Today I present you with an interview with author Robert Shields. I reviewed his book Daphne and the Mysterious Girls Secret Bathroom Society on the blog yesterday and he was kind enough to answer some questions about the future of the series as well as the lessons he's learned through the writing process. Be sure to learn more about both Robert Shields and his book over at his websites, Fruitbat Books and Secret Girls Society.
RS: It’s about a girl named Daphne who at first seeks revenge against her childhood enemy and in the process discovers that her enemy named Vivica is a witch. Daphne seeks to level the playing field as she belatedly enters the world of witchcraft. She becomes part of the Mysterious Girls’ Secret Bathroom Society and finds out that the politics governing witchcraft are daunting and sometimes deadly. She realizes she is aligned with the Daughters of Charm in this political battle with the Daughters of Spite led by her nemesis, Vivica. Along the way, she discovers that witches do not perform magic or witchcraft but a differentiated form of physics that only some women have mastered. The story deepens as she learns about the long history of witches’ domination and annihilation of wizards.
K: You have a background in legal and sports writing, how did you end up writing a novel about teen witches?
RS: I love this question. I cannot tell you how many fiction books I started and never finished. Then I started to write Daphne. I went to a parochial school like Daphne. The characters to a great extent have the strengths and weaknesses that I remember in my friends. It was not a stretch for me to imagine some of those girls when I was younger being witches. From there, the story was easy to develop.
K: Are you planning to expand this into a long running series?
RS: Yes. I am currently writing the second book. I hope to have it out in the next six months. I’m thinking of names for it and will take suggestions. Right now, I’m considering calling it the “Rise of the Red Hand.”
RS: Sure. Daphne as would be expected will grow stronger in her magic. The society will become more political between the Daughters of Spite and the Daughters of Charm. And not to give away too much, you will see more of the boys, which is somewhat predictable.
K: What was your writing process?
RS: I often have an idea in my head. Then I start writing it. This sounds simple enough, yet we all know when you start putting pen to paper it never ends up as it played in your head the first time. Or at least that is the case for me. I’m ready for them to develop the device that just allows me to download it directly from my brain to paper. I have a gift or curse depending who is around me being able to write anywhere. The downside for me is that I always seem to need at least an hour to write. It takes me longer than I would like to get my mind where the book is taking place. Or in other words, it takes me a while to get inside my mind’s eye. Once there, I can write for a long time.
K: Did you learn anything from your writing experience? Things you will do/did differently or the same?
RS: Yes, there is one thing that I might do differently. I first want to relay a personal story. When I was young some of my favourite books were written by SE Hinton. I loved Rumble Fish, Tex, and The Outsiders. Never did it cross my mind that the person writing them was a woman and that the S in the SE stood for Susan. If I had known that going into them, I might not have ever read the books and been robbed of some of my favourite books because of my own bias. Now with that said and if I had a chance to start over on Daphne, I might write under a pen name that would have been more nebulous such as R.T. Shields. To my surprise, I have encountered some bias. Some don’t want to read a book about girls that was not written by a woman, and I understand because I would have done the same thing but you might be robbing yourself.
K: Have you got any advice for any budding writers reading?
RS: One piece of advice I would offer is to write what you know. I fought this for years and it’s the reason why I started so many fictional stories and never finished them. It’s hard to create what you don’t know. I know that sounds silly. Daphne was easy to write because I knew the subject matter.
A huge thanks to Robert Shields for answering these questions for me!
If you're interested in checking out Daphne and the Mysterious Girls Bathroom Society, it's now downloadable for $0.99 on the Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iBook store websites.