Monday, May 28, 2007

Featuring: Shelley Bates and Over Her Head

Today's a special blogging treat. Not only did we catch up with busy author, Shelley Bates to talk about her new book, OVER HER HEAD, but this blog post and interview is written by my sixteen year old daughter, Emily. Let me warn you, Emily's a very tough reader, and a book must be steller for her to enjoy it. Here's her review of Shelley's OVER HER HEAD:

Emily: This book was about a woman who finds out her daughter witnessed the murder of a young girl in her class. Rumors fly, and everything and everyone she knew depended on seemed to push her away. Nobody seemed to believe in her daughter's innocence. Out to prove it, problems arise with her relationships with her husband, children, friends, and the Lord.

I liked this book because it showed real teen perspective and had a very original plot. I liked that it showed "real" things that happen in cliques everyday and the deadly consequences of them. I also liked that it showed that not going to the Lord opens many doors...ones you might not want to walk through.

Robin: Welcome, Shelly. Thank you for dropping by and for answering my daughter's questions.

Shelley: Thanks for having me as a guest on your blog, Robin, and thank you to your
daughter for some great questions!

Robin: Great. Let's get started....

Emily: Where did you come up with the plot idea of this book, as it's most unusual?

Shelley: When I get an idea for a book, it usually starts off as an opening image.
Years ago, my mom sent me an article about a murder at my junior high,
where a gang of teenagers swarmed a girl who wanted to join their clique,
and drowned her under a bridge. The event absolutely horrified me. I got
that prickly feeling on my neck and shoulders-which only happens when I
know I'm going to write about something. So once I had that image in my
head, I started to play the what-if game. What if a Christian mom found
out her daughter was in a swarm like that-and did nothing to help the
victim? What would that do to their relationship? To her marriage? To her
relationships in her church?

Then, since I used to work for the police department, I thought about how
an investigator would go about finding the killer (or killers). To make
this worse, I made the investigator related to the mom, so there would be
family conflict. And then I focused on the mom's fear as the net of
circumstantial evidence closes around her daughter. And before I knew it,
I had a plot!

Emily: Interesting. Have you ever felt anything like what Laurie goes through with Anna? Have you been in a similiar situation?

Shelley: No, I've never had someone I loved be in danger like this (thank you,
Lord). But when you write about something, you need to put yourself
completely in the character's mind and heart in order to make their
emotion translate well to the page. So I spent a lot of time in Laurie's
head, getting more and more frightened for the daughter's character as the
book went on.

Emily: I totally bought it. LOL Have you ever found yourself feeling like the waters have gone over your head too? If so, how did you handle it?

Shelley: Sometimes life can be overwhelming. For instance, in 1989, when I was
still a newlywed, the Loma Prieta earthquake struck and our house fell
over a cliff. I can really identify with those folks in Kansas and New
Orleans, let me tell you. In an experience like that, sometimes all you've
got is your relationship with God to sustain you and haul you out of the

Emily: Being from Louisiana, I understand what they're going through, too. Have you ever been in a situation where you started to worship the church and congregation and not the Lord? If so, how'd you get through it?

Shelley: Yes, I have. I grew up in a toxic church--an underground house church that
puts the system ahead of everything else--even God. The leadership teaches
that you can only come to God through them, that they're the only true
way, and if you leave, you're going straight to The Bad Place. The
struggle to come out of that environment, when all my friends and family
were still in it and I risked losing all the people I loved, was very
difficult. Fortunately, God was there to pull me out, and I have my feet
firmly on dry land now in my walk with Him. And, miracle of miracles,
after the publication of my first book, Grounds to Believe, my parents
read it and began their exit from the church as well.

Emily: Wow. Thanks so much for answering my questions and being so honest. Now to make my mom give me GROUNDS TO BELIEVE. LOL This has been fun.

Thanks again!

Robin: Thanks, y'all for a great interview and insight.


Shelley Bates said...

If she won't, I'll send you one, Emily! LOL

Thanks for the great interview!

Dineen A. Miller said...

Great interview, ladies! :-)

Ane Mulligan said...

Super interview, Emily! Thoughtful questions. Hmm, I may borrow Emily, Robin. :o)