Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Interview with writer Madeline Sharples

Novelist Madeline Sharples is chatting with me today about her new historical fiction with immigration and feminist/romance themes, Papa’s Shoes.

Welcome, Madeline. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the Chicago area and fell in love with writing in middle and high school. I attended the University of Wisconsin as a journalism major, but transferred to UCLA my senior year attaining a degree in English.

I worked in the aerospace business (TRW and Northrop Grumman) as a technical writer and editor, web content writer, and proposal manager for almost thirty years. I also worked for non-profits as a development director, managing capital campaigns, and writing grant proposals.

I finally fulfilled my dream to work as a creative writer and journalist late in life. After many classes and workshops, my memoir, Leaving the Hall Light On: A Mother’s Memoir of Living with Her Son’s Bipolar Disorder and Surviving His Suicide, was released in 2011 (Dream of Things).

I co-authored Blue-Collar Women: Trailblazing Women Take on Men-Only Jobs (New Horizon Press, 1994), co-edited the poetry anthology, The Great American Poetry Show, Volumes 1, 2 and 3, and wrote the poems for The Emerging Goddess photography book (Paul Blieden, photographer). My poems have also appeared online and in print magazines.

My articles have appeared in the Huffington Post, Naturally Savvy, Aging Bodies, PsychAlive, Story Circle Network’s HerStories and One Woman’s Day blogs, and the Memoir Network blog. I have appeared on panels at writers’ conferences and have spoken about and read my work at book clubs, book stores, libraries, churches, writing groups, and on the radio. I also post about writing on my website Choices and host authors on my website who are marketing their books through the WOW! Women on Writing virtual book tours.

I am proud to add that my memoir Leaving the Hall Light On was on a list compiled by Erin Burba of BookRiot of the 100 Must-Read Biographies and Memoirs of Remarkable Women. This list included memoirs written by Mary Karr, Joan Didion, Cheryl Strayed, Sonia Sotomayor, Madeleine Albright, Maya Angelou, Anais Nin, Malala Yousafzai, Patti Smith, Katharine Graham, Nora Ephron, and many more.

Please tell us about your current release.
Papa’s Shoes, is a work of fiction about immigration with a feminist and historical bent. At 99,968 words, Papa’s Shoes is a stand-alone novel with series potential.

Ira Schuman is determined to move his family out of their Polish shtetl to the hope and opportunities he’s heard about in America. But along the way he faces the death of three of his four sons, a wife who does not have the same aspirations as his, and the birth of a daughter, Ava, conceived to make up for the loss of his boys. Ava grows up to be smart, beautiful, and very independent.

Besides having a feisty relationship with her overly-protective mother, Ava falls for the college man who directs her high school senior class play. With the news that she wants to marry a non-Jewish man, Ira realizes that his plan to assimilate in the new world has backfired. Should the young couple marry, he must decide whether to banish his daughter from his family or welcome them with open arms. Even though he won’t attend their wedding, he makes her a pair a wedding shoes. In his mind, the shoes are simply a gift, not a peace offering.

What inspired you to write this book?
While my husband was writing our family histories some twenty-five years ago, he interviewed some of the elders in our family and collected other writings. I became very intrigued with what my aunt – my father’s sister – wrote when she was well into her eighties. That she wrote a whole page describing her friendship – as she called it – while a senior in high school with a young gentile teacher. He regularly picked her up at her family home and take her to school plays and concerts and then out for tea afterward. She also wrote that her brother (my father) objected so strongly that he got the family to move to Chicago to get her away from this gentile man. That she remembered his name and could describe his looks and the way he dressed after 64 years made me think she must have still carried a torch for him. While in real life she met and married a Mr. Milk Toast, had two children, and lived the rest of her life in Chicago, I decided to let her have her true love in my story.

