Shelley Bates writes riveting, cutting-edge stories that also touch the heart. In 2005, her Steeple Hill novel, Grounds to Believe, won the RITA Award for Best Inspirational Novel of the Year from Romance Writers of America. In 2006, her FaithWords release, Pocketful of Pearls, was a RITA Award finalist. Her latest novel, Over Her Head, is available online and in bookstores everywhere.

Welcome, Shelley, and thank you for taking the time from your busy schedule to be here.

You’re most welcome … and thank you for the opportunity to sit down for a few minutes and chat.

Shelley, when did you begin writing?

I wrote my first novel when I was 13. It was a Nancy Drew ripoff but I thought it was brilliant and original :-) I sent it off to a literary publisher and two weeks later got a very kind rejection letter. I thought publishers printed everything people sent them, so needless to say, the letter was a shock! But the editor was very kind. He realized how young I was and told me that I “knew how to tell a story,” and not to quit. I took his words to heart.

How did you know this was your calling?

I’ve always known I would be a writer. I was the little kid scripting our neighborhood adventures—which meant we never played house. We played “escape from the orphanage” and “survival in the wilderness.” When I grew up, I got my training (I hold a master’s in writing popular fiction) and began submitting to publishers. I had some secular romances published and then when God told me he wanted me in the CBA, doors began to open—doors I didn’t even know were there!

Interestingly, your bio mentions that you typed warrants and made undercover phone calls for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Sounds exciting! Do you draw from any of these experiences for your writing?

Yes indeed, I draw a lot from the years I spent supporting the RCMP. In fact, Ross Malcolm, the hero of Grounds to Believe, was based on one of the sergeants I worked with. His specialty was religious cults, which gave me the idea for Ross’s purpose in life.

Your novels always have great plots. What are some of the ways you generate ideas?

Do you think so? I always think I’m plot-impaired <lol>. Every book starts with an opening scene or image—a flash like the beginning of a movie trailer. Plotting the book involves finding out who’s in that image, how they got there, and what they’re going to do now. I have a wonderful brainstorming group who help me flesh out the ideas once I have a skeleton of people and events in place, and that results in a finished synopsis, which is what goes to my editor. I use it like a map as I write the book. I hate not knowing what’s going to happen.

What inspired you to write Over Her Head?

That book was based on true events—a murder that happened years ago at my junior high school. A group of teenagers had swarmed a girl who was trying to get into their clique, and drowned her under a bridge. When I read about it in the paper, I got cold chills, which is what happens when I know I’m going to write about something.

Shelley, please tell us a little about the book.

The story is told from the point of view of a suburban mom, who finds out that her daughter was in a similar swarm—and did nothing to help the victim. I had an initial flash of Laurie discovering the body in the river during her morning jog, and I asked myself, what would it do to a parent to realize her child could watch something like that and not help? What would it do to the family? To their standing in the church and community? To their relationships with each other and with God? And I was off and running!

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you, your writing, or Over Her Head?

One of the reviews for the book mentioned that Laurie was the homecoming queen that you loved to hate in high school, who grew up to be a community leader running the show as an adult. Since I was the geek in glasses and braces who never even got invited to the prom, I was very pleased that I was able to create such a believable character! LOL. What Laurie comes to realize is that all her busy-ness, her church activities, her community involvement, are all packed around an empty space where God should be—and isn’t. Her spiritual journey to this realization of how much she needs her Lord makes her sympathetic and keeps the reader with her all the way to the end.

Oh, and for Shelley-related trivia, here’s one: I put a chicken in every single book I write, no matter the genre. Heh. Don’t tell my editor.

What’s next on your agenda, release-wise?

I’m going to be moving into a completely different genre: teen chick lit! I’m having a blast with it and recovering the years the locust ate while I was in a toxic church. You can get an idea of what’s coming at

One last question, Shelley. It is not writing related, but I hope it will provide us with a little more insight into Shelley, the person. You like to play the Celtic harp. Will you explain to us how it differs from a standard one, and how does one find an instructor for this specialty (oops! Sorry, that was two questions)?

I loooooove the Celtic harp (here’s a picture of mine: ) . It’s made of wood—for instance, cherry, walnut, or maple, where your standard concert harp (also known as a pedal harp) is metal. For this reason it’s lighter and can be carried to jam sessions or weddings or out into the woods if you feel like it. The harp is strung the same way as a piano, so if you play the piano, you can play the harp. Except that, well, it’s vertical! There are harpers’ associations in nearly every state. I found my instructor in California through the Sylvia Woods Harp Center. You can also Google “celtic harp teacher” to find one near you.

Shelley, thank you so much for being here. I have thoroughly enjoyed this interview. God bless and have a Merry Christmas!

Thanks so much, Deborah, and the same to you!

There will be a drawing for two of Shelley’s books: Over Her Head and Grounds to Believe. To enter the drawing, please use the form on the Contact page with “drawing” in the comments box. The deadline to enter is December 19th. The contest will take place on the 20th, and I’ll post the winner on my Home Page shortly thereafter.

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Content © Copyright 2018 Deborah M. Piccurelli
Deborah Piccurelli is an author and deborah piccurelli is a writer of Christian Suspence and Christian Fiction. Deborah Piccurelli writes suspence for Christians who want to read wholesome suspense and thriller writing. Deborah Piccurelli has written and authored in the midst of deceit a suspense novel. In the midst of deceit is a book that deborah m piccurelli has published, but deborah m piccurelli is writing other suspence works as well. Deborah Piccurelli writes thriller novels and has published In the Midst of Deceit. For more information about Deborah M Piccurelli you can visit her site Also, her tag line is Uncovering the Unthinkable. The phrase Uncovering the Unthinkable represents what Debbie Piccurelli writes in the books that she authors, expecially in the suspense novels.