You've found the home on the net for romance writer, LaVerne Clark. Thanks for visiting! :)

I write suspense and light fantasy/paranormal set in the beautiful country of New Zealand. A land of myths and magic, Aotearoa (Maori for Long White Cloud) has always been a storytelling nation and it is my pleasure to share mine with you.

Make yourself your drink of choice, stay a while and feel free to leave comments. I love to meet new friends.

Heartpounding suspense and fantasy Downunder

Monday, February 4, 2013

Indulge Yourself With Shirley Wine

Today, I have the incredible, Shirley Wine visiting. Inspiring, clever, full of heart and generous, she is also an amazing writer. I started reading One Hour to Midnight this morning and I'm already a third of the way through. Just like that, I've become a girl-fan of hers and I'm excited to say I've got two more of her stories waiting on my kindle! Woohoo!!

But I'll let you get to know her yourself if you don't already. Hi Shirley, and welcome! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Firstly LaVerne, thank you for hosting me.
You know, I hate talking about myself… I think that comes from my mother's English genes.  The Irish genes inherited from my father are flamboyant, if more morose.   This has given me a curious mix of temperament. Practical and organised on one side, in your face, creative and given to periods of melancholy on the other. 
Growing up, our family were the poor whites. I can vividly remember being told as a six year old I was "poor white trash and would amount to nothing." And brother, has that ever been a spur in my side to achieve.  Then a new head master was appointed and school became a fun place.
We had no money for books and I devised a homework ring. A page of long division got me to read Black Beauty, a page of fractions, Lassie Come Home. This worked real well until I made the same mistake in eight lots of arithmetic homework! What can I say? I  loved maths as much as I loved to read. The Country Library Service started and books were renewed every six months. I was the only child in the school who read every book issued twice in the six months, from infants to the then Standard Six.
At college I saw my first library and I was in hog heaven. And being methodical I started reading alphabetically. By midway through my second year I was reading P.G. Wodehouse.  And I never once incurred a fine for being late returning a book.   I read every book in that library, my favourites, Scott's Waverly Novels.  My English teacher told me to skip the boring descriptions and they're rollicking great stories.  Sage advice for a writer.
I've been married to the same man for very near fifty years…and been sweethearts a decade longer. We have been both blessed and cursed with children…blessed to have had them in our lives and grieved when we've buried them, three in infancy, twin sons as young men of almost thirty.  We have two daughters, the eldest has suffered through surgery and rehabilitation from a brain tumour, the younger recently spent time recovering from a stroke… and our surviving son has a severe alcohol problem with all its related stresses.
Writing, gardening and reading and my very own hero at home, are what have kept me sane.  But life is what it is. It's the only life I have and to me every day is precious because I know how fragile the thread of life is and how easily it can be broken.
*Shakes head* Knowing tragedy as intimately as you have, it is no wonder you write with such power. I've been blown away by the depth you bring to your characters. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I can never remember a time when I didn't write. As a young farmer's wife, I had a regular column Country Comment in the NZ Herald where I commented on anything and everything that affected rural women, and often polarised people with acerbic comments. Once a column on the plague of German wasps provoked such a storm the Herald consulted experts on the subjects.   The experts sided with me and I won that debate by a country mile!
Later, I worked as a free-lance journalist for the Bay Of Plenty Times and the KatiKati Advertiser, our local newspaper.  But a writer?  That's still very much a work in progress, there is such a huge amount to learn.   

*Fist-pump* on winning the debate! What a good feeling! Do you remember what inspired you to write your first book?
Yeah! I read The Thorn Birds and was inspired by Colleen McCullough's wonderful simplicity and her way with words. And I thought, I can do that…insert maniacal laughter here…I will write the next Great New Zealand novel.    
Well that's still a little way off.  Maybe…

Ooo - yes! I adored The Thorn Birds too. I love call stories. Can you tell us about yours and your reaction?
I was so excited when my first book Catriona/Kate was chosen to be one of the inaugural books for the NZ's Kiwigold Publishing Company launch.
Not nearly so excited when the firm went belly-up and I saw my books being sold in bargain bins for a dollar a book…or seeing them offered for $35 now as collectibles and knowing I never received a cent in royalties.  I've since republished this book as Yesterday's Sins.
The decision to self-publish was taken when I received my last rejection letter… I decided that I could well be dead and ashes scattered on the wind before I penetrated the glass ceiling of trad publishing.  It's a decision I've not regretted, especially when royalty cheques arrive every month.   I'll probably never get rich…but the satisfaction is enormous.

