Today, it’s my great honor to spotlight one of my favorite people. Author Shirley McCann is a true joy to be around. Her laugh is contagious, and her smile brightens my day every time I see her.
It’s been nearly a year since I’ve seen Shirley in person due to COVID-19, but I do get see her on Zoom a couple times a month during virtual writers groups meetings. I have the pleasure of belonging to three of the same groups as Shirley. She never fails to bring joy or impart wisdom to every function.
Please enjoy my interview with Shirley McCann!
1. For those readers who are unfamiliar with you, please tell us a little about yourself.
Hmmm. I was born and raised in Missouri, although my husband and I lived in other places for his job. I’m a widow of five years, with two grown children and five grandchildren. I hate winter, love tea, and I’m always looking for my next read.
2. What kinds of writing do you enjoy?
Mystery, suspense is my favorite, but I also like to dabble in romance. And short stories are still one of my favorite things to write. That’s how I got started.
3. What do you enjoy most about the writing process?
The first rough draft. My mind goes in so many different directions, it’s a mess when I’m done, but at least I’ve got something to work with.
4. When did you start writing?
In my thirties. As mentioned before, I started out writing short stories and still enjoy writing them.
5. To what or whom do your attribute your love of reading and writing stories?
My teachers. I don’t recall my parents reading to me, although I’m sure they must have. They were busy farmers, but I had some great teachers who insisted we read some of the classics. I was hooked.
6. How have your past experiences impacted your writing?
Life is an emotional roller coaster. My romance, Hope For The Future, was partly based on a character with leukemia. Before I could finish it, my sister was diagnosed with the same thing. I couldn’t finish it until almost fifteen years later.
7. What are some jobs that you have held?
My first job was cashier at a Tastee Freeze (are those still around) I’ve been a receptionist many times, as well as some retail jobs. But my most interesting job was in the county assessor’s office. I used to go out in my car to selected areas and measure houses for reassessment. I enjoyed working on my own and just going into the office once in a while.
8. Does your past employment experience ever make its way into your books?
Yes, especially in short stories. My first short story sale was about a receptionist in an apartment complex. I think I’ve done a lot of receptionist short stories. Someone is usually dead.
9. What inspires you?
My family and friends. I’m lucky to have been blessed with the best of both worlds. I honestly don’t know how I got so lucky.
10. What made you decide to write about the subjects or themes of your books?
I enjoy seeing or hearing something and thinking “what if?” It usually involves a murder because that’s the way I roll.
11. Have you met any interesting people while researching your books?
Several law enforcement personnel, forensic personnel. Even mechanics who can tell us how to disable a car. Everyone has a story to tell and a certain amount of expertise within their profession, no matter what it is.
12. What is the most difficult part of writing?
Finding quiet time. My grandkids are here a lot, especially with virtual schooling because of COVID. Hoping life is back to normal in 2021.
13. Who are some of your favorite authors and why do you enjoy their work?
The late Mary Higgins Clark was my favorite author, and the reason I decided I wanted to try writing. She made it look so easy, even though, obviously, it wasn’t. I also enjoy Natasha Preston – my favorite YA author, I read a lot so hard to pick just a few.
14. What writing advice did you find most useful when you were honing your craft?
Don’t believe everything you hear about writing. Listen to advice, but in the end it’s your story and your way to tell it.
15. Do you have any new work just released or coming out soon? If so, would you please tell us a little about it?
I’m hoping the 3rd book in my Scarry Inn series will be released in January. It’s with the editor now. The Scarry Inn is a motel owned by Dick and Thelma Scarry. Each of the five rooms are decorated for the macabre. And murder is always on the guestlist.
16. Can you tell us a little about your current project?
I always have more than one thing going. When I get stuck on one, I’ll move to another book or a short story. At the moment, I have two more short story collections coming up in 2021, in addition to another romance novel, and the third Scarry Inn novel, titled The Morgue. I also hope to have another YA mystery out in 2021, tentatively titled The House On Cemetery Road.
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