Hi folks! Today, I’m sipping a hot cup of Tim Horton’s coffee on a rainy day and chatting with S.J. Francis, author of Shattered Lies.
Time seems to slow down as you read Shattered Lies, you could almost feel the intense Mississippi heat and southern charm. Her words flow effortlessly across the page, pulling you deeper into gripping tale that is full of hidden secrets. The pages come to life, revealing the dark truth about the past. This book is beautifully written featuring eloquent words. You could literally feel the rich history seeping through.
Is this your
debut novel S.J.?
Yes, Jenn it is. Not the first one I’ve ever written, but the first one I actively sought for publication.
story is quite emotional and deeply invested in the family’s dark secret that
threaten to tear apart Kate’s life. Interestingly, this reminded me of the
Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. What inspired you to write this novel?
Easy to answer. Life. The world around me. This family spoke to me. I had no choice. I had to write this story. No more so than when I moved to Mississippi. That is when the story really evolved. After considering several states where to set Shattered Lies over the years, Mississippi was the place to set it. There was no other place. I saw the book come alive.
How long did it
take to write this story?
The idea came to me in July of 1999.Then it went into hibernation until I moved to Mississippi, and then, it just came to life. If memory serves me correctly, it took just two months to write including editing.
Will you be
writing a sequel?
Thank you for asking. Yes, I’m proud to say that a sequel is already in the works. I already have a draft on my computer waiting to be brought to life.
A portion of
sales, 10% of it will be donated to the Polycystic Kidney Foundation (www.pkdcure.org) - why is this important to you?
Poly Cystic Kidney disease is an insidious disease that affects both child and adults. It takes too many lives. Babies are born and doomed with it. I also found out that it runs in my family, which makes it a cause close to home.
You are also
devoted to helping animals and being an active voice for them, what prompted
your interest in this aspect?
That’s a very good question and I have no idea. I’m an animal lover as far back as I can remember. I’ve always had pets. You name it and I probably had it. I remember when I was four my father brought home a large paper towel box. Inside the box was a small solid black puppy and I fell in love instantly with her. She was my best friend. I don’t remember never having a pet. As far as I’m concerned, animals are the only pure innocence that exists in our life. They don’t have a voice, but we do. Even as a child, I always spoke up for and about animals. I’m one for the animals. I even created a blog just for them to bring awareness about animals, rescues and more: http:onefortheanimals.blogspot.com
are a big part of your life, are there any charities that you recommend?
On my: that’s a loaded question. There are many charities I support and can recommend. All of the charities I support help animals in one way or another. I support ASPCA, The Humane Society of the US, and Animal Legal Defense Fund because they are large and can make an impact. I also support and can recommend smaller lesser known ones because they matter to me, too: Petfinder, Soi Dog Foundation, Alley Cat Allies, Beagle Freedom Project, Farm Sanctuary, Red Lake Rosie’s Rescue, Rescue Tails Animal Sanctuary, Mission K9 Rescue, Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue, and Vest N PDP, which raises funds to supply bullet proof vests to K9s. I also support a smaller newer charity in Yazoo County, MS called Southern Tails Animal Rescue, which I just learned about just over a year ago. This small charity run by one woman takes in abandoned animals in Yazoo County where Shattered Lies takes place, and where unfortunately, many people don’t like to spay or neuter their animals. Instead, they abandon them, discarding them like trash near dumpsters and such. Animals aren’t trash and shouldn’t be treated as such.
character, Kate, is a vet, do you have any personal experiences in this field
that helped contribute to the story?
I once wanted to be a veterinarian. I even studied in high school to become one and took classes in college. All the math and science pushed me away. The character picked her profession, but I can’t say I didn’t influence her with it. It just seemed the obvious profession for Kate Thayer.
takes place in Mississippi, did you grow up there?
Nope. Not at all. Actually, I grew up far away from Mississippi in New York City. I lived and traveled to many places, but Mississippi was the only place that Shattered Lies came to life. I like to say that I was born a Yankee, but I’ve always had the heart and soul of a Rebel.
This novel does
feature some racism which is not an easy subject to talk about, what made you
decide to include it in the story?
Art is imitation of life. Art is life. Life is art. Books are about life. Shattered Lies is a reflection of life around us. Racism wasn’t meant to be the subject of the book. It evolved from the story. It was a story that needed to be told and no more time than the present and the Thayer and Johnson families told it.
will often incorporate true experiences into their writing, were you able to do
I could say that I did, but no. Shattered Lies is purely fictional, though I won’t say that composites of real people and places weren’t used.
Your writing is
visually rich, did your background as an executive producer for television help
Evidently so, but I’ve always been an imaginative person. Whether it was television or writing, I let my imagination soar.
You have an
extensive list of skills from being a licensed pilot, military veteran, as well
as being a University professor. I would love to know what subject you
Actually, I still teach: English, Media Communications, and Law, though a year ago I was promoted to head the English Department at my University. I still lecture, though now most of my time is in meetings.
Are there any
particular scenes or chapters that are truly special to you?
Um…I have to think on this one. So many scenes and chapters in Shattered Lies touched me. Truly special? I think I have to say the one in which Kate and her Uncle Sam are on the train and she tells him about her grandfather Jackson and his treatment of her when she was a young girl. That was heartbreaking.
Did you have a
particular field of interest in the military?
Search and Rescue. I was a rescue swimmer.
One of the
characters in the story is a military veteran who served in Afghanistan who
sustained an injury to his leg, is this a reflection of your life?
No again. Purely fiction, though after writing about this character, I soon discovered a real person somewhat like him, but no it wasn’t a reflection of my life, though it is a reflection of all the Veterans ever injured in Afghanistan and Iraq and more. Veterans are often overlooked and I wanted show they are all around us.
The focus of
your story involves working on a farm, did you grow up in this kind of
Oh no. Not me. There aren’t many farms in New York City, but I did get to spend a summer on one in Upstate New York. In Mississippi now, I’m surrounded by farms.
Writing a story
is never easy and often involves research, were there any topics that required
you to learn more about?
I’m a versatile person and have done many things; been to many places; seen many things, but yes, I still had to do research. Lots of research for Shattered Lies, but not one special topic, no. I believe no one ever stops learning and in writing it is very true.
written other stories?
Yes, I have over three hundred published stories, articles and interviews since I sold my first short story over three decades ago. I’ve also written scripts for television.
How would you
describe your personality?
The eternal optimist yet, a realist at the same time. If life closes a door, be careful when you open the window, but do open it.
Do you have any
advice for new authors?
Never quit. Keep writing. As long as you write something, you are a writer. The greatest failure is the fear of trying anything new because you fear failure. Nothing ventured. Nothing gained. The belated novelist Jackie Collins gave me the best advice ever, “Keep your writing passion at the fore!” Never let anything distract you from writing.
In : summer 2017
Tags: "sj francis" "shattered lies" "mississippi" pets "humane society"