New York Times Bestselling Author Paige Shelton has always wanted to be a writer. These days, Shelton has four different series. That’s a lot of characters, settings, and plots. Here’s the story behind her latest release, Bookman Dead Style.
Living the story
“I live in my stories,” Shelton said. “Or, perhaps it’s more accurate to say they live in my head—all the time, while I’m writing them. When I’m finished with a story, it leaves the space it occupied in my noggin (probably because said space is limited). I’ve been known to both drift away during a real-life conversation, my mind going straight into the book I’m working on, as well as later have to reread a book to remember even big things that happened. It’s all or nothing, apparently.”
Shelton said she, like many other writers, talks out loud when she’s working. She also describes herself as an introvert. “Groups are hard, small talk is really hard. I used to be a night owl, but have become a morning person since moving to Arizona in 2015.”
The soap opera actress debacle
If Shelton changed from a night owl to loving Arizona mornings, perhaps she wasn’t always such an introvert. In fact, her first job put her into situations where she was dealing with many people. Or, maybe just one. Like a celebrity.
“A famous soap opera actress visited the station one day, and I was a blathering fool,” Shelton said. “Even when I was eighteen, I knew how ridiculous I’d behaved. I tried to put a little of that into Bookman Dead Style, as well as a revelation or two why that behavior is just plain silly. I’ve met a few other celebrities along the way, and I’ve tried to be better. I enjoyed looking back to see how I worked through it—am still working through it. Still, though, if I met Bruce Springsteen, I’m sure I’d be that same old blathering fool.”
“I do my best to keep all political issues and leanings out of my books,” Shelton said. “Of course, sometimes some do sneak in. Sometimes, the only way to be true to a story or character is to include such things. The Star City Film Festival is in full swing as Bookman Dead Style begins.
“The festival is much like the Sundance Film Festival, which is something I enjoyed when I lived in Utah. However, probably to no one’s surprise, there’s an obvious liberal lean to the entire event. I tried to temper that in the book, and then I (unconsciously) inserted a character who is like a real-life actor known for his conservative views. I didn’t catch it until the first revisions, but I ended up liking the balance that ultimately happened, unintended though it might have been.”
Shelton said she doesn’t believe a murder has ever occurred during the Sundance Music Festival. However, that hasn’t stopped her from imagining one. “Perhaps that’s because I’m a mystery writer. I hope one never does occur. Keeping murder in fiction is the only way to go, but it was fun to play ‘what if?’”
The other issue that found its way into Bookman Dead Style was polygamy. Shelton said, “Most people think it’s a pretty weird thing. I do too. I included a family of polygamists in the story, and I worked hard to keep my own feelings out of it. Of course, it’s important to respect everyone and every way of living, even if I disagree with choices, and even if they’re fictional characters I’ve written. I hope I didn’t disrespect anyone by writing in some polygamy, but we’ll have to see what the readers think.”
Learn more about Paige Shelton at paigeshelton.com.