ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
It’s my pleasure to welcome Shelley Noble AKA Shelley Freydont to Ruby on Tuesday. SHELLEY NOBLE is the NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Author of the women’s fiction novel BEACH COLORS, a #1 Nook bestseller, STARGAZEY POINT, BREAKWATER BAY and several tie-in novellas, Holidays at Crescent Cove, Stargazey Nights, and Newport Dreams.
As SHELLEY FREYDONT she is the author of the CELEBRATION BAY FESTIVAL MYSTERIES (Berkley Prime Crime). And the upcoming Gilded Age Newport mystery series beginning with A Gilded Grave.
A former professional dancer and choreographer, she most recently worked on the films, Mona Lisa Smile and The Game Plan. Shelley lives near the New Jersey shore where she loves to discover new beaches and indulge her passion for lighthouses and vintage carousels.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview her about her books and her life as an author. Don’t forget to leave a comment and answer Shelley’s question.
SHELLEY NOBLE ON HER JOURNEY…
You’ve written mysteries and now you’ve written women’s fiction. What inspired you to write in a different genre?
I was writing mystery first, and what really interested me besides the whodunit aspect was how people reacted to murder and how it changes their lives. And I wanted to try my hand at writing about people without murder and really be able to get inside their skin without having to sprinkle clues and bodies around.
People’s lives can be fascinating. I really like trying to capture that special-ness in a story.
ON HER BOOK AND CHARACTERS…
Could you share a bit about your latest book and characters?
Well, I have two latest books, one is a mystery called INDEPENDENCE SLAY which is an amateur sleuth story set during July the Fourth.
Liv Montgomery, an event coordinator, is swamped coordinating one of the town’s biggest festivals. In addition to the traditional July fourth events, the town stages a spooky Revolutionary War reenactment. The town is full of secrets and Liv, an outsider, is the perfect person to dig into those secrets. Before the celebration is over Liv and her assistant discover a dead body and she is determined to find answers before someone else winds up dead and a part of local history.
NEWPORT DREAMS is a novella and a prequel to BREAKWATER BAY, which takes place in Newport, Rhode Island . It’s about Georgia Holt, an heiress whose father tries to push her to become a corporate type and enter the family business because she, has tried and failed in every career she’s tried. She is counting on her love of Photography to finally give her something to focus on so she gets a job as a restorative photographer at the Gilbert House in Newport. Everyone seems to like her except the Architect Bruce Stafford .
First sentence in Chapter One Breakwater Bay:
Meri Hollis dropped the paint chip into a manilla envelope and rolled from her back to sit upright on the scaffolding.
BREAKWATER BAY is about a young woman who discovers her own history while she is restoring one of the old Gilded Age mansions. As she uncovers the building’s past, she uncovers a beautiful painting, but her own life takes a surprising turn that makes her question everything thing she has always believed about herself, her family, and about love and loyalty.
Many of your books have a small town setting. How much world building is involved? Would you care to share how you do this?
As a rule my towns are fictional entities. I love small towns and I’ve been collecting impressions of them for years. So my fictional towns tend to be a conglomerate of things I love about certain towns, just rolled into one. Breakwater Bay is the first novel that I have used a real town as a setting and much of it takes place across the bay from Newport. I just turned in my next novel currently titled Whisper Beach which takes place at the Jersey shore. As far as I know there is no actual Whisper Beach, but once again I took pieces of my favorite towns and haunts and beaches and put them into my town. Anyone who is familiar with the Jersey Shore, or the Connecticut shore (Beach Colors) or South Carolina shore (Stargazey Point) may recognize certain aspects of those locations, and if I’m successful, it will seem familiar to them, like going home, without the reader really knowing where it is.
How do you give your characters the depth and detail necessary for readers to want to cheer them on?
I live with them before I write them. I play with relationships, put them in situations until they begin to take shape. I know that if my characters begin to guide me through a scene, that I have done my job of constructing a character who acts and feels “In character”. If not, I know I’m not ready to write them yet. And they are never ready to be written until I care about them, how they feel, what their fate is. And they become real to me.
