I am delighted that SHELAN RODGER is joining me on my blog today for her Blog Tour. Shelan's latest book - Yellow Room - was published by Cutting Edge Press on 18 June 2015.
I grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community on an island north of Darwin. Story-telling was ingrained in the culture and maybe that has something to do with my love of stories. When I was nine, I started the ‘Family Magazine’, a weekly collection of news, stories, drawings and poems, which my little brother and sister were also forced to contribute to. Then there were endless diaries, endless poems…and finally the adventure of writing a novel. So I have no idea really but my father also wrote and I think the urge to write is something you just have in your blood.
Where do your ideas come from?
Gosh, good question! They seem to somehow float to the surface and crystallize around a particular theme or notion that I’d like to explore, and then a character is born in my head, someone who can turn the idea into her own life story.
Have your personal experiences influenced your writing? And if so, how?
The settings for my novels so far are places I have lived in: Argentina, Kenya, England. Much of what is written about the events in Kenya is inspired by personal experience. But the most important way personal experience has probably influenced my writing is the patchwork nature of my own life, growing up and living in different cultures (Nigeria, Australia, England, Argentina, Kenya, Spain)…I think this has probably contributed to a fascination with what shapes us and our sense of who we are, which fuels my writing.
Describe your writing style in 10 words or less?
Words are eyes, windows to our outside and inner worlds.
Do you have any strange writing habits?
I like to write at a desk in front of a window - there is something about looking through a window that opens me, inspires me. Otherwise the strangest habit is probably the lack of habit. I am a bit of an all or nothing person so I like to write when I know I can get completely lost in it. I love creating ‘writing weeks’: time out, ideally somewhere inspiring, where I have nothing else to do but write.
Do you plot out the whole book before you start or just start writing and see where it leads you?
I don’t plot out the whole thing. I tend to have a clear idea of where I want to get to but no idea how I am actually going to get there and I let that bit emerge as I write.
How long does it take you to research all of the background and locations for your books?
Actually - so far - not very long. Twin Truths and Yellow Room are set in locations I know well and the historical contexts for both books draw on direct experience. I did do a little psychological research for Twin Truths but even this was limited to a ‘push start’, which I then just ran with. Most research has happened in the editing phase, checking if things actually make sense.
What do you consider to be the hardest part of your writing?
Two things. Finding time to do it! I have a full time job and it is hard to combine this with my all or nothing approach to writing. And then knowing whether it is any good or not - the judgement call about your own words and deciding what to get rid of and what to keep.
Do you read? If so, who are your favourite authors?
Yes. DH Lawrence, Jane Austen, John Fowles, Lawrence Durrell, Thomas Hardy, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Isabel Allende, PG Wodehouse were among my early friends. There have been many since. I love writing that transports me, pushes boundaries, explores the unthinkable in a beautiful way. Authors like Milan Kundera, Alice Seebold, Kazuo Ishiguro, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Forbes, Amanda Jennings, Haruki Murakami, Khaled Hosseini, Carlos Ruiz Zafon, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Louis de Berniere, Yann Martel.
If you were writing a book about your life, what would be the title?
‘Problem daughter!’ An affectionate, humorous term coined by my mother, who doesn’t know why I bother to invent plots and don’t just write about my own life, there is so much drama in it!
What advice do you have for aspiring writers?
The same advice my father gave me: just get it out without judgement, you can worry about whether it’s any good or not, and change it as many times as you like, once the words are on the page.
And lastly, why should people read Yellow Room?
If you like a multi-layered psychological tale with dark undertones, a story which explores the power of secrets, the forces that shape our sense of personal identity, the grey areas that flow between the boundaries of relationships, try Yellow Room, a novel set in England and Kenya, with a poignant insight into the 2008 crisis that took over a thousand lives.
About Shelan Rodger
Shelan Rodger was born in northern Nigeria and grew up among the Tiwi, an aboriginal community on an island north of Darwin. She moved to England at the age of 11. Since then, Shelan has also lived in Argentina and Kenya. She now lives in Andalucia, Spain. Her progressional career has revolved around international education and learning and development.
Published by Cutting Edge Books (18 June 2015)
Haunted by a tragic childhood accident, Chala's whole life has been moulded by guilt and secrets. After the death of her stepfather, who took his own secrets to the grave, Chala re-evaluates her life and volunteers at a Kenyan orphanage, where she gets caught up in the turmoil of the post-election violence that took over a thousand lives in 2008. But, although she can walk away from Kenya, she cannot walk away from herself… With a poignant insight into Kenya's recent crisis, Yellow Room is a drama that explores the power of secrets to run, and ruin, our lives.
Read my review here
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