Monday, February 13, 2012

Introducing Shirley Wine, Romance Author

Shirley Wine is a born-and-bred New Zealander.

Shirley Wine's novels reflect her rural background.
 Shirley grew up just south of Auckland, New Zealand's largest and most cosmopolitan city. After she married, Shirley moved to the Bay of Plenty, and for the last ten years has lived in the tiny township of Waihi, an historic gold-mining settlement. Shirley has just published two titles, Yesterday's Sins and Return to Totara Park on Amazon Kindle. Return to Totara Park will be offered free on Kindle 14th/15th February (EST). Don't miss the opportunity!

 Does environment influence your writing?
"Every writer is exhorted to write what they know and write what they read. I grew up on a farm, have lived and worked on farms alongside my husband. Nearly all my books have rural settings and involve rural lifestyles. The land runs alongside the blood in my veins. I have had a lot of personal tragedy in my life and this is something that always comes through in my writing."

'Yesterday's Sins' is set in Clevedon.
Are your Kindle titles set in a particular place?
"Yesterday’s Sins" is set in Clevedon. The Birches, the mansion at the centre of this story is, of course fictitious. The heroine is a land agent...something I was very successful at for a few years. The story is set in a place I know like the back of my hand."

"Return to Totara Park" is set in rural Cambridge, involves a rural dynasty, the central theme the death of a child buried at Hautapu. This book always makes me cry and sends a shiver up my spine. It was a book I first wrote many years ago and after being let down on a publishing contract, I pulled an old file out of my computers and rewrote it. Little did I realize when I first wrote it, that years later we would bury our 29 year old twin sons in that cemetery. SPOOKY."
Return to Totara Park FREE 14/15 Feb

What made you decide to publish on Kindle?
"Both of these books have been previously published, Yesterday’s Sins here in NZ as Catriona/Kate and Return to Totara Park by Trebleheart books and as such were not acceptable to other publishers. After listening to Bob Mayer talking about republishing his back list at last year’s conference I thought why not give it a go? It has been an interesting exercise and a huge learning curve."

What have you learned through this experience?
"I have learned that technology is there to be embraced, whether you’re eight or eighty. (I am a long way from eighty mind!) It’s early days yet, but hey, failure is not about trying and missing out…the real failure is not trying in the first place."

Will you publish other titles via Kindle?
"I'm seriously considering doing so. I have a computer full of books, but all of these old files need to be refreshed and in a lot of cases reworked. It’s interesting pulling these old files and looking at them with the fresh insight of years of writing experience. The core idea is great. In a lot of cases the writing not so great."

Shirley's New Year kicked off with a request from Harlequin.
"My New Year kicked off with a request for a full manuscript from Harlequin (from a query letter sent after last year’s conference) for the MS that was Highly Commended in the Clendon, the same MS I was asked to revise for The Wild Rose Press. I’d just finished the revisions when the request came, so yes, I’m still looking for a mainstream publisher."

Family matters to Shirley
Family is important to Shirley
"I write romance because I am a sucker for a happy ending and because first and last… to me Family matters. And contemporary because try as I might I cannot get into the fantasy stuff…I know there are gifted writers out there who write fantasy, vampires and shape shifters…but I personally don’t GET it. While I enjoy some historical I can’t lose myself in the fantasy…my first serious reading was Dickens and this coloured my whole reading life."

Favourite romance writers?
"Sharon Sala…two of my all-time favourite books are Chance McCall and Chase the Moon she wrote under the pseudonym Dinah McCall. I am currently reading A Field of Poppies on my Kindle. I love Debbie Macomber, Cheryl Reavis, and more recently Kristin Hannah and Emily Marsh, but my all-time favourite author is Georgette Heyer. I have everything she wrote on my bookshelf and they are very well read."

Favourite writers in other genres?
"I love Agatha Christie, Dame Ngaio Marsh, Ruth Rendall. I enjoy mystery and who dunnits. I also love a good Western. I adore Jean Aeul and her Earth’s Children, Diana Gabaldon not quite so much; the series has begun to drag for me. I love Grahame Greene, Winston Graham, R. E. Delderfield."

What qualities/personality traits do you think writers need?"First and foremost is self-belief. So many people fail because they don’t believe they have what it takes to succeed. On top of this trait a writer needs a hefty dose of persistence, the ability to listen and preparedness to learn the craft. But none of these can take the place of the sheer fun of creating and fleshing out the people who roam inside my head."

What are the most valuable learning experiences you’ve had as a writer?

"It's up to you to choose which path to take."
 "Writing  has literally saved my sanity. It has been cathartic to write about grief and loss and the struggle people face in overcoming adversity. My most valuable experience is summed up in this quote from 'Return to Totara Park': “Life," a gruff voice echoed, soft and persuasive, "life goes on, Winsome and drags you with it. The years will pass, whether the journey is willing or unwilling. It’s up to you to choose which path to take.”  And sometimes the choice to go on is so damned hard."

You are now retired. Do you feel any disadvantage as an ‘older’ writer?
"Am I older? Yeah I guess I must be with great grand babies springing up all around me. Funny, I don’t feel any different inside. Am I discriminated against? I’ve never found it so, but age and maturity have given me a keen insight into human nature and frailties and I never cease to be amazed at how people choose to use life’s experiences. I write every day but have long left behind the compulsion to sit at my computer to the exclusion of life and family. I write for pleasure and enjoyment. When it ceases to be a fun activity I may stop."

How do you overcome difficulty? "Grit my Teeth and Dig Deep."
"Reaching into the black hole in my psyche and pulling out the things that hurt my soul and airing them through a character’s eyes. In Return to Totara Park there is a scene where a young mother pulls her dead child from a pond. That scene hurt my soul to write, it hurts my soul to read and readers have told me it makes them shiver it’s so real, the reason…it is real. Only my baby died in his crib at six months old. And that’s a memory I’ll take to my grave. How do I overcome it? Grit my teeth and dig deep."

Check out Shirley's blog:
Download Return to Totara Park on Kindle - FREE download 14/15 Feb (EST).
Download Yesterday's Sins on Kindle


  1. Best of luck with your Kindle releases Shirley and good on you for digging deep and havign the courage to use your tragedies in your writing. Never an easy task.
    Jane Beckenham

  2. Wishing Shirley good luck with these stories. I was given Catriona Kate one Xmas and buried myself in it, didn't talk to anyone until I'd finished it. Great, great story.

  3. Wonderful interview ladies :)

    Good luck with your books on amazon Shirley, I'm sure they will do fabulously! I'll definitely be grabbing a copy of both!

  4. Jane, Anne and Sheri - thanks so much for visiting :)

  5. Lovely of you to drop by Sheri, Jane and Anna.

    "Shadow Dance" is the sequel to Catriona/Kate Anna and it's with Harlequin at present.

    It is the first book of the Katherine Bay trilogy "The Mulleins" featuring Jenna Mullein and Gregori Nicolaides.

    "Ashlyn's Bodyguard" features her bad boy brother Jace.

    The third in the series, "What the Heart Wants" and my current WIP features their younger half brother Heath.

    I've really fallen in love these guys regarded as poor white trash...something that really resonates with me.