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Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Spotlight on Shelley Bates and Over Her Head

Whether producing search warrants and making undercover phone calls as an admin for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, or editing marketing material for the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley, Shelley Bates has found that everyone has a story. Most people have stopped telling her theirs in case she puts them in her books. Shelley holds an M.A. in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in Pennsylvania. Grounds to Believe, her debut novel, won the 2005 RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel of the Year from the Romance Writers of America. The sequel, Pocketful of Pearls, was a RITA Award finalist the following year. Between books, Shelley enjoys playing the piano and Celtic harp, making period costumes, and spoiling her flock of rescue chickens rotten.

"Readers will be lost in the vivid world that Shelley Bates paints with incredible detail and masterful storytelling." --W. Terry Whalin,

"Shelley Bates is a brave and talented author who looks at the darkness as well as the light." --bestselling author Mary Jo Putney

Order your copy of Over Her Head today!


1. Murder, intrigue, suspense, family drama. You've got it all in this
book. What gave you the inspiration for this story?

People say "write what you know," but I say, "write what you like!" And I like domestic suspense. :)

The inspiration for the story came from a newspaper article my mom sent me several years ago. A swarm of teenagers at my old junior high school had gotten out of control when an unpopular girl tried to join their clique, and they'd drowned her under the bridge that I used to cross every day to go to school. The story made the hair stand up on the back of my neck--both from horror and from the knowledge that I would write about it someday. The story percolated for ten years as I thought, what if a Christian mom found out her daughter was in a similar swarm? What would it do to their relationship? To the family? To their ties in their church and community? And Over Her Head was born.

2. How much of your own experiences influenced the character of Laurie?
What aspects became traits that were hers and hers alone?

Well, since I don't have kids, the whole aspect of a mother dealing with a teenager was Laurie's alone. She's a big-picture person, a take-charge community leader from a family who has led the community for generations, which are qualities I don't possess. But she struggles with her weight like me, and she's very attached to her home and the life she's created, so we share that too.

3. What themes exist in Over Her Head that you hope the reader sees? Are there any themes that weren't overt but developed as the story progressed?

I had a good time with theme and metaphor in this book. The major theme starts with the cover, which the FaithWords art department totally nailed. I adore this cover! Laurie looks as though she's swimming toward the light, doesn't she? She spends the whole book doing that--and it ain't easy :) The Biblical theme underlying her experience is from Psalm 124, about the waters going over the soul. The book is full of images of bridges and water. As the story progressed, I realized that bridges are supposed to connect, but they can also divide--and hide :)

4. You are a previous winner of the RITA, one of the most prestigious book awards in the industry. Tell us about it.

Talk about a mountain experience! It was almost as good as getting married, except I had to make a speech ::LOL:: The award was for GROUNDS TO BELIEVE, the "book of my heart." I wrote it as I was struggling to exit an underground church movement in which four generations of my family had lived. I used the heroine's character as an avatar, to see what the end result of her behaviors would be as she tried to deal with a religious community that was works-based and unbiblical, but that she had been taught had been established by God. We both wound up leaving the toxic church by the end of the novel :) I think the judges responded to an experience that was a little unusual but that was very real. For which I'm grateful!

5. When is your next book coming out and what is the story?

In May 2008, I'll be taking a pseudonym and moving to teen chick lit with a six-book series. Stay tuned to my web site for more information.

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Thank you, Shelley, for being in the spotlight. Readers, don't forget to comment for your chance to win a FREE copy of Shelley's latest book. Check back here next week for the winner.


tetewa said...

This sounds like an interesting read especially since it was based on true events!

Shauna said...

Oh, I love Shelley Bates books. Enter me, please!

Cherie J said...

This book sounds good. Enjoyed the spotlight!

Diane A. said...

What a lovely design for a cover! Pardon me but it reminds me of Colleen Coble's books. Though Colleen's are more of the mysterious type, this one is very heartwarming and resonates hope.

Anicz said...

Shelley Bates..i've heard of her many times before but always failed to get a copy. The bookstore is always out of stock. I wonder why.. Well, she must be really a great writer. and I'm the last to know? Poor me. I heard she writes about topics many authors shy away from. I hope I can read one of her books.

Leif D. said...

Sounds like a nice book to read before bedtime. Her "Grounds to Believe" novel actually won a RITA award.

Unknown said...

Oh, another heart-wrenching story. The cover looks heavenly!

sherlyn said...

Oh, and I thought this was about a girl with a huge head over her shoulders. My bad...this story sounds like Jonah's only it's a girl..

Tiffany Amber Stockton said...

A little late announcing this one, but the winner is...


Congratulations. I've forwarded your mailing address to Shelley so she can mail out your book.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support and comments.

Shauna said...

THANK YOU! I'm a little late checking back. It sounds crazy to say life has been crazy, but it's the truth. I'm looking forward to this read. Thanks, Tiff.