Sheila Deeth, Author of “Divide by Zero”

What is your book about?

Divide by Zero is about the people of a small town, united by family and friendship, divided by tragedy, and reunited by a small child’s wisdom.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

I’d written a number of short pieces involving the same set of characters but I wasn’t really planning a novel. Then something happened to surprise me in one of the stories. I wanted to know more and found myself arguing with the characters in my head (or out loud as I walked the dog). The plot kind of grew out of those arguments and then I wrote the novel.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

All the characters grew to feel very real to me though they only exist in the book or in my head. Maybe the real question is how much of my characters is hidden in me but, if that’s the case, I’m not sure I want to know the answer.

What about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

I hope the characters themselves will attract readers to the book. And I hope the question of love and forgiveness will pique their interest too.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?

Divide by Zero was “finished” several times over. The first draft was finished when I knew what had happened and had it all written down with a beginning, middle and an end. The second draft grew out of a desire to know more about why it happened. By the third draft I was still learning about one of the characters—his motivation became really important to me. Then I tidied up the timelines while working with my editor (Shirley Ann Howard). Maybe “finished” is a moveable feast—“finished enough” is when the publisher and editor and writer agree, and I’m really glad I didn’t release that first version to an unsuspecting world.

What is your goal for the book, ie. what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

Most of all I want people to enjoy the story, and I want the characters to feel real, like strangers they’re glad to have known. As to taking something away, I guess I want readers to feel like they’ve seen something of how we all hide things, how hard it is to really know anyone, and how that makes judging people a dangerous thing.

Is there a message in your writing you want readers to grasp?

That people are important?

What was the most difficult part about writing the book?

There are some fairly dark events in the book. Sometimes I wasn’t sure I dared explore them or write them down, but then my characters would pester me, as if they really wanted their story told.

Do you think writing this book changed your life?

I’m not sure writing has changed my life yet, but I’ve always been telling stories, ever since I was a kid. If the book sells well that might make me finally believe I can be a professional author. But the best thing about writing is it gives me a way to explore ideas. The characters may not be me, but they represent aspects of me perhaps, personifications of memories and fears. They give me a chance to argue ideas with myself and recognize I don’t need to have all the answers.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I’m a Catholic Protestant, English American, mathematician writer—a contradiction whichever way you look. I think my mixed up identity helps me identify with my characters when I write. My faith and my questions about faith come out in some of their attitudes. And my feeling that none of us knows it all or even knows ourselves, none of us is perfect, and there’s always something more to be understood… all that probably feeds into my writing too.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your work-in-progress?

I’ve just started editing the sequel (or companion novel) to Divide by Zero. It’s called Infinite Sum:

Every picture tells a story, but what if their sum is a truth the artist really would rather hide, and what if their secret is something that might once have saved a life?

Where can people learn more about your books?

Divide by Zero is available from

Amazon.com http://www.amazon.com/Divide-Zero-Sheila-Deeth/dp/1600763405/, http://www.amazon.com/Divide-by-Zero-ebook/dp/B0090NFH56/

Barnes and Noble http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/divide-by-zero-sheila-deeth/1112782597

and other online bookstores.

You can find out more about me on

my website: http://www.sheiladeeth.com

my books’ site: http://www.sheiladeethbooks.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sheila.deeth, http://www.facebook.com/SheilaDeethAuthor

etc…

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “Divide by Zero” by Sheila Deeth

Peter Markham, Hero of “Divide by Zero” by Sheila Deeth

Who are you?

Name’s Peter Markham. I own the garage in Paradise, north end of town. You’ve probably seen it, right?

Are you the hero of your own story?

Sure, I’m a hero. You should ha’ seen me when the bus broke down on the corner. I’m out there with my tool-belt around my waist like some kinda cowboy. You know, Peter Markham, the garage guy, marching out to save the day.

What is your problem in the story?

Don’t know why everyone assumes you have a problem. Sure, my wife’s sleeping with the man upstairs but, well, she’s got her reasons and I’m not complaining. I don’t have problems. I solve them.

How do you see yourself?

The last great superhero? No, seriously, I’m a good enough guy. I’m no angel, sure, and I’ve had my moments. But I’ve never hurt anyone. I wouldn’t do that.

How do your friends see you?