The lives of my grandparents, father, and aunt also inspired my story. However, my idea took the story in Papa’s Shoes far afield from how they actually lived their lives.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am working on another memoir about aging. I’m a year away from turning eighty, so I thought I’d write about how it feels and looks, what my life is like at this point, regrets, and what I do to live healthy at my age.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I considered myself a writer when I worked on feature stories for my high school newspaper. I also was considered a technical writer and editor at the day job I had in the aerospace industry for over thirty years. Now I consider myself a creative writer and poet, work I turned to very late in life.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I write every day of the week; However, I work on particular writing projects only during the work week. I always start my day working out, then breakfast, then a shower and getting dressed. Then I go to my home office and stay there for three to four hours. Right now, I’m working on a new memoir. I also write at least one poem a week, one blog post a week, a small two to three-line piece that I post on a Facebook page devoted to “small stones” every day, and a journal entry every day. My goal for my memoir writing is one thousand words a day. My journal entries are usually five hundred words.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I don’t eat or drink or listen to music while I write. And I usually stay in that chair without a break until I’m finished for the day. When my husband wants to talk to me, he stands at the open door of my office and says: “knock, knock.” He doesn’t want to interrupt me but of course he does. If the door is closed, he doesn’t disturb me.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a writer as far back as seventh grade. In high school I decided I wanted to be a journalist. However, I grew up at the wrong time. Women were few and far between in the late 1950s and early 1960s in those fields.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
I thank you for agreeing to host me and give me these very good interview questions.


Thanks for stopping by today!

Readers, feel free to visit any of Madeline's other tour stops to learn more.

June 4th @ Coffee with Lacey
The lovely Lacey reviews "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples and shares her review with readers at Coffee with Lacey. This is a blog stop and review readers won't want to miss!

June 5th @ Lisa Haselton’s Reviews and Interviews
Lisa Haselton interviews well known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples about her latest novel "Papa's Shoes" - the story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America. This insightful interview is one you won't want to miss!

June 6th @ Beverley A. Baird
Beverley A. Baird shares her thoughts after reading the touching story of a Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America - "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples is a book that is sure to please readers!

June 7th @ Linda Neas
Today's guest author at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas is none other than well-known author and memoirist Madeline Sharples. Today, her guest post is titled "How I reinvented myself from a technical writer and editor to a creative writer – and at my 
age." Heart from Madeline and learn more about her latest novel "Papa's Shoes"! 

June 12th @ Linda Neas
Last week, readers at Words from the Heart with Linda Neas read a guest post penned by Author Madeline Sharples and today, Linda will share her review of Madeline's latest novel "Papa's Shoes". This is a blog stop you won't want to bypass!

June 18th @ Selling Books with Cathy Stucker
Cathy Stucker interviews Madeline Sharples at Selling Books. Readers will flock to learn more about Sharples and her latest novel "Papa's Shoes".

June 26th @ Linda Appleman Shapiro
Fellow author and memoirist Linda Appleman Shapiro shares her review of "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples. Don't miss Linda's insight into this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they move to America!

June 27th @ World of My Imagination
Nicole Pyles reviews the latest best selling novel "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples - readers will delight to hear what Nicole thinks of this crowd pleasing story of one Polish shoemaker and his family!

June 28th @ Deal Sharing Aunt / Vicki Brinius
Vicky Brinius reviews "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples. Find out how she feels after reading this touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

July 2nd @Author Anthony Avina
Fellow author Anthony Avina reviews "Papa's Shoes" by Madeline Sharples - this is a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settled in America.

July 2nd @ Amanda Sanders
Amanda of Amanda Diaries reviews Madeline Sharples latest novel "Papa's Shoes" - read Amanda's review and add this lovely story to your TBR pile today!

July 4th @ Author Anthony Avina 
Readers at Anthony Avina's blog will delight with today's guest post and author interview with Madeline Sharples - learn more about her and her latest work!

July 5th @ Lisa Buske
Lisa Buske shares her review of "Papa's Shoes" - the latest novel by Madeline Sharples and a touching story of one Polish shoemaker and his family as they settle in America.

August 12th @ Kathleen Pooler’s Memoir Writer’s Journey
Readers and writers alike will want to stop by Memoir Writer’s Journey to hear from Kathleen Pooler and friend / fellow author Madeline Sharples as they discuss Madeline’s latest book “Papa’s Shoes”.