INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR OF STOLEN, SHEILA DALTON
Today, we have Sheila Dalton with us. She is the author of the HF Novel, Stolen. Thank you for joining us here at Historical Fiction Addicts. I know I am excited about this interview and I know my readers are eager to learn more about you and your work.
Tell us a little about yourself – who you are, where did you grow up, and a bit about your family.
Hi, Kelly-Lynne. I was born in England but have spent most of my life in Canada. I’m a widow – my husband, who was half-Cree and half-Scottish, died the day after I retired, of a sudden heart attack while out mountain biking. I have one son, Adam, who is an elementary school teacher. I also have two cats I adore.
When you are not writing, what do you like to do?
I love African drumming. I also draw (mostly animals), do Vipassana meditation, read (of course!), garden and work out with weights. I like cooking, too, and grow some of my own veggies and herbs. I love spending time in nature, and with animals. I’ve studied Therapeutic Touch, am interested in philosophy, and love historical TV series like Borgia, and The Vikings!
Stolen is your first Historical Fiction novel, what prompted you to depart from the other literary genres of your previous novels and write in this genre?
I just love Historical Fiction; I find it so absorbing and fascinating. My husband and I used to travel a fair bit, and I was always intrigued by other cultures, and the past. After we visited Morocco and Devon, where Stolen is set, I decided to take the plunge – reading the history of these two places was really an inspiration.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing a HF novel?
The research; but it’s also the most fun. I’m an editor and librarian by trade, and both involve research. I’ve written kids’ books on animals, and worked for a Canadian children’s science magazine, OWL, that involved a lot of background reading and talking to experts. I found I loved it. I’ve always been curious, and research satisfies the need to know!
What are you most proud about in this HF novel?
I’m thrilled that reviewers seem to love it, so far, and mention the writing style. I’ve always cared about words, and as I am also a poet, it matters to me that people think the language is good. I’m proud that one reviewer compared me to “Daphne du Maurier at her best”. And I’m proud I even finished this novel! I’m not a prolific author. Every book is a struggle.
Is there a message in your novel you want readers to grasp?
Mostly I want them to enjoy the story, but there is a message that slavery in its many forms can be found everywhere, even today, and that no matter what our difficulties in life, we can still do our best to make the world a better place.
Tell us about your writing routine.
I have a wheeled desk in front of my easy chair, with my laptop on it. I work in bits and pieces throughout a day, pulling my laptop towards me whenever I feel the urge. When I’m really absorbed in something, I can work for hours at a time.
How do you navigate your way out of the terrifying abyss of Writer’s Block?
It kind of ‘just happens’. If I’m really stuck, or even fed up, I try to live with it, not fight it, and let it pass. My Vipassana training helps. I know all moods pass. I don’t push it. I know the urge will come back when it’s ready.
Are you a “pants” writer or do you outline and plan your novels?
I outline and plan. I don’t always have a whole plot before I begin, but I have an idea of where I want to go, and I’ve usually written very detailed backgrounds for my characters. My novels are character-driven, so figuring out my fictional people before I start writing usually helps me create a plot.
Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
I take my characters to bed with me! Just kidding; I think we all do. I think about them before I fall asleep. They also come on vacation with me. I try to imagine them in all sorts of situations, and see how they react.
Describe your writing room/space.
It’s that desk on wheels I describe earlier. I used to work on my PC in an upstairs room, where I did my paid work as an editor. But I found I didn’t like feeling cut off. Even if I’m home alone, I like to sit in my living room by my bay window and work on my laptop. My living room is pretty messy. I’m one of those people who thrive in mess.
What authors have inspired you?
I would give my eye teeth to write as well as Sarah Waters, Sarah Dunant, or Lisa See – my favourite Historical Fiction authors.
What novel from your childhood/teen years was your favorite?
I can’t name just one. I loved Children of the New Forest, Black Beauty, books by Judy Blume, C.S. Lewis (the Narnia series), Anne of Green Gables, Little Women. And a ton of others! I was an avid reader.
Do you have any advice for writers?
Keep at it. Persistence is key.
Are you working on a new project you can tell us about?
I’m working on three books: one narrated by my cat; another about sixties London, with an Andy Warhol type artist at the center, involving a mysterious murder-suicide of a young gay couple; and another about an entymologist whose brother died pursuing a rare butterfly in Guatemala. I might also write a sequel to Stolen, about the next generation after Lizbet. The one I will probably finish first is the cat-narrated one which will involve a disappearance of some kind, and maybe a love story.
Thank you for your time Sheila. We wish you much success with Stolen and look forward to seeing more of your work.
5 Lucky HFA readers will be chosen to receive an ebook copy of Sheila Dalton’s book, Stolen. Leave a comment below and you may be one of the fortunate five to win!