Well… There was that sweet young thing came into the garage the other day, offered to buy me a drink…

How do your enemies see you?

I don’t have enemies. Not me.

What are your achievements?

I’ve got my garage. And I’ve got my son. He’s my greatest achievement I guess. Got a grandson on the way too; did you know that? Grandchild anyway, I guess they don’t know yet if it’s a boy or a girl.

What makes you happy?

Really? A job well-done.

What makes you sad?

Nothing. I’m not that type of guy.

What do you regret?

Ah, you’ve got me there. Regrets, I’ve got my regrets… I regret leaving I guess, all those years ago, missing young Troy growing up. I regret coming back and things not being the same. You know, you can’t help wondering sometimes can you? If you’d done things different, said something else. I don’t know. Mary, she never was quite the same and I regret that, I know. So now she’s got her fancy man upstairs and I’m left with nothing, no-one. I mean… But I’m fine with it really. Not a problem. Not really.

Have you ever failed at anything?

Well, it’s like I said. Failed at being a husband and father I guess. But it wasn’t my fault; you’ve got to understand that. I did my best by them. Heart in the right place.

Has anyone ever failed you?

Failed me? Sure. Her with her fancy man for one.

Has anyone ever betrayed you?

Sure, but what are you getting at? Trying to be my therapist are you? Think I’m going to tell you something I shouldn’t?

What was your childhood like?

Yeah. Let’s stop this. Let’s not talk about that. I’m not my father. I never will be my father. And whatever it is you’ve dug up about my father it doesn’t matter. I’m not him.

Do you like remembering your childhood?

Do you like upsetting people? What game are you playing at? I’m a busy guy and the garage won’t run itself so I think we’re done. Yeah, we’re done. See ya around. And bring your car in if it breaks down on your way out of town.

***

“Divide by Zero by Sheila Deeth: It takes a subdivision to raise a child, and a wealth of threads to weave a tapestry, until one breaks. Troy, the garage mechanic’s son, loves Lydia, the rich man’s daughter. Amethyst has a remarkable cat and Andrea a curious accent. Old Abigail knows more than anyone else but doesn’t speak. And in Paradise Park a middle aged man keeps watch while autistic Amelia keeps getting lost. Pastor Bill, at the church of Paradise, tries to mend people. Peter mends cars. But when that fraying thread gives way it might take a child to raise the subdivision…or to mend it.

Author bio: Sheila Deeth grew up in the UK and has a Bachelors and Masters in mathematics from Cambridge University, England. Now living in the States near Portland Oregon, she enjoys reading, writing, drawing, telling stories and meeting her neighbors’ dogs on the green.

Links: http://www.amazon.com/Divide-Zero-Sheila-Deeth/dp/1600763405/

http://www.sheiladeethbooks.com
http://www.sheiladeeth.com
http://about.me/SheilaDeeth

Click here to read an: Excerpt From “Divide by Zero” by Sheila Deeth

Megan, Hero of “Flower Child” by Sheila Deeth

Flower Child by Sheila Deeth: When Megan miscarries her first pregnancy it feels like the end of everything; instead it’s the start of a curious relationship between the grieving mother and an unborn child who hovers somewhere between ghost and angel. Angela, Megan’s “little angel” has character and dreams all her own, friends who may or may not be real angels, and a little brother who brings hope to her mother’s world. But Angela’s dream-world has a secret and one day Angela might learn how to be real.

Today, I am interviewing the hero of Flower Child. Who are you?

My name’s Megan.

Are you the hero of your own story?

I’m a stay-at-home Mom with one child. Do stay-at-home Mom’s have stories?

What is your problem in the story?

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage — left me feeling like I’d failed my child somehow.

How do you see yourself?

I think I’m a good-enough Mom. I hope I am. But I wish I was better. I wish I wasn’t a failure.

How do your friends see you?

I think they think I’m falling apart. They might be right.

Do you have a goal?

I guess my goal’s to be a better Mom, but I wish you could change the past so I could be a better Mom to the child I lost.

What are your achievements?

I have a healthy son.

What do you want?

Closure?

What do you believe?

My husband says I believe in fairy tales.

What, if anything, haunts you?

My daughter? I just wonder sometimes…

Have you ever failed anyone?

Yes, her.

Do you keep your promises?

I try.

