Shirley Oldridge Loves Good English Mysteries
As the mother of two young children, Shirley became appalled with the stories of violence against women and children that were daily newspaper headlines, and flashed nightly on TV screens. These stories had such a sickening effect on her that Shirley imagined all the grisly things she could personally do to the perpetrators. She knew she could not possibly be alone in her thoughts. Other people had to feel the same way as she did. What would happen if a group of like-minded individuals with thoughts similar to her own actually got together? Shirley Oldridge pondered this question, and from it came the idea to write a novel, hence, The Support Group was created.
Could you please start by telling us a little about yourself?
I’ve always liked to tell stories. It would get me into trouble as a young child, get me out of trouble as a young adult, and amuse my friends at parties, and gatherings. I’m that person nobody wants to go to the movies with, because I always guess the ending, or solve the mystery, half way through. My eldest daughter Nikki, told me I’m her least favorite person to go see a movie with, apart from the fact, I pay.
Growing up in England, I was raised on Agatha Christie, and Sherlock Holmes. My favorite television shows were always crime stories and mysteries, like British shows, The Sweeney, and Raffles, or more contemporary American shows like, Columbo, The Rockford Files, or Magnum PI. My father and I would both try to be the first to spot the clues, or pick out the villain.
I love a good whodunit! I think life is full of them.
Sadly, the awful real life stories brandished across newspaper pages, and flashed across television screens have been my biggest inspiration. I have always tried to imagine how the victims’ families must be coping with their terrible losses, how a tragic crime committed in a moment, can destroy a lifetime for those left behind, while forgotten by the world in an instant.
Please Describe your writing environment
My writing environment is actually anywhere I can set up my laptop for an hour or so. Normally on the patio table in my back yard.
Do you plan all your Characters out?
I actually just have a basic idea about the character when I start to write. I don’t really think about their appearance or personality until the story starts to unfold. Then, after they have reacted, in whichever way they react, to whatever situation they are in, I start to get a mental image of how they look, how they talk, who they are. Then I go back and add my description.
I realized that one of my characters in The Support Group, had actually nothing descriptive about him at all. Which worked out for me, because in the second book, A Bitter Pill, I decided to change his ethnicity completely, to enhance his personality further.
I guess it’s considered Mystery/Suspense.
Do you write full time?
Wish I did! Waiting for the day I can! I am actually a dealer, in a very well-known Las Vegas Hotel! Shh! No names!
What is your writing process?
I’m definitely a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl. Very little in my life is outlined and planned. Why would writing be any different?
Can you please give us a sneak peak on your latest book?
I’m currently working on the sequel to The Support Group, A Bitter Pill. When the cop in pursuit of the Support Group members, finds his family being targeted by a serial killer, he enlists the group, who reluctantly agree to help him track and capture the suspect.
When you have writer’s block?
I just give up! I will normally just jot down an idea of what I want to say, and come back to it when I’ve figured out how to put it into words. Sometimes I’ll work ahead into future chapters, and then return to the one I’m having difficulty with later.
Do deadlines help or hinder?
Never actually had one, but would imagine the worst. I remember back in high school, working into the small hours of the morning to get a paper done that was due the next day! I don’t think I would like the pressure of finishing an entire novel in a certain time frame. I think it might affect the quality of the work.
First published work?
The Support Group is my first novel. It was published in June of 2012, by Oak Tree Press, as a Dark Oak Mystery.
Mentored? Or inspired?
I would have to say my ex-mother-in law, Rose. My ex-husband had little or no confidence in my ability to write. He did little to encourage my desire to write a book. Not out of malice, just a lack of interest. My mother-in-law however, waited eagerly for each new chapter. She would give me feedback, and tell me which characters she related with the most. She actually kept me motivated to finish it. Thank you Rose!
Award-winning actress Margo Preistley had it all until her daughter is brutally raped and murdered. Margo attempts suicide, but fails and is ordered to attend a support group for families of violent crimes’ victims. After witnessing a random attack, Margo impulsively kills the assailant, only to watch the victim-- her only witness--flee the scene. Unable to legally justify her actions, Margo, and her now-accomplice, Peta, drive away before the police arrive. Luckily, her companion knows someone within The Support Group who can help them. Soon they realize that – collectively -- they have the means necessary to rectify any situation…