Skip to main content

Interview with Shelley Bates

Captain’s Log, Stardate 06.15.2006

RITA-winner Shelley Bates joins me today in the midst of her crazy preparations for her book tour!

Shelley’s latest women's fiction novel is A SOUNDING BRASS.

Award-winning author Shelley Bates pens the story of a sheltered young woman torn between a magnetic leader and the man out to discredit him.

Claire Montoya is drawn to handsome Luke Fisher, radio evangelist, and goes to work as his bookkeeper. Although she initially enjoys taking part in Luke's vision for the community, she begins to realize that certain things about this powerful personality don't add up. Complicating matters, investigator Ray Harper is hanging around the studio, asking disturbing questions--and making an impression of his own on young Claire. Who is right: the nationally known evangelist or the suspicious cop? And more important, to whom can Claire trust her heart?

And now, here’s Shelley!
Photo by:

How did you come up with the story idea for A Sounding Brass?

I was browsing in the international newspapers section of Borders one day, because I’m Canadian and they stock the Vancouver Sun, and there was a huge picture on the front page with the headline, “Con Man For Christ.”

Okay, so you don’t just walk away from something like that, because believe me, you just can’t make this stuff up. This man, a radio evangelist, had come to the town my cousins live in, and during the course of his “ministry,” managed to defraud the entire town to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars. The pricking of my thumbs told me this would make a great basis for a story. I needed a way to bring the Elect, my fictional toxic church, to the realization that their tendency to glorify their leadership just couldn’t work anymore, and a charming, eloquent evangelist like this seemed the perfect vehicle for it.

I knew right away what the title was going to be, from the verse in I Cor. 13: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as a sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.”

A Sounding Brass seems more mystery/romantic suspense. Is it similar to Grounds To Believe (which I LOVED, btw)?

Thanks, Camy :) Grounds To Believe was the book of my heart, and every time someone says nice things about my baby, it just delights me. Yes, ASB is very similar in tone to GTB. George Lucas once said that the middle act of any play is always the darkest, so Pocketful Of Pearls, the second book in the trilogy, fits that description. It’s more of a psychological read with a mystery embedded in it, whereas ASB is a straight-ahead mystery and romance. Publishers Weekly called it an “inspirational chick-lit mystery.” It isn’t chick lit, but two out of three ain’t bad. The reviewer also said the book contained “spiritual insights coming from unexpected places,” which I was very happy about.

I know how much you love chickens—how many do you have now? How did you first get into them?

I have eight at the moment, including two 3-month-old peeps whose little voices are changing. They sound like adolescent boys—squawking and squeaking . I got into chickens one day about six years ago, when this little red hen walked into our yard and told us she was staying. Since chickens are flock creatures, I went to the animal shelter and got her a companion, and then people heard I had chickens, so a hen showed up on my doorstep in a box, someone else moved away and left me their birds, and so on. If you open yourself to chickens, they will come :)

I’ve been a bird person since I was little, so this seems to be a natural thing for me. These chickens are good companions, affectionate, smart, and just plain good to be around. I write from about 11 to 3, so during that time I let everyone out of the pen, and then I sit on a stump or a chair or a pile of lumber with my AlphaSmart and work while the birds debug the yard. The neighbors have gotten used to it :)

Finish this sentence: Writing a novel is …

like chipping words out of granite … stepping through a portal into another world … the thing I was meant to do.

Do you have a scripture verse for your writing?

Not for writing, particularly, but my favorite verse is Psalm 139:9-10: “If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me.” I travel a lot, so that verse is very comforting. And there’s a really wonderful promise in the poetry.

If you were a dessert, what would you be and why?

Oh man, you couldn’t just ask “Where do you get your ideas?” like other people, could you? Let me think. I would be a crème brulée, not just because it’s my favorite dessert in the world, but because I come off as a bit reserved, but once you get past the glazed crust, you find I’m a softie underneath :)

If the heroes in your books were models for a calendar, what would the theme be? (And yes, you can include Johnny Depp as Mr. December or something like that).

Okay, this is my calendar, so we are doing The Year of Johnny. Johnny as J.M. Barrie for January. Johnny as darling Gilbert for February. Johnny as Captain Jack for March. Johnny as … oh wait, you were talking about my books, weren’t you?

I like writing cops and academics. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I like a man who pits his intelligence against forces working against him and wins. My heroes are not all strictly alpha males; as an example, Matthew Nicholas in Pocketful of Pearls is a very gentle man, but he goes to war with his intellect and his heart for the sake of the heroine. So the theme for my calendar would be from Psalm 84:5: “Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee.”

Now, about Captain Jack …

Who have been the authors/what have been the books that influenced you the most as a writer?

