My interview over at The Art and Craft of Writing Creatively is HERE

Purchase my book Images of America: Detroit Lakes HERE

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Author Interview: Sheila Roberts

I know your new book Better Than Chocolate was just released September 25, 2012 and I really want to talk about that. But first, I’d like my readers to know a little about you.

Q. What is your favorite quality about yourself?
A. Gosh, there are so many. Hahahah. Seriously, I guess one of my best qualities is that I’m fun to be with. Is that a quality? I hope so.
Q. What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
A. “If you can dream it you can do it” – Walt Disney. That is so inspiring to me. I think God gives us all talents and dreams. Sometimes the one thing that holds us back is confidence. If there’s a dream in your heart, chances are it’s there for a reason. I say, go for it!
We’re going to talk about your book that you’ve written, but first, let us learn a little about how you got your start in writing.
Q.  How has your upbringing influenced your writing?
A. I had a family that was very encouraging and supportive. Anything I wanted to try my parents were behind me 100 percent. They encouraged my creativity. I also had an amazing grade school teacher who allowed me to read my literary creations to the class on a regular basis. (Poor kids – talk about a captive audience!)
Q. What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
A. Putting in the work on a daily basis. Sometimes I would much rather be off playing than in my office, especially when the sun is out. (Although, I must admit, I make sure to build playtime into my life.)
Okay, now we can get to talking about Better Than Chocolate. 
Q. Tell us about a little bit about Better Than Chocolate.
A. This novel is about a family of women whose business is in trouble. And it’s up to our heroine Samantha Sterling to pull them out. Since the business employs a lot of people in town there’s more riding on this than just the fate of her immediate family. Her mountain town of Icicle Falls has been experiencing an economic slump and could use a shot in the arm. What better way to help everyone than to sponsor a chocolate festival? Sounds easy, doesn’t it? Well, I made sure it wouldn’t be. Heroines have to struggle to prove their heroines, right?
Q. How did you develop your plot and characters?
A. This all comes about in pieces. I always start with my concept, what the basic idea of the book is going to be and then work on from there. For this book, first of all, I knew I wanted to create a charming small town. (The town of Icicle Falls is actually based on Leavenworth, Washington, a town that was on the verge of extinction and rebuilt itself in the sixties to become a tourist destination.) Then I wanted to introduce readers to that town by giving them a family as its centerpiece. The family needed a business and I decided to make it chocolate. From there it was a matter of asking, “What kind of problems could this family have?” and “What kind of woman would be able to save her family and the town?”
Q.What was the hardest part about writing this book?
A. Actually, testing the recipes for it. Some were real disasters. And I gained several pounds in the process!
Q. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
A. The character of Muriel, the matriarch of the Sterling family, who is money challenged, was a good reminder to me that I need to be more involved in my own family’s finances. Math has never been my thing and my husband takes care of all the budgeting and bill paying. In many ways this is great. It leaves me free to be creative. In many ways though this is not so good because if something happens to him I’m in deep doo-doo. Finances, like all other aspects of marriage should be a team effort, and after seeing the mess Muriel got into because she was clueless I’m aware that I need to be a much more involved member of the team when it comes to managing our money.
Q.Have you started your next project yet? If so, can you tell us anything about it?
A. We authors actually work far ahead so I’m already two books down the road. I’m very excited about Merry Ex-mas, a holiday tale of wives and their exes, which will be out this November. Then, next spring, What She Wants will be out. I’m just putting the finishing touches on that and it’s really going to be fun. 
Q. Do you have any specific last thoughts that you want to say to your readers?
A. Just one. I want to say thank you. Without readers we writers would have no audience. To whom could we tell our stories? You are so important to me!
Q. Do you remember the first book that kept you up all night reading? What was it?
A. As a girl I devoured Nancy Drew books. I got older and graduated to Jane Austen. But I think the book that turned me into a night owl reader was probably Kirkland Revels by Victoria Holt. After that book I became a Victoria Holt addict.
Q. What is your favorite movie and why?
A. It’s a Wonderful Life – best movie ever made IMHO! I love the positive message of that movie and I’m such a sap. I cry at the ending every time – quite an accomplishment considering I’ve been watching it every Christmas for the last twenty years. By the way, no one in my family will watch it with me any more. Now I have to resort to hosting a holiday chick flick night. Anybody want to join me?!
Sheila Roberts is married and has three children. She lives on a lake in the Pacific Northwest. Her novels have appeared in Reader’s Digest condensed books and have been published in several languages. Her holiday perennial, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for the Lifetime Movie Network. When she’s not writing songs, hanging out with her girlfriends or hitting the dance floor with her husband, she can be found writing about those things dear to women’s hearts: family, friends and chocolate.
You can visit Sheila at You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook. 
Sweet Dreams Chocolate Company has been in the Sterling family for generations, ever since Great-Grandma Rose literally dreamed up her first fabulous recipe. So Samantha Sterling was understandably unhappy when her mother named her second husband, Waldo, president of the family business. Appointed president after Waldo’s recent death, Samantha is apoplectic when she discovers just how close Sweet Dreams is to bankruptcy.
Thanks to the free spending ways of her recently deceased stepfather, it looks as if they’re about to lose Sweet Dreams to the bank—and that would be a disaster, not only for the family but for the town of Icicle Falls, Washington. Although Waldo had ignored numerous requests by Cascade Mutual to discuss their arrears, Samantha is sure she can win over the manager to her side.
But the bank’s longtime manager has retired and his replacement, former Icicle Falls high school football star Blake Preston, isn’t as easy a mark as his predecessor. So when Samantha’s pleas and a gift box of chocolate fail to impress, she’s forced to consider other options.
After some brainstorming with her mother and sisters, inspiration strikes. They’ll have a chocolate festival. Town council approves the idea—despite some reservations voiced by Blake. Time is running out, but the Sterling women are determined and the town’s behind them, so what could go wrong?
Well, quite a few things, actually. The permits appear to be mysteriously stalled at the mayor’s office. Samantha and her mother seem to be at loggerheads. And Blake is determined to sell off Sweet Dreams assets to their biggest competitor even if the Sterling women do raise the funds.
Or is he?
It’s enough to drive her to chocolate.