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Writing for Two Genres #NonFiction #YA #Interview

Writing for two genres can have it’s ups and downs but it certainly keeps me on my toes. Here’s an interview I did for fellow blogger, Harry Rodell.

Shelley Wilson Picture 2As an author of both Fiction and Non-Fiction, what do you feel is your favourite and why? 

That’s a tricky question! Writing non-fiction feels a bit like the day job as my background is in holistic health and well-being. My young adult fiction could then be described as the hobby. However, I love writing for both genres equally as I get so much from the process. I can’t choose between them as both non-fiction and fiction are a part of who I am.

Typical interview question’s here! What is your favourite Fiction book and why? What is your favourite Non-Fiction book and why?

Tough one! I recently answered a similar question for a blogging award I received, so I’m going to cheat and use the same answer.

Fiction: Tipping Point by Terry Tyler. It’s the first in a post-apocalyptic series and was utterly brilliant.

Non-fiction: Junkie Buddha by Diane Esguerra. This is a travel memoir about the author’s trip to scatter her son’s ashes at Machu Picchu. Beautiful book.

Do you have any inspiration outside of writing? Perhaps a sportsperson or musician? What made him/her inspirational for you? 

I don’t feel inspired by celebrity figures unless you include Oprah, Tony Robbins, and the late Louise Hay. However, I do find inspiration in the day to day lives of ordinary people. My self-help books contain my personal journey through various stages of development, fear, and discovery. Working as a therapist I was able to listen and help hundreds of women who each had a unique story to tell. They are my inspiration. These are the people I hope to help with my books.

What do you feel helps you the most in terms of gaining more viewers and readers and what can we all do, as readers to help?

write-a-reviewReviews! Some readers don’t understand the importance of leaving a review on a site such as Amazon. Just a few words about their reading experience can impact sales and ranking. My first non-fiction book has received 118 five star reviews since publication. There are also 26 four star, 19 three star, and 29 lower ratings. It’s a great mix of opinions from a wide range of readers which gives potential viewers a perfect overview – this drives the continuation of sales.

It can take mere seconds to leave a review and yet this will impact a books rankings on the best seller lists and bolster the algorithms that place that book in clear view of potential readers via email marketing and the ‘you may also like’ feature on Amazon.

I am so grateful to all the readers who have reviewed my books, and love their honest feedback – whether they liked my work or not!

What is the average time it takes you to write a book and what is your process from beginning to end?

It varies from book to book. My young adult trilogy, The Guardian Series, I wrote as part of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month – where you write a 50,000 word novel in 30 days). I wrote one book each year as part of the competition – book one in nine days, book two in eleven days, and the final book in twenty-nine days. Before you freak out, this was the first draft only! It took about three-six months to re-write, edit, and finalise.

I start the process by planning everything out from story arc, twists, conflict, right through to character bios. I’ll jot down scene ideas, do research if I need it for a scene/topic, and then transfer this to a large board covered in post-it notes. I love paper products.

Once that’s done I’ll start typing straight to my computer. If the words are flowing, I could have a good 5000+ word day, or it might be a one sentence kind of day! I’ll just keep going until the end. Then I put the manuscript away for a week and start working on something else. When I do retrieve it, I’ll do relevant rewrites before sending it off to my editor. We normally do about two/three rounds of edits before it’s ready which can take a few weeks to a month.

It is always good for your readers to know a bit about you, so here are some quick fire questions! Favourite: colour, sport, theatre production, food, animal, song, film and TV program? 

Ooh, I love quick fire questions!

Okay, favourite colour is yellow.

Sport is football (I’m a Leeds United fan)

I’ve seen Wicked three times at the theatre and could happily go again!

I’m a huge fan of pizza for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Favourite animal is a cat (I have a beautiful black cat called Luna).

Ooh, favourite song is a tough one as I love all kinds of music. At the moment I’m obsessed with listening to Glorious by Macklemore featuring Skylar Grey.

My favourite film of all time is Lost Boys (I also love the movie soundtrack).

TV? Has to be The Walking Dead!

When did you first realise that you wanted to be a writer and blogger? 

I’ve written stories for as long as I can remember but I first thought about being a ‘proper writer’ when I was about thirteen. I remember sending off letters and manuscripts to publishers which I’d painstakingly typed up on my Silver Reed portable typewriter.

