Tuesday, 4 October 2016

An interview with...

Photo of Sheila courtesy of Keith Hartley
…friend, author and radio presenter, Sheila North
AW   Hi Sheila, a couple of months ago you were telling us about Chagrin, Ohio, the Apalachians and a little about you and  it was clear from the number of hits that everyone wanted to know more.  And now, here you are being cross-examined by me!  Tell me, what is your current release?
SN   I have two: ‘An Harm It None’, which is a modern day, paranormal romance about witchcraft in North Yorkshire and ‘A Yorkshireman in Ohio: Five Tales of Paws, Claws, and Mystery’.  The latter is a collection of humorous short stories set in my alternative version of Doncaster, where a cat is a police sergeant, and there are sentient stoats, and weasels.
‘Yorkshireman’ is a sequel to ‘Koi Carpe Diem’.   Both ‘Yorkshireman’ and ‘Koi Carpe’ have lovely illustrations by the fabulous Tom Brown.

AW   What first got you into writing and why?
SN   When I was in 3rd Grade, in the States, my teacher had us write sentences to show we could spell and understand certain words.  Miss Powell, the teacher, liked my sentences! It all followed from there.  Also, Mom was a children's librarian, so we always had access to good books, and were encouraged to read, go to the library, etc.  I still go to my local library, Doncaster Central, to attend a writers' group, borrow books, go to events, and write.

AW   You write romance, mystery, fantasy, comic short stories, and novels.  Is it all imagination or do you also undertake research?
SN   Even stories set in an alternative version of Doncaster require research.  For example, I have to decide where to place my imaginary pubs such as ‘The Squid and Quill’, and ‘Bird and Baby’.  I interviewed a policeman about police procedures for ‘An Harm It None’.  He was extremely helpful, once he got over his surprise.

AW   And what about other types of writing?  Have you ever dabbled with other genres?
SN   I wrote for a string of local newspapers in my home state of Michigan for around two years, worked in internal communications, including running an intranet, so yes!  I also write for the Doncopolitan magazine, a local arts, events, and social commentary publication, plus write reviews for a folk music magazine, and have my own blog.  I also write poetry, some of which has been published, including, many years ago, in an American cat magazine.  I have a pamphlet titled ‘An American in South Yorkshire’.

The author's writing space
AW  Famous authors, such as Roald Dahl and Dylan Thomas, had a special space for writing.  Do you have a writing ‘shed’ of your own?
SN   My ambition is a Tardis style writing shed in the back garden, but for the moment my rather messy, arty desk in an alcove of our house is acting as my shed.

AW  Finally, if you had a whole afternoon to yourself and could choose to spend it with any one individual, living or dead or a character from a book.  Who would it be, and what would you want to discuss?
SN   I would love to spend time with the American writer and humourist James Thurber, as I love his stories, and his writings have influenced me a lot, especially my short story collections.  I'd also ask him what he thinks of his appearance in the title story of ‘A Yorkshireman in Ohio’.  I'm hoping death has mellowed him a bit.  I'd also ask him for tips about how to be selected to be writer in residence in the Thurber House in Columbus, Ohio, as this is one of my ambitions.

About the author… Sheila was born in Detriot, Michigan.  This is not necessarily her fault.  She has been a stringer, newspaper editor, tolbooth attendant, comms assistant, journalism student, writers’ group leader and mental health worker.  She also bakes the best brownies in South Yorkshire.  Her interests include volunteering with her local community radio station, singing angst-ridden folk songs, falling asleep in front of the tellly and mangling the English language with her Mid-Western-Yorkshire accent.  Sheila lives in Doncaster with her husband David, a rat named Charles and a Dalek called Gerald.

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