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,

Barnes and Noble

and other online bookstores.

You can find out more about me on

my website:

my books’ site:



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.


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