Monday, June 04, 2007

Interview with Shelley Bates

Captain’s Log, Stardate 06.04.2007

Today I’m interviewing Shelley Bates about her latest novel, Over Her Head!

What kind of mother suspects her own daughter of murder?

Laurie Hale has the perfect life--and the perfect family to go with it. She imagines fun, love, and academic success for her daughter, Anna. But when one of Anna's classmates is found murdered and the police start asking questions, fear and suspicion threaten everything Laurie values. Anna isn't the only suspect-a whole group of teenagers seems to be involved, but none of them is talking, and the community is in an uproar. Laurie is asked to leave her prayer group just when she needs it the most, and her marriage bears the strain of the crisis. Laurie's only ally is Janice, the mayor's wife, whose own son could implicate Anna-or exonerate her.

Ultimately, Laurie must face her fears: What if Anna really was involved in Randi Peizer's murder? And what kind of person is Laurie if she can doubt her own child's innocence? Only God can provide the answers when Laurie finds herself in OVER HER HEAD.

And now, here’s Camy and Shelley!

What inspired the storyline for Over Her Head?

My mom sent me an article from my hometown paper about a murder that happened at my old junior high. A swarm of teenagers had gotten out of control when an unpopular girl tried to join their clique, and they drowned her under the bridge that I used to cross every day to go to school. The story made the hair stand up on the back of my neck--both from horror and from the knowledge that I would write about it someday. The story percolated for ten years as I thought, what if a Christian mom found out her daughter was in a similar swarm? What would it do to their relationship? To the family? To their ties in their church and community? Those questions eventually led me to sit down and start writing.

What’s your favorite scene from Over Her Head?

I like the reconciliation scene on the bridge at the end. It made me cry to write it, so I hope it has the same effect on readers!

I know you keep chickens as pets (and yummy egg-layers!). Tell us about them!

So this chicken walks into the yard one day ... no, seriously. She did. And she wouldn't go away. So my dh built her a coop and named her Electroclux. Then, since chickens are flock birds, I had to go get her a companion down at the animal shelter. That was Cocoa Puff. And then someone heard I had chickens and brought me a black hen in a cardboard box ... and, well, any owner of a backyard flock will tell you it's a disease. I just accepted the fact that I was to rescue chickens!

My current flock has two Buff Orpingtons (JoJo and Dinah), two Silver-Laced Wyandottes (Blondie and Cleo), two Ameraucanas (Blue and Molly) and an ISA Brown (Lizzie-bit).

Some of your readers may not know that you sew vintage dresses. What was the BEST dress you made? What was the WORST dress you made?

The best dress I made was an 1892 late-Victorian ballgown. I got the pattern from and twelve yards of mauve pink silk from Thai Silks in Los Altos. That's the dress I wore to the RITA Awards ceremony in 2005 :)

The worst dress I ever made was supposed to be a 20s evening gown. I had a gorgeous beaded overdress that I'd ordered from eBay, but the underdress looked so awful I packed the whole thing away. Good thing I didn't live in the 20s. Gack.

[Below: Shelley and her husband before the Indian Officers' Ball (circa 1890s).]

[Below: Me and Shelley after the 2005 RITA awards!]

If you were an ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?

I'd be lime sorbet. A little tangy but refreshing :)

What is the most exciting place you’ve traveled?

I love to travel, so everything is exciting to me! But, hmm, let's see. I turned 21 in Paris. I researched a never-published Regency novel in Cornwall. I got lost in Venice. Played an 18th-century harpsichord in Vienna. Danced the polka in Munich. Haggled for silk in Chiang Mai. And found the farm in Norway from which my great-great grandparents emigrated in the 1800s.

WOW that is way cool!

You’re off the hotseat! Any parting words?

Just a shout-out to YOU, Camy ... I can't wait to get your book in September!

Camy here: Aw, thanks, Shelley! Thanks for being here on my blog with me today!