My biggest fear is of so admiring someone’s work that her style or word choices seep into my own books and I wind up being derivative. ::shudder:: That said, probably the biggest influences were Jane Austen, Elizabeth Goudge, Rosamund Pilcher, Jenny Crusie, and Kristin Hannah. They’re my writing heroes.

What’s coming out next for you?

After A Sounding Brass, my next release is a standalone called Over Her Head, which I’m finishing up now. This is also based on reality, an event that happened a few years ago in my hometown. A gang of girls swarmed a teenager who wanted to join their clique, and drowned her under a bridge. When I read the article I was so horrified and affected by it that I knew someday my emotions would come out of me in a book. My protagonist is the mother who finds out her daughter was involved in a similar circumstance, and doubt and mistrust begin to affect her relationship with her child, with her family, her church, and eventually the whole town. It’ll be released by Warner Faith in the early summer of 2007.

You’re off the hot seat! Any parting words?

The most important thing I’d want any writer to remember is: Believe in yourself and your work. Don’t let the rejections get you down, because you’re the only one who can write your particular story from your particular point of view. You’re the one with the passion, so let it show on the page.

And now it’s midmorning, so if you’ll excuse me, the chickens and I have to go to work!

Camy here: Thanks so much Shelley! I’m praying your book tour next week will be a blast!

Popular Posts

Michael’s Scarf knitting pattern

Michael’s Gray and Brown Scarf I had just written a scene in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner where my character Michael gives the heroine a very significant scarf. When looking for a stitch pattern, I found the one used in “#31 Comfort either for a Lady or Gentleman” in The Lady's Assistant , volume 2 , published in 1842 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, pages 125-126 (click on the link to view and/or download the free PDF of the digitally scanned book). When I did test swatches, it turned out to be a pretty eyelet pattern that looks like branches or vines winding upward. I tried the pattern as a parallelogram scarf and discovered that the pattern has a changeable orientation, looking vertical or diagonal depending on how you looked at it. So I decided to use this pattern, knitted as a parallelogram, as Michael’s scarf. I decided to use a smaller needle and add a slip stitch in the pattern to make the eyelets a bit more close and less lacy. When paired with a brown an

September and October Christian Fiction new releases

The Lone Rice Ball releases next month in a Christian Contemporary Romance multi-author box set, Once Upon a Starry Night: A Very Merry Christmas Romance Collection . It's included in this promo with other Christian Fiction new releases for September and October. You can preorder it for only $2.99, and the price will go up on the release date in October. If you prefer to read it on Kindle Unlimited, sign up for my newsletter so you can hear when it’s available to read in KU. Check out the Sept/Oct Christian Fiction new releases

Fall Into Sweet Clean Christian Romance Bookfunnel promo

Volumes 1, 2, and 3 in my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series are in this promo featuring Christian romance novels! Check out the promo and all the great Christian romance ebooks! You might find a new favorite author!

Grace Livingston Hill romances free to read online

I wanted to update my old post on Grace Livingston Hill romances because now there are tons more options for you to be able to read her books for free online! I’m a huge Grace Livingston Hill fan. Granted, not all her books resonate with me, but there are a few that I absolutely love, like The Enchanted Barn and Crimson Roses . And the best part is that she wrote over 100 books and I haven’t yet read them all! When I have time, I like to dive into a new GLH novel. I like the fact that most of them are romances, and I especially appreciate that they all have strong Christian themes. Occasionally the Christian content is a little heavy-handed for my taste, but it’s so interesting to see what the Christian faith was like in the early part of the 20th century. These books are often Cinderella-type stories or A Little Princess (Frances Hodgson Burnett) type stories, which I love. And the best part is that they’re all set in the early 1900s, so the time period is absolutely fasci

No Cold Bums toilet seat cover

Captain's Log, Stardate 08.22.2008 I actually wrote out my pattern! I was getting a lot of hits on my infamous toilet seat cover , and I wanted to make a new one with “improvements,” so I paid attention and wrote things down as I made the new one. This was originally based off the Potty Mouth toilet cover , but I altered it to fit over the seat instead of the lid. Yarn: any worsted weight yarn, about 120 yards (this is a really tight number, I used exactly 118 yards. My suggestion is to make sure you have about 130 yards.) I suggest using acrylic yarn because you’re going to be washing this often. Needle: I used US 8, but you can use whatever needle size is recommended by the yarn you’re using. Gauge: Not that important. Mine was 4 sts/1 inch in garter stitch. 6 buttons (I used some leftover shell buttons I had in my stash) tapestry needle Crochet hook (optional) Cover: Using a provisional cast on, cast on 12 stitches. Work in garter st until liner measures

