Elizabeth Chats With…Shelley Wilson
I don’t remember when fellow-Midlander Shelley Wilson and I first ‘met’ online. It must have been in one writerly Facebook group or another. But I remember exactly when we first got together in real life: April 2017 at the Self-Publishing Conference in Leicester. We spotted each other across the room, realised the face was familiar – and spent the rest of the day chatting – when we weren’t soaking up the wisdom and experience of the various speakers. I love her YA books and her motivational writing makes me laugh out loud. Last October, I played host to one of the stages in her blog tour for How I Motivate Myself To Succeed. I’m delighted she’s dropped in again now to tell us more about herself and her writing.
Hello Shelley and welcome. Let’s start back at childhood. What was your favourite subject at school — and which was the lesson you always wanted to avoid?
It should come as no surprise that English was my favourite subject at school (and the only subject I passed!). I remember having to write a children’s picture book as part of our GCSE coursework which I loved creating and illustrating. I still have it somewhere. The story was about a group of toys who come to life – oh if only I’d sent it off to Disney/Pixar when I was sixteen! My weakness at school was every subject other than English, okay, maybe I wasn’t that bad, but Mathematics was like an alien language to me – and still is!
Where is your favourite place on earth — and why?
That’s a tough question. I’ve visited quite a few amazing places and choosing just one favourite it hard. I love Italy and recently took my three children to Lake Garda for a wonderful week of sightseeing. I also adore Barcelona, Paris, and Bentonville. However, if I were to choose a place I could visit regularly, then it would have to be somewhere closer to home. Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire is my ‘happy place’ as I’m a huge history fan and can’t think of anything better than wandering the ancient ruins of an old castle. I often pop in for a coffee and to meander through the buildings and gardens. It’s like time stands still when I’m there, so I’ll choose this as my favourite place on earth.
If you could change one thing about yourself or your life so far, what would it be?
When I was a teenager, I would have changed everything about myself. I was tall, skinny, and a total nerd. However, as I grew up, I realised that being tall is a great advantage, being skinny was a bonus that sadly departed after I had my children, and being a nerd is cool! My confidence, however, has always been a bit shaky. I live by the mantra ‘fake it until you make it’ and often pretend to be more confident than I actually am. If I could change one thing about my life, it would be to believe in myself more.
If you were a car, what type would you be — and why?
VW Type 2 Campervan! I’m not sure if this counts as technically it’s not a ‘car’, but I’m slightly crazy about campers. I had a 1975 orange and white bay window about twenty years ago, and even though you could see the road through the holes in the floor, it was such fun to drive. I guess the quirkiness appeals to me as I’m quite quirky myself. I also have a great sense of adventure and the campervan suits that personality trait.
If you could meet one person from history, who would it be — and why?
If I could pop into a time machine, I’d head back to the 1500s. I would love to meet Anne Boleyn and find out what she was really like. Can you imagine how much fun I’d have in Henry VIII’s court – as long as I didn’t lose my head!
Watch a film, go to the theatre, read a book or talk to friends — which would you prefer?
Oh dear, I hope my friends aren’t reading this! I would have to say ‘watch a film’ as this is one of my favourite self-care tools for keeping my depression in check. I bought myself a Cineworld Unlimited card last year, and it’s the best money I’ve ever spent. I go to the cinema quite often, and most of the time I go on my own. It’s a wonderful way to switch off from the world. I’m a visual person so when I’m writing my books I see them playing out like a movie in my head. I guess this is why films appeal to me so much. I’ll happily enjoy a Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings DVD marathon over a wet and grey weekend.
If you could take part in one television programme, which one would it be?
Another tough question! There are so many fabulous shows to choose from such as The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Outlander, or Lucifer, but I’m going to say Supernatural. I LOVE that show! Monsters, magic, humour, and the adorable Jensen Ackles and Jared Padalecki dream team.
Upload a picture or a photo that best represents you, and tell us why (and it doesn’t have to be a portrait, although it can be).
I spent half an hour going through my photographs trying to find an appropriate picture that represents me, but when I saw this image of a swan, I knew this was the right choice. Why would a swan represent me? Well, apart from us both having a long neck I tend to project a very calm outer image while paddling like hell underneath the surface!
What would you have printed on the front of your T-shirt?
And finally, a question about your writing. Why do you write for two distinctive genres? (Mind, Body, Spirit and Young Adult)
My background is in holistic health, and I thoroughly enjoyed running my ladies only spa for seven years. I offered Reiki, reflexology, massage, crystal therapy, and many other alternative therapies. I also wrote and delivered a series of workshops from vision boards to meditation. My mission statement was to help women be the best they can be. When I had to close my business due to illness, I was able to transfer my skills from the treatment room to the blank page. Writing for the self-help/personal development genre allows me to continue to help women from across the world create better lives for themselves.
One of the self-help tools I used for my own recovery was reading: something I loved to do but had neglected as I brought up my three children as a single parent. As I learned how to balance life I began to explore new genres. This is how I discovered young adult (YA). I’ve always loved fantasy fiction having been an avid fan of Enid Blyton’s Folk of the Faraway Tree and C.S.Lewis’s tales of Narnia as a youngster. Discovering the huge selection of fantasy stories for young adults was a turning point for me. They took me back to before I was married, divorced, and parenting on my own. I became a teen again! YA tends to be fast paced and full of action which is everything I look for in a book. As my three children hit their teenage years, the YA genre became a way of life for us, and so I began to write my own coming of age stories. Writing fantasy fiction is a huge healing tool for me. It’s a pleasant escape from the overwhelming duties of adulthood.
Writing for two genres suits my Gemini nature and allows me to alternate writing projects according to mood. Maybe one day I’ll have a go at writing grown-up fiction, but for now, I’m having too much fun reliving my youth.
Shelley, it’s been great fun. Thanks for finding the time to talk to us. Readers, to find out more about Shelley and her books you can find her on Twitter. She has two Facebook pages: one for her YA books and one for her motivational non-fiction books. She has a website, an author bog and a motivational blog. Or you can find her via her publisher’s website.