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: RobinRuth.com

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

What are you crafting today?

I always have multiple knitting projects, and over Christmas I started a new one. I’m working on developing a pattern for the arm-warmers (called muffatees or manchettes in Regency and Victorian England) that are mentioned a few times in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer and Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 5: Prisoner . My character, Phoebe, has a rather deadly pointy thing hidden in hers. :) The pattern is based off of antique knitting books which are scanned by Archive.org. (You can download .pdfs of the books, which I think is really rather cool.) The book the pattern is from was published after the Regency era, but I’m reasonably sure the pattern was in use in the Regency, just passed down by word of mouth. Are you crafting anything today?

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

Lady Wynwood's Spies 4 vignette - Lady Stoude

This is a really random scene I wrote that occurs in Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer right after chapter 23, after Keriah returns home and before Phoebe comes to pick her up later that night. The team has finished making all preparations for the trade for Michael at Vauxhall Gardens. *** “Oh! I have no wish to go to the ball tonight!” Lady Stoude stood in the open doorway to the drawing room of her husband’s townhouse, hands on hips, with a disgruntled expression that looked faintly like a drowned cat. Her husband, Jeremy, Lord Stoude, glanced up at her from where he was leaning against the mantle of the fireplace, drinking something amber-colored and peaty-smelling. He merely gave her a mild, inquiring look. “Why not, my dear?” “I have just heard from my maid, who heard from Mrs. Butterworth’s maid, who heard from Miss Farrimond’s maid, that Miss Farrimond will not attend the ball tonight, because an unfortunate accident with hair dye caused her to now sport a gia

Tabi socks, part deux

Captain's Log, Stardate 07.25.2008 (If you're on Ravelry, friend me! I'm camytang.) I made tabi socks again! (At the bottom of the pattern is the calculation for the toe split if you're not using the same weight yarn that I did for this pattern (fingering). I also give an example from when I used worsted weight yarn with this pattern.) I used Opal yarn, Petticoat colorway. It’s a finer yarn than my last pair of tabi socks, so I altered the pattern a bit. Okay, so here’s my first foray into giving a knitting pattern. Camy’s top-down Tabi Socks I’m assuming you already know the basics of knitting socks. If you’re a beginner, here are some great tutorials: Socks 101 How to Knit Socks The Sock Knitter’s Companion A video of turning the heel Sock Knitting Tips Yarn: I have used both fingering weight and worsted weight yarn with this pattern. You just change the number of cast on stitches according to your gauge and the circumference of your ankle. Th

Camille Elliot's January newsletter

My Camille Elliot (Christian Regency Romantic Suspense) newsletter went out last week, but in case you missed it, the link is below. In my newsletter this month, I posted a link to a special extra scene from Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 4: Betrayer , information about an experiment with my current Facebook group, and the date for an upcoming sale on Lady Wynwood’s Spies, volume 2: Berserker . I also mentioned a sweet Traditional Regency Romance that I’m reading. Click here to read my Camille Elliot newsletter for January.

