Monday, January 6, 2014
AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Hilary Shepard
1. You started out as an actress. What inspired you to write a novel?
I have always written throughout my career as an actress. I started out doing sketch comedy in the Groundlings in LA with Phil Hartman, Jon Lovitz and Kathy Griffin and we all wrote and performed comedy sketches. I co-wrote a series, Material World for the CBC that I won a Genie for as well. After being diagnosed with breast cancer 4 years ago and beating it, I started writing about my experiences online--the reaction I got was so overwhelming and it really helped me to rediscover my love of writing. I was in bed recuperating from a lot of different operations so I decided to use my time to write SHESUS, which is based on a series of reoccurring dreams I've had ever since I was little.
2. In acting, there is a limited amount of room for individual creativity in most cases. What was it like going from show business to having total creative freedom with SHESUS?
Since SHESUS takes place in an imagined future I was really able to let my imagination fly and come up with whatever fantasies I could think of! it was awesome to create a world that sprung from my own mind and not have to work in the confines of someone else's vision.
3. Were you a big reader growing up? Which authors/books inspire you the most, past and present?
One of my favorite childhood memories is going to our local Library with my mother and checking out books every week! I loved anything by Ronald Dahl, Harriet the Spy, From The Mixed Up Files of Miss Basil E Frankweiler, [and] Island of the Blue Dolphins. My most favorite book of all time is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee; nothing can top that book for me. I eagerly await every new Alice Hoffman book, I love Margaret Atwood and anyone who can make me laugh like Sloane Crossley and Chelsea Handler.
4. Where do you see yourself and your writing career in the future?
I really hope to write the movie version of SHESUS. I think it would make a great film visually and can picture it even as an animated movie!
5. Do you have plans for any more novels in the near future? If yes, is there anything you can tell KSR about them?
I have a new book I'm cooking in my brain now, but it's too early to talk about now--just a tiny germ of an idea!
6. Aside from the names [note to readers, I'll get to that in a moment], were any of the characters in SHESUS based on real people?
All the characters were based on a mixture of people through out my life. The sisters TheRose and Bugbee, were based on my two daughters and also on my relationship with my older sister. Their mother Mooma is what the girls call me and is based on my best friend, the amazing eco-warrior Daryl Hannah who taught me a lot about how we are poisoning the earth. Radish (their dad) is my dad through and through--Radish is his nick name too! JJ has a lot of my grandmothers qualities--she was a wildly creative and mercurial character who took me to flea markets and shopping in Greenwich Village in NYC for vintage things. 7, the genius baby who they find along the way, is actually a true story that happened to me--I found a baby in the woods when I was 5 and kept it all afternoon in my doll bed because my mother thought I was playing make believe!
7. Why dystopian fantasy? What is it about the genre that interests you?
I have always loved a great dystopian fantasy--from the book Handmaidens Tale to the 1970s movie Logan's Run. One of my favorite movies I acted in was a little seen movie for HBO about a planet of women and all the men were pets called Last Exit To Earth! I loved acting in Star Trek Deep Space 9 and also playing the evil queen Divatox in the movie The Power Rangers!
8. You set the novel in the future and named characters after popular Hollywood A-listers as the norm. Why did you decide that?
Our culture is so obsessed with famous people, and people who are not even talented but who I call "self-tresses and self-ters". I started to notice that people were already naming their kids "Aniston" and "McCartney". Very few people were called Madison until Daryl was called that in the movie Splash! Now there are zillions of "Madison"s. I thought it would be funny to have people in the future with the full monikers- Bradpitt, for example.
9. People think nature is contaminated and consume only GMOs in SHESUS. TheRose and others fight to change that. Are you, personally, against GMOs now? Why?
GMOs are the devil. I think we are already seeing the disastrous results--the reason so many more people have gluten problems and problems with their digestive systems is because of all the genetically altered food we are consuming!
10. The main living area in SHESUS is set in SoCal. Is it because you lived and worked there, a statement on the fallacious nature of Hollywood or neither?
I really wanted to show the contrast between the pure sheltered lives the sisters lived in the protected land of Eden and the world of the Supermalls. I watched LA spread out over the last 30 years that I've lived here, as more and more people move here and it's just a matter of time until it's one big strip mall all the way to Vegas! But I must say I think the media is so pervasive--TV, social media, the internet--that LA isn't any more fallacious than most places in America now.
11. In the book's introduction by the talented Daryl Hannah, she says you have been through a lot together. Did that long-lasting friendship play a part in creating the story?
My friendship with Daryl really informed the relationship the sisters have and the love they have for each other. Daryl is really a sister to me at this point. She also really taught me so much about the Earth and how we are poisoning her and with it ourselves.
12. Being an actress, would you like to see SHESUS made into a film and who would you like to see cast in it?
I know SHESUS would make a brilliant movie--my 16 year old daughter Scarlett Rose is a very successful model (Brandi Melville, Cody Simpson Iyiiyiy, Teen Vogue) and budding actress. I would love her to play TheRose. Daryl wants to direct the movie, and Cher would be my first pick as JJ, although Rosannah Arquette already says she wants to be JJ, even though she's 20 years too young, she'd rock it! I always pictured Adam Levine as Johnny Seed and I'd love to play Ivanatrump.
13. What would you like for readers to take from SHESUS?
I love when my readers tell me they get so attached to the characters they didn't want the story to end. I hope it makes them laugh, cry, their heart race and their imaginations run wild. I also hope they all want to love and revere our beautiful planet and take care of her for future generations.
14. While there is a lot of bad in your future Los Angeles, is there anything you created that you'd like to see really come to fruition one day?
I'd love to have a mood room like Butterflybowie's where your room can change according to your moods! I'd also love to run around in an animal pack like Tiger people with animatronic tails and ears like they do in the StaysinVegasmall! How fun would that be?!
15. Thank you for participating in this interview! Can you please leave the readers with three things that may surprise them about you?
Three things that may surprise you about me:
I love to surf and I live on a wild bird reserve with a canal in my back yard where I Stand Up Paddle almost every day.
I love to knit and my specialty is little skull and crossbone baby sweaters.
still play bass guitar and love to jam with my friends.
Find Ms. Shepard via the following online:
Amazon author profile
Visit Malena PR online: