quiet to produce. I can filter out just about everything to get my story done. Donít put writing last. Make it first.
Also, if you donít belong to a writing organization like Romance Writers of America, join. Join the local chapter and attend the meetings. A wealth of information is exchanged at these meetings, not to mention networking, and learning information from other members.
8. How may readers get in touch with you?
Readers can reach me through my website or facebook. I have a twitter account, but I havenít learned it well enough yet. Here are my addresses:
Thank you Shirley Hailstock, your chat is much appreciated.
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