Thursday, February 16, 2017

Authors To Watch: Shelby Londyn-Heath, author of 'The Twilight Tsunami'

Shelby Londyn-Heath, a transplant from New York, has been a world-traveler, crossing the Sahara Desert on the back of a salt truck, working on banana plantations in Spain, an oil company in New York, and on coffee farms in Hawaii. She has jumped freight trains across the United States, and she was the proud owner of a beachfront bamboo hut on the Canary Islands. She has worked as a counselor, social worker, and teacher.



Author: Shelby Londyn-Health
Publisher: Harvard Square Editions
Pages: 320
Genre: Psychological Thriller

Grey is a hard-hitting foster care social worker who removes babies and children from dangerous drugged parents, violent homes, and families joined with criminal gangs.  He is unstoppable until a new social worker enters his department.  She is hungry for power and position, as she challenges Grey in malevolent and unexpected ways. As Grey yanks newborns from mothers, confronts irate parents, and lives through suicides of foster children aging out of the system, nothing stops him, until he meets his nemesis, a truly power-hungry woman. He must find her "Achilles Heel" and his inner truth, in order to rise up to conquer her. One of them must be transformed or destroyed.

Purchase your copy at Amazon.

Welcome to My Bookish Pleasures, Shelby! Tell us a little about yourself.
I traveled all my life. I became like a bee jumping from flower to flower, grabbing pollen on my feet; only my pollen was material for my stories. Where are my stories? I kept them in journals. Twenty years of writing daily, also recording my poetry and short stories.  Then, after twenty years, I ripped everything up. Thank goodness.
At present, I am challenging myself to come out into the world and face the uncertainty. Having a publisher helps, but still, removing one’s mask of privacy is like walking into a suit-and-tie conference  naked and goose-bumpy, standing alone in front of preened executives.
When did you begin writing?
I began writing as soon as I could form letters. I remember reading my stories out loud to my parents when I was in second grade. They laughed uproariously. I never figured out if they were laughing at my stories or at the art I drew to accompany my stories.
Describe your writing process. Do you plot or write by the seat of your pants? When and where do you write?
I think of ideas and let them brew. I ask “what if’s?” What if that young boy saw the world through bright prisms but could not reveal to others the glorious beauty of colors and light because he is mute? What if that mother who loves and spoils her toddler stole the once dimpled baby from a shopping center, after her doctor told her she could never be pregnant? What if an alien came in the form of a beautiful, charming man or woman with the intent of stealing our brains? Raising questions always brings up the possibility of new stories.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
My book The Twilight Tsunami was recently published by Harvard Square Editions.  It is a fictitious novel about families, social workers and children in the foster care system. The drama is riveting because after all, removing children from parents is an agonizing and stressful ordeal, and being in the presence of parents losing their children is a bleak experience, no matter how hard-hearted or self-righteous a spectator is.

How did you get the idea for the book?
I worked with families and children in the foster care system.  I also raised a foster child who had special needs.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
The new baby who gets taken away from her drugged mother is my favorite character. Her resilience, as she travels into different homes, and experiences what many of us will never experience in our lifetimes, amazed me. She fought to live. She never gave up trying to love and attach to others, no matter what happened to her. That made her a champion, my kind of girl.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Experiencing once more, the pain of children who lost their families and could not shake their feelings of emptiness and loss. Remembering the burn-out of overworked social workers who put their lives at risk to keep children safe. Reliving the pain of being in a system that is under-funded and hyper-stressed, a system that cannot possibly meet the needs of everyone in it.
At the same time, there are countless heroes in the foster care system: families, children, social workers and foster parents who rise every day to face overwhelming hurdles borne out of someone’s abuse and neglect, who keep moving forward, even on days when stepping out of bed is hard for them.  It was challenging for me to think about and write about their struggles.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Reach out to other writers, both new and established. I have been amazed by the support I received when I asked for help, whether it was to discuss my writing questions or to ask for reviews. I regret that I was private with my writing for so long. My privacy became a protective shield. Don’t let that happen to you. You deserve support and encouragement. Join or start a writing group at a local cafe, join facebook writing groups and join Goodreads, an awesome website with several writing groups made up of people who want to help each other. Start reading and reviewing other writers while you are on Goodreads and make new friends. Oh yes, of course, keep writing, but don’t forget to share your creative genius with the world.

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