Interview with Sheila Myers-Author Spotlight
Sheila Rae Myers- Detective Jake: Ripped
Back in 2010, I made the decision to self-publish my very first book to the public eye, Finally Home. It seems that Createspace was still in the beginning stages around that time and as such, I had the opportunity to meet other authors who had similar goals as myself.
Though I've never "met" any of them and have never even spoken to them on the phone, they have still proved to be great assets to me and am proud to call them friends. We all have different passions and desires, but we do all have one thing in common—we love to write and love to see other writers flourish without competing against one another, a wonderful feat to accomplish!
After reading their books, I've even gained a great deal of respect for them and their talent. Not only are they amazing writers, but they have been helpful to me, resourceful, supportive and yes, have even offered constructive criticism and praise—both when warranted.
Since I've had this opportunity to meet them and enjoy their books, I thought everyone should know about them as well.
Sheila Rae Myers has granted me this interview and I believe you'll find her and her books worth getting to know better.
So, without further ado, my interview with Sheila.
Click here for a link to Sheila's hubs.
Are you an Author?
Have You Ever Wanted to Write a Book?
What types of books do you write about? What genre?
First and foremost, I consider myself a novelist. I began my writing career by publishing the first two books of a detective series. Crime fiction has since become my main focus for writing. I've also published four non-fiction books - two on Christian topics and two family histories.
What are their titles?
Detective Jake: The Search for Truth
Detective Jake: Ripped
Detective Jake: Phantoms
Detective Jake: Second Chances
Skulls of Hatred
The World or the Word
The Myers Family of Pennsylvania
The Myers Family of Tennessee
What first inspired you to write a book and did you always enjoy writing?
There are a few reasons I wrote my first book, but I think the main one is because I just wanted to see if I could really write a novel. While in college, a friend of mine was always telling me ideas he had for a novel he never wrote. When I told him I'd like to try to write an exciting story, he always encouraged me to try. I did, but it was a complete failure. The dream never died so I tried again once I discovered how much I enjoyed watching crime dramas and reading mysteries. Once I combined my interest in the crime solving process and my desire to write, I believe I found success.
Before I started college, I hated writing. A college English professor, L.A. Smith, caused me to change my attitude. When she made a writing assignment, she gave us a list of topics and/or types of papers to write and we could choose the one we thought was the most interesting. This gave us the freedom to write about things we knew and not some random topic a teacher wanted to read about. Writing what I wanted to write, not what someone else wanted to read, made writing much more enjoyable.
In your fictional books, how do you choose your characters? Are they a complete figment of your imagination?
I've never been asked how I choose my characters before so I had to give it a lot of thought before I could write an answer. Part of the answer is that they reflect real life. People don't live in isolation so, in a novel, the main character has to interact with family, co-workers, and neighbors. Writing crime fiction also means there has to be at least one villain. All of these additional characters influence the main character in one way or another. As I write about a situation, I just say to myself "I need a new person to do [whatever the action is]".
Some of my characters are completely imaginary. I don't know about you, but I've never met or talked to a hardened criminal or homicidal maniac . . . at least not that I know. Most of the supporting cast of characters - those who only appear in one novel - are people from my imagination and designed to fill a particular role. A lot of the recurring characters are loosely based on family, friends, or acquaintances. For example, Jake is my main character and is a combination of several police officers I've known throughout my life with some of my own ideas thrown in.
How do you come up with names for your characters? Is it random?
Some names are random, some are intentionally chosen.
I've always liked the names Jake and Clarissa so they were obvious choices for my main character and his wife. For their last name, I wanted something less common so it would stand out and chose Stalb from my family ancestry. The names for Jake's friends, co-workers, and family are combinations of the first and last names of the people who are a big part of my life.
For non-recurring characters I've created three lists: male names, female names and last names. I got all of the names from yearbooks and my family history. When I need a name for a character, I randomly pick a first and last name from those lists. The exception is when I need an obviously ethnic name for a character. For example, if I need a name for a Jewish Rabbi, I go to a website of Hebrew baby names and choose some names.
Do you use an outline?
I always create an outline when I'm brainstorming ideas for a novel. It helps to organize all of my random thoughts about what I want to write. Once I start writing, I add reminders to talk more about something important. When Jake finds a clue, I make a note later in the outline so I don't forget to write how that clue helps him with his investigation. But I don't let my outlines force the story. I'll change the outline if I feel things need to be written in a different order.
How do you think of the storyline for each of your books?