What drew you to write your chosen genre?
I love romance.  Life can be far too grim. When I read, I want to lose myself in the story, safe in the knowledge the people I'm reading about and care about, are going to reach a happy ending. I don't want to read about death, dying, torture or rape or politics. I know it happens but do I want to take that to bed with me? No way!
So I write what I like to read, contemporary romance.  I do sometimes read historical but the disadvantage of being a voracious reader is that I have difficulty entering the fantasy when I've read so much about the grim reality of history.  And while some authors have achieved fame and fortune creating fantastic other worlds, I just don't get it.
I'm a firm believer everyone would benefit from a bit of romance in their lives too - even if its only through a good book! What’s the most challenging part of the writing process for you?
Research is vital. One thing I've learned is that out there in the big wide world…  someone always knows. I remember being jolted out of a story when I read that the heroine's baby needed a blood transfusion because its father was Rh negative and the mother was Rh positive… and this was the crucial plot point of the story.
Uh oh! It ain't gonna happen.  Having lost infants with Rh incompatibility, I know the mother had to be Rh negative, the father Rh positive and furthermore that there are three different types of Rh positives, the positives who never throw a positive blood group, the one who has a 50/50 chance and then the D type… like my DH who always throw a positive blood group… not because I'm a medico but because experience taught me.
This author didn't do her homework. And once a reader finds an error like this the author loses credibility and a reader.    

Sigh...research. I'm with you on that! Has anything coincidental happened in the real world while writing one of your books in terms of the characters, scenes or world you’ve created?
Oh yeah! "Return To Totara Park" is one book that gives me the willies. The central theme of the book is the death of a child buried at Hautapu cemetery, near Cambridge.  I'd written the first draft aeon's ago. After being let down on a publishing contract, I got my knickers in a twist,  hauled an old file out of my electronic bottom drawer and Return To Totara Park was the result. This was published by Treble Heart Books in 2002.
What spooked me was when I wrote the original, I didn't know two of our sons would be buried in that cemetery.  Even thinking about it now sends the hairs up on my spine. Did I, writing that book, cause those tragic deaths? Did I somehow have a foreshadowing knowledge of events that would come to pass? The twins' deaths were spooky enough, but this still gives me the shivers.  Justin died in a coma after a virus attacked his heart. Twelve weeks later, Nolan went to bed and just never woke up. They could determine no cause of death. Medical science doesn't recognise a broken heart as a cause of death.

 That certainly gave me the heebie-jeebies too, Shirley. Which one of your books is your ‘baby’ and why?
One Hour To Midnight.  Why?
This is the book that finally, after fifty years, has given me a sense of closure.
I have blogged about this book and the defining event in my life that led me to write it. The entire blog is on my website…the blog title:  BLOG HOP: The Book Challenge From NaNoWriMo if your readers want to read it.

I'm going to pop on over and have a read of that - especially since I'm so engrossed in this book at the moment. Thanks for the heads-up. What are you working on right now?
At the moment, I'm in the throes of finishing Sarah's Baby, working with a freelance editor on the final edits.
This is the third book in the series, The Mulleins of Katherine Bay, a fictitious town on New Zealand's Coromandel Peninsular.  I've really grown to love this family as they all face up to the challenges brought on my growing up in a dysfunctional family.  I didn't realise until well into this book that the underlying thread in the three books is domestic violence.  It took the youngest sibling to heal the wounds of their childhood.

Latest news?
Sarah's Baby should be ready to be published early to mid, February.   
I have begun work on "The Homecoming". This is Logan Sinclair's story.  Logan was Keir Donovan's step brother in Lovers' Lies. I didn't realise I'd left a cliff hanger ending in Lovers' Lies until readers started asking me when they could expect a book to tell Logan's story…to date I've had about 20 requests for this.   Talk about serendipity!
And the plot is cogitating in my brain for The Devil's Kiss.  In this book we'll meet up again with snooty Genevieve Pritchard-Sandford after her life has taken a drastic turn.   She's Ashlyn Mullein's sister from Ashlyn's Bodyguard.  Life has humbled Genevieve and she's been taken down a peg or three.   
I never intended to enlarge the Mulleins but this woman is giving me grief for writing her off as a snob with few redeeming features and she's haunting me… I can see I'll get no peace until I write her story.

I'll be waiting for that one! It sounds great! Where can we find you and your books?
 You can find me on my website  
Buy links to all my books are available on my website.  They are available across all platforms, Apple, Kobo, Amazon etc. available to New Zealand readers.  Smashwords make them available on all platforms in other countries.
"One Hour To Midnight" is currently only available on Amazon so I can take advantage of Amazon's KDP promotional advantages.