Blogging happened almost by accident. I started my first blog on January 1st 2013 as a way to be accountable for a series of challenges I’d set myself. That blog became the basis for my best selling book and is still going strong today although it’s more of a personal development blog than challenge related (http://www.motivatemenow.co.uk). I started my author blog in 2014 to build a platform to share my love of writing, reviewing books, and random musings, as well as promoting my own books.

You run a very successful website/ blog as well as being an author of many titles. What advice can you give to any aspiring author / blogger out there? 

Thank you, Harry. I’m an uber organised person when it comes to my online life (not so much where the ironing is concerned!) I love the interaction I get with readers, bloggers, and fellow writers on Twitter and Facebook. Blogging is great fun, but it also takes a huge amount of focus and dedication. As a writer I need to be careful I don’t spend all my time writing blog posts and neglect my books. It’s all about balance.

If you want to write and publish books, it’s important to have an online platform, but you don’t need to be publishing content every day. Choose what’s right for you and your lifestyle, whether that’s a weekly or monthly post. The interaction is the most important part. Make sure you read, comment, like, and share other bloggers/writers content, and you will soon become a part of the community.

What is the hardest part about writing a book and is Non-Fiction and Fiction different in difficulty? 

I’m fortunate that I don’t find any part of the writing process difficult. I even love editing! The non-fiction books can take a while longer to get going if I need to do research, and as I have very little patience, it can be frustrating when I have to wait to get going on a project.

What is your favourite thing to do when you are not writing? 

Travel. I love exploring new places whether they are here in the UK or overseas. If I can visit a historical ruin, a castle, lake, or forest then I’m happy.

What is your favourite book that you have written and why?

I would have to say that Oath Breaker, my latest young adult werewolf release, wins for fiction. I had so much fun writing this book, and it’s received fabulous feedback. For the non-fiction I’m going to say my first book (How I Changed My Life in a Year) as it has created the most incredible opportunities for me over the years.

What is it, in your opinion and in your experience that hooks people to read books? 

For me, I’m initially hooked by the cover art. I know we shouldn’t ‘judge a book by its cover’ but who are we kidding. After the cover has grabbed my attention, I’ll read the blurb on the back, and it’s normally within the first few lines that I’ll know if it’s my kind of book or not. I don’t like long book blurbs or ones that pretty much tell the entire story. If it’s short, sharp, and exciting, then I’ll probably buy the book.

As part of my book writing process, I always write the blurb first before I start the story. It’s like a flash fiction piece that I use as an inspirational guide as I write. I have also been known to mock up a cover for the book I’m writing and pin it on my notice-board to keep me motivated.

Want to find out more about my non-fiction or young adult fantasy books? Pop over to my website or visit my author page on BHC Press.

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9 thoughts on “Writing for Two Genres #NonFiction #YA #Interview”

  1. These are excellent questions, Harry!

    Shelley, back from shopping, I thought, right, now I’ll sit down with coffee and read a few of the blog posts I saw this morning – and what a lovely surprise! Thanks so much for naming TP as your favourite fiction book of late, it’s really spurred me on to get on with Book 4 (15K into first draft – a way to go yet!). Glad you have also named TWD, of course, and I always find it so interesting to read how other writers approach the planning of novels. I usually plan the whole plot out and have all my lists and timelines all over the wall (yes, paper!) before I start, but it always changes so much as I write and get new ideas. So this time, I’ve started a book that’s divided into five long ‘parts’ rather than chapters ~ and I don’t even know exactly what is going to be in 3 of them. I decided, this time, to just start writing and wait for the ideas to come. So far, it’s working!

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    1. That sounds great, Terry. I used to start writing with no clear plan at all which is why I ended up with so many unfinished manuscripts! Plotting has helped me to see the story arc and stopped all that staring into space haha. Always happy to recommend TP (and the rest of the series!) 🙂

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      1. I need to know the point of it all, the general ideas, and the end…. but it’s the details, like exactly what events are going to take me from A to B that I’ve been a bit more fluid with in this series, and more and more as it went on. Writing Part 1 has given me ideas for the story of Part 2. When I was writing Lindisfarne, I didn’t even decide until half way through that Dex was going to kill Heath. Then I had to go back to the beginning and set it all up – that’s the problem with this ‘start it and see what pops into my head’ method – thank goodness I do a lot of rewrites!!!

        I felt better about working like this when I read that Carol Hedges writes the end and the beginning, then makes them meet up, deciding on exactly how, on the way!!!

        On another note, how much will you envy me tomorrow afternoon, binge-watching the last 7 episodes of TWD??!!

        Liked by 1 person

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