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Interview with Sheila Smith

My New Zealand Dream

She grew up in Hawkes Bay, NZ. Her parents moved to NZ from England and South Africa, to create their New Zealand Dream, this quickly turned into her New Zealand nightmare. Writing is a potent healing tool; sharing your story can save lives. Elise has written and published two autobiographies in my book series, The New Zealand Dream; in her pen name Sheila, she wrote these books to inspire and give hope to others.  

Elise’s passion is creative writing; she has been writing for 24 years in fiction and poetry. Publishing many articles, guest posting, and conducting interviews on her website she built from scratch. Elise is a writing coach/mentor mentoring people who would like to write and share their own stories.


Q.1 Tell us something about yourself; not many people know?

A. Not many people know I have been to South Africa and worked on a big five animal reserve with the lions.


Q.2 Do you have any upcoming books?

A. I am working on the last book in my autobiography series, The New Zealand Dream; this one is all about the healing and how I escaped the abuse and violence in book two.


Q.3 When did you decide to write The New Zealand Dream series?

A. I decided to write The New Zealand Dream series after leaving my abusive ex while spending time in Africa, working with the animals.


Q.4 How do you come up with the name of your books?

A. I choose the name The New Zealand Dream, as that is how my story started with my parents moving to New Zealand to create their New Zealand Dream.


Q.5 If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?

A. Stay true to you be authentic.


Q.6 How did you deal with the emotional impact of a book (on yourself) as you’re writing the story?

A. I took the time away from writing to process as needed. I wrote poetry as my therapy and music and prayer to heal. I reminded myself of why I am writing and the people I can reach. By writing it down, I weakened the strongholds and opposing forces, setting free the love and positivity. Turning the nightmares into a peaceful night’s sleep was like saying goodbye for good to the things that held me captive.


Q.7 How many books have you written? Which one is your favorite?

A. I have written two books, The New Zealand Dream: Growth and Destruction, being my favorite.

Q.8 How long does it take you to write a book?

A. It takes me about a year from draft to published.

Q.9 What were your feelings when your novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?

A. I was elated, satisfied at a job well done, excited to be reaching people that need to read my story and also nervous about the next steps in marketing.

Q.10 Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?

A. I will continue to write and publish books; after The New Zealand Dream series, I am writing a short story collection.  I want to develop my freelance writing career by mentoring more people in their writing journey, guest posting, and continuing to build my website and blog.


Q.11 Do you have any unique and quirky writing habits?

A. No, to be honest, I don’t, writing ideas will wake me at all hours of the night at times, and I jump on the laptop and start typing in the middle of the night. But I think this is quite a common thing.


Q.12 Do you believe in writer’s block? If yes, how do you deal with it?

A. One can not force the writing process, if the writing is not flowing, then I will stop and return to it at a later stage. 


Q.13 What was one of the most surprising things you learned while writing your book?

A. The most surprising thing I learned while writing my book was how much it helped me to heal by sharing my story with others and how grateful people are that I did.


Q.14 What is your favorite book from other authors and why?

A. My favorite book would be Whitethorn by Bryce Courtenay because he has such a way with words that I feel like I am inside the book with him, and he writes about African settings that remind me of being there.


Q.15 How does your family/friends feel about your book or writing venture in general?

A. My family and friends believe in me sometimes more than I do; it is something I am consistently working on. There are certain friends who think I am wasting my time, that it is not a real job, and I should get a 9 to 5. I’d rather be poor and follow my passion doing something I love than be enslaved working in a job I hate.


Q.16 What do you do to unwind and relax?

A. I use self-care, take a long bath, spend time in nature, amateur photography, I listen to music, watch a good movie and spend time with my loved ones.


Q.17 What advice do you have for aspiring authors?

A. Know your target audience before you write, build this before you publish.


Q.18 Imagine a future where you no longer write. What would you do?

A. A future where I no longer write sounds very bleak. I would have to follow my passion and do what I love. Perhaps I would create a training course for people wanting to learn how to share their stories and develop my mentoring skills more.


Q.19 What was your hardest scene to write?

A. The most challenging scene I wrote was the scene my ex tried to kill me. Reliving the emotion and remembering in detail the course of events that night took every ounce of strength I could muster.


Q.20 Share the experience of your journey so far?

A. Here is a brief about my experiences so far that I have written about in my books. The New Zealand Dream is a story and account of my life so far. You take a journey from birth, growing up in a beautiful country town. Moving to the suburbs, discovering New Zealand’s underground in book one, The Seeds are Sown. Life has been a struggle and an uphill climb; I was born with learning difficulties that caused me daily challenges. My mother, who single-handedly raised my brother, and I suffered from mental health problems. I dived into the drug and alcohol scene at a young age, growing up surrounded by violence and gangs. I escaped a religious occult, got married, and had children. 

In book two, Growth and Destruction, I am a divorced single mother before I hit the age of thirty. My support network passed away, and I sank into the world of abuse. I stayed trapped in an abusive relationship for over eight years until one night, he nearly killed me, and I escaped. You will meet characters you may relate to and characters that will shock you. I will lead you into the world that surrounded me and nearly killed me. In book three, I will show you how I changed my world, escaped the traps, leading me here to tell my story.


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