Sheila Roberts is the author of the new novel Welcome to Moonlight Harbor. Her many other books include Christmas in Icicle Falls and Starting Over on Blackberry Lane. She lives in the Pacific Northwest.
Q: How did you come up with the idea for your new series, and for your character Jenna?
A: I have wanted for ages to write about a woman who inherits a run-down hotel or motel and has to fix it up. Maybe because I always thought that would be fun to do. (I probably watched too many episodes of the old British sitcom Fawlty Towers.)
My husband couldn’t imagine anything more torturous (Probably because he also watched too many episodes of Fawlty Towers!) So, giving myself a fictional place to play with really scratched that itch.
As for Jenna, my heroine who is having to hit restart on her life, I think she embodies where a lot of women are these days. I wanted to give her some challenges but I also wanted to give her a new life and new hope. I want Jenna to be a reminder to all of us to always look for the rainbow in the storm.
Q: The novel is set in a town on the coast of Washington state. How important is setting to you in your writing?
A: I think a good story can happen anywhere, and I love stories set in exotic locales. But I also love that small town vibe so I tend to favor small towns for my settings. I love the beach and the town of Ocean Shores, Washington, which became the inspiration for Moonlight Harbor.
Yes, we really do have deer wandering loose everywhere down there. They are either adorable or pests, depending on whom you talk to.
Q: Do you usually know how your novels will end, or do you make many changes along the way?
A: I always pre-plan my books, creating the skeleton of the story. I will flesh that out as I go, but for me it’s important to have the structure in place, to know how I’ll resolve important issues.
Q: Who are some of your favorite writers?
A: I have a few: Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Donald E. Westlake, John Grisham (I’m a Grisham junkie!), my pals Susan Wiggs and Debbie Macomber, and I recently got hooked on Robert Dugoni, who is wonderful.
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I’m about to start the third book in my Moonlight Harbor series.
Q: Anything else we should know?
A: I enjoy hearing from readers and always have fun things up on my Facebook Like page or website, so please come find me. Thanks so much for letting me hang out with you and your posse!
--Interview with Deborah Kalb