Monday, March 23, 2009

Author Interview: Shelley Munro

Give a big Menagerie welcome to today's victim guest interviewee: multi-published author, Shelley Munro!

Shelly, welcome to the Menagerie! Why don't you start by telling us where are you from.

I live in Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand. I've traveled to a lot of beautiful and interesting places throughout the world but New Zealand is home, and I can't imagine living anywhere else. The climate is great--we're semi-tropical--and although it rains on a regular basis, especially during winter, we don't have snow. The temperature gauge never goes that low. We spend a lot of time outdoors and have a choice of beaches to visit should the desire arise. We're a small country but many New Zealanders have done great things. We're determined and innovative. If anyone tells us something is impossible, we find a way. With that sort of background, I knew I'd become a published writer one day. All I needed to do was apply myself and work hard.

Writing IS hard work!! Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Oh, yeah. The hardest thing is keeping my butt in the chair and my fingers on the keyboard to actually write. Once I get started, I'm fine, but some days getting started is a real challenge and I'm a procrastinator Queen. I find I work best when I have a routine. I make myself write a set number of words each day. I tend to work best in the mornings, but if I haven't done my daily word count by the afternoon or evening, I keep working. Sometimes I'm really late to bed but I make myself do the writing. Once I've done the day's word count, I'll do some extra words or promo and of course, I have to fit in the dreaded housework some time.

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

At one stage I wanted to be a vet. I still love animals but I'm not so good with blood so that idea died a pretty quick death. After that I wanted to be a teacher like my mother. I actually applied for teacher training college but they turned me down. Funnily enough I ended up working in a bank and then going back to a technical college to train in accountancy. When my husband and I traveled overseas I worked in pubs and also kitchens doing cooking and cleaning and lots of dishes. I'm so glad I ended up writing. It's a dream job for me and I love every moment of it.

What do you think makes a great story?

For me it's the characters. The characters are what stick in my mind after reading a good book. I mean who can forget a great character like Stephanie Plum or Eve Dallas, and I just adore all the characters in my Middlemarch Mates series. The Mitchell family and their friends feel like family to me. I worry about them and their problems as much as I worry about my own family. They're very real and vibrant to me.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

I'm currently working on book eight in my Middlemarch Mates series for Ellora's Cave. The series features a feline shifter community who lives and works in the small country town of Middlemarch. (The town is real and you can read about the background behind my Middlemarch Mates series at my website.) Most of the Middlemarch felines are black leopards, but I'm introducing three tigers in my current work in progress. They're bringing a bit of drama to Middlemarch with them and trouble that will rock the current town residents. I'm almost done with the first draft and will probably start on book nine, which will also feature mainly tigers, as soon as I'm done.

When you looked in the mirror this morning, what was the first thing you thought?

Are you kidding? I can barely focus enough to see in the mornings. My husband wakes me up and drags me out to go for a walk (because he decided he needed to lose weight) and when we get back, I have a cup of tea and feel semi-awake. I usually check my email and blog before I get to look in the mirror. My first thought is usually, "Oh, heck. Not another bad hair day." followed by, "Shoot, I walked around the block and people saw me looking like this." Yep, that's normally the way my thoughts go.

What is the strangest thing you've ever eaten?

I'm a vegetarian and have been for some time. I did try crocodile when I visited Zimbabwe. That was actually quite nice - slices of deep-fried crocodile tail. Probably the strangest thing I've eaten is dried grasshoppers in Central America. They were fairly salty and their legs got stuck between my teeth. Dried grasshopper is not something I'd recommend for a tasty treat!

What is your favorite animal?

I love big cats - tigers, lions, leopards and cheetahs. I've been lucky enough to see lions, cheetahs and leopards in the wild during trips to Kenya. I'd hoped to see tigers when I visited Chitwan National Park in Nepal, but we weren't lucky enough. We did see a sloth bear and also rhinos with a baby. That was really special. My love of big cats has morphed into my writing since many of my paranormal stories are about feline shifters. My husband and I are planning a trip to South Africa next year and hopefully we'll see more cats in the wild.

Actually it was hard to choose my favorite animal because whales also intrigue me. I've whale-watched all over the place, off the Maine coast, Vancouver Island, Hervey Bay in Australia, Alaska and Kaikoura in the South Island of New Zealand. In fact, I have an orca shifter story coming very soon from Ellora's Cave. It's set in New Zealand and I had a lot of fun doing the research.

I don't know about you, but I can't stay up past nine at night! What about you? Are you a morning person or a night person?

Definitely a morning person. Although it takes me a while to kick-start in the mornings there is nothing better than a new day. It's quite windy where I live but the winds tend to be worse in the afternoons. Don't ask me why because I have no idea! I blame my love of mornings on my father and also my husband. My father is a farmer and even though he's almost eighty, he still gets up at five-thirty most mornings. Until a few years ago, my husband worked at a job where he needed to start early. I guess it's a habit for me now to wake up early.

Do you like thunderstorms?

Only if I'm inside while the thunder and lightning are putting on the show. I like to feel safe and keep dry. When we visited the US last year, the afternoon lightning shows surprised us. They were quite scary and something I was glad to witness from shelter. Our lightning in New Zealand is very different. We might have one or two storms where we have both thunder and lightning each year. The perfect number in my opinion!

Brief bio: Shelley Munro writes hot and spicy romances for both Ellora's Cave and Samhain Publishing. She lives in New Zealand with her husband and a bossy wee dog. You can learn more about Shelley at or visit her blog


Christina Phillips said...

OMG! Dried grasshoppers! I don't think I could get one past my lips never mind stuck between my teeth!!

Great interview, Shelley!

Michele said...

Oh Wow, It's SHELLEY!!!!


It's Michele, here, so exciting you're here on the Menagerie blog.

A were-Orca? Now that is unique, can't wait to read it!

Do you ever get overwhelmed with TOO MUCH information during research? How do you limit it? Do you make bullet-points? Outlines of research? How do you target it? Or organize it?

I have to ask.
Does crocodile taste like chicken?
Because alligator does. LOL

Again, Welcome Shelley!

Shelley Munro said...

LOL Christina - I can still feel those legs between my teeth. Not a nice sensation at all!!

Hi Michele - waving madly back :) - according to my hubby and everyone else it did taste like chicken. My memory of chicken was a long-ago one since I've been mostly vegetarian since I was 21.

I must admit I have a soft spot for my orcas. They are incredible creatures in the wild.

Research - is something I enjoy. I tend to research on a as-need basis simply because it can be overwhelming. Research is very addictive and I enjoy it. I'd be happy to research all day. I've learned to research specific points just so I don't get carried away.

Shelley Munro said...

Thanks to the Menagarie ladies for having me to visit today!

Kealie Shay said...

Thanks so much for being here with us today, Shelley. It was great fun getting to know you better! I'm definitely adding your books to my TBB list.

Catherine Bybee said...

Ohhh man... Wish I had seen this on the day.. I hope Shelley stops by again after and waves... First... How can you call yourself a morning person when you aren't awake after a walk? Okay... me bad... I'm the same way. Once I'm awake I'm fine.

I do love your work... but you already know that.
Okay... off to work on my own word count.