I’m delighted to welcome author, Sheila Riley to my blog.
Sheila – I’ve been looking forward to hosting you on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat.
Not only because it’s an opportunity to personally thank you for heroically
manning the monthly bulletins with all the latest news about the Romantic
Novelists’ Association authors and their book releases, but also because I am also
eager to discover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more
about your release, The Mersey Mistress,
here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers
and insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Hello Sheila – I’ve been looking forward to hosting you on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat. Not only because it’s an opportunity to personally thank you for heroically manning the monthly bulletins with all the latest news about the Romantic Novelists’ Association authors and their book releases, but also because I am also eager to discover some of your writing secrets. But before we discover more about your release, The Mersey Mistress, here are a few questions that will hopefully give your readers and followers and insight into some of the things that matter to you.
Arabella: You’ve got an idea for a story, but it has yet to take shape. Where do you start? Do you concentrate on the location in the story, or developing the characters, personalities, and conflicts, or are there other key points you might consider?
Sheila: Hi Arabella, thank you so much for inviting me to take part in your book blog, it is lovely to be here. That is such an interesting question! Let me think. Usually, I will hear a phrase or a question in my head and it has me wondering who is speaking. There is no description at first, I cannot see my main character, because I don’t yet know if this will be my main character. It is the question or the phrase that interests me, and this throws up questions. Then, as I find answers to the questions, the story takes some kind of shape.
Arabella: In your latest release The Mersey Mistress what is the overall theme or premise, and what made you choose this topic?
Sheila: The Mersey Mistress takes us on a journey in 1910 to that time before the whole world changes in 1914. I love words, obviously. Old words are my favourite, and I came across the words ‘pestiferous liability’, written by a health inspector when he was making a damning report about the old Liverpool housing stock known as The Courts, which had such pretty names, like Primrose Cottage. But, set in dockside Liverpool in1910, the blackened bug-ridden, soot-covered buildings didn’t have so much as a blade of grass, let alone pretty flower gardens. You could get from one end of the courts to the other through a labyrinth of narrow passageways and not see daylight. I imagined what these dismal places must be like, having to negotiate these eerie corridors, and what might lurk around the next corner, as did Anna Cassidy who came into contact with a local bully. This meeting would have tragic and long-ranging consequences that take the reader on a journey from the River Mersey to the Canadian waters of The Saint Lawrence River.
Arabella: Roses, Lilies, or another flower of choice?
Sheila: I adore flowers and my garden is bursting with them in Summer. My favourites are Lilly of the Valley and Freesias, which reminds me of the time when, aged seven and I was chosen to lead the ceremony in the Crowning of Our Lady. To be chosen was a great honour, and I was beyond excited. I would lead two ladies in waiting and a page boy, who would carry the flower crown on a velvet cushion, and the whole school followed in a procession around the church gardens before the ceremony, held in the school hall. Dressed in white from head to toe, I climbed on a chair and laid the crown of fragrant flowers upon the head of the statue of The Virgin Mary. That heavenly perfume stayed with me all these years, and reminds me of the special joy I felt that day.
|Lily of the Valley|
Arabella: You’ve arranged to meet with friends and family for an afternoon of fun. In the present socially restricted climate, where do you go and what do you do?
Sheila: It would have to be at my kitchen table, where conversation, gossip and general chit chat would be had on Zoom. I can’t wait to meet up with friends and family for real.
Arabella: All authors love and need to read. When choosing a book, do you:
a) pick off the shelf?
b) search online?
c) go with friends recommendations?
Sheila: As you can imagine, I probably have more books than Central Library, certainly more than I will have time to read, because I replenish at an alarming speed, drawn in by the blurb or recommendation. I also have a daily email from Bookbub, which have loads of offers that I cannot resist. I try not to browse, but it is impossible. Amazon is also a time stealer, and whereas I would have happily spent long hours in the local library, I now wander into there without leaving my sofa.
Arabella: Italian, French or English. (I’ll leave it to you to decide if I mean a gourmet meal, a bottle of wine, or a partner!)
Sheila: I am very cosmopolitan in my taste in food and wine, but my husband is English.
Arabella: The moment we are published, a career path is usually envisaged. Do you have any aspirations or ambitions for yourself and any future novels you might write?
Sheila: I love this question!
When writing a novel was just a dream, I imagined, as an author, I would be somebody who had a housekeeper and a gardener. I could see myself in a tranquil countryside setting with thatched cottages and Summer fetes. The reality is much more mundane, and the more popular my novels, the faster my fabulous readers want the next one. So, as I am merely flesh and blood and funny shaped finger joints (from pounding my poor bedraggled laptop keys) I have to keep on writing the next story between filling the washing machine and cooking for the family, and sometimes, when the sun is out, and the soft billowing puffballs drift across an azure sky, I take myself into the garden and I am side-tracked by raised flower beds that need a little pruning, and I cannot think of anything more idyllic.
Thank you for being a super guest on Arabella’s Blog and Chit-Chat, Sheila. I could almost imagine myself sat at your kitchen table with a shared pot of tea and a plate of biscuits as you told all the news about your latest release, The Mersey Mistress
Wishing you all the best.
About Sheila Riley
Sheila Riley - Author
Sheila sets her historical family sagas around the River Mersey and its docklands. Born in Southport she was raised near the river. She was a hairdresser for over thirty years before her love of storytelling encouraged her to put down her scissors and take up the pen. As a ghost-writer she wrote, among other things, four best-selling novels under the name of Annie Groves, which gave her the confidence to write under her own name.
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Book Blurb – The Mersey Mistress
The Mersey Mistress, out on 6th April 2021, is set around the Edwardian streets lining Liverpool Docks, where we meet Ruby Swift, a hard-working, straight-talking woman of substance who does not suffer fools gladly. When tragedy strikes, the Cassidy family on a bitter Christmas Eve in 1910, Ruby and her beloved Archie take matters into their own hands as a trusted employee’s house is mysteriously engulfed by flames and lives are lost. Orphaned by the fire, Ruby welcomes heartbroken sixteen-year-old Anna Cassidy into her home and family, but circumstances conspire against them and she is unable to save Anna's twelve-year-old brother Sam Cassidy, who is sent by the Church to Canada as a Home boy.
AUDIOBOOK (DIGITAL DOWNLOAD)
'A powerful and totally absorbing family saga that is not to be missed. I turned the pages almost faster than I could read.' Carol Rivers.
A small selection of five-star reviews on #Netgalley.
This is a story about love and tragedy. A wonderfully charming saga that will at times make you want to cry. I didn't want it to end and couldn't put it down. Kim M. Reviewer #Netgalley
I enjoyed this book. It's very gritty but there are some lighter moments and it is heart-warming. With a strong female lead this book gives you hope. You will need tissues. Zoe M. Reviewer #Netgalley
Loved, loved this beautiful and charming book and am pleased it is the beginning of a new series! So much to anticipate. Not only is the writing itself gorgeous with sublime descriptions but the story is simultaneously heart-breaking and heart-warming. From the first page I practically clung to it and read it in one sitting, fully captivated and ignored responsibilities and life for a while. And that ending!
Brenda C. Reviewer #Netgalley
The Mersey Mistress is out on 6th April 2021
Angel of the Mersey is out in November 2021
The Mersey Mothers is out in Spring 2022