Ms. Taylor is offering FIVE paperback and FIVE ebook copies of her new release, “Pinpoint”. Click on the Rafflecopter link below to enter the contest but first check out my interview with this incredibly gifted author. Keep going because you’ll also find a blurb for “Pinpoint”.
I’m excited to welcome today’s spotlight author, Sheila Mary Taylor, who promises to share a little bit about herself and a lot about her exciting new thriller, “Pinpoint”.
And I am just as excited to be here on this wonderful website of yours, Deb. Thank you so much for hosting me today. As an introduction, your readers may be interested in watching this very short book trailer made by my granddaughter Katie Belshaw, which sets the tone and the main conflict of the novel with some incredibly atmospheric music.
Sheila, when I read the blurb for “Pinpoint“, I immediately thought of a line from “Marmion” by Walter Scott: Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive. It sounds like a delicious mix of legal thriller and Psycho.
Now that’s a coincidence. “Marmion” was one of my Scottish mother’s favorite poems (she was a poet herself) and she read it to me so often that the words are still like music to my ears. I wonder if they had some influence on my writing, because not only does Pinpoint have this tangled web at its core, but my work in progress actually has it in its title. Can you believe it? Dance to a Tangled Web.
In this mix of legal thriller and Psycho, I go into the heads of not only my main character Julia, a criminal lawyer, who cannot remember the events leading up to her separation from her beloved twin brother at the age of ten, but also into those of Paul Moxon, the detective hunting the escaped Sam Smith, and of course Sam Smith himself. And it was the writing in Smith’s p.o.v. that I found the most fascinating and also the most difficult. Both Julia and Smith were severely damaged as children, but the burning question was to discover whether they were connected or whether Smith has been so clever that he has duped Julia into thinking he might be her brother. Additionally, Julia is caught between Smith and Paul Moxon, and this psychological conflict is also central to the plot.
Where did you get the idea for the story?
I always find it difficult to answer this question, because there is never just one idea to a novel. It’s is a very complex set of ideas that seem to come from nowhere and weave themselves around a character who has a problem. I was due to attend a writers’ weekend in England some years ago and the guest of honor was to be a top London agent. He asked every delegate to write the first chapter of a “Woman in Jeopardy” novel. Because my son is a criminal defense lawyer, I would often hear about some of the unusual clients he had, and I was sure I could adapt one of them to create the kind of premise the agent required. I was also really interested in the development of twins and their relationship, as my father was a psychologist and it was one of the subjects we often talked about, nurture versus nature and all that. So the idea of having a female lawyer being threatened by someone she thinks is a long lost loved one jumped into my head, and it just grew from there. I actually won that competition, but when asked to write the next 10,000 words, the agent’s reader didn’t like it! A few years later I rewrote it, changed it dramatically, and voila, here it is now.
Writing a story with such detailed courtroom scenes must have required a great deal of research. Did you use a research assistant, professional experts or just dive in at the library?
I absolutely loved the research I did, until it almost took over my life. I didn’t use the library, but went straight to the top experts in the business, who were all ever so willing to help. I also spent hours in the Manchester Crown Court and the Magistrate’s Courts, where a lot of the action of Pinpoint takes place. I visited police stations and was shown around some of the normally hidden recesses. My middle son, one of Manchester’s top criminal lawyers at the time, answered every question I asked him, and I was also extremely lucky to meet a retired Greater Manchester Police Superintendent living in Menorca where we live for part of the year. He also gave me invaluable help, so I was able to place two of my main characters right at the heart of the conflict – the prosecution and the defense – knowing that my facts were all correct. For other aspects of the novel, I was smuggled into Strangeways Prison to witness a female lawyer interviewing a murder client, took a ride in an ambulance, attended a course in self-protection, masqueraded as a social worker, and I even ventured into lesser known seedy areas of Manchester and its surrounds, which every big city has but seldom publicizes. Oh, it was such fun doing all the research – I didn’t want to stop!
What else do you have planned? More thrillers?
At the moment no thrillers, although I’m sure there will be more. My work in progress, almost finished, with just a final edit to complete before it is published by Taylor Street Books (the similar name is a mere coincidence), is a kind of romantic drama. Dance to a Tangled Web has three main characters, just as Pinpoint has, and each one has a major dilemma in their lives, which gradually end up all woven together in a tangled web of love, loss, deceit, tragedy and more love. The story is very loosely based on the ballet Giselle, so there is a slight touch of the paranormal from one of the main characters. But I don’t want to say too much, as I would hate to spoil it for my readers.
You live such an exciting life – part of the year in Cape Town, part of the year in the UK and/or Spain . . . wow! When do you find time to write?
