Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. A past president of Romance Writers of America, Shirley’s has authored 29 books and won many awards and accolades for her work. You can connect with Shirley at www.shirleyhailstock.net.
Q. What inspired your plot for White Diamonds?
I wanted to write something different, something I didn’t read in every other romantic suspense I picked up. Since I went to college and spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., I decided to use that as the backdrop for my book. D.C. has so much potential with the government there. They can be the good guys or the bad guys. So the idea of a guy dying and sending something to his best friend, who is then fighting for his life but doesn’t know why, was too good to ignore. At the time I was unsure of what the “thing” was. Then I thought of a communication system that used white diamonds and the book was born. The world has become so small with the advent of the Internet. I thought what if someone could ease drop on a device, like a phone or a computer from anywhere in the world. I knew it was possible but didn't realize how close we were to that reality until after the book was published.
Q. Was writing something you've always wanted to pursue?
No, I truly wanted to be Sally Ride. I wanted to become an astronaut, but I wore glasses and women weren't in the astronaut program yet. I also studied Chemistry in college. I had thoughts of becoming a research chemist. But when I graduated, the timing for scientists was bad. I went back to school and got a degree in Accounting, something where they would always need people. I didn't decide to be a writer until a friend challenged me to write a book. I'd always written, but never considered being a writer. The rejection letter I received felt like a validation and I decided to try again. Eventually, I sold.
Q. What is the best part of being a full-time writer? What is the worst part of being a full-time writer?
The best part is that I get to write more than I would if I had a full-time job in addition to writing. While there are still things to do than can suck my writing time, I’ve given myself permission to ignore them. The writing comes first. The worst thing is I miss the interaction with people. E-mail is fine. I get too much of it, but I liked just talking to people, non-writing people and discussing whatever was current.
Q. Do you have a writing ritual? If so, describe it to us. If not, tell us why.
I write in the mornings now. I love to write during the daylight. When I daughter gets on the school bus, I finish my coffee and write. At night after she goes to sleep, I write again.
Q. Where is your most favorite place to write?
It should be my office. I painted it last spring and bought new curtains and a bookcase, rearranged the furniture. It looks great, but I don’t work there. I work in my family room. The space is larger and I can watch my daughter at the same time. However, I plan to return to my office, but writers make such a mess when they’re in the mist of a story.
Q. Do you plan your novels and novellas before you write them?
Yes, I’m a plotter. I love to work the story out ahead of time. For me, it means the down time is minimized. I always know what I’m supposed to do when I sit down. I feel it makes me more productive. This doesn’t take the spontaneity away from the book. If something sends me off on a tangent, I go with it. That’s where the energy is. If I can feel it, so will the reader. In fact, this happened with WHITE DIAMONDS. As my deadline approached, I was coming off of being the New Jersey Romance Writers chapter president and our first sold-out conference. To control the conference, we needed tickets for every event. While our conference committee was large there was a lot of work in coordination between the president and the conference committee. After the conference, as I was working my characters threw a wrench in my plot and the story took a turn I didn't expect. I didn’t have time to go back and unravel everything to take the book where it should have been. So I went with the flow, essentially working without an outline. In hindsight, it made the book much better.
Q. What book are you currently writing?
I'm working on a book called WEDDINGS BY DIANA. It's about a wedding planner/franchise owner with no time to date. She meets Mr. Right online, but when they meet face-to-face not only do they know each other, but there is no love between them. And to make matters worse, he wants the building that houses one of her franchises.
Q. What is your favorite snack to munch on while you're writing?
I try to eat healthy when writing. This is a technique that April Kihlstrom talked about in her Book in a Week Program. Sugary snacks cause me to become sluggish and I want to take a nap or go to sleep. I keep nuts and raisins, dried cranberries, popcorn, ice tea, yogurt, raw vegetables and fruits as the foods I snack on. These keep the blood sugar level and keep me awake and alert, plus I like them and they taste great. I also walk every hour for five to ten minutes to keep my neck and back muscles from getting tired.
Q. What can your fans expect next?
I have uploaded another e-book. This one is titled LEGACY. It’s a re-issue that has been updated to take in the technology of today and to enhance the story. While the romance remains basically the same, some scenes have been expanded. And I love the cover. Here’s a URL if you want to look at it. http://amzn.com/B00B4L0WIY.
Q. What advice do you have for aspiring authors?
Read, Read, Read and Write, Write, Write. Read everything. Read books you like and those you don’t, especially those you don’t like. Analyze them and see what they worked or didn’t work for you. When you write, make sure your book is the best it can be.