If you're looking for a supernatural read in the run-up to Halloween, why not check out some of Shelley Wilson's YA novels? I first met Shelley at a self-publishing conference back in 2015. Since then, Shelley's path as a writer has resulted in an extensive collection of YA fiction, alongside her non-fiction books about subjects such as well-being, meditation and business writing. Here Shelley talks about her creative path, what inspired it and how she manages the different aspects of her work.
Who or what inspired you to begin writing?
I followed Enid Blyton up a Magic Faraway Tree and I’ve been up there ever since! I adored reading when I was a kid and devoured book after book. Even at the age of 8 I knew I wanted to be an author one day.
Which authors do you admire?
Oh blimey, that’s a tough question as there are so many incredible authors out there. As an avid YA (young adult) reader and author, I must include Cassandra Clare, Sarah J Maas and Adrienne Young. From a non-fiction point of view, I admire Elaine Kasket, Johann Hari and Shonda Rhimes. They all have their own unique way of weaving words and inspiring their audience.
Have you been influenced by any particular books you’ve read?
I think every book I’ve read has influenced me in some small way, whether it’s deciding which genre to write in or making changes to my life and business following an author's sound advice. That’s the beauty of a good book. We never know what impact it will have on us.
How many books have you written?
I’m currently working on my twenty-first book at the moment. I’ve written nine novels, nine non-fiction books, and two planners. The one I’m working on now is another novel in a different genre than my usual books. It’s going to be a fun challenge!
What inspired you to write these books?
The inspiration for my first book (How I Changed My Life in a Year) came from a desire to write, but I'd never prioritised my passion for writing. I was running my holistic health spa then and telling my clients they could do anything if they just believed in themselves. I wasn’t taking my own advice, so I started a New Year resolution challenge and blogged about the entire process. After twelve months, I turned the blog into a book, and it shot to the top of the self-help chart on Amazon.
It was like the floodgates opened and I couldn’t stop writing! My YA novels were inspired by the challenges I went through as a young adult and watching my three kids navigate their teenage years with similar issues. I wanted to create strong, confident protagonists – something I never was as a youngster.
My writing mentor clients inspired my planners and one of my eBooks. When I’m not working on my titles, I help women in business to write their business books to boost their visibility and create more opportunities.
Have you explored other formats e.g. poetry, short stories, graphic novels?
Not really. I loved writing short stories when I was younger and have had a couple of stories published in anthologies, but I love the meaty task of outlining and writing 50k words or over.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I started self-publishing my first few books in 2014 and loved the process and freedom. At that time it never occurred to me to approach a traditional publisher. I liked the idea of being in control. In 2017, I signed with BHC Press, who produced most of my later catalogue, although I still self-publish a few titles.
How do you feel about the self-publishing process?
I think it’s a wonderful way for writers to reach an audience. However, I would always recommend that any self-publishing author undergo a rigorous editing process and invest in cover and interior book designers. Your book represents you (and your brand) and needs to be the best it can be and comfortably stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a traditionally published title.
You write both fiction and non-fiction. How do you balance your time and planning between the two?
I tend to work on my fiction book one year, then a non-fiction title the next, and keep rotating. It was hard when I had to follow a publishing schedule as sometimes I wasn’t ‘feeling’ the topic, so I had to work extra hard on the motivation and mindset side to hit my deadlines.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m having a go at writing in a new genre, but I’m not quite ready to admit it yet! It’s fun playing with new characters and unusual ideas, so I’ll see where this goes, and if it works out, I’ll let you know.
What are your future writing plans?
I have another Viking novel waiting in the wings as well as a non-fiction book about my solo travels in Snoopy, my VW Campervan.
What do you enjoy most about writing?
All of it! I love getting the spark of an idea and sitting with it for a while. I then enjoy plotting the book and getting my coloured pens and Post-it notes involved. When it’s finally time to write, I love falling down that rabbit hole and becoming a living, breathing part of the book.
Of course, one of my favourite parts of writing is when you receive amazing feedback from readers, and you know all the blood, sweat and tears were worth it.
Do you support any writers or aspiring writers e.g. through creative writing workshops, feedback services and so on?
My business is Shelley Wilson Writing Mentor, where I am lucky enough to support new writers on their book projects. I predominantly work with women in business, but I have had clients working on children’s books, journals and memoirs. My favourite topic is self-help and personal development, as this was my background. My services include 1:1 mentoring, 8-week group programmes, workshops and resources.
Do you have any particular writing habits or routines?
I always outline my books using pen and paper and then type my manuscripts directly to my computer. Every book I begin must have its own notebook for notes and ideas, and the notebook has to be squishy (I’m not a fan of hardback notebooks).
Do you have any tips for new writers?
If you’re thinking of writing a book, take a good look at your calendar and environment. Do you have the time, mindset, energy, support and dedication to take on this task? I see so many people rush into writing only to burn out after a few months (or chapters). Set goals, set a deadline, plan out your ideas and be fiercely loyal to your writing time.
Shelley's books are available at all online platforms. Find out more about Shelley and her books at https://linktr.ee/ShelleyWilson72