When you want to write as badly as I want to write, then you somehow find the time. The actual travelling from one home to another is very distracting, but once I get there I absolutely love each and every one of them. Each house is home, but very different. I open the front door, and I am “home”. Each place gives me inspiration, and the change is always very refreshing, often giving forth new ideas. I get up most mornings between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. and those first few hours in the morning are always the most productive. I have lots of friends in each place and the social aspect is also very important. Funnily enough, the one place where I have not set a novel is Cape Town, where I was born, and spent the first twenty-one years of my life, only returning in 1998 after many years living in Zambia, Tanzania, Ghana, Spain and the UK. I hope my next one will be influenced by my life in Cape Town.
I’m also amazed by the incredible experiences you’ve had over the years as a jockey in amateur ladies’ races, roller skating in nightclubs, acting and directing, secretary to a diplomat, editor of a magazine . . . What has been the most exciting thing you’ve done? And tell us about one thing on your “bucket list” you have yet to do.
The most exciting thing? Oh, goodness. They were all exciting. Let me try to think which was the most exciting. For sheer exhilaration, I think it has to be the horse racing. This was at full blown race meetings, which were sometimes thrown open to amateur riders. It was also in the days before Casinos were allowed in South Africa, so these were the only occasions when people could gamble. I remember one time when the horse I was riding was odds on favorite. I’d been riding it at dawn every morning on the sand track at the race course and was aware of the binoculars trained on me. I was also aware on the day that the horse was more on his toes than usual. So much so that he literally “jumped the gun” and took off seconds before the start. I struggled to pull him up, using every ounce of my strength, but there was no stopping him. We went right round the mile long course and amazingly I was brought back under starter’s orders, which today would never have happened. Even more amazingly, after all that, we came second, just beaten by a short head. Do I need to say more? But running a close second to the racing was dancing in the Royal Albert Hall in London. Absolutely awesome with several thousand people in the packed audience, I will never forget the excitement and wonder of being in that fantastic, beautiful, historical building.
The one thing I have yet to do? There are a few, but number one is to go to Kathmandu and climb a mountain in the Himalayas. I know this is now impossible but it is still a dream. I was mesmerized by Kathmandu many years ago by a book called The Mountain is Young, by a wonderful Eurasian writer called Han Suyin. She also wrote A Many Splendored Thing, which was made into a movie called Love is a Many Splendored Thing. I often re-read The Mountain is Young, and am no less fascinated by it than I was all those years ago.
You’ve also published a highly acclaimed, non-fiction account of your son’s battle with cancer, “Count to Ten“. It must have presented a huge emotional hurdle to outline and put on paper. What are the differences between writing non-fiction and fiction? And which do you enjoy most?
I enjoy both. The difference is that in non-fiction everything you say must be the truth, so in a way it is easier as you do not have to do research, whereas when writing fiction you can allow your imagination full rein and although you must of course draw on real situations these can be embellished to any extent you wish but you have to do research in order to make sure you do not create unbelievable situations. In the case of Count to Ten, it was also cathartic. I held back on nothing. Every terrible happening, every terrible truth, and every terrible fear of both mine and as far as I knew, Andrew’s as well, found its way onto the pages. The illness drew us very close together, but Count to Ten was written mostly from a mother’s point of view, and I was not always privy to Andrew’s deepest thoughts, yet it is the closest to the truth as any book could possibly be.
Sheila, thank you so much for sharing a bit of your writer’s journey with my readers. It’s been a pleasure to put you “in the spotlight” and present your latest work, “Pinpoint”.
Thank you so much. This has been a delightful experience.
And now that you’ve learned about this incredible author, let me introduce you to her latest release, “Pinpoint”. If you like suspense thrillers, this is a must read!
Sheila Mary Taylor
Publisher: Taylor Street Books
Genre: Crime (Legal Crime Psychological Thriller)
Number of pages: 363
Word Count: 122,000
A lawyer, a murderer and a policeman – caught in a tangled web of love, loss, terror and intrigue.
When lawyer Julia Grant interviews Sam Smith who has been charged with an especially vicious murder, she feels a strange connection to him, as if she has met him before, as if he holds the key to something she has forgotten among the unbearable memories from her past she has determinedly blotted out.
He feels a connection too. “Julia, you are the only one who can help me,” he pleads.
Is it the same connection? Does he know something she cannot recall?
When he is duly convicted despite her best efforts, he suddenly turns on her in the courtroom and threatens that one day he will make sure to wreak his revenge on her.
But why? What has she ever done to him?
And then, on his way to prison, he escapes ……
Book Trailer http://youtu.be/R7Ou3N7hx8Q