Book: The Secret Women
Photos Courtesy of Sheila Williams
Author: Sheila Williams
2. Your book, Dancing on the Edge of the Roof, was adapted into a screenplay and recently has been brought to life on film and released onto Netflix. What is the most satisfying part of seeing a story and characters developed in your mind come to light on-screen?
The most satisfying part of the experience was my visit to the on-location set in Virginia. Meeting the artists (actors), crew, director and producers was exciting. Spending time with them and listening to their take on my work was educational.
Film is collaborative - novel writing is not! So it was fascinating to watch each actor interpret the story within the confines of their character, to take in the set design (even Peaches’ truck cab had a designer), and watching the words I’d written transform into active dialogue and movement was amazing. Everyone on set was so kind to me. They could not have been lovelier.
3. How important was it for you to intertwine race and racism into "The Secret Women"?
I’m an African American woman; it’s part of my life experience. My three main characters are African American women, it’s part of their life experience. It is the context and backdrop against which their stories took place. There was no way I could – or would – avoid it.
4. What was your relationship with your mother like?
Blissful when I was an infant, nearly perfect when I was a girl, turbulent when I was a teenager and brilliant when I became an adult and mother. In other words, normal!
5. Your writing skillfully has the ability to draw visceral emotions out of readers. What is your secret to capturing and speaking to those subdued feelings many have suppressed?
Thank you for saying that; I appreciate the compliment. I try very hard to put myself into the skin of my characters: feel what they feel, eat what they eat (sometimes!), and go deep into the recesses of their fears, pleasures, dreams. I try to be true to the character’s story, thinking about what they want or need to say or do, and just write it. Plain. Then I go back and delete most of the adverbs!
6. What made the question, “how well do we really know our own mothers?” such an intriguing topic to write about?
Spoiler Alert: This will be a long answer!
As we become adults and take on different roles in life, professional and personal, I’d noticed that the role of parent, especially the role of “mother” tends to block out any other life role that we take on. It’s as if there is a total eclipse! Your mother is… your mother!
Her relationship to everything and everyone else pales against her relationship to you. She may be a cellist, an attorney, a carpenter, a hairstylist. We forget that mothers are people, too. And we also forget that before Mom became Mom, she had another life.
7. What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?
Writer’s block? What’s that?! I refuse to admit that it exists. What I think is that the writer needs to step away. Refill the well with other experiences, art, music, conversation, rest. Then return to the page and see what happens. This is good advice given to me by my friend, writer, and teacher Lynn Hightower.
8. Do you plan on writing more books in the future?
Of course! It’s what I do, I tell stories. At present, my agent has my next book. (No, I won’t tell you what it’s about, that would jinx it) and I’m doing research for another story idea that’s been rattling around my head. I’m always thinking of stories to be told.
Places To Find More From This Author:
Facebook: Sheila Williams
Get Your Copy of The Secret Women Today!