ひとり寿司第28章パート1

「ひとり寿司」をブログに連載します! ひとり寿司 寿司シリーズの第一作 キャミー・タング 西島美幸 訳 スポーツ狂のレックス・坂井 —— いとこのマリコが数ヶ月後に結婚することにより、「いとこの中で一番年上の独身女性」という内輪の肩書を「勝ち取る」ことについては、あまり気にしていない。コントロールフリークの祖母を無視するのは容易だ —— しかし、祖母は最終通告を出した —— マリコの結婚式までにデート相手を見つけなければ、無慈悲な祖母は、レックスがコーチをしている女子バレーボールチームへの資金供給を切ると言う。 ダグアウトにいる選手全員とデートに出かけるほど絶望的なわけではない。レックスは、バイブルスタディで読んだ「エペソの手紙」をもとに「最高の男性」の条件の厳しいリストを作った。バレーボールではいつも勝つ —— ゲームを有利に進めれば、必ず成功するはずだ。 そのとき兄は、クリスチャンではなく、アスリートでもなく、一見何の魅力もないエイデンを彼女に引き合わせる。 エイデンは、クリスチャンではないという理由で離れていったトリッシュという女の子から受けた痛手から立ち直ろうとしている。そして、レックスが(1)彼に全く興味がないこと、(2)クリスチャンであること、(3)トリッシュのいとこであることを知る。あの狂った家族とまた付き合うのはごめんだ。まして、偽善的なクリスチャンの女の子など、お断り。彼はマゾヒストじゃない。 レックスは時間がなくなってきた。いくら頑張っても、いい人は現れない。それに、どこへ行ってもエイデンに遭遇する。あのリストはどんどん長くなっていくばかり —— 過去に掲載済みのストーリーのリンクはこちらです。 *** 28 「ねえビーナス、お願い」装具をもっとしっかり脚に巻きつけようともがきながら、レックスは肩で携帯を持とうとした。 「ごめん、すごく仕事が忙しいの。トリッシュに行ってもらうように電話したから」 「トリッシュ? いつから彼女が私のお気に入りになったの?」立ち上がり、段ボール箱の間を通って、トイレにたどり着いた。 「ジェン、今週末は出かけてるの——ほんと、都合がいいわよね。だから、トリッシュかマリコのどっちかなのよ」 (うわっ)「分かった。何時に来てくれるの?」 「あの子

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year! This year is the Year of the Rabbit. The Chinese zodiac is split into 12 animals, and their years are 12 years apart. My mom was born in the Year of the Rabbit, so you could calculate her age if you wanted to. :) My humorous Christian romantic suspense serial novel, Year of the Dog , is a reference to the Chinese zodiac because the heroine is a dog trainer. It’s a prequel to my Warubozu Spa Chronicles series, which is set in my birth state of Hawaii. Here’s the book description: Year of the Dog serial novel by Camy Tang Marisol Mutou, a professional dog trainer, is having a bad year. While renovating her new dog kenneling and training facility, she needs to move in with her disapproving family, who have always made her feel inadequate—according to them, a job requiring her to be covered in dog hair and slobber is an embarrassment to the family. She convinces her ex-boyfriend to take her dog for a few months … but discovers that his brother is the irat

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith

Talk of the Town by Joan Smith Daphne Ingleside’s visit to her Aunt Effie in London was meant to add a little spark to her placid country life. And it did—once the two women decided to write Effie’s memoirs. For Effie, a faded divorcée, had been the beauty of London in her day, and many of the ton feared their misbehavior would be disclosed. The Duke of St. Felix, misinterpreting their project as a means of blackmailing his family, antagonized the sharp-witted, beautiful Daphne to his peril. Regency Romance by Joan Smith; originally published by Fawcett *** I first read this Regency romance years ago in mass market paperback and remember liking it. But when I saw that the author released it on ebook, I found that I didn’t remember the story at all, so I decided to re-read it. It was just as enjoyable the second time around. This story is full of witty banter and is a light, cute comedy of manners. I like how forthright the heroine is, although her tongue is at times a trifle

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

Kari Trumbo is one of the twelve authors participating with me in the Christian Contemporary Romance anthology, Save the Date , which releases September 15. 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

Camy's Blog Tour!

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in my blog tour for Sushi for One ! The full schedule (with links) is at the bottom of this post. Here are some highlights from a few interviews: From Julie Carobini's blog : Hey Camy, You often speak fondly of Captain Caffeine and his imported espresso maker. What's your favorite caffeinated beverage order? Honestly, tea. Strong English Breakfast or Irish Breakfast tea. I'll take Earl Grey if I'm feeling zesty, or Ginger Peach (Republic of Tea) if I'm feeling fruity. In the summer, it's iced. In the winter, it's scalding hot, sometimes with a little soymilk and honey. However, I won't turn my nose up at a latte, especially if it's from Captain Caffeine or our favorite coffeeshop, Barefoot Coffee in Santa Clara. From Sally Bradley's blog : SB: In the story, Lex mentions a girl named Camy who gets brained by volleyballs all the time. I have to ask — is that you making a cameo in your own bo