Interview with Ms. Shirley Gilmore-Author #WritingCommunity

Hello. Happy Weekend. Today I am continuing to showcase different authors on my site. This is for Ms. Gilmore an outstanding writer in the #WritingCommunity. Come check this interview and her work out too. Without further adeau.

1) What inspired you to write in general? I’ve always written stories—ever since I was five years old. In school I wrote fanfiction even before we knew to call it fanfiction. After college I wrote several book-length stories and tried unsuccessfully to get published back in the 1980s and ‘90s. I was a history teacher for 25 years and had those wonderful three months off every summer and that’s when I would write. After I retired from teaching in 1999, I worked at regular jobs where I only got one or two weeks off every year. I think my brain kept waiting for that long, uninterrupted vacation because I could not make myself write any stories again before 2015-2016 when I wrote two Sherlock fanfics and published them online. They are each around 35,000-38,000 words, so that got me back into the habit of writing.

2) Did you always know or believe you could write or get a book published? I tried unsuccessfully to get traditionally published for 15-20 years. Had a few bites on the line and they’d request the full manuscript but then ultimately reject it. This was pre-computer and pre-Internet days and you’d have to buy those Writer’s Market books every year which listed literary agencies and the different publishing companies and what genres they accepted. And it was a very slow process. Hardly anyone accepted multiple submissions, so you’d send out a query letter and the first three chapters and a self-addressed stamped envelope and wait months for a reply only to have it rejected and then start over again with someone else or a different company. The only other option in those days were vanity presses and I didn’t want to go that route. I don’t like to think of myself as old, but I’ve been around the sun 68 times now, and there is no longer such a stigma associated with self-publishing, so, once I began writing again, that is what I decided to do. I felt that I didn’t want to wait years to see my book in print, if it even got picked up. I might not have many years left. And the interesting thing is that writers on Twitter or in Facebook groups often discuss traditional publishing versus self-publishing, but my readers don’t seem to care. They just want to know when the next book is coming out or when my books are going to be made into a movie. I knew people liked my early stories because when I was teaching, I would share them with my high school students. They would be 200-300 typed pages in a manuscript box—no binding—and they would pass them around and read them and talk to me about them. I have had at least four former students contact me in the past couple of years since I’ve been published and ask about those early unpublished books. They can even remember the names of them! For some that was almost forty years ago.

3) What kind of support system did you have when writing a book-did you have friends or family support you along the way? I had very little support while writing my first book. I had no idea if anyone would like it so I really did not tell anyone about it until it was finished. Then I told my boss (who is also my pastor) and he wanted to read it. I also sent it to my older brother who liked my Sherlock fanfics. They both loved it. So I reached out to a few friends and former students to not only beta-read it, but also act as editors. I personally knew all those people. In addition, my brother passed it along to a neighbor and her eight-year-old daughter to get their perspective on it. The only beta reader I had never met personally was a college student in India whom I had met online because of my Sherlock fanfics. I wanted her opinion since my book had quite a lot of Christian religion in it and it was set in the rural Ozarks. Since she was in a different country, different religion, urban versus rural, and only twenty years old, I wondered how it would be received by her. When their feedback started coming in, I knew I had something that others might like. So I made the decision to put it out there for anyone to buy. Ah, but would anyone buy it? The positive personal messages I received in the first couple of months after publication was enough to encourage me to write a sequel and then a third book in the series. I wrapped up everything in the third book and that was going to be the end and I was going to move on to something else. But then I had an idea for a fourth book in which I would introduce a new character who would also star in a Middle Grade book set in the same town, but it would not be necessary for readers to have read the first three books (especially since they are much longer than middle grade books). However, for those who wanted to know more about the quirky town and its inhabitants after reading the middle grade book, they could seek out the first three books and read them. So there was little support for the first book while I was writing it because no one knew about it. But since its publication, I have received nothing but support for it and the subsequent books. I love reading the reviews and the comments on my Facebook author page or from peop