I'm sure there are some people who think all crime novels are the same. In a sense they are. Everyone knows that people get murdered, are bullied, and are victims of sexual crimes. They also know that, in crime novels, the bad guy ends up getting caught in the end. My goal is to not write my stories the same old way. Instead of the focus being almost entirely on solving of the crime, I relate how Jake's job and what he experiences there influences his personal life and vice versa. I guess a shorter answer would be that I incorporate my opinions, experiences, and beliefs into the story. I think about how I would respond in a given situation and that becomes what Jake does.
What is your favorite book (of yours)?
Oh wow! This is hard to answer. will always be one of the top choices because it was my first novel. If I had to choose one to list as my ultimate favorite, at this time it would be Detective Jake: Second Chances. Although the plots of the two crimes being investigated aren't as complicated as those in my other books, I think Second Chances best relates the depth of Jake's character. Detective Jake: The Search for Truth
What type of genre do you typically read?
I'll read just about anything if it sounds interesting enough. That said, when I shop for books, I tend to stick with crime/mystery, psychological thrillers, and action/adventure.
Is there a specific message you wish to relay to your readers?
The simple answer is "Do to others as you would have them do to you".
If you had the choice to make any of your books into a movie, which one would you choose and why?
Probably Skulls of Hatred. There is so much religious persecution in the world today and that shouldn't be the case. The stereotypes need to be broken. Not every Muslim is a terrorist, not every Jew is a thief, and not every Christian is a hypocrite. I think Skulls of Hatred shows how each religion can continue to practice their faith without compromise while still setting aside our differences in order to work together and make the world a better place. I believe this is message everyone needs to hear and accept before we destroy each other.
Why did you choose the self-publishing route over the traditional publishing route?
As with a lot of new authors, I couldn't find a literary agent who would represent me and my work. Very few agents seem willing to take on an author no one has ever heard about. But I think my main motivation was a review I received from an evaluator at a Christian fiction service. This service provides an evaluation of new authors and, if in their experience, they think the story is well-written and marketable, they will send a summary of the manuscript to Christian publishers. I received a mixed review. For the most part, it was great. Unfortunately, I was told that the ending of my story was "something that's been done before" and that "after the readers invested their emotions into the story, they'll feel cheated in the end". In other words, this evaluator wanted me to change the end of my story. That was something I wasn't willing to do. My story was my story and I wasn't going to change a major part of the plot. Self-publishing allows me to write my story anyway I choose.
I'd like to add that I'm so glad I decided to self-publish the book without changing a thing. Instead of the readers feeling cheated as predicted by the evaluator, everyone who has read Detective Jake: The Search for Truth and talked to me about it has said they love the end.
What Social Media sites do you enjoy (If any)?
I've tried MySpace, Windows Live, and Blogspot and haven't found them very social. Google+ is a good place and people seem to get involved in deeper conversations, but it all seems so random. These are just my impressions and other people might have better experiences at those places. I enjoy Facebook as a place to interact with my family and friends. I'm not sure if Hubpages is really considered a social network, but any time you can interact with other people that fits my definition of "social". I think I'm really going to enjoy Hubpages because I see that people get into deeper conversations about the topics being presented by the different writers.
What advice to you have for anyone looking to start writing?
NEVER GIVE UP! If you try writing and feel you aren't good enough all you have to do is keep working at it. More than that, don't give up just because other people try to tear you down. No matter how many people tell you you're wasting your time, you'll never get published, or anything else negative, ignore them. Yes, you have to think about your potential audience and their likes and dislikes. However, I truly believe that writing is more about the opinions and tastes of the author than about everyone else. Make yourself happy and create something you enjoy. To paraphrase a movie quote, "If you write it, the readers will come".
Are you currently writing a book now? If so, when can we expect to see it published?
I have the main plot all figured out, but I haven't started writing yet. Hopefully, I'll get through the publishing process early in 2014.
Where can we find your books?
All of my books are available in print through Amazon. Except for the family histories, they're also available for all of the various e-readers.
Dream Catcher Vase
Links and Notes
Thank you Sheila for giving me the opportunity to do this interview. I found it so interesting that someone with such wonderful talent actually hated writing at one point!
I think Sheila delivered such an important message. Treat others as you would like to be treated. And regarding advice to others about writing- There are so many nay-sayers out there who want to discourage you for their own reasons. Don't listen to them. If you have a dream, chase it. If you persist and try hard enough, you'll catch it!
Click here for a link to all of Sheila's books.
Click here for a link to Sheila's hubs.