Q. If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
A. I’d tell her to continue to read avidly, write daily, and believe in herself. Self-doubt cripples so many people in so many ways, and I allowed that poisonous parrot on my shoulder to tell me I wasn’t worthy despite evidence to the contrary. Believing in ourselves and our abilities is something our older selves need to hear too.
Q. Does writing energise or exhaust you?
A. Being able to escape into a fictional world energises me more than any exercise class ever could. I come to life when I write fiction, and I see my words playing out in my mind like a movie. It connects me to the story in a more profound way. I’m a visual learner and create Pinterest boards for my book ideas and characters which I find to be the perfect way to fill my creative well. Writing fiction and non-fiction is very different, and where my novels will energise me, non-fiction can exhaust if I’m writing about a topic such as abuse. I guess this is why I adore writing fiction.
Q. How do you select the names of your characters?
A. Sometimes a character will drop into my head fully formed, including their name. Most of the time, I need to search for the right fit. I’ll have an image of what my character looks like and need to find a name that suits their characteristics. I love using a baby name book as it gives you the meaning behind the name which helps me to build a 3D vision of my character. I also love searching for Indian names as the definitions are fabulous and lend themselves to fiction incredibly well. In the second part of Hood Academy I introduce a young character and was struggling to find the right name for her. I turned to the followers of my author Facebook page for help and asked them to post suggestions. I was inundated with a fantastic selection as everyone put forward their daughters’ names (it seems feisty ten-year-olds are everywhere!). In the end I chose Arianna or Ari for short which was perfect.
Q. Do you aim to be original or do you try to deliver what the reader wants?
A. I understand how trends work, and I appreciate that sales and marketing campaigns need to take these trends on board. However, I’ve always been drawn to write what interests and fascinates me. The idea for Hood Academy came about thanks to my daughter’s English homework. She was tasked with re-writing a fairy tale, and I suggested turning Little Red Riding Hood into a werewolf assassin. My daughter wasn’t impressed, but I couldn’t get the idea out of my head. After sitting with the concept for a day or two I began to see the characters and worked out the storyline. My fascination with supernatural creatures meant that I could be as graphic as I wanted with the werewolves and thoroughly enjoyed writing about their change under a full moon. I’m lucky that there are plenty of werewolf and academy story fans out there, but I’ll always start by writing the story I know I’d love to read.
Q. Do you hide any secrets in your books?
A. Yes, but only a few people know about this so ssshh! I always name one of my characters after a favourite author of mine. In my Guardian Series, I had Maggie (after Maggie Stiefvater), in Hood Academy it’s Terry (after my author and friend Terry Tyler, although in my book Terry is male). I’m writing another series now and stumbled across my protagonist’s name by happy accident. The main characters from all my books and series are Amber, Mia, Marianne, and Edith, and when I wrote them out I realised the first letter of their names spelt out EMMA, so that’s what my new MC is called.
Q. Can you give us an excerpt of HOOD ACADEMY?
A. Of course, here is the opening scene.
The blue flashing lights pulsed through the fractured front window, illuminating the blood splatter on the walls. The click-click of the forensic team’s camera ate into the sterile silence as the officers combed through the living room.
Like something out of a macabre horror show the blood covered everything, coating the threadbare rug in front of the fireplace with its crimson wash. The splintered remains of the coffee table littered the overturned chair, and the smell of death clung to the walls.
I lifted my eyes to look at the police officer who knelt in front of me, his face a mask of professionalism even though he must be wishing he was anywhere but here.
‘Did you see who killed your dad?’ I slowly shook my head as the officer tried to determine what had happened.
‘Someone tried to kill you, miss. I want to help. Did you see who broke in and attacked you?’
I couldn’t answer. The words were stuck in my throat. How could I tell him that my dad was the one who tried to kill me and that a wolf jumped through the window and ripped out his throat? Who would believe me?
About the author:
Shelley Wilson is a genre-straddling English author of young adult fiction and motivational self-help titles for adults. She’s a single mum of three, has a crazy black cat called Luna and is obsessed with vampires and the supernatural, Tudor and Viking history, and can also be quite excitable around a castle ruin.
She’s tall, which seems to surprise people when they meet her. She often hears, “you’re much taller than your profile picture!” When not penning her novels, Shelley works as a writing mentor for small businesses and new writers’.
Connect with Shelley:
BHC Press: https://www.bhcpress.com/Author_SL_Wilson.html