Do you have a favorite character in your book?
Characters are like children. Sometimes you’re more simpatico with one, or are more concerned about another. But they’re all favorites at one time or another. Just not at the same time.
If you had to choose, which scene from NEWPORT DREAMS is your favorite?
Newport Dreams is a novella incorporating some of the characters of the full length Breakwater Bay. The protagonist of this story is a spoiled rich young woman who is really good at photography but whose family insists she become successful in their business world. She takes a job at the restoration project that is in Breakwater Bay, but she’s afraid of heights and she has to refuse to climb the scaffolding to take a photos of the foyer ceiling. Everyone thinks she’s giving attitude, but she’s petrified. Later she goes back and makes herself climb the scaffolding. It’s the moment in the book where she actually takes control of her life. But as in life, she only gets two-thirds of the way to the top before she freezes and one of the other workers finds her plaster to the scaffolding not able to move up or down. I like that scene because it’s just like life, right? You can make all sorts of decisions but they don’t always work the first time around. Perseverance, that’s what I demand of my characters and myself.
On her writing process…
No matter how many books you write, I’m sure each one has its own challenges. How was this book more challenging to write than your others? How was it easier?
One of the biggest challenges was setting it in an actual town, one that is well-known. There is up to a year and a half lag between writing a novel and it hitting the shelves. In that time, stores close, roads change to one way from two-way. A whole neighborhood is demolished. A restaurant changes hands and becomes Mexican instead of Thai. To keep people from thinking, “Hmm. That’s not right.” and getting pulled out of the story, I just make up names that are similar but that don’t exist. That’s hard.
But more than the location, the really hardest thing is making your characters do things or go through things that you want to protect them from. That’s a good mother maybe, but doesn’t make for good fiction. Sometimes it’s hard, and it takes a while to get over, just as if it actually happened. Weird maybe, but an author at least this author, must to be totally immersed in the story.
What’s the first thing you do when starting a new book?
That’s a great question and I don’t have an answer. I can’t pinpoint a time when a book actually starts. Even before I pull up that first blank document to write Chapter One or even to take some notes. I have ideas and setting and characters floating around in my head, written on napkins, margins of the newspaper, an envelope, the erase board on the fridge. Then it begins to coalesce, by the time I do sit down to write Chapter 1, I have taken pages of notes, cut and pasted, imagined all sorts of situations to throw them into.
What’s the first thing you do when finishing a new book?
When I finish a book, I close out of it for a few days (it used to be a few weeks but I’ve been really under deadline lately) and let it percolate, then I read through it and start the second draft. If that turns out okay, I do a final-for-now edit, paying particular attention to mar and time lines, etc. (If it isn’t’ okay I do a third draft.) Then I send it to my editor and wait for the copy edits to arrive and then the proofs, all of which I have to work on. When it hits the shelves, virtual or real, I consider it finished but by then I’ve already started working on another book. Crazy life, but I love it.
Since becoming a writer, what’s the most exciting thing to happen to you?
There are so many …I guess the most obvious was making the New York Times Bestseller list. But meeting other authors some of whom I’ve admired at a distance is wonderful, listening to them talk about their craft is such a privilege.
What’s up next for you?
Well at the moment, I’m waiting for my edits for WHISPER BEACH and for the first book in my new Gilded Age Newport historical mystery series, A GILDED GRAVE.
I’ve already started writing my next Celebration Bay mystery which takes place at a Halloween Carnival and I’m beginning to glom aspects for my new women’s fiction, as yet untitled.
SHELLEY’S QUESTION TO READERS:
Do you like a book to be over when it’s over or do you want to read more about the characters and the town in a series of novels.
FINALLY TO CONTACT SHELLEY:
Follow Shelley at
Friend her on https://www.facebook.com/ShelleyFreydontAuthor
Order a copy of her books at your local bookstore or e-tailer such as Amazon.