Shelley Dawn


Q  Do you write with an outline?

A  I donÕt start with an outline.  I make an outline after the story has progressed quite a bit.  I use the outline to keep events, when and where they happen, straight in my mind.  I also draw settings that are important and revisited in a story so I can picture the setting clearly.

Q  How do you come up with your stories?

A  That varies.  Sometimes I see one or more characters in my mind.  Luckily, when I see them, they already have issues and face problems that I can write a story about.  Sometimes I see something on television—like a series A & E did on female serial killers—that sparks my imagination.  (I donÕt have a story of a female serial killer, yet, because the story I started with that idea turned a different way.  IÕm still interested in a story where the bad guy is a girl, though.  Sounds like fun.)

Q  How do you come up with your characters?

A  There is no set method to the creation of characters..  I draw a little bit here and there on people I know and people I see in everyday situations—at the grocery store, restaurants, the doctorÕs office.  IÕm interested in people, and psychology, and enjoy describing people, and getting to know them.

Q  Are your heroines based on you?

A  Oh God, no.  I think that would just be weird.  Although I love all my heroines, when they come to life for me they are nothing like me—in looks or personality.


Q  How much editing do you do once a story is done?

A  A lot.  The rule in writing is ÔGreat books arenÕt written, theyÕre rewrittenÕ.  Even after one of my stories is in print, I want to edit it.  I believe you can always make a story better.  I also want to edit other peopleÕs stories—not because I donÕt like them, I love reading other people stories, but because IÕm a proofreader at heart.

Q  How long does it take you to write a book?

A  Well, IÕve written a book in as little as three weeks before, but spent a lot more time than that editing and rewriting them.  I have some stories IÕve been working on for years.

Q  Do people think youÕre ÔweirdÕ after they read your scary stuff?  Some of the things youÕve written are really graphic, and scary, but you seem so nice.

A  My poor husband has taken most of that abuse.  His friends look at him like heÕs crazy for being with me.  In fact, he looks at me like IÕm crazy after he reads some of my stuff.  IÕve been told I have deep, dark pockets in my mind (not an asset to some peopleÕs thinking, although as a story-teller those pockets prove to be handy).  People think IÕm not afraid of anything because of the things I write about.  I canÕt help having a very active imagination.  IÕm squeamish and have a very weak stomach.  We got rid of our aquarium because I hated it when the fish died.  ItÕs a matter of reality meeting fiction.  I live in reality, but deal in fiction.

Q  If you donÕt start out with an outline, how do you know whatÕs going to happen?

A  ThatÕs a big part of the fun!  In The Last Scar, IÕd written a lot of what I consider the ÔfunÕ parts—the romance and attraction between the two main characters.  While editing it, again, I came across this message: (Insert bad guy scene here).  So, I created the Ôbad guyÕ.  I ended up scaring myself so much I couldnÕt go to sleep.  It turned out that my bad guy, Larry Sanderson, was the creepiest, most unsettling man IÕve ever met.  Most people think itÕs strange when I tell them that story.  ShouldnÕt I have known him, and what he was, when I created him?  I donÕt write that way.  I like the surprises my very human characters give me.  A different character in a different book makes me laugh out loud.  HeÕs so funny.  In another story with another character, I never knew what he would do.  Everyone in the story, and me, would just wait to see what he wanted to do next.

Q  Who are your favorite authors?

A  Nora Roberts, John Grisham, Suzanne Brockmann, Marliss Melton, Meryl Sawyer, Sandra Brown, Jayne Ann Krentz, Lisa Jackson

Q  What are your hobbies?

A  IÕve spent hours and hours, months, redecorating our home.  Built in 1950, we bought it in 2002 from the original owner, who had also built it.  Unfortunately, every single room came with two layers of wallpaper super-glued to the walls—hence the hours and hours IÕve dedicated to updating our six bedroom home.  The kitchen still needs quite a lot of attention.  After that project, IÕm done.  (Until itÕs time to start all over again.)