What is your book about?
Flower Child is about a mother who loses her first pregnancy to miscarriage but can’t quite let go of the child she thought she was bearing.
How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?
My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I wrote poem after poem aftwerwards. I think I always knew I’d end up writing a story instead, but I had to wait a long time.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
Actually it was a writing competition at our local writing group. The prompt was to write a short piece inspired by music, and I had John Denver’s Rhymes and Reasons spinning around in my head — For the children and the flowers / Are my sisters and my brothers… I found myself putting a childhood misunderstanding together with my adult experience.
Tell us a little about your main character?
Megan’s the grieving mother and I kind of identify with her, especially since my first child was born soon after the miscarriage — I couldn’t have both, and that gives you a very strange perspective on the one you’ve lost.
Who is your most unusual character?
The other main character, Angela, is definitely unusual in that she exists somewhere between angel and ghost.
How long did it take you to write your book?
From start to finish, about a week (it’s a short book). It took much longer to polish it though.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
I didn’t have any story in mind when I started writing. I was thinking about the John Denver song and the way I’d once imagined babies were born from seeds planted in special fields. The rest of it the story just happened on the page.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I feel like my characters develop themselves while they talk in my head. The hardest thing is avoiding turning everyone into me when I do too much editing.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished with a story?
When I feel like all the characters are sounding like me.
What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
I’d like them to wonder and recognize there might be more out there than we can comprehend. Maybe we could all be a bit less judgmental.
What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
This is my third book with Gypsy Shadow, and I have a novel coming out with Stonegarden next year. What’s changed for me is I can finally see my writing moving forward–I’m not standing still dreaming anymore–maybe sleepwalking, but not standing still.
How has your background influenced your writing?
I call myself a mongrel Christian mathematician. I think my mixed-up background helps me (or forces me to) see things from a slightly different perspective. Being an English American does the same thing — it makes me more aware of how many of my assumptions are cultural, so it lets me explore characters who might make different assumptions.
What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
I write when I have time. I always have done–there are boxes full of paper in the spare bedroom where I scribbled stories and poems before I had a computer.
What are you working on right now?
I’m editing Divide by Zero (my Stonegarden novel), trying to get up courage to send Chasing Shadows out (another novel), writing a sci-fi novel, and researching markets for my (unpublished) children’s series.
What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
I’ve surprised myself by finally learning to tell people I’m a writer — maybe that’s what I should have said has changed since my first book was published.
Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?
I have a mental list — a really really long one.
What do you like to read?
Almost anything–my son says I have no taste.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
I met Jane Kirkpatrick shortly after we moved to Oregon. She told me to keep writing. In fact, she’s told me several times to keep writing. It’s probably the most valuable piece of advice I’ve had.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
How have you marketed and promoted your work?
One way’s by answering this questionnaire. You are really helping me, and others, market and promote. Thank you Pat!
I’ve just spent all day trying to set up a blog tour, and my fingers are itching to write… I’m not very good at juggling.
Where can people learn more about your books? http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com
Many, many thanks Pat.
Thank you, Sheila! I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck with Flower Child.