I think one thing all writers have in common is a natural curiosity about people, and my stories tend to be less about specific plotlines, and more about how people react to and think about things. I always find it interesting how people can look at the same situation so differently.
My husband and I are the perfect example of this. We could witness the same exact event, and when asked to explain what took place, each of us will have an entirely different spin on how things went down. In fact, when he tells his version of things, I sometimes feel my eyes popping out and my mouth hanging open, because my version would be entirely different. I’m sure he feels the same way about me.
That’s kind of where the idea behind Somewhere Between Black and White came about. Some people look at a situation, and they see only one possible motivation for someone’s actions. While others recognize there can be any number of circumstances that lead someone to make the choices they do. I wanted to write a story that takes a look at that idea in a funny and lighthearted way, without trying to be terribly preachy. We don’t always know as much as we think we do.
The older I get, in many ways I’m not as open-minded as I once was about the intentions of others. I know that’s mainly a defense mechanism after getting burned by life experiences, but it’s not really a fun way to live. That’s why I created Sam, who is my role model, and pretty much perfect guy. Is he too good to be true? Of course he is! What’s the point in writing if you can’t create a character you’d love to be with, or be like, for that matter? 😉
Thank you for having me as a guest today, Francine!
Thanks for coming, Shelly! Here’s how to find Shelly online:
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Living in Las Vegas since she was two, Shelly Hickman has witnessed many changes in the city over the years. She graduated from UNLV with a Bachelor of Art in 1990, and in her early twenties worked as an illustrator for a contractor for the Nevada Test Site. In the mid-90s, she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in Elementary Education. She now teaches computer applications and multimedia at a middle school in Las Vegas. She loves to write about people, examining their flaws, their humor, spirituality, and personal growth. Shelly lives with her husband, two children, and their dog, Frankie.
When approaching life’s problems, Sophie sees in black and white. That is, when they’re someone else’s problems. So when it comes to her sister, Sophie is sure she has all the answers, and offers them without hesitation. If only her sister would listen.Then, through a series of chance encounters, she meets Sam, who is witty, kind, and downright unflappable. Sophie has the overwhelming sense that she’s known him before, and as a relationship builds between them, odd visions invade her mind. Though she tries to dismiss them, their persistence will not allow it. As someone who is quick to judge others, she is intrigued by Sam’s ability to accept people as they are. She begins to see him as a role model, but try as she may, his accepting nature is difficult to emulate. Will Sophie ever be able to put her hasty judgments aside and realize not every problem has a simple solution?
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Her thoughts drifted to Sam, lightening her disposition. On days like these, his easy, jovial manner managed to lift her out of a pissy mood. She decided she would drop in on his last class; most likely he would have some papers she could offer to help grade.
His voice had already reached her ears before she rounded the corner to his room, but it scarcely resembled him at all. It wasn’t loud—she couldn’t yet make out what was being said—but there was a steeliness to his tone that was unsettling.
“Why would you do that?” Sam demanded from a boy in the hallway. Sam’s back was turned towardSophie, and an inexplicable chill warned her that this involved more than a thrown chair. “Are you really that miserable, you have to be so hateful and offensive to make yourself feel better? Is that it?”
The boy shifted his weight from one foot to the other, clearly unprepared for the anger coming from the usually tolerant Mr. Collins. “It was just a joke.” He blinked, his expression blank.
“Not that you would care, but do you know that his mom has cancer, that she’s fighting to stay alive? And now he has to find this garbage online, from the likes of you?”
The boy shrugged and avoided Sam’s glare, the one that Sophie couldn’t see, but heard in his voice.
“Whatever, dude,” the kid said with an indifferent roll of the eyes.
Sam stood silently, a ball of tension, before his shoulders drooped as he leaned against the wall, shaking his head in bitter disappointment. The boy waited uncomfortably, hands in his pockets. “Why do I even bother?” Sam muttered. “You know what? I feel sorry for you. I really do. Take this and get out of my face!”
He thrust a dean’s referral at the student.
The boy accepted the piece of paper with a smirk, then coolly backed toward the hallway door. Never taking his eyes off Sam as he retreated, he crumpled the referral with one hand and casually let it drop to the floor, before arrogantly raising his eyebrows at Sophie. “S’up, Miss Cook?” he added, as if her presence was supposed to embarrass Sam. With that, he slammed through the metal doors.
Sam balled his hands into fists as he turned to discover Sophie standing a few feet away.
Sophie’s chest hammered with rage. She didn’t even know what this child did, but she had a vivid fantasy that involved tackling him to the ground and giving him an ass whooping he wouldn’t soon forget.
“Are you okay?” Sophie asked.
“I’m fine.” He answered before the words were out of her mouth. He was shaking, and she caught glimpse of a deep sadness in his eyes.
“Do you want me to make sure he goes to the dean?”
He shook his head. “I don’t give a shit what he does.” He crossed the hall and got a drink from the fountain. Folding his arms across his chest, he raised his face toward the ceiling and closed his eyes, remaining this way for several moments.
Sophie did not move.
“I gotta get back to my class, Soph. I’ll tell you about it tonight. Okay?”
He reluctantly returned to his classroom door, and paused to collect himself before opening it. “All right, guys,” he said to his chattering students. “Let’s get back to work.”