Are you honorable?

I think so.

Are you healthy?

Mostly.

What is your most closely guarded secret?

She is.

Thank you, Sheila. Is there anything else you’d like to tell us?

Thanks for this chance to interview Megan from Flower Child — coming soon from Gypsy Shadow (http://gypsyshadow.com/SheilaDeeth.html). More info on my website (http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com)

Click here to read an excerpt from: Flower Child

Click here to read an interview with: Sheila Deeth

Sheila Deeth, Author of “Flower Child”

What is your book about?

Flower Child is about a mother who loses her first pregnancy to miscarriage but can’t quite let go of the child she thought she was bearing.

How long had the idea of your book been developing before you began to write the story?

My first pregnancy ended in miscarriage and I wrote poem after poem aftwerwards. I think I always knew I’d end up writing a story instead, but I had to wait a long time.

What inspired you to write this particular story?

Actually it was a writing competition at our local writing group. The prompt was to write a short piece inspired by music, and I had John Denver’s Rhymes and Reasons spinning around in my head — For the children and the flowers / Are my sisters and my brothers… I found myself putting a childhood misunderstanding together with my adult experience.

How much of yourself is hidden in the characters in the book?

I think people who know me will see quite a bit of me in Megan.

Tell us a little about your main character?

Megan’s the grieving mother and I kind of identify with her, especially since my first child was born soon after the miscarriage — I couldn’t have both, and that gives you a very strange perspective on the one you’ve lost.

Who is your most unusual character?

The other main character, Angela, is definitely unusual in that she exists somewhere between angel and ghost.

How long did it take you to write your book?

From start to finish, about a week (it’s a short book). It took much longer to polish it though.

How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?

I didn’t have any story in mind when I started writing. I was thinking about the John Denver song and the way I’d once imagined babies were born from seeds planted in special fields. The rest of it the story just happened on the page.

How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

I feel like my characters develop themselves while they talk in my head. The hardest thing is avoiding turning everyone into me when I do too much editing.

How (or when) do you decide that you are finished with a story?

When I feel like all the characters are sounding like me.

What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?

I’d like them to wonder and recognize there might be more out there than we can comprehend. Maybe we could all be a bit less judgmental.

What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?

This is my third book with Gypsy Shadow, and I have a novel coming out with Stonegarden next year. What’s changed for me is I can finally see my writing moving forward–I’m not standing still dreaming anymore–maybe sleepwalking, but not standing still.

How has your background influenced your writing?

I call myself a mongrel Christian mathematician. I think my mixed-up background helps me (or forces me to) see things from a slightly different perspective. Being an English American does the same thing — it makes me more aware of how many of my assumptions are cultural, so it lets me explore characters who might make different assumptions.

What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?

I write when I have time. I always have done–there are boxes full of paper in the spare bedroom where I scribbled stories and poems before I had a computer.

What are you working on right now?

I’m editing Divide by Zero (my Stonegarden novel), trying to get up courage to send Chasing Shadows out (another novel), writing a sci-fi novel, and researching markets for my (unpublished) children’s series.

What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?

I’ve surprised myself by finally learning to tell people I’m a writer — maybe that’s what I should have said has changed since my first book was published.

Do you have mental list or a computer file or a spiral notebook with the ideas for or outlines of stories that you have not written but intend to one day?

I have a mental list — a really really long one.

What do you like to read?

Almost anything–my son says I have no taste.

Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?

I met Jane Kirkpatrick shortly after we moved to Oregon. She told me to keep writing. In fact, she’s told me several times to keep writing. It’s probably the most valuable piece of advice I’ve had.

What advice you would give to an aspiring author?

Keep writing

How have you marketed and promoted your work?

One way’s by answering this questionnaire. You are really helping me, and others, market and promote. Thank you Pat!

It’s my pleasure, Sheila. There are so many good books out there no one knows about that I’m glad to do what I can to help get them known. What are your current writing goals and how do you juggle the promotional aspects with the actual writing?

I’ve just spent all day trying to set up a blog tour, and my fingers are itching to write… I’m not very good at juggling.
Where can people learn more about your books? http://sheiladeeth.weebly.com

Many many thanks Pat.

Thank you, Sheila! I appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions. Best of luck with Flower Child.

Click here to read an excerpt from: Flower Child