Seven For A Secret
Lovers' Lies!/pages/Shirley-Wine/286187614776117

Thank you so much for spending some time away from your keyboard with me, Shirley! It has been wonderful getting to know you that little bit more :) 


  1. Hey Shirley,
    Great post, while I knew a little of your background I wasnt aware of it all. Now I understand better why your writing is so powerful. I've never forgotten Catriona Kate, someone gave it to me for Xmas one year, and I ignored everyone for the rest of the day. I wasnt very popular with my family but I could not put it down. Good luck with your new release

  2. Anne
    Thanks for stopping by.

    I remember you commenting about receiving Catriona/Kate before. I have revised it now and republished it on Amazon as Yesterday's Sins

    It is one of my top selling books and has sparked huge controversy on Amazon's romance Forums... Some of the comments there make me glad I've developed a thick skin.

  3. Hi Shirley, thanks for sharing your moving life journey. I have read some of your novels. Your femal characters exhibit your strength and courage.

  4. Amy
    Thank you for stopping by.

    I'm not sure about the strength and courage bit. When you're faced with these situations it's a little hard to say...stop the world I want to get off.
    When Justin was in a coma, Ben Smart and Olivia Hope disappeared and I can remember thinking then, that at least I knew what happened to my boys. It's the not knowing that is soul destroying.
    My dad once told me, "The years will pass, you can either go with them willingly or unwillingly, kid. The choice is yours."
    Advice that helped me enormously.

  5. Wow, truely amazing post! I am a young mother, my kids 8 and 6, and the thought of losing them makes me choke up. You have experienced a lot in your lifetime, truly.

    One thing you wrote that I love is how you were inspired to achieve after being told you would amount to nothing. Writing a novel is no small thing. Writing a great novel is definitely a very big thing :) good for you!

    1. Niecey
      Thank you for stopping by.
      Life had thrown a few bricks but I've also had lots of rainbows, and a steadfast husband is a very big rainbow in my book.
      I've often wondered if that teacher felt like she was eating glass when I was always in the top 6 of every class, hers included in later years.

      I can look back and grin about it now from this part of my life but I remember vividly how worthless I felt at the time. Just goes to show that we should all be careful what we say to children.

  6. wow Shirley, that's some serious stuff to live through. It broke my heart to read about your sons especially. I also agree with you on reading about mayhem/reality before bed. Years ago I thought I'd become a crime writer, but writing my first book gave me nightmares! Not a good sign. Now at least I go to sleep with a smile on my face. As you should too! Being able to draw on the emotional depth you've lived through and put it to good use in your work - now that's something worth smiling about! Glad I stopped by to read your interview! Thanks to you too LaVerne!

    1. Janet
      Thanks for stopping by.
      I've often been accused of being too dark in my writing... I shake my head at that. Without a doubt writing is cathartic and my writing friends and my family have been always given me terrific support. I miss my boys something fierce but they were the most fun young men. And now that the next generation are arriving it's a sure sign that life goes on...and that is right and exactly as it should be.

  7. Hi Shirley,
    Your writing is powerful and so often has a child at the centre of the story, and now I understand why. Clearly, what you've experienced has enabled you to deeply explore these emotions with your key characters. This is a fascinating interview; thanks for sharing. I have so enjoyed the stories of the Mulleins and am looking forward to Sarah's Baby later this month.

    1. Sue

      Thanks for stopping by.

      I'm not surprised you recognise a few of my character's quirks... big grin here... I have to confess that a lot of my stories happen as I try and make sense of tragedy that makes no real sense.
      Sarah's Baby is almost done... I still have two chapters to finish and the line editing of which there is a heck of a lot!!

  8. This is the most outstanding post I've read in a long time. Tragedy, triumph, and overcoming adversity. Thank you for sharing all this with us Shirley. You are definitely someone I'd like to know.

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sandra.

      My boys had a poster on their wall and lived this philosphy. I too, have always tried to follow it.

      'A stranger is merely a friend I haven't yet met.'
      Their lives may have been cut short so those of us who are left owe it to them to live our lives to the full and to live your life immersed in grief is such a self-ingulgent way to live.

  9. Thank you so much for popping by ladies! And biggest thanks to Shirley for sharing her story with us. I love that real-life hero of yours, Shirley. No wonder you write romance with him to inspire you at home, xo

    1. Thanks for having me visit LaVerne.
      It'a always a pleasure.

      And DH wasn't so impressed when I woke him at 3am when I remembered witches used 'the eye of a newt' in their potients. LOL