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Interview: May 13, 2024

Sheila Roberts is the author of more than 50 novels, including her latest, THE BEST LIFE BOOK CLUB. In this interview, Roberts explains what inspired her to write this story about four women who become close friends as members of a book club. She also talks about her connection to the book’s setting, the role that friends play in her life, her upcoming travel schedule, and how her childhood experiences helped mold her into the warm and outgoing person she is today.

Question: What inspired you to write this story about four women who become close friends as members of a book club?

Sheila Roberts: I happen to be in a book club, and one day I got to thinking how much fun that’s been and about all the books I wound up reading that I never would have thought to pick up. THE BOYS IN THE BOAT was one standout. A book on rowing? Really? But then I read the book and loved it. Think what I would have missed out on. Then there was the camaraderie. I have made some lifelong friends in that first club. So I got to thinking, How would a woman go about building new relationships when she’s the new girl in town? Well, if you love books, the answer to that is easy. Book club!

Q: About your story’s setting, Gig Harbor, Washington, tell us more about this picturesque town and share any connection you have to this locale.

SR: Gig Harbor is only about 40 minutes from where I live, and it has an absolutely adorable waterfront downtown. Small and charming and lovely! I also have writer friends who live in Gig Harbor. It’s so much fun to meet at a restaurant there, then go sit at a picnic table in the little waterfront park and enjoy the sight of the boats bobbing in the marina. Great restaurants and charming shops, plus there is a lovely bookstore there.

Q: The book club members become good friends. What role do friends play in your life? What do you do when you get together?

SR: I grew up with two great brothers, but I never had a sister. So my girlfriends are my sisters, and they are very important to me. Get-togethers often involve playing games. (I love to play games!) You also can find me enjoying a chick flick with my girlfriends or sharing lunch, playing tennis or taking a walk. In the past, several of us would do a weekend getaway together and shop and party. Of course, our favorite games such as Catch Phrase and Scattergories were packed, along with playing cards. Great fun! Sadly, that group is no longer together, as many of us have moved. But I’m in a new neighborhood now, and we’re starting to gather once a month to visit and play cards.

Q: Your husband is also a novelist. What is it like having two novelists in the family? What kind of writing schedule do you keep, and are you involved in any way in each other’s work?

SR: We certainly never run out of things to talk about! As a matter of fact, I’m currently reading over his newest creation. He’s becoming an excellent writer. And I’m not just saying that because he’s paying me to. Hahahaha!

Q: What kind of books do you like to read when you aren’t writing your own?

SR: I like to read a variety, and my taste in authors ranges from Jane Austen to Lee Child. I’m fond of nonfiction and love biographies, memoirs and self-improvement books. I’m currently reading a true crime tale by Ann Rule. About the only thing I’m not into is vampires and dragons. Maybe someday I’ll meet a dragon I like. But vampires? No. Never.

Q: We understand you like to travel. What destinations are on your schedule for the upcoming year?

SR: I do! My husband and I started married life in Germany, when he was in army intelligence, and I caught the travel bug then. Since then, we’ve made several trips back over the years to see our German friends. And we’ve done a few cruises, too. I am about to leave shortly on a 10-day cruise with my husband and one of my readers and her husband who were part of a European Christmas market cruise I sponsored two Christmases ago. We’ve become pals, and I know we are going to have a great time. Oh, and my computer is coming along on this one, as I have to start on a new book. I just might get inspired on one of those tropical island stops! Come the end of this summer, we will be taking some friends on a guided tour of Germany and France. Ooh la la! I’m also excited to be one of the authors on board for Barbara Vey’s readers cruise in February 2025, and I’m looking forward to hanging out with readers then.

Q: Your first career was writing music, and you enjoy singing. If you could star in any movie or Broadway play, which one would that be?

SR: Oh, my! “Phantom of the Opera,” I think. That score is amazing. Or “The Greatest Showman.” I loved that musical --- both the music and the dancing.

Q: You have experienced significant adversity in your life. You fought and won a battle with cancer and lost a child. Yet you always seem to have a smile on your face. How do you stay so happy and positive?

SR: We have faced some challenges, but God has brought us through them all. I truly credit my Christian faith for helping me to look beyond what I was going through and see the bigger picture. We all go through hard things, but I’m a big believer in happy endings. I learned a lot during my battle with cancer, and I take comfort in knowing I’ll see my daughter again someday. Meanwhile, I’m grateful for the good things in my life, like my husband and my family and friends. When I think of what’s good in my life, I can’t help but smile.

Q: Share a bit about your childhood. What was it like growing up in your family? In particular, what experiences molded you into the warm, outgoing person you are?

SR: My parents loved to entertain. There was always a luncheon planned or a party. If someone needed a place to stay, there was a room for that person. I like to joke that our front door was a revolving door. We weren’t rich but were solidly middle-class. In fact, I didn’t learn this until many years after I was an adult. About the time I was 12, my parents hit some rough years financially and really struggled all through my teen and young adult years. Still, they managed to keep life fun. I look back at all the parties I had and all the times that friends came over after school for milkshakes, and I think about how much it all cost and wonder how they did it. But they did, and they proved that home is where the heart is.

Q: From your social media presence, it’s obvious you get a kick out of interacting with readers. How can readers join the --- let’s call it --- “Sheila Roberts High on Life Club”?

SR: I love social media. You can find me on Facebook, Instagram and TikTok. Just look for Sheila Roberts Writer or for my handle, Fun with Sheila, and join me for some fun.