Interview with Sheila McGrory-Klyza

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My favorite thing to do is spend time with my two daughters Isabel and Faye. We all like to be active outside and enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking, and cross country skiing, depending on the season. I also love to spend time with my friends, and to travel. Cooking is another passion, and I especially like to combine the two and explore new places and cultures through their food.
Describe your desk
My desk is a mix of messy piles and scraps of notes, with an orderly arrangement of photos and accessories in the background. I guess this combination does reflect how my mind works because my creative process can be kind of messy, but I like to have some sense of order controlling it all, or at least appearing to. Two of my favorite things on my desk are a pair of clay pinch pots my daughters made when they were little and they now hold an assortment of paper clips, seashells, coins, stones, and some marbles that were from my own childhood.
What is your writing process?
For me, the creative process is all about discovery. When I sit down to write, I usually don't know exactly where I'm going to end up. Sometimes I'll go down a path that doesn't work and I'll eventually edit that part out, but most of the time if I trust the process, the real story will just reveal itself. I love those breakthrough moments when I learn something about a character or myself (if I'm writing nonfiction) that gives me clarity so I can see where I've been heading the whole time.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I was always writing stories and poems as a child, and would give these to my parents as gifts on their birthdays or holidays. As a teenager, I would write as a way to help myself figure things out (those journal entries are now especially entertaining to look back on!). Even during the busiest times in my life, I've always made time for writing. It's a big part of who I am.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
After I finished writing Miming in French, I was really excited to have landed an agent. He's a reputable agent in New York and he was enthusiastic about the book, but this was around the time that the economy tanked and the publishing industry was contracting. My book got lost in the shuffle. It sat on my desk for a while until I started learning from other writers about the indie author option. This option appealed to me because of my independent nature, and also because of the opportunities it opens up for a global readership. I'm hopeful that the subject matter of Miming in French will be of interest to a broad readership around the world who otherwise would have remained out of reach had I published the novel traditionally.
What inspired you to write Miming in French?
Several years ago I was living in Aix-en-Provence, France, with my family, and my two daughters attended a local public elementary school there. They didn't speak any French at first, which was challenging, but overall the experience was really rewarding for both of them, even life-changing. In Miming in French, the characters and plot are fictional, but the culture of Aix and the mix of people living there got me thinking and imagining about what might happen if an American girl befriended a French Muslim girl. I'm an avid Francophile and have loved the times I've lived in France, but the country struggles with social issues just like anywhere else and I wanted to explore some of those themes in this novel. As for the mime, I was inspired by the fascinating performers found on the streets of Aix. Even though the novel is written for children ages nine to twelve, I hope readers of all ages will find it interesting and engaging.
Published 2017-05-31.
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Books by This Author

Miming in French
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 54,240. Language: English. Published: April 1, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Children’s books » Social Issues / Prejudice & Racism
When Livvie moves to France with her mom after her parents’ divorce, she feels like she’ll never fit in. For one thing, everyone in her new school speaks a different language. But soon she makes friends with another girl, Malika, who’s an outsider too. Malika is French, but she’s also a Muslim. Together, with the help of a mysterious street mime, the two girls learn the meaning of true friendship.