Monday 15 August 2011

Sheila Quigley interview: Thorn In My Side

Thorn In My Side by Sheila Quigley

I started writing down stories as soon as I learned how to read, and started sending stuff out, very early on. It took thirty years to get published, and the pile of rejections, however nicely worded, were starting to look ridiculous. Before then I worked as a sewing machinist, on the farms picking potatoes, and as a market trader selling toys and fancy goods, double glazing saleswoman, and frozen food saleswoman. Finally the dream happened, and Run For Home, my first novel, came out.  Sheila Quigley

Can you sum up Thorn In My Side in a couple of sentences?

The fate of the world is in the hands of DI Mike Yorke and a clairvoyant street kid named Smiler. Everyone from the lowlifes of the London streets to the monks on Holy Island become involved in a race against time to save humanity.

What’s your favourite part of the writing process?

The very beginning, that moment out of the blue when it all falls into your lap. Problem is it’s mostly a mixed-up jigsaw, but the fun is sorting it out and then seeing the whole.

What aspect of marketing your books do you enjoy?

Meeting my readers in bookshops when doing signings. The other week at one signing I noticed a young man hovering about. He finally came over, leaned across the table and said, ‘Can you sign it to my mam please?’ As I handed him the book, he said, ‘You don’t look like the kind of woman who can write these kind of books.’ So I’m thinking, does your mam look like the kind of woman who would read these kind of books!’

How do you feel about the ease with which anyone can publish?

Remembering that it took me thirty years to get published I think it’s great. BUT, I strongly advise anyone not to put out e-books without being properly edited. The money saved by getting an e-book out can be spent on a damn good editor. Because yes, people are snapping up the 99p e-books, but if your first one is badly edited, they won’t be buying the next one and people will soon start to realise you get what you pay for. Although I strongly agree that e-books should be a lot cheaper than print books, just not this cheap.

What’s the book you recommend most to friends?

The Stand by Steven King.

How do you feel about awards?

Given that most of them are bought and paid for, not a lot.

Do you enjoy writing?

I love it, it’s like breathing, can’t stop doing it and would probably go stark raving mad if I couldn’t do it.

Do you have any projects on the go?

Halfway through the second in the Mike Yorke series, Nowhere Man, due out in November, and way behind. Also every year in Houghton le Spring where my Seahills books are set, we do a tour of all the murder spots in my books. Now Sunderland want me to do a murder tour in Sunderland called Slaughter in Sunderland. I have about five weeks to come up with a short story. Help!

As a reader how do you describe your taste in crime fiction.’

Not madly keen on police procedurals. I like action on top of action, not pages of needless description.

What was your favourite book as a child?

Anything by Enid Blyton.

Do you read outside of the crime genre?

Mostly horror, and some fantasy. Before that, science fiction. Still remember some fantastic short stories I read a long time ago in the sci-fi genre. Amazing that some of them have come true.

Thorn In My Side by Sheila Quigley


  1. Sheila's battled long and hard for success, so it's great to her northern grittiness coming to fruition. Long may it continue.

    Love the honesty in your answers, Sheila.