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Shirley McLain

Interview with

Shirley McLain

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I have always loved to write but it wasn't until I retired from being an RN that I began. Not to long after I retired, within a week, I woke one morning with a story on my mind and I began writing that day and haven't stopped.

How long does it take you to write a book?

I think it depends on the book, so the time varies The latest one I'm working on which is a companion book to Princess Adele's Dragon called The Maid of Bitmore Swamp has been worked on for four months now.. My first book, Dobyns Chronicles took me over a year. The story dictates the time.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

How often they seem to write themselves. Your characters dictate what goes on in your story. One thing leads to another until you finally have resolution.

Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?

They like my stories but they always tell me if there is a mechanical problem, or a character they don't like. I like having open frank conversations with my readers. It helps me grow as a writer.

Does writing energize or exhaust you?

I think writing does both. I can write all day long and not feel like I've done anything but I know when my brain becomes muddled that is is time for me to stop. I feel the exhaustion after I stop writing.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

I guess it is not recognizing my brain exhaustion. I can go back and read something I wrote the day before or two months before and think, "why did I say that." I make mistakes but I don't give up.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

I am all original in my thinking. I write what I want to write about, because the reader is not sitting beside me saying want they like or want.

What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?

I can't say they were any, because I am the type of person that I will pick up a book and begin reading it and if I don't like it I put it down and I don't touch it again. I have been surprised by some authors such as Diane Gabaldon, who is my favorite. When I began reading the Outlander series it started slow but I liked the storyline well enough that I trudged forward and then she knocked my socks off. I couldn't stop reading until I had finished the series.

At what point do you think someone should call themselves a writer?

Whenever they want to. If you put words on paper, you are writing.

What do the words “writer’s block” mean to you? 

It means I can't come up with the situation that fits my character. Usually for me if I step back from it and do other things, my muse pops it into my head. It happened to me last week trying to think of how to solve a problem with the Bitmore Witch. I wrote short stories and Flash Fiction and four days later it popped into my head what I was going to do. I have to think that somewhere in my mind that story is actively peculating for it to happen when I'm not actively thing about it.

Are there therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?

I think there can be. It's a great way to enact revenge, or have a cleansing argument with and not have to participate in confronting someone or something you may not have access to any more.

What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?

Again that depends on the story you are writing. With my first book Dobyns Chronicles, I had the characters first. I had a lot of facts also but since it is historical fiction it also contained a story that fit the characters. In the fiction book Thomas Gomel Learns about Bullying, I had the situation and plot first and then created the character to fit it.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

That's a hard one to answer because I write in many genres. I don't think I have an ideal reader. If a book attracts their attention and the blurb appeals to them then they are the ideal reader for that book. That is something they have to determine for themselves.

How much research did you need to do for your book? 

I have done a lot of research for some stories and none for others. Again it depends on the story.

Tell us more about your book/s?

I have books and short stories on Amazon. Most are in the Kindle format but a couple have been printed . I have a Facebook site that shows my published work. My blog I started is also published on this same Facebook page. Check it out..

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