Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Interview With Author Sheila Roberts

Sheila Roberts has written a number of Christmas-themed novels over the last few years. One of them, On Strike for Christmas, was made into a movie for Lifetime Movie Channel. Her newest book, Merry Ex-Mas focuses on three female friends and the  different states their relationships are at - -and how the challenges of being divorced with kids or staying in a bad relationship is especially heightened during the holidays. Here is an interview with the author whose earlier book, Angel Lane, was a top 10 Amazon Romance Pick in 2009.

  1. What inspired you to write Merry Ex-Mas? Actually, a friend suggested the idea and I thought it would be an interesting subject to explore. The holidays can get crazy. They can get especially crazy when dealing with former spouses and having to share kids. I hope my characters prove that we can survive it all and still find a way to celebrate the season.
  2. What is it about? This book centers on three friends. Cass Wilkes has a daughter getting married and the daughter not only wants her father to walk her down the aisle, but daddy and his trophy wife need a place to stay and it looks like they’ll be home for the holidays... in Cass’s house. Her friend Charley sees the ghost of Christmas past, her ex-husband who left her for another woman. Now he’s back in town and wanting to reconcile. Even if it is the season of peace on earth, goodwill toward men, this is probably not a good idea. And then we have Ella and her ex-husband Jake, who are stuck sharing their house until it sells. (One of my girlfriends told me about a relative who was actually doing this and I found that idea hugely intriguing.)
  3. You have written several other Christmas-themed novels. What is it about the holiday that gives you a good story line? There’s just so much potential for drama and hope in the holidays. It’s a time of year when we celebrate in so many different ways and do so many different things. Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday, so I seem to keep getting drawn to that. I’ve written about everything from cats to snow globes. And I hope with every novel I’m giving readers some laughs and some encouragement, and that when they’re finished they come away with a smile.
  4. One of your books was turned into a television movie on Lifetime. Why do you feel you have a strong following of readers? Yes, On Strike for Christmas became a movie a couple of years back. To celebrate, I hosted my own red carpet party with plenty of chocolate and champagne. I bought a big swath of red fabric and laid it out on the floor and conducted red carpet interviews with some of my guests. Very fun. And maybe fun has something to do with why readers enjoy my novels. I think we all need to escape the pressures of our lives once in awhile. And I think we like to come away feeling hopeful. I try to offer that to my readers.
  5. You write about female friends and their relationships. Do women talk about their relationships too much or too little? The answer to that probably depends on who’s doing the talking! I think sometimes we women can share a little too much information. But overall, I believe it’s helpful to be able to talk about our problems with our girlfriends. Sometimes a smart girlfriend is better than a shrink. And cheaper!
  6. Why are the holidays a challenging time for divorced couples, especially if they share kids in common? Family togetherness has become inextricably linked with this time of year, and while that’s great for the family that’s in tact, it’s not so fun when the family has been broken. This can be a difficult season for someone who’s divorced. Memories haunt you, hurts strike out and hit you. And at a time of year when we’re bombarded with images of happy families seated around a holiday table or opening presents under the tree, if your kids are at someone else’s table and enjoying someone else’s tree it doesn’t exactly put you in a festive mood. Most families find a way around this but from what I’ve seen, it doesn’t look easy.  Someone in my extended family has to make the rounds and eat three Christmas dinners in one day. Yikes! That’s a lot of red velvet cake.
  7. What advice do you have for reducing the holiday stress that goes with family and friends? First, limit your exposure to the people who make you crazy. Sometimes we feel we need to spend a lot of time around that one person we can’t stand because, after all, it is the holidays. Not necessarily. Send a card or a fruit basket and leave it at that. If you feel you must make a visit, keep it short and then scram. Second, compromise. If you share children with an ex, try thinking of yourself as a holiday diplomat. Your goal is good relations with your other half and that usually involves some give and take. (After a successful negotiation, reward yourself with chocolate.) Last but not least, build in some stress relief. Plan a “silent night” where you stay home and enjoy a bubble bath, watch your favorite holiday movie on TV or read a good book. ‘Tis the season to be jolly so make sure you do just that.
  8. You did something unusual in conjunction with Merry Ex-Mas. What was it? This was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done! We took over a great local pub and made a music video about Jake, one of the characters in the book. Check out Merry Christmas Mama on Youtube  ( you’ll see me and some wonderful musicians in action. By the way, no mothers-in-law were hurt in the filming of this video. Although I think poor Santa got a hernia.
  9. Why do so many novelists write about friendships? I don’t know about other novelists, but I write about friendships because I think they’re important. I believe friends are one of God’s greatest blessings. Where would we be without friends to help us celebrate the good times and help us through the bad times? I have fabulous friends. So do the characters in my books. Well, I think they’re great anyway.
  10. What advice do you have for struggling writers these days? 1.) Keep learning your craft. I’ve been writing for years and I still pick up how-to books on writing and read articles about both the craft and the business of writing. I’m always working to improve myself. 2.) Keep writing. You can’t become a successful writer if you don’t write on a regular basis. It’s rather like the old Lotto slogan: You can’t win if you don’t play. 3.) Write because you love to write, not because you hope to become rich and famous. If you do that you won’t be disappointed. (And if you get rich and famous, well, that will be a nice bonus.)
  11. Where do you see book publishing heading? Right now, trying to answer that question is like trying to see through a thick fog. Who knows? One thing I know for sure. The method of delivery may change, but people will always want a good story.
Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer, the nation’s largest book promoter. Please note Sheila Roberts is a client of the PR company that I work for. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person

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