Hosea 14:2

Lord Jesus, Thank You that we can freely come directly to You and pray to You. Thank You that You died for our sins on the cross and we can be forgiven. “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” We praise and thank You, Lord, for how wonderful You are. We lift our hearts to You in praise today. Amen 主イエスよ、私たちが自由にあなたに直接近づき、あなたに祈ることができることを感謝します。あなたが十字架で私たちの罪のために死んでくださり、私たちが赦されることを感謝します。「私たちのすべての罪を赦し、私たちを慈しみ深く受け入れてください。」主よ、あなたがどんなに素晴らしい方であるかを賛美し、感謝します。私たちは今日、賛美のうちにあなたに心を捧げます。 アーメン

Keriah's Narrow Crescent Scarf

In my series Lady Wynwood’s Spies, my character Keriah is more emotional than her friend Phoebe, and so when writing about her in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 6: Martyr , naturally I described her scarf as having more lively colors than the greens and blues that Phoebe favors. I didn’t really have a particular yarn colorway in mind when I wrote the scene, but when looking through my stash to knit her scarf, I found the Carnival colorway in Knit Picks Chroma Twist Fingering, and it was absolutely perfect for her. Chroma Twist Fingering is discontinued, but you could knit this in Chroma Fingering or any other color-transitional yarn. In the Regency era, a tri-color 3-ply yarn like Chroma Twist Fingering would probably not have been sold in shops, but it also may not have been completely unheard of. It is made by simply dying the wool rather than the finished yarn, and then the dyed wool would be split into 3 parts and each part spun into a single ply, before all three plies

Marketing Information Form, part two

Captain’s Log, Stardate 05.26.2006 Blog book giveaway: My Monday book giveaway is A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND by Kristin Billerbeck . My Thursday book giveaway is LIFE INTERRUPTED by Tricia Goyer . You can still enter both giveaways. Just post a comment on each of those blog posts. On Monday, I'll draw the winner for A GIRL’S BEST FRIEND and post the title for another book I'm giving away. Stay tuned. Continued from Marketing Information Form, part one : More stuff they want to know about my book: Other covers: What styles, fonts, colors? This is one area I didn’t really think about, but I listed the few covers that I thought conveyed the sort of atmosphere I wanted for my book: WHAT A GIRL WANTS by Kristin Billerbeck . The cartoon design is fresh, cute, clean. SASSY CINDERELLA AND THE VALIANT VIGILANTE by Sharon Dunn . This book, more than the other Ruby Taylor books, conveyed Ruby’s character—her vibrant red hair, bohemian dress, sassy post-modern attitude. THE TROUBLE WITH LACY B

Cleo’s Drawstring Purse knitting pattern w/ @KnitPicks CotLin

Kari Trumbo is one of the twelve authors who participated with me in the Christian Contemporary Romance anthology, Save the Date . Kari’s novella in the anthology is titled January Hope . In celebration, I wrote a knitting pattern for the lace drawstring purse used by Kari’s heroine, Cleo. (In case you missed it, here are the links for my interview with Kari part 1 and part 2 . Tomorrow I’ll post an excerpt of one of Kari’s other books, Better Than First .) This is a pretty and practical little bag used by the heroine Cleo in Kari Trumbo’s novella, January Hope . Knit in a cotton/linen blend yarn, it’s just large enough for a cell phone and a small wallet. In the book, Cleo’s bag was a coral shade, but the bag I knit here is a chocolate brown color. The lace pattern is the Double Rose Leaf stitch pattern originally published on page 195 in The Lady's Assistant, volume 2 by Mrs. Jane Gaugain, published in 1847. ( You can download a scanned .pdf of the book from Archive.

Merry Christmas! Enjoy The Spinster's Christmas

As a Merry Christmas gift to all my blog readers, I’m going to be posting my Christian Regency romantic suspense, The Spinster’s Christmas , for free on my blog! I’ll be posting the book in 1000-1500 word segments every Tuesday and Friday. (When I do the calculations, it’ll finish around the end of May.) Why am I posting a Christmas story when it won’t be Christmas in a week? Because I can! :) The Spinster’s Christmas is the prequel volume to my Lady Wynwood’s Spies series . Right now I’m editing volume 1 of Lady Wynwood’s Spies, and it’s on track to release in 2020. (If you’re on my Camille Elliot newsletter , you’ll be sure to hear when it’s available for preorder.) I anticipate that the Lady Wynwood’s Spies series to be about ten volumes. I think the series story will be a lot of fun to tell, and I’m looking forward to writing up a storm! Below, I’ll be listing the links to the parts of The Spinster’s Christmas as I post them. (I created the html links by hand so please