Sheila Davidson is a Canadian author of Hear Heaven, Heaven’s Tears and Heaven Knows, inspirational romances set in medieval times. These are feel-good, heart-warming books, set in a simpler time and in a fictional place where faith (and certain characters’ spiritual gifts) can be an accepted part of daily life.
This is a series where I suggest starting at the beginning – not because you couldn’t understand books two or three without doing so, but because you’d miss out on those stories. I’m rarely a hopeless romantic, but I love the ending to Hear Heaven.
JS: Welcome, Sheila, and thanks for taking time to join us. You’re a Christian, a wife and mother, a court stenographer, and when we get to your creative side you’re a novelist, songwriter, singer, musician and artist. Where do I start? Since I’m a writer and reader, how about you tell us a bit about your books?
SD: You put it very well in your introduction, Janet. The back of my bookmark says: “Come and meet friends and neighbours as they deal with struggles and laughter, life and love, all under the kind eye of the Heavenly Father.”
JS: Your novels are set in a fictional 12th century village with a distinctly Celtic feel. What kind of research was most helpful in creating the setting?
SD: Movies and other novels set in the same time have given me visual images of the period. I’ve borrowed books from the library on specific topics, like the history of glassmaking, for instance, and then of course the internet is an endless supply of information. My husband and I have been to England three times and there one can stand inside buildings and/or ruins from the 12th Century – an amazing privilege.
JS: Did you know some of what would happen in Heaven’s Tears and Heaven Knows when you were writing Hear Heaven?
SD: No. Hear Heaven seemed to write itself over a period of three months and I had no idea then that the story would continue.
JS: Do you have a favourite character from the novels?
SD: Braydon Duggan, known as ‘Duggan’, is the lead character’s sidekick in Hear Heaven and he’s funny and wise, a big man with a tender heart. I found him very winning.
JS: I liked Duggan too. Tell us about your new CD, Heart of the Heavens. With its Celtic flavour, can you picture your minstrel from Braydon Village performing the songs?
SD: Heart of the Heavens is a collection of 10 songs of worship and prayer that I wrote over the past ten years or so. Most of them have not been heard by anyone else; I simply enjoyed writing them when inspiration came and then played them on my keyboard and used them for personal worship times. To hear them arranged and produced with other instruments is an absolute thrill. My husband, Tim, did a lovely job recording the disk for me. And yes, I think there are a few melodies that Verone would enjoy playing on his lute.
By the way, there is a young shepherdess in book #4, Tabitha Mann, who plays the whistle, and I took up the tin whistle this year and even play on the CD. So I find it very interesting how life feeds art which feeds life, and on and on.
JS: Very cool. Speaking of musicians, Finton Davidge plays the bagpipes on the CD. Isn’t he also a character in your novels?
SD: Finton Davidge is a fictional character only. Live bagpipes are extremely challenging to record in tune, and they come in only one key, so the bagpipes on the CD are actually a computer sample that my husband used for the part.
JS: What got you started writing?
SD: The first novel started from a dream. I got up that morning and typed out the two parts from the dream, which were Isgoré Armaddi’s supernatural gift, and the curse that befalls Raymore Leotte and her deliverance from that. Then I just kept filling in the story around those parts.
JS:What has reader response been like for the books?
SD: Wonderfully positive. It was the enthusiasm of a dozen friends who read the first manuscript that prompted me to seek publication. And there are people who are keen for each new instalment. One lady told me that her cousin prays in the same way as the