Today I'm pleased to welcome Sheila Norton to my blog. I've just read YESTERDAY and can recommend it - an excellent read. Now over to Sheila who is going to answer some questions and tell us a bit about herself.
Tell us a little about your new book, YESTERDAY.
It’s set in the early 1960s, during the time of the Mods and Rockers and Beatlemania. My heroine, Cathy, is an ordinary teenager growing up in that era, who finds herself in the wrong place at the wrong time during the first violent clashes between mods and rockers at Clacton at Easter 1964 – and the events which follow will haunt her for the rest of her life. Forty years later, she has to revisit her past, face her memories and find out exactly what happened.
2. This is a completely different type of book from all your previous novels. What made you decide on the change?
After eleven contemporary novels, I did want to try something different, and I’d once been advised to write ‘something historical’. The 1960s are now considered ‘historical’– and having grown up in that era myself, I’ve always thought it was a fascinating decade when there was a lot of social change. It was great fun using my own memories as part of the background.
3. Why did you use the theme of the Mods and Rockers?
Well of course, there has to be conflict in any story, and the two rival gangs of teenagers provided that. Quite apart from the fights and violence that broke out over the bank holidays at various seaside resorts, there was an ongoing distrust and animosity between the two factions. Mixing with the ‘other side’, going into the wrong coffee bar or hanging out with the wrong crowd, could cause trouble – as happens in YESTERDAY.
4. Why are you self-publishing – and would you recommend it?
The first eight of my novels were published by a mainstream publisher, which was a fantastic experience. But by turning to self-publishing (for Kindle, with Amazon) I’ve been able to take complete control of my writing career. It’s quick, easy and it’s possible to make a real success of it. But if I hadn’t had the advantage of being a previously published author, I know it would have been far harder to stand out from the crowd. It’s also essential to have a self-published book properly edited, and to be prepared to do a lot of promotion.
5. How did you start out as a writer?
Writing was always my hobby, ever since I was a little girl scribbling stories in penny notebooks for my friends. My first published stories were in children’s magazines. Then I won two first prizes in short story competitions in the early 1990s, which gave me the confidence to submit stories to the women’s magazine market, and since then I’ve had well over 100 stories published in titles like Woman, Woman’s Weekly, My Weekly, Yours and People’s Friend. I made several attempts at writing a novel, but the first one I finally had accepted was The Trouble With Ally in 2003. It’s a Rom Com about a woman turning 50. I was around that age myself at the time!
6. Do you have any tips for aspiring novelists?
My first piece of advice is always: Only write for one reason – because you enjoy it. It’s harder than ever to get published, equally hard to stand out as a self-publisher, and although we hear about the ‘overnight success’ stories, most of us have spent years working towards our goals, suffering rejections, hardly earning anything, before we manage even a modest kind of success. Most of us need a day job, or a pension, to support our writing – but we write because it’s what we love doing.
7. What was your own day job, and how did it influence your writing?
For most of my working life before I retired, I was a medical secretary. It was fascinating work – I enjoyed the interaction with patients, doctors and other medical staff – but it was very busy and at times very stressful. It certainly gave me ideas for my stories, as a hospital is a place where all human life can be seen at its best and its worst! – and is also a hotbed of gossip! Many of my short stories were hospital romances, and my fourth novel Body & Soul has a hospital background.
8. Do you have a daily routine for your writing?
Not since I’ve been retired! When I was at work, I had to do all my writing in the evenings. Now, I can write whenever I like – which is more or less whenever I’m not doing anything else! I don’t worry if some days I don’t write at all – I just make up for it another day.
9. How do you like spending your time when you’re not writing?
I have three daughters and six little grandkids – so I love to see them all, most weeks. Other than that, I read a lot, try to have a walk or a swim every day, and enjoy holidays, photography and playing the piano.
10. Finally, what are your ambitions for the future?
To be fit and well enough to continue my writing for the rest of my life! And if I continue to have some success, that’ll be the icing on the cake.
Sheila Norton : Author Biography
Sheila lives near Chelmsford, Essex, and has been a full-time author since retiring from her previous work as a medical secretary.
She has been writing all her life, her first publications being short stories for children. After twice winning first prize in the Writers’ News short story competitions in the 1990s, her stories were regularly published in women’s magazines.
Her first novel, The Trouble With Ally was published in 2003, and she went on to have a further seven books published, including three under the pseudonym of Olivia Ryan, before beginning to self-publish her novels on Amazon.
Her latest book YESTERDAY is a novel set in the 1960s, being published in 2014 to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the ‘Mods and Rockers’ riots in 1964, which form the background of the book.
For more information please go to www.sheilanorton.co.uk.