Shirley Hailstock: I wanted to write something different, something I didn’t read in every other romantic suspense I picked up. Since I went to college and spent a lot of time in Washington, D.C., I decided to use that as the backdrop for my book. D.C. has so much potential with the government there. They can be the good guys or the bad guys. So the idea of a guy dying and sending something to his best friend who is then fighting for his life but doesn’t know why, was too good to ignore. At the time I was unsure of what the “thing” was. Then I thought of a communication system that used white diamonds and the book was born. The world has become so small with the advent of the Internet. I thought what if someone could ease drop on a device, like a phone or a computer from anywhere in the world. I knew it was possible but didn't realize how close we were to that reality until after the book was published.
CTW: What was the biggest challenge you faced while writing this story?
SH: Time. I'm a plotter, so I'd outlined the entire book. As the deadline approached, I was coming off of being the New Jersey Romance Writers chapter president and our first sold-out conference. To control the conference, we needed tickets for every event. While our conference committee was large there was a lot of work in coordination between the president and the conference committee. After the conference, time was a crunch and then my characters threw a wrench in my plot and the story took a turn I didn't expect. In hindsight, it made the book better.
CTW: How did you overcome it?
SH: I wrote day and night. I didn't let the internal editor in my head. I sat in the chair and I wrote every waking minute. In fact, I extended my day to get the book done. Since the plot was already outlined, I thought I might be able to shave off some of the scenes, but in a suspense novel everything there was necessary unless you want to reveal the villain too soon. I didn’t. And I didn’t want to cheat the reader out of the full experience.
CTW: When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
SH: After writing my first book and sending it off to Harlequin. At that point I discovered the New Jersey Romance Writers group and joined it. The editor’s rejection letter was more a validation that my writing was good. So I perservered.
SH: The Mystery of the Old Red Barn. I don't remember who the author was. I think I was in the 4th grade. The book was so intriguing, I could not out it down. Before that I don’t think I was a reader, but after it I read everything I could get my hands on -- even cereal boxes and Betty Crocker coupons.
CTW: What foods/snacks are must-haves while you are writing?
SH: I try to eat healthy when writing. This is a technique that April Kihlstrom talked about in her Book in a Week Program. Sugary snacks cause me to become sluggish and I want to take a nap or go to sleep. I keep nuts and raisins, dried cranberries, pop corn, ice tea, yogurt, raw vegetables and fruits as the foods I snack on. These keep the blood sugar level and keep me awake and alert, plus I like them and they taste great. I also walk every hour for five to ten minutes to keep my neck and back muscles from getting tired.
CTW: What is the best writing lesson you have learned?
SH: Keep writing. Not only does it help you hone your craft, but it keeps your mind off the waiting time it takes to hear from a publisher. And it gives you another book when it’s done. If you get the opportunity, you have something ready to pitch.
CTW: What authors do you admire?
SH: Sandra Brown, Dean Koontz, Anne Stuart, Candice Poarch, Brenda Jackson and of course, Nora Roberts.
CTW: What's next for you and your writing?
SH: I'm working on a book called Weddings By Diana. It's about a wedding planner/franchise owner with no time to date. She meets Mr. Right online, but when they meet face-to-face not only do they know each other, but there is no love between them. And to make matters worse, he wants the building that houses one of her franchises.
CTW: Anything else you would like to share?
SH: For writers, keep writing and reading. For readers, keep reading. White Diamonds is a fast-paced story about a junior senator and the daughter of a senator, who have a cache of diamonds that people are trying to kill them to get. They're on the run, unable to tell the good guys from the bad guys. It seems everyone is against them, but they find help from the unlikeliest person. For those who have read Whispers of Love, you'll find some familiar characters making an appearance. Hope you like it.
Thank you Shirley for stopping by for joining us for an interview and for sharing her great story. Read an excerpt of White Diamonds here, and my review of the book here.
About the Author
Shirley Hailstock began her writing life as a lover of reading. She likes nothing better than to get lost in a book, explore new worlds and visit places she never expected to see. As an author, she can not only visit those places, but she can be the heroine of her own stories. A past president of Romance Writers of America, Shirley’s has authored 29 books and won many awards and accolades for her work.
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