Q&A With Sheila Roberts

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Q&A With Sheila Roberts 

Today I have the pleasure and honor of doing this Q&A with USA Today & Publishers Weekly Bestselling Author Sheila Roberts. Sheila has written over fifty novels. Sheila writes romance. Under different names she’s written Regency Romance as well as devotionals & personal development books. Some of her many novels are The Nine Lives Of Christmas (which was made into a Hallmark film and its one of my favorites), On Strike For Christmas, Mermaid Beach, The Twelve Months Of Christmas, & coming out on May 7th is The Best Life Book Club. 

Q: Sheila, would you like to tell the readers of the blog a little about your upcoming release The Best Life Book Club, & where the idea for the story came from?

A: I’m excited about his book! I’ve fallen in love with my cast of characters, four women of different ages, each with a different challenge to rise above, who start out as a book club and become fast friends. We have Karissa, who has left her old life and cheating husband and former best friend who cheated with him. She’s moved into a new neighborhood and is hesitant about venturing into any new friendship. Until she meets her neighbors. Alice, the baking queen, is a widow who is facing panic attacks every time she tries to get behind the wheel of her car. Margo, former corporate mover and shaker, has been laid off and now is stuck in limbo. Add in Alice’s grumpy older sister, Josie, and we have a cast of characters with a variety of opinions and quite a collection of challenges to overcome. But, since I believe in uplifting endings, I guarantee you that they will. What begins as a book club turns into a way to build a better life of friendship, restarts and love. As to where the idea for this tale came from, it’s hard to pin down. I love book clubs and I thought it would be fun to write about one. That was where it started and from there I grabbed ideas as they popped into my head and let the journey begin. And writing, just like reading, is always a journey.

Q: I love reading romance as much as you love writing it. What made you choose to write romance out of all the genres out there? 

A: I read romance when I was young – starting with Georgette Heyer and Victoria Holt and, of course, the great Jane Austen and the Brontës. I do enjoy a variety of books, but when it comes to the stories I want to tell, there’s always a love story in there. I’m blessed to have a great man and a happy marriage, but even if I didn’t I think I’d gravitate toward romance. There’s something so satisfying and encouraging about seeing a character find her way to that happy ending.

Q: When writing your books, do you use bits and pieces of real people and places when creating fictional worlds and characters? 

A: I love to pay homage to real places! The Best Life Book Club is set in Gig Harbor, Washington, a charming place not far from where I live. For my Moonlight Harbor series, I was inspired by Ocean Shores, Washington and used that as the starting place for my fictional town. With my fictional town of Icicle Falls, I paid homage to the charming Bavarian town of Leavenworth. For that town I added a chocolate factory. Every town should have a chocolate factory, right? As far as characters, real people and their behavior often make it into my books. (We authors are always studying you so be careful what you tell us!) Sometimes even I show up in my novels. In One Charmed Christmas, there was a character who was a hypochondriac. The inspiration for her was squirrely little me!

Q: What was it like having The Nine Lives Of Christmas being made into a movie for Hallmark, & On Strike For Christmas being made into a movie for Lifetime? Does Hallmark or any other studio in Hollywood have the rights to your work? 

A: I can sum that up in one word: fun! Hallmark also made a sequel to The Nine Lives of Christmas, The Nine Kittens of Christmas. That was a surprise! I had no idea anything was in the works. I also saw one of my Icicle Falls books, Christmas on Candy Cane Lane, made into a movie for the Great American Family channel and that aired in 2022. Once a production company buys the rights to make a movie, it’s out of the author’s hands, and the story can become something very different. I definitely got a surprise with that movie. I was shocked when I learned that my anchor character for the Icicle Falls series, Muriel Sterling, got bumped off. Yikes! Muriel? Really? But that is the way it goes in Movie Land. An author’s creation becomes someone else’s brain baby. So, you have to let go of expectations. And I will say I had a wonderful time visiting the set of that movie with my agent and my husband. Everyone was so nice! When The Nine Lives of Christmas was made, my husband and I got to visit the set and even had a cameo appearance. (Next time you watch the movie, the first couple getting seated in the restaurant is us.) I was sure I was on my way to stardom and a slot on Dancing with the Stars! Alas, my acting career did not take off. But that’s okay. I’m too busy writing and I don’t have time to become a star. Haha.

Q: What are the pen names you write Regency Romance novels under? 

A: Long ago, I wrote as Sheila Rabe. Those were fun, but in the end, that genre really wasn’t a fit for me. So goodbye old Sheila, hello new Sheila!

Q: In your opinion, what makes the perfect romance so that others who want to write romance get an idea on how to make a great romantic story?

A: Your lovers must have challenges. And you need conflict – goals in opposition. His company is taking over hers and he has to do what he has to do. (Enemies to lovers!) She must move across country to help her struggling family. He has to stay put to care for his ailing parent. (Can they find a compromise? Who will sacrifice?) Opposites attract is another favorite trope, but we have to put those characters in a position where their ability to compromise is tested. In real life I like easy days free of conflict, but if I get that in a story, I fall asleep. I suspect it’s the same with my readers. Characters need to learn and grow. If your character hasn’t learned something by the end of the story, go back and teach her a lesson.

Q: Is it too early to ask about the next book you are currently working on, or can you reveal any details?

A: I’m excited about this year’s Christmas book, The Merry Matchmaker. It’s basically Jane Austen’s Emma in a Santa hat, with our main character trying to fix everyone’s love life but her own. I think it will be a fun read.

Q: What is it like having your books on the Publishers Weekly & USA Today Bestsellers Lists? It seems like such a dream come true! 

A: It is a thrill when readers want to read your book, and those lists do, in a way, validate what we do as writers. But I don’t always make a best seller list. That’s when I remind myself that even if a handful of readers enjoyed my story it was worth the effort because that’s who we’re doing this for. So let me just close by saying how grateful I am to everyone who spends valuable time and hard-earned money to take that story ride with me. Without readers who would we writers tell our stories to? So, thank you for supporting writers!