After exchanging many tweets on Twitter, I became acquainted with Shelia and her artisan husband Bud. Shelia is a great example of a woman shifting into writing as a new career instead of retiring and lends to her novels a great deal of real life experience. I’m pleased to feature literary fiction author Shelia Bolt Rudesill here on No Wasted Ink.
My name is Shelia Bolt Rudesill. For forty-five years as a pediatric and NICU nurse I dedicated my professional life to the well being of children and acquired a tremendous empathy for those burdened with unreasonable hardships. It’s from those experiences that I piece together my stories. As a nurse I was able to touch a life every day. I’d like to think that I can still do that through my writing.
Both my artist husband, Bud Rudesill, and I became accidental writers well into our fifties. It’s amazing how much we enjoy the craft and more amazing to realize how many writer friends we have.
When and why did you begin writing?
Writing came as a surprise. After many years of nursing, I burned out and Bud and I moved from North Carolina to Wyoming for a fresh start. The Oregon Trail interested me and I got to wondering about the kids who’d trekked across the entire country until the soles of their shoes wore away. My imagination went wild and I created three frontier dolls, each with a story of their own—the first as a journal, the second as a collection of letters, and the last as a novella. With the local success of that project I came up with a second idea to weave stories of my nursing career into a full-fledged novel. When I told Bud about my idea he told me that I’d never pull it off. Months later on a seven hour road trip, I drove while Bud read my manuscript, Child of My Heart. He cried all the way. The emotional aspect of the story had caught him off guard. That night the wife of the friends we were visiting stayed up all night reading. “It was so good,” she’d said, “I couldn’t put it down.” Believe me those are the words a writer wants to hear!
Once Child was published Bud told me that my Oregon Trail children needed to grow up and that my three children’s books needed to be an historical fiction saga. So, my second novel was born: Auspicious Dreams.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
While writing my first novel, “Child of My Heart,” I attended a writer’s conference. Part of the fee included a manuscript consultation and entry into a writing contest. My heart sank when I looked at the hundreds of red ink marks on my manuscript. I quickly put it away feeling like a failure. To my great surprise I was awarded the last of the five honorable mentions. On the plane home I pulled out my manuscript. The first thing I read was the last red mark on the last page, “My biggest disdain is having to put down this manuscript. The story is powerful. Nothing short of superb.” It was at that moment I considered myself a writer.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Transmutare is a story of three carefree young women who get caught up in some pretty terrible experiences. The protagonist is a former Orthodox Jew, the second is a Jewish agnostic, and the third is Roman Catholic. Together they attempt to define a god who has allowed their world to spin out of control. What I like about this story is that a lot of people will identify with their struggles.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’m always inspired by people who overcome unbearable hardships.
Do you have a specific writing style?
How did you come up with the title of this book?
My protagonist, Shelli, changes from an almost perfect girl to one who no one knows. She “transforms” or undergoes a “transformation” or “mutation.” Transmutare is French for transformation. I liked the sound of it.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Definitely. Transmutare is ultimately a quest for the meaning of life, as well as a gritty struggle for physical and spiritual survival. How the characters deal with their conflicts allows each reader to interpret the spiritual directions the girls take within their own set of beliefs. In other words, the story doesn’t teach or preach.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I once had an acquaintance who went away for a weekend. When she returned she was a completely different person. I never found out what happened to her so I made up something I thought could have happened.
What authors have most influenced your life?
C.S. Lewis, Maya Angelou, Sue Monk Kidd, Ann Patchett, Toni Morrison, Cynthia Rylant, David Guterson, Arundhati Roy, David Wroblewski. When I read any of these authors I’m completely pulled into the worlds they create and most times transformed by them.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor?
Maya Angelou because she’s so real and timeless. Her stories and poems come straight from the heart and she tells them with honesty. I think she could teach me to become more lyrical as well as a better person.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I did. The cover photo is my great-niece and was taken several years ago with her cell phone. I was attracted to the defiant expression. This is my protagonist in the depth of her transformation. The grainy resolution of the photo and the fading gray background added to the despair in the middle parts of the story.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Just write what’s in your heart. Don’t try to please anyone but yourself. Your writing is your legacy. Be true to yourself. Some of the first advice I received as an author was: Write what you know. That advice hasn’t failed me yet.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just thanks for the applause and the criticism. I need to hear both. I appreciate every single person who has purchased one of my novels and it warms my heart when they write a review on Amazon or their own webpage.
“I’m not retired. I’m a writer.” After a long day of writing and editing or assisting Bud with photo shoots, I admit to a weakness for dry martinis and dancing with my cats The Artful Dodger and Q.
Child of My Heart