Somewhere to review books I'm reading without giving away any spoilers!
I am very happy to share with you today the answers that author Sheila Riley gave to my questions! Read on to discover her inspiration, writing process and more about her book, The Mersey Girls and herself!
Where did you get the inspiration for the book/series?
I devour books and magazines such as Picture Post, which are a particular favourite. I also love those old black and white films, made in the era I write about, not necessarily for the plotlines but for the attitudes of the time, the day-to-day lives of the characters, the fashions, the settings. My particular favourites are the Ealing comedies, but I am also inspired by films before that era and when that magical, ‘what-if?’ starts to niggle, I have to get some notes down. Thank goodness for the tv rewind button. I love the forties and fifties especially. People were going through enormous changes in daily life with regulations set out for the wellbeing of the entire country. Much the same as the changes in lifestyle we are going through now, I imagine. But there will always be people who buck the system and ignore the rules, and they are the ones who, for me, have a particular interest.
What is your writing process?
I used to get a vague idea of a story, grab a piece of paper, scribble down my thoughts – and then lose it down the sofa! But now, I dictate into my phone or my p.c. and let it bubble away in my imagination. Some of my best ideas have been when I am travelling. My husband has got used to me whipping out my phone on a car journey and dictating how a character meets a grizzly end – as I did in The Mersey Orphan – or dictate a threatening blackmail scene – which became a chapter full of suspense in The Mersey Girls. The characters nearly always emerge fully formed. I make copious notes, which may or may not end up in the published novel.
Do you write using pen and paper or on a computer?
I like to write in long-hand to give the thought processes time to develop, because I type fast, getting over-excited by the plotline I am likely to skim and leave bits out, thinking I will remember later – but I never do – so writing long-hand helps me to ‘see’ the action. I absolutely love new notebooks, and I have them in all shapes and sizes. I also love a nice smooth gel pen, so cheap in bargain stores, which is a boon as I go through quite a lot. There is nothing like opening a new notebook and jotting down a jumble of ideas that will, one day, be a complete story.
Who is your favourite character out of your stories and why?
Evie Kilgaren has been through such a lot. Danny Harris is so kind and understanding and has a great sense of humour. I wish Henry Skinner were his father because he has always been an upstanding role model for Danny, unlike the man he calls Da as we will discover in The Mersey Girls. I care about all my characters and even if their story is not in the book I know their background, their hopes, and dreams, but I also know the skeletons in their cupboards. Sometimes wonder if I invent these people, or if they are old souls who use me as a conduit to tell their stories.
If you were a character in your story, which would you like to be?
Connie McRae without a doubt. Connie was a wartime nurse before becoming the feisty landlady of The Tram Tavern, who came close to death, lost loved ones in the war, and saw young men and women live and die under her care. She takes no prisoners and tells it like it is, no matter how big or tough many of her dockside customers are, Connie can put them in their place. She knows her patrons well, being in the community’s heart, and is in the right place to overhear a secret or two. She is a tough cookie, but also a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.
How and why did you choose the names for your main characters?
I don’t know, but the names of my major characters usually come to me quite easily, and I rarely change them once their story evolves. I have fun with secondary characters, and I always want to call them something outlandish. I once called a character, Mrs Finackerpan, which almost sent a former editor into a fit of conniptions. However, the name gave me the character profile I was looking for as Mrs F. was a bit of a comic character. The name did its job, but I did agree to change it. And, who knows, she may yet turn up again one day. Dickens had some brilliant names for his characters, and I loved every one of them!
Many thanks for taking part in my blog tour. Answering these questions has been a lot of fun.
Sheila 😊 x
My pleasure to join in, Sheila – thank you so much for your brilliant answers to my questions, I loved reading them! x
Read on to find out more about ‘The Mersey Girls’ and its author!
When Evie Kilgaren takes over the running of the back office at Skinner and Son’s haulage yard, she has no idea she is walking into a hive of blackmail, secrets and lies.
Her fellow co-worker and childhood nemesis, Susie Blackthorn, is outraged at being demoted and is hell-bent on securing the affections of local heartthrob Danny Harris.
Grace Harris, a singer on the prestigious D’Angelo transatlantic ocean liners, is returning home engaged to be married. But Grace is harbouring her own shocking secrets and something valuable her fiancé very desperately wants back.
As we return to the lives and loves of those who live and work in the Mersey Docklands, not everything is as it seems and love and luck are rarely on the same side.
Purchase Link – https://amzn.to/2UCQXr4
Author Bio –
Sheila Riley wrote four #1 bestselling novels under the pseudonym Annie Groves and is now writing the Reckoner’s Row series under her own name. She has set it around the River Mersey and its docklands near to where she spent her early years. She still lives in Liverpool.
Social Media Links –
Own website: http://my-writing-ladder.blogspot.com/
Twitter @ https://twitter.com/1sheilariley
Newsletter Sign Up: http://bit.ly/SheilaRileyNewsletter
Follow the tour:
Many thanks Sheila Riley for answering my questions and to Rachel’s Random Resources for providing materials for this post and organising the tour it is part of.