I have a very special guest today. Bestselling author Sheila Roberts has seen her books translated into over a dozen languages. Her novels On Strike for Christmas and The Nine Lives of Christmas were made into movies for the Lifetime and Hallmark channels. When she’s not hanging out with her girlfriends or dancing with her husband she can be found writing about those things near and dear to women’s hearts: family, friends, and chocolate. Her latest book is the women’s fiction/romance, Starting Over on Blackberry Lane.
Thank you for this interview, Sheila. Can we begin by having you tell us how you got started writing women’s fiction?
Sheila: Many years ago, my mother-in-law and I decided I should write a story based on her life. My skills weren’t quite up to that project, but it did whet my appetite for more. I’d been writing short stories and magazine articles for years – was even writing stories as a child, so writing had already become an addiction. I came up with another idea, a historical set in Regency England about a lady thief, and that was the first book I saw published. That book is long since out of print and the publisher out of business, but I’m still here, telling stories that I hope will entertain and encourage women. Over the years I’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, some under different names. This book is number 41 for me.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book, Starting Over on Blackberry Lane?
Sheila:As the title implies, it’s about starting over. I have characters starting over with home improvement projects, careers, and love. I hope it will be a theme that resonates. At some point in our lives we all face the challenge of starting over, whether that’s in our career or in a relationship. Life doesn’t always go according to plan, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a new plan.
Can you tell us a little about your main characters?
Sheila:I have three different women at three different stages in life, each facing her own unique challenge. One has canceled the engagement and is hesitating at the edge of a new career adventure, working up the nerve to dive in. Another finds herself in the middle of a home improvement mess and needs to start over with someone other than her husband in charge. (Oh, how I could identify with the stress of remodeling! Been there, done that more than once.) My third heroine has hit middle age like a brick wall and is ready for a change, starting with a new relationship. I enjoyed launching these fictional friends in new directions. It’s my personal opinion that it’s never too late to find your soul mate, to make a dream come true. To do anything you set your mind to.
How exciting that your books were made into movies for Lifetime and the Hallmark Channel. Can you tell us how that happened?
Sheila:Producers are always on the look-out for material and I just happened to get lucky. The man who produced both movies is wonderful to work with and even allowed my husband and me a cameo appearance (in THE NINE LIVES OF CHRISTMAS). Of course, both movies were different than the books. Time constraints force the person writing the script to choose the highlights and let other things slide, sometimes even entire plot lines. But that’s okay. Once an author hands over her book then she has to allow it to become someone else’s brain baby.
What’s your secret for cranking out book after book?
Sheila:Ideas. As long as I keep getting ideas I suppose I’ll keep writing.
What’s next for you?
Sheila:I’ll have a Christmas tale coming out in November. Maybe if I’m lucky, someone will want to turn that one into a movie.
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