Interview with Jean Sheldon

Describe your desk
My desk, like me, is a worn but fairly stable vessel cluttered with bits and pieces of what was, what is, and what may yet be. A Habitat for Humanity cup holds objects for writing, cutting, editing, and drawing. A storyteller doll, two onyx fetishes, a bear and a turtle, and obsidian pieces found at Tent Rocks, are memories of my twenty years in New Mexico. A stack of books, some to be read again, some for the first time, all treasures and peaceful diversions from a busy, cyber-based existence. Post-it-notes to supplement a constantly tested memory. A variety of notebooks that keep thoughts and images from slipping into oblivion. A cup of coffee, pale with cream, atop circular stains from dozens of predecessors. It is, at times, where I create my characters, and at other times, where my characters create me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I didn't start writing mysteries until 2004. I was 53 and overwhelmed by the political and social climate. I wanted a distraction. Since I loved to read mysteries, I thought I'd try my hand at writing one. That was almost 10 years ago, and I haven't stopped. Nor have I lost any of the passion I felt early on. Writing opens me to all the possibilities of the universe. That's a strong statement, but true to the core of my being. Writing helps me listen better. It forces me to become aware of the possibilities that lie beyond my limited view of the world. It nurtures my humanity. Does it get any better than that?
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cat. But once she's fed, brushed, and has received sufficient undivided attention, I am able to join the characters and places of my 'work in progress'.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read quite a bit, and often have several books going at once. I like that, because each book fills a different need. Those needs can change by the hour, and there is always an appropriate book.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I've written poetry for as long as I can remember, but I barely survived high school English. I was intimidated by people who wrote well, which is probably why I was in my 50s before I seriously considered writing books. I do recall penning a short story about a cheerful young woman in a very gloomy Laundromat. It was inspired by one of my favorites, JD Salinger .
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in Chicago. I haven't lived there in over 25 years, but it is still the central location for many of my stories. It is still home. Recently, I was asked to contribute an article to Mystery Reader's Journal 2013 'Chicago Mysteries' edition. Here are a few lines from my piece: "Chicago is more than simply a location for my mysteries. It is where my characters build their lives. Where they eat, sleep, and earn their living. Where they park their cars and buy their groceries. Where they laugh, cry, and sometimes, where they become involved in a mystery. The stories often feature accidental and amateur sleuths, and focus on characters that experience the city as I did, and whenever possible, still do, with a sense of innocence, wonder, and curiosity."
Where do you think you'll be as a writer in 5 years?
I'd like to think I'll continue to expand as a writer. That's the great thing about the indie industry. If you are committed to writing, having an outlet and a chance to hear what readers like (and what they don't like) can help you learn and grow. To me, that's what writing is all about...that's what life is all about.
Published 2013-12-18.
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Books by This Author

Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 3,590. Language: English. Published: September 7, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Contemporary Poetry
“Persistent” is a collection of poems from mystery writer Jean Sheldon who sees all of life as a mystery. This book reflects that view. "Scribbled notes from daily life have filled my pockets and backpacks since childhood, but recent events have nudged me to examine both life and my words. In these poems I have found a measure of peace, and it is a peace hope to share.”