Where did the inspiration for Shattered Lies come from?
SJ: Oh, I wish I had a magical answer for this one. There was no inspiration for Shattered Lies. It was just an idea, a one line sentence I came up with. What if? What if a young woman in a seemingly perfect family with a perfect life was to discover her entire life was a lie? That’s how a lot of my ideas form. I think of a question and before you know it, I have a book idea. Shattered Lies was always going to be set down south. I just never knew where until I moved to Mississippi. When I moved there, Shattered Lies basically wrote itself. The end result of it all could never have been foreseen from what I imagined it would be.
What was that moment like when you first found out your book was accepted?
SJ: I was naturally elated, especially since the publisher I wound up going with was actually just one of three publishers that wanted to acquire Shattered Lies. I was lucky in being able to have a choice in selection as to which publisher I should go with. I must admit that I wasn’t as excited as I should have been, as others probably were. Perhaps, it was because I had been writing for so long that when the moment came, it was nice, but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Do you have a particular writing routine? Do you listen to music as you write?
SJ: As a matter of fact, yes I do. I definitely need some kind of background noise to keep me writing. I listen to music, usually music that somehow feels like the piece I am writing about or watch TV. This might distract other writers, but for me it keeps the ideas flowing. In fact, I don’t think I’d be able to write without this background accompaniment.
What was the best writing advice you received?
SJ: This is a simple one. Several years ago, I took a respite from writing because I felt drained and unable to deal with mounting rejections. Yes, I was still publishing, but I also received rejections. I wanted to publish a novel, but wasn’t sure where to start or if I could even do it, if I really wanted to take that big step. I happened to mention it to another writer. She had such an enthusiasm about writing and told me to keep writing and not to let other things distract me. No matter what, she said, “Keep your writing passion on the fore.” That writer was the late and great Jackie Collins. I never forgot that and never will.
What would you tell a group of aspiring writers about pursuing their dream?
SJ: I’d have to build on what Jackie Collins said. If you want to write, just write. Don’t talk about it, just do it. Study your craft. Learn it well. Never stop reading. Reading helps you become a better writer. Read outside your genre. Never stop writing. Practice makes perfect. If you want to write, just write. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t. As long as you believe you can write, you can. Discouragement lurks behind every corner. Some days you are going to want to quit. Don’t. Never give up. Never let fear win. Never. For the day you do, you will give up. There are so many ways to get your work published now. There’s no better time to write than now, and despite what some may tell you, you don’t need an agent. A writer needs to write. Period. Any time and any chance one gets, even if it is just a sentence or a paragraph. These things eventually lead to something bigger. Never ignore an opportunity to write.
Thank you so much S.J. and huge congratulations on your novel. I wish you tons of success. You can find out more about S.J. and her fantastic debut novel Shattered Lies below.
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