April is having difficulty coping with her life. Her father is recently deceased and her absentee mother is MIA in the Middle East. April’s only option is to move to New Orleans, a city that she has never been to, to live with an aunt she has never met. After a cryptic conversation about family “secrets and lies”, April lashes out. Feeling alone, angry, trapped and frightened, she reaches out to Madame Marquerite, a Voodoo high priestess who has convinced April that she needs a “spiritual cleansing” in order to find peace. With one bad decision after another, April puts not only her life, but her new friend Angel’s life, at risk. Color Blind is a novel about coping with loss, consequences for poor judgement and the self-awareness that comes with finding one’s path.
What inspired you to write it?
Two things in particular inspired me to write Color Blind, 1) a three part story in the Los Angeles Times about one man’s journey to discover his family roots (which turned out to be Africa, not Italy) and, 2) a desire to trace my own ancestry, as so many of my relatives passed away too soon leaving me with a sense of disconnect from my own family history.
Is it part of a series?
I am open to the possibility.
If your latest book was made into a movie, who would you like to play the main characters?
Hailee Steinfeld as April, Quvenzhane Wallis as Angel and Evangeline Lilly as Kate.
What made you want to become an author?
I started reading at age four, but didn’t know that I wanted to write books until my junior year in high school when I registered for a creative writing class. College and the need to earn a living afterwards took priority over my passion, so I put my writing on hold for forty-five years. I’m very happy to be able to write full time at this stage of my life.
Name one of your all-time favourite book covers?
Neil Gaiman’s “The Graveyard Book” in paperback; the stark statue against the beautiful dark blues sets the mood, the raised gold letters are eye-catching and, there is that lovely gold John Newberry Medal sticker on the cover.
Name one book that made you think 'wow'? Why did it have such an effect on you?
George Orwell’s “Animal Farm.” In the beginning of the book, the revolutionaries, Snowball and Napoleon, drive out the farmer, take over The Manor Farm and establish their own Animal Farm, where all animals are equal. By the end of the book, Snowball is gone and the remaining pigs are now undifferentiated from the humans they previously considered enemies. This book, my first introduction into dystopian worlds, made me profoundly sad for the animals that risked it all for nothing.
Who, or what, inspires you?
My husband inspires me. Michael not only keeps me grounded from day to day, but he supported my decision to leave my full time job to pursue my long-buried passion for writing.
Where is your favourite place to write?
My favourite place to write is at my desk, where I am surrounded by stuffed animals, picture books, YA novels and reference books. I almost always have the company of one or two dogs and sometimes a cat, if he chooses to be sociable.
What is your favourite movie that was based on a book?
“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.” As a senior auditor for Warner Bros., I was fortunate to have the experience of working on the film, visiting the location and watching as the world J.K Rowling created came to life.
Who is your favourite author (s) and why?
J.K Rowling is my favourite author. In the face of dire financial circumstances, she displayed a strong belief in herself and tremendous courage when she chose to follow her heart and write. Her words and the worlds she created transport me. She is a phenomenon.
If you could have a dinner party with any authors from any time in history, who would you choose and why?
I would like to have dinner with Norman Mailer again. While working on the film adaptation of his book “Tough Guys Don’t Dance,” which Norman directed, I got to know him quite well and had dinner with him regularly; I would love to be able to do it again. To round out the guest list for a favourite past and present author dinner, I would invite Dashiell Hammett and J. K. Rowling to join us.
Tell us a random fact about yourself.
My first job out of high school and summers in between college, was working in a factory making steel doors. I worked the assembly line for 10-12 hours a day, usually six days a week and became a member of the United Steel Workers of America.
Tell us something interesting about the area where you live.
I live in Los Angeles, where there is always something interesting going on. One activity to enjoy takes place during the summer when the Hollywood Forever Cemetery holds open-air screenings of old movies. Bring your favourite person, a blanket and a picnic to enjoy movies under the stars with the movie stars that have passed.
As a Senior Auditor for Warner Bros., Sheila oversaw production costs for films including “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” the “Matrix” trilogy, “The Dark Knight” and “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.” After working on 70+ Independent and Studio movies, Sheila stepped away from the film business to complete her first YA novel. A member of SCBWI since 2010, Sheila is also a member of International Thriller Writers (ITW), Children’s Book Writers-LA (CBW-LA) and Women in Film (WIF). She was nominated for the 2016 Allegra Johnson Prize in Novel Writing through the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program. When not writing, Sheila volunteers her time walking dogs rescued from local shelters by the Amanda Foundation. She lives in Southern California with her husband, two rescue dogs and two rescue cats.