I am the author of three novels which I call the Sun Series: Sunshine Girls, Paper Sun and Place in the Sun. I am also the co-author of Temple of Light, a book of poems inspired by the Sharon Temple. My poems and short stories have been published in various magazines and anthologies. Facebook.com/sheilahorne, author or www.sheilahorne.com.
I enjoy writing about Toronto, Canada, which is where I spent my teenage years and young adulthood. My books take place on the Danforth, and also Wasaga Beach. In, Place in the Sun I take my protagonist to an island in the Caribbean. I’m a music fanatic, and I love weaving music and lyrics into my writing. I am fascinated by the way a song can trigger a particular memory, and then a story comes alive.
It’s not just the physical act of putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) that I love. I also like to talk about writing and to share my writing experiences with others. I facilitate writing programs and workshops for local community members. I am also a member of the Writers’ Community of York Region.
When I was 14 years old, living in the small town of Bryan, Texas, I had a strict curfew and wasn’t allowed to go out at night (unless I was going to the Catholic Youth Organization Dances). When my favourite shows weren’t on TV—you know, Ed Sullivan, Patty Duke, Father Knows Best, My Three Sons, to name a few—I didn’t really have anything to do.
So I started writing.
In 1966, while packing up my room for a move from Texas to Toronto, I destroyed the stories. Looking back, of course, I wish I hadn’t. But I honestly didn’t think I would continue to write.
I was wrong. During my late teens in Toronto, I wrote protest poems fueled by Bob Dylan singing about times changing and Johnny in the basement mixing up some kind of medicine. Not to mention, The Who talking about “My Generation”.
When I was 17, I had this dream that I would work at the Toronto Star one day. I’d start out sharpening the other writers’ pencils, and eventually, I would become a journalist.
I also had this idea that I would write the greatest Canadian novel. As I approached my 20s, I decided it would be the greatest Ontario novel. Then, when I got into my 40s, my hopes were to write the greatest Toronto novel. When I wrote my first book, I said to myself, “I’ll just write a novel.”
And so I did. Sunshine Girls was published in 2014.
Looking back, it really doesn’t matter whether or not my dreams were followed. I am doing what I love. I spend my days listening to music while letting my imagination fly on 26 letters of the alphabet.
PLACE OF BIRTH: British Guiana.
FAVOURITE MUSICIAN: I have so many it’s hard to pick one. I seem to go from one band to another. One day I’ll listen to rock, the next day blues, then jazz. But lately, I’ve been listening to Blue Rodeo, Rod Stewart, and the old Motown bands.
FAVOURITE SEASON: Summer. I’ve always felt like life truly begins during the long weekend in May. In my twenties, it was time to head to Wasaga Beach with my friends. Now, my summer months are filled with music festivals, countryside drives, barbecues and trips to the farmer’s market.
FAVOURITE PASTIME: I love photography. I also enjoy sitting in the backyard, reading a book and eating cherries. And walking my dog.
TOP “WRITER” MOMENT: After writing for many years, the first time I really felt I had made it as a writer was in 2014. My first novel, Sunshine Girls, had been released in March and my short story, Corsets and Fudge was published in the Anthology, The Inspired Heart, Edition 2.
TIP FOR MANAGING WRITERS’ BLOCK: Write every day – whether you feel like it or not. Just pick a word, a character, or a scene, and write about it. And if you’re truly not in the mood to write, try reading instead.
LIFE PURPOSE: Despite my strict Catholic upbringing, I follow the Buddhist concept. I’ve been studying it for years and it’s changed my perspective about writing, the world and myself. I’m a very liberal thinker. That said, I’m not the kind of person who thinks I’m here for a purpose in life; I just do what I love to do.
WRITING A STORY: I think of the story as raw, a piece of wood or slab of stone waiting to be crafted. Like a sculptor I pick up my tools and start to chisel pages of words, sentences and paragraphs into a readable first draft. The first tool is intuition—a must for a writer. I read out loud and listen to the words. It gives me a feel for how I’m going to sculpt the story. Where I’m going to slash and whittle the paragraphs and sentences. Education and experience comes next. All the technical parts: structure, plot, characters, dialogue and scenes, the way they work together and rules that can and can’t be broken. There’s always a feeling of surprise and joy when I look at the finished project. Then comes the last tool. The most important tool. The, do what’s right tool. The ability to step back, remove the ego from the story, look at the whole picture and hammer out the parts that don’t work, even if I love them.
BELIEF ABOUT THE WORLD: I’m not one to believe in higher judgment. I believe good and bad slide together every minute of the day. A lot of people think the world is a scary place right now; I don’t. To me it’s all flowing this way at the moment. I have every faith in the generation coming of age. I truly believe they’re going to play a big part in making the changes we need.
Anything else you’d like to know? I’d love to hear from you.