Shattered Lies is the first novel by S. J. Francis, a women’s fiction/family saga. As in all the stories Francis writes, in the end, it’s all about family. Francis is a freelance writer with over three hundred publication credits, a University Lecturer with doctorates in English, Mass Communications and Law, and most recently, a novelist.
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A frequent traveler, Francis has resided in 13 states and 3 countries. When not writing Francis can be found reading a good book, or spending time in the outdoors. The author currently lives in Mississippi, where a major part of Shattered Lies takes place—but grew up in New York City, where the latter portion occurs—and has a great respect and fondness for both places.
1) Who influenced you the most as far as writing goes?
Every writer I’ve read has had an influence somehow on my writing, including the guest authors I’ve hosted on my writing blog.
Novelist Jackie Collins, 2014 PHOTO: Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images
But the biggest influences were the late great Jackie Collins, romance author Leigh Michaels, and Multi-Published author Heather Neff. They’re all distinctly different in their writing styles, but all are great writers that personally inspired me in one way or another.
2) What drew you to the topic of racism in your novel?
Would you believe me if I said that it just happened? I never planned on writing a book about racism. I began a novel about a family living in the South with secrets and lies and how those secrets and lies come back to haunt them, as well as the repercussions that would result. The subject of racism evolved from that. Of course, Shattered Lies is a reflection of our times, our beliefs, our hatreds, our misconceptions. I couldn’t have planned for that if I had tried.
3) What are you doing when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I’m trying to catch my breath. I also lecture at my University in English, Creative Writing and Law. When I’m not working or writing, I love gardening, hiking and reading, but even when I’m doing something else, I’m always in some way writing in my head.
4) What would you say are some solid guidelines for writers?
A writer needs to write. Period. Any time and any chance one gets, even if it is just a sentence or a paragraph. These things eventually lead to something bigger. Never ignore an opportunity to write.
5) Is there any significance to you not posting any of your photos online or stating your gender?
Nope, except to say, what difference does it make? If you like my stories, what does it matter what I look like, or what gender I am. Besides, a little mystery never hurt anyone. I’m not writing for fame. I write because I can’t see myself doing anything else. I’m a writer and always have been, even as a child when I thought I didn’t like writing. You can also look at it as a metaphor. Do you really need to know who I am in order to enjoy my story?
6) Do you have any other writing projects in the works?
Yes, I do, Carole and thanks for asking. I already have a draft for a stand-alone sequel to Shattered Lies. I also have a draft for a novel about friendships and family in Hollywood. I also have a draft for a sequel to that one.
7) Who should read Shattered Lies and what should the reader expect?
The good thing about Shattered Lies is that it could be read and enjoyed by anyone. It may be labeled women’s fiction/mainstream/family saga, but that is just a label placed on it by the publisher. Is racism geared toward anyone in particular? No. Bigotry affects everyone in all walks of life. As my heroine Kate Thayer discovers, bigotry isn’t something just experienced around strangers. Sometimes bigotry is very close to home.
In Shattered Lies, the reader should expect an awakening of the senses, high-charged emotion, controversial language and thoughts. There are two sides to every story and in this novel, the reader will see two sides to a long standing family argument that reflects society’s beliefs. What happens to Kate Thayer can happen to anyone. We’re all different, unique and we should each appreciate that fact without basing it simply on what we see.
Thank you for sharing about yourself and the story behind the book, SJ! I’ve read your novel and found it filled with so many intriguing and unexpected plot developments. I wish you all the success in your writing ventures!
Pre-order your copy of Shattered Lies by clicking on the title anywhere in this interview! Here’s a an excerpt from Francis’ debut novel:
She wants to know the truth, but some secrets might be better left alone…
Kate Thayer has a good life as a veterinarian, running the family horse farm—until she uncovers an act of unimaginable treachery by those she trusted most and learns that everything she knew about herself was a lie. Her paternal grandmother, the woman who raised her, is behind a number of devastating secrets Kate is compelled to discover. But the deeper she digs, the more betrayal she finds, changing her life in ways she could have never foreseen.
“This is my mother’s journal,” Kate said and looked for a reaction.
“Is it? I had no idea.”
Katherine didn’t look at her, which puzzled Kate immediately. Whenever they spoke, her grandmother always gave her utmost attention.
“Where ever did you find it?” Katherine asked.
“In the attic,” Kate said.
Katherine’s eyes widened and she furrowed her eyebrows. Kate noticed her grandmother’s lower lip quiver or was it just her imagination?
“The attic?” Katherine asked. “What were you doing up there, darling?”
“I just felt like it. What difference does it make?”
“I don’t want anyone in the attic.” Katherine was abrupt. “It’s dangerous. You could have been hurt.”
Kate ignored her concern. She wanted answers. “Yes, she wrote this apparently just after she married my father.”
“Did she now? Well, I wouldn’t worry about it. There’s nothing worth reading in there. You can burn it,” Katherine said.
“It belonged to my mother. Why would I want to burn it?”
Katherine faced her. Her gaze was steady and unmoving. “Your mother had very little to say when alive. I doubt there is anything of value in there.”
Kate shot to her feet. “How dare you, Gran?” Katherine had never mentioned Kate’s mother, ever, and to hear such coldness in the words about her astonished her. “She did say that you hated her. Why did you hate her?”
Katherine raised her hand. “Now calm down, darling. That is an exaggeration.”
“No, it isn’t. She said you hated her. You couldn’t stand her. That you actually tried to split her and my father up—more than once, as did her parents.”
Without warning, Katherine seized the journal and threw it into the nearby trashcan. “There is nothing in there for you to worry about. And that is where it belongs.”
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Here are social media links for S.J. Francis:
Black Opal Books: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/author-bios/bio-sj-francis
View My Shout Out: http://sjfrancis419.wix.com/shatteredlies
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/SJ-Francis/480058115420325
Google Plus: https://plus.google.com/u/0/104831238907682620486/about
Smash Words: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/SJFrancis
Watt Pad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/ILiveWriting