Shirley Wine - Beach Romance with Heart
Shirley Wine is from a large farming family in which oral storytelling was encouraged, a throwback to her family’s Irish roots. Shirley has lived and worked on the land alongside her husband for many years, and a love for the land runs as deep as the blood in her veins, so writing rural romance was a natural progression for this author. Shirley is no stranger to devastating personal tragedy, and these experiences are reflected in her often gritty stories about triumph over adversity. Her latest book, Echoes from the Heart, is no exception. As our Author of the Day, Wine tells us all about it.
Please give us a short introduction to what Echoes from the Heart is about.
Echoes From The Heart is the story of a young woman who at the age of 25 learns in a posthumous letter from her father that the woman she grew up calling ‘mother’ didn’t give birth to her – Anna is her father’s daughter with another woman – cue an identity crisis.
What inspired you to write about someone who discovered that the woman she grew up calling mother... wasn't?
I have a huge personal interest in all aspects surrounding adoption – whether it is from the child’s perspective, the birth-mother’s perspective or the adoptive parent’s perspective – at 18 I was forced by my parents to relinquish my first born child – something that haunts me to this day – I have reconnected with him years later, but the bond is just not the same. My husband and I also ended up adopting 3 children and we have shepherded one boy through the traumatic process of finding his birth mother, and it did not end well.
Tell us more about Anna Belmonte. What makes her tick?
Anna is a complex person – raised in a family with strong Italian links she’s fought against her prescribed role [as seen by her family] of getting married and having children. A gifted artist, she’s had to fight tooth and claw to continue her education and forge a career as a book illustrator. The sudden knowledge about her birth rocks the foundations of her life, and sends her spinning into a full-blown identity crisis.
How does this book tie in with the other Katherine Bay Romance books?
All the Katherine Bay books are complete novels and can stand alone – what draws them together is the setting, the fabulous Coromandel Peninsular with its great beached and familiar cafés The Beachcomber the eateries The Clam Shack and familiar characters. Not all these characters appear in every book, but when you do meet one in a subsequent book, it’s welcoming and familiar, and they add to the storyline in a substantial way. Readers like this. In Echoes Anna meets up with Jace Mullein – a retired private investigator, whose story appeared in A Perfect Lie – and in my current WIP Zach Callahan who we met briefly in Echoes bursts onto the scene in Home To Stay. Readers will not be confused by a multitude of characters that leave them feeling they are missing half the story – as a reader it’s my pet hate.
Why Romance? What drew you to this genre?
Life can be a real bitch – I have buried five children, 3 as infants, and our twin sons who died 12 weeks apart aged almost 30. I do not want to write or read about horrible happenings, I’ve lived them. Sure I like mystery and mayhem but I want any book I read or write to end on a hopeful or happy note.
I was drawn to this genre – rural romance – because this is the life I’ve lived. I was born a child of the land, married a farmer and worked alongside him for many years [not revealing just how many LOL]
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
I am a mad passionate gardener – I grow all our vegetables, but flowers feed my soul.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I have always written – for many years I had a regular “Country Comment” column in a daily national newspaper and worked on a local paper.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Take advantage of every opportunity to learn. Don’t allow anyone to push you into a career or decision that feels wrong. Never be afraid to continue learning or change careers if what you’re doing isn’t a comfortable fit. Life is Not a dress rehearsal.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve a clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
Writing is the best therapeutic exercise ever devised, this why psychologists advice people to keep a journal. Writing and gardening have literally saved my sanity.
And yes, delving into characters’ lives and personality has helped me understand myself.
Which of your characters has been the most challenging to write for?
I give all my characters stiff challenges to face and they are always flawed … but the most challenging for me is writing light and fluffy … these characters take on a life of their own and like most humans, hide their insecurities behind a bright smile.
Do any of your characters take off on their own tangent and refuse to do what you had planned for them?
Hell yeah! Every single time.
Would you consider yourself a disciplined writer? What is an average writing day like for you?
I am disciplined, I always have been, and I write every day, but refuse to put pressure on myself with word quotas etc, but it always surprises me to tally up my daily achievements. The no pressure approach works for me.
I always strive for a good work/life balance. I’m now retired and writing is as much a hobby as it is a vocation.
What are you working on right now?
I am working with 8 other authors on a Christmas continuity for a bind-up with Harper-Collins, due out in Dec2019. My Book in the series is tentatively titled A Reason To Stay.
I’m also knee deep in writing my next Katherine Bay book Home to Stay which I will put up for pre-order when I have the rough first draft completed. Again the no pressure attitude.