I’ve never wanted to be anything else although, like a lot of writers, it’s taken a long time to work that out.
How long does it take you to write a book?
Usually a year from start to finish. However, often the idea for a novel will bubble away inside my head for years before I ever get to writing it down. If I didn’t work, I’d probably get more done. Some day...
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Like most writers, I have to fit the writing around my other responsibilities. I have a job and two children so finding the time to write is difficult. I try to get up early and write before the day begins but that can be exhausting. Otherwise, I beg weekend hours from my husband, write on the train, or any free time I get. It’s not easy.
How many crime novels have you written?
Hunting Shadows is my first published novel but not the first one I’ve written. The first crime novel I wrote is still sitting in a drawer waiting to be dusted down some day. A lot of authors say their first novel will never see the light of day. I don’t feel that way. The book is called Ready to Fall and I really like it. I’d like to see it published one day.
Which is your favourite and why?
Possibly my first novel. One of the reasons I like the first book so much is because I learned to write with that book. It got me an agent and it also got me a place on the Apprenticeships in Fiction programme.
I’m currently writing a sequel to Hunting Shadows and I think that might end up being another favourite. Ooh dear. That makes it sound as if I don’t like Hunting Shadows. I do! I just feel m
y work with that book is done so, in that sense, it’s less demanding of my emotions. Sort of like a child you’ve sent out into the big bad world.
Where do you get your ideas?
Everywhere and nowhere. Sorry, that sounds really pretentious but it is true! Sometimes I’ll dream the outline of an entire novel. Other times a novel comes from a single image. Recently, I sat in the bar of the Four Seasons hotel in Dublin and a scene in there gave me an idea for a novel.
Who is your favourite character from your own work and why?
A character called Erika Sharpe in the novel I’m currently writing. I can’t give too much away about Erika or it will ruin the story but let’s just say she’s not quite who she seems.
Which character from the work of others do you wish you’d invented and why?
Any female character from any Megan Abbott novel. Why? Nobody writes dark, complicated, twisted women like Megan Abbott (although Gillian Flynn writes mighty fine females as well).
If you could have been someone from history involved in crime (good or bad) who would that be and why?
Edward Fitzgerald, QC. The man’s a legend. As well as being a top defence barrister who has defended people charged with truly terrible crimes, he has represented Gary McKinnon, the Gurkhas, Hillsborough victims’ family and the family of Derek Bentley.
What are you working on now?
A sequel to Hunting Shadows, called Watch Over You. It’s a dark, twisted tale about dark, twisted women. I think it’s going to be good!
Sheila grew up in a small town in the west of Ireland. After studying Psychology at university, she left Ireland and worked in Italy, Spain, Germany, Holland and Argentina before finally settling in Eastbourne, where she now lives with her husband, Sean, and their two children.
Her first novel, Hunting Shadows, published by Brandon Books, is now available in Ireland and will be on sale in the UK from 12 September. The sequel to Hunting Shadows will be published in 2014.