Shirley Roe is an author and Managing Editor for Allbooks Review International. As a freelance writer, she spends time between Canada and the USA. Her published work, including inspirational articles and award winning poetry, has appeared in magazines, anthologies and daily newspapers. She writes a syndicated column for 21 news outlets in North America including World News.
Winner of the Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Achievement in Poetry for 2002 and 2004 as well as recipient of the Freelance Writing Org. Int. First Place Award in 2003 for Business Articles, she excels in several genres.
Shirley’s first novel, Of Dreams and Nightmares was released in the fall of 2004. It won the UK Gold Blether Award in 2004. It has now been rereleased as Dreams and Nightmares: The Martha Whittaker Story by Realtime Publishing. Now My Life Begins, her second book, was released in 2011 in print and ebook version. Shirley and her husband enjoy traveling and every trip is research for the next story.
Thanks for this interview, Shirley! You’ve had two novels published recently. Dreams and Nightmares: The Martha Whittaker Story, was released this past December and Now My Life Begins just came out last month. At the same time, you’re Managing Editor at AllBookReviews.com. Where do you get your energy and how do you divide your time?
Writing is my passion and I never feel rushed or bothered when I write. If the mood strikes, I work on the novels whatever time of day or night. Allbooks Review requires several hours a day and I diligently do whatever is required first thing in the morning. My day starts about 6:00 a.m. and I have quite a lot done by 9:00 a.m. when most people start their day. I am very fortunate to have a great family of people working with me at Allbooks Review and with 32 reviewers, an editor and marketing person, we manage to get it all done. Since I travel a great deal, I always have the computer with me and continue to conduct my business while traveling.
Let’s talk first about Dreams and Nightmares: The Martha Whittaker Story, which I hear won the UK Blether GOLD Award. What’s it about and what compelled you to write it?
Dreams and Nightmares is the story of a young English aristocrat in the mid 1800’s. Through an arranged marriage, she finds herself taken from the safety and security of England and transported to America. There Martha, her new husband, his three sons and several other pioneers travel by wagon train to Wyoming territory. We follow her through many trials and tribulations as her life is drastically changed.
I wrote this story because the character of Martha literally haunted me. I think most authors would understand that. I dreamt of her, I would visualize her trudging across the prairie, and I simply could not shake the feeling that she wanted her story told. I soon became to think of the Whittakers as my family. When I started I had no idea it would turn into a trilogy, I just knew Martha’s story had to be told.
How did you set out to research the pioneering era?
I spent hours in the library, on the internet and reading books of that era to learn as much as I could. The research took two years before I felt ready to begin. Whenever I travel, I always try to learn new things about the places I go. This can be very helpful in putting together a novel.
Now My Life Begins just came out last month. How is that novel different from Dreams and Nightmares?
Once again the character of Jenny Barstow haunted me, and she too had a story to tell. It is set in the early 1900’s and is the story of a young woman in Edinburgh and her life as she experiences both WWI and WWII. Having spent time in the city of Edinburgh, I was captivated by it and wanted to use it as a setting in one of my novels. This book will not become a trilogy as I feel the story was told in its entirety in one book. Jenny and Martha do have some similarities in that they are both young, impressionable and innocent when their stories begin.
How would you describe your writing style? Does it change from one book to another?
I like an easy, flowing style that tells a story. I feel the main character is most important in all of my books. I try to let the reader embrace the characters as if they are good friends. All of my books are stories of families, how they lived and what challenges they had to face. I love history and try to ensure that all of the historical facts are accurate. The combination of real historical events and fictitious characters has always appealed to me.
Do you have a link to an excerpt or would you like to post here a short excerpt so readers can have a taste of your writing?
From Dreams and Nightmares:
Once she was free, she would hideout on shore and then return to England never to see Jebediah Whittaker again. The night of the escape came in a blanket of fog. Darkness descended over the anchored ship and the taste of salt was heavy in the air. As she crept out on the deck, her small bag containing only a few possessions in hand, she took her position behind the post as arranged. She thanked God for bringing this heavy fog to hide her escape.
Jebediah and the boys had been sound asleep when she crept from the dark cabin. Martha was to wait until Richard signaled her from the dinghy, then they would lower the boat and escape into the night. She pulled her cloak tightly around her to ward off the damp night air. Her body shivered with anticipation. After what seemed like hours, but was in fact only minutes, a small flicker of light appeared. Her heart was pounding; her palms wet with nervous perspiration. She pulled the cloak over her head and advanced quickly to the small boat that would be her salvation. At last, I will be free, she thought as her feet connected with the wooden deck; each step moving her closer to freedom. Coming from behind, she could see that Richard was swinging the brilliant necklace back and forth. This was no time to be admiring his newfound wealth; perhaps she should not have given it to him until she reached the shore.
As Richard turned towards her, Martha gasped in horror. There in front of her, holding her mother’s necklace was Jebediah Whittaker, looking like the devil himself.
“Going somewhere, Martha?” he sneered.
“Forcing it” works for me when I feel block or uninspired. I just insist until something starts to happen on the page. How do you keep your narrative exciting when you don’t feel like working on a novel but yet you have to?
Actually, I just walk away and give it some time to come back to me. Forcing never works for me.
What qualities are important in a writer who wants to succeed? How do you define success as an author?
I think to produce a good book, a writer must be thorough in their research, their character development and their descriptions of places and events. Writers must realize that their work should be edited before submission. This is the one thing that we constantly find at Allbooks Review. An unedited book with typos, grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, will not make it in today’s market. As far as my view of success goes, I honestly feel that if the readers love your books, you are a success. I never felt that success was in the money made or the number of books sold, but in the reception of the story by the people that read the book. When my fans asked for more of Martha Whittaker’s story, I felt truly blessed and obligated to continue with the trilogy. In my mind, this made Dreams and Nightmares a great success. Marketing your books is also a huge part of being a success and that is where people like you come in. I appreciate your help.
Please share with us your website and/or blog link(s) so readers can find out more about you and your works?
My current website for my books is www.booksbyshirleyroe.bravehost.com however I am hoping to update it in the near future. The web address for Allbooks Review International is www.allbooksreviewint.com and my books are listed there as well.
What’s on the horizon for Shirley Roe?
I am working on book seven and eight at the moment and I will definitely be working with Allbooks Review International for years to come.