Saturday, 19 January 2013

Interview: Shelly Hickman

What have you had published?
My first book “Believe” was published by a small press who has since closed its doors. When I obtained my author rights, I decided to self-publish.
What genre(s) of book do you write?
The two books I’ve written were both contemporary fiction.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The loss of my young daughter to leukemia inspired me to write my first book “Believe”. I began writing it after her first bout with cancer, when I truly believed the illness was behind her, so the story had a much different tone when I first started. However, when she relapsed and ultimately lost her battle, I went back to the manuscript. Writing “Believe” was necessary and cathartic.
How long did it take you to write “Somewhere Between Black and White”?
I think it took me about a year. I’m not a very disciplined writer. I’ll start something, put it away for months, and then decide to come back to it. I received lots of help and suggestions for “Somewhere” in my online writing group. I feel that my writing is more polished in this second novel, as we are always hoping to improve our skills with each new project.
What is the working title of your next book(s)?
This is where the “not very disciplined” thing comes in. I’m still in the process of deciding what I’d like to do for my next project. 
When and why did you begin writing?
I’ve always enjoyed writing, but it was primarily a private experience, putting down my thoughts in a journal as a teenager. Creative writing has always been kind of sporadic for me. And of course the demands of everyday life also have a lot to do with it. Now that my kids are older, I find that I have more time to grow as a writer.
Do you self publish your books or go through an agency?
I self-publish. I know that self-publishing is still looked down upon by some. I see evidence of this in discussions in the online writing community belong to, but I think that’s beginning to change. Personally, I enjoy the process of doing it myself, but if someone chooses to do it, I think it’s important to hire an editor.
What part of writing books do you find the hardest?
All of it!  Haha. All of it is hard, but I think the part I have the most difficulty with is just coming up with an idea that will give me enough material to write an entire book. I know several people who have ideas coming out their ears. I’m not like that, but once the ball’s rolling, I’m usually okay. 
What do you do in your spare time?
Ugh! I spend way too much time on the internet. I used to read a lot of non-fiction, religion, philosophy, etc. But now that I’m writing fiction I’ve been making an effort to read novels.
Who is your favourite author?
Hmmm, I have a few. Richard Bach, J.K. Rowling, Nora Ephron, Erma Bombeck…
What’s your favourite genre to read?
I guess maybe chicklit. I enjoy stuff that’s everyday life, realistic, with lots of humor thrown in. It really doesn’t have to have an earth shattering plot, as long as I love and care about the characters. I guess I enjoy slice of life and human imperfections, and when an author can make us laugh at those imperfections.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Some people say, “You must write every day if you want to be a writer.” I say that’s not realistic. People are busy and have all kinds of things going on in their lives, so we shouldn’t be made to feel guilty if we don’t write every day. However, I do think if we can manage to read every day, especially in the genre you enjoy writing, it’s helpful. And never feel like you don’t know enough about writing to pursue it. We are all learning and growing, and we all hope that our next project will far exceed the last. The only way to improve is by doing.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I just want to thank you, Katie, for taking the time to read and review “Somewhere Between Black and White” and for being so gracious to have me as a guest on your blog.


  1. I think you're right, Shelly that people are beginning to feel differently about self published writers. The public are aware it's getting harder to get traditionally published and that publishing companies are struggling so they know many good writers will have to self publish if they want their work to be read.

    1. Hi Patsy,
      Don't know if I'm right, but I hope so! I think if going the self-pub route, writers just need to make sure to produce as high quality product as possible, from the cover to formatting to editing. As well as a good story, of course, but that's going to be in the eye of the beholder. :)