Welcome, Sheila Crosby.
At last, I’m so glad to bring you the interview with the lovely Sheila, the one which should have been published in January. Here it is, and hope you enjoy it and find it, like all good things, well worth waiting for.
Blog about La Palma: http://lapalma-island.com
Main site: http://sheilacrosby.com (which should be getting some love in the new year.)
Online shop: http://dragontree.sheilacrosby.com/blog/products-page/ They make great Christmas gifts!
It’s my great pleasure to welcome author and my also, one of my writing group friends to my blog today. Sheila Crosby has written stories set on the Island of La Palma, where she lives, and also, Dragon stories, and stargazing tales from the observatory.
Sue/ Congratulations on making it to the shortlist of Alfie dog international story competition recently, Sheila. Where did the idea of the April fool story come from?
Sheila/ Thanks. And thanks for inviting me to your blog. It’s often hard to remember afterwards, but I think that one started off as a conversation with my adult son about how mobile phones have changed things. These days you can take a selfie with whatever-it-was and people are much more likely to believe you. Then I got to thinking about when it would be really important and really hard to be believed, and the answer was an alien invasion on April fool’s day. I mentioned the idea to a few friends, and got great snorts of laughter every time, so I knew I was onto a good one.
Sue/ You write a lot about La Palma in the Canary Islands where you live. How did you wind up living there?
Sheila/ I originally came to the island with a six-month contract to work as a software engineer in the astronomical observatory here. That was in 1990 and I’m still here! You see, I met a tall dark handsome local in the Isaac Newton Telescope and we wound up getting married. Luckily for me, the island is beautiful and inspiring.
Sue/ I especially love your dragon stories, and you have a book called….The Dodo Dragon and other stories. What is it that draws you towards dragons?
Sheila/ Actually, I don’t think I write many dragon stories. The Dodo Dragon is the only story in the anthology about a dragon (although it’s one that keeps selling) and it’s a very unusual dragon. Although everybody knows what to expect of a dragon, and I do enjoy subverting that. Dragons don’t have to be baddies.
Sue/ You have Thrice upon a Time, in the book of the same name, published by Alfie Dog. I’ve read that story, and I’d describe it as fairy-tale with humour. Is this a genre in which you would write more stories? Or was that a one off?
Sheila/ I’ve written a few humorous fairy tales. For example, “Some Day My Prince Will Go”is a parody of Rapunzel. Rapunzel is ridiculous – so the prince finally manages to climb up into her tower – that doesn’t mean that she’s rescued. She’s still up a tower for pete’s sake. Why didn’t she cut off her hair and climb down it herself, years ago? I’d definitely like to write more – I suppose it’s partly that fairy tales make a lot of assumptions which strike me as daft. I mean, what if a gay man slays the dragon? Does he still have to marry the princess? What’s she going to think about that? What if the dairy maid rescued the prince?
Sue/ Where did you have your first story published? And how did you celebrate?
Sheila/ My first sale was “The Dodo Dragon” to Jackhammer ezine in 1998, and they paid me $19. I was at work when I got the email (text only emails in those days) so I went into the ladies where I could literally jump up and down without anybody seeing me.
Sue/ You’re busy showing tourists round the observatory, on La Palma. When do you find time to write?
Sheila/ For the last few weeks I’ve had extra guiding work and I’ve been very busy trying to market books. So I haven’t had time to write anything except blog posts and it’s making me bad tempered. But I don’t work as a guide full time – I probably average about four days mornings a week. Then there’s housework, dammit, (I have a very messy family, and that includes me.) But for most of the year I probably get anywhere between 15 minutes and 2 hours a day, squeezed in wherever I can manage. It’s completely chaotic, but it sort-of works. And occasionally I get a fit of enthusiasm, ignore all my responsibilities and just write for a couple of days.
Sue/ I know you send stories to Women’s Weekly, People’s Friend and other magazines. Which magazine to you find easiest to write for?
Sheila/ Actually the easiest places to get published for me are SF and fantasy webzines, but of course they pay a lot less. It helps that there’s a lot of them, so when your story’s rejected from one place, you still have plenty of others to try. If any of your readers write speculative fiction, I recommend http://ralan.com/ as a great list of potential markets.
Thank you Sheila for a glimpse into your world, which looks exciting and great fun. Glad that you’re a critique buddy as well.
Next month, interview with Patsy Collins…