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Interview: Sheila Hollinghead

for RRIt’s been said that writers must first be readers. Do you enjoy reading?

I am a voracious reader with an insatiable innate curiosity. So, that would be a yes. 

What genres do you read most?

I have an eclectic taste—I like mysteries, sci-fi, fantasy, suspense, biographies, historicals, etc., etc.

Who are your favorite authors, and what makes them special to you?

Agatha Christie and Charles Dickens are two who come to mind. I admire beautiful prose but foremost to me is a compelling story with characters I long to know more about.

When did you decide you wanted to write?

When I learned mere mortals wrote most books, and they were not handed to us by the gods. Although that last is debatable.

How many books have you written, and how many of them have been published?

I have written four books, three of which have been published.

How do you prepare to write a book? Did you do any special research?

My husband said to tell you that I bought a recliner, a soft blanket, and a laptop. Also, a cat and small lapdog are optional. I settle in the recliner, daydream a little, and then the fun begins. Daydreaming leads to constructing scenes. When I have a beginning, middle, and end in mind, I put pen to paper. Oops. I mean fingers to keyboard.

How long have you been writing?

I remember vividly writing a story about my pet dog in the second grade. That would be over fifty years ago.

What genre do you usually write?

My first two published books have been young adult, but I plan to write a series in the sci fi/suspense/thriller category.

Can you tell us a little about your latest book?

My latest book is Clothed In Thunder, In the Shadow of the Cedar, Book 2. It continues the story of Sarah Jane, Zeke, Michael, and Dan. It is a fictional story but is based on stories my mother told of growing up on a farm in south Alabama during the Great Depression. The core idea is that our journeys change us, sometimes for good and sometimes for bad.

Do you ever encounter surprises during your writing sessions?

I’d say so! For example, a small detail in the first book of the series–one that I gave little thought to–led to a moving scene in Clothed in Thunder. That has happened numerous times and always wows me. It is more than me, so that’s a humbling thought, and one that makes me aware of the responsibility I have to do my best work.

Another surprise with this book was the emotional toil writing entails. Writing drags up a lot from our subconscious. Processing the turmoil was extremely painful. However, I muddled through but note that the pages are stained with tears.

(Actually, the tears landed on the keyboard. The laptop is now in the repair shop.)

How do you get an idea for a book?

Plucked from the very air around me. Stories surround us. The difficult part is paring down to the essential truth. Either that or my little dog tells me.

Are you a plotter or a panster? Explain your writing process.

I am a planster. I plot the beginning, middle, and end. During the actual writing, I become a panster, following where my characters lead.

How did you get your first book published?

With my first book, I queried agents and publishers and also attended conferences. I discovered that I’m too mainstream for the Christian market and too Christian for the mainstream market. I took matters into my own hands and sought help. A couple of months later I had my printed book in hand. Self publishing is great for those of us who fail to fit comfortably in a niche. I have been given this opportunity to write and publish. I plan to use it wisely.

Do you have any advice for beginning writers?

Learn self discipline. Keep going. The writing of the story may be fun until someone gets an eye put out. Wait. I mean, it’s fun until you must begin the hard work of revising, deleting, rearranging, revising, editing, revising, editing, and, finally, have someone (in my case, my husband) pull the book from your hands and say it’s ready. Much like getting an eye plucked out.

And, then, to let the book go. It’s difficult to watch while it takes its first wobbly steps, and you hold your breath, hoping no one knocks it down.

But even if a bully pushes it down, and it skins its knees on the pavement, you must continue. Keep trying until you finally get one able to walk, perhaps even to soar.

Discipline and perseverance pays off! If not monetarily, at least in the satisfaction of a job well done.

Thank you, Sheila.

Thundersnow and Eternal Springs are free for the Kindle from December 18th to the 22nd. You can find Shelia’s books, including her latest novel, Clothed in Thunder (In the Shadow of the Cedar) at Amazon:


6 comments on “Interview: Sheila Hollinghead

  1. Christine Lindsay
    December 17, 2012

    Great article. Really enjoyed reading about your journey Sheila.

    • sheilahollinghead
      December 17, 2012

      Thanks, Christine!

  2. banjobo
    December 17, 2012

    Great interview, Sheila!! I remember you saying some of these things to me before! 🙂 Great advice!

    • sheilahollinghead
      December 17, 2012

      Thanks, Banjobo! I hope the advice helps!

  3. ceciliamariepulliam
    December 18, 2012

    I love your writing style, Sheila! Great interview!

    • sheilahollinghead
      December 19, 2012

      Thanks, Marie

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This entry was posted on December 17, 2012 by in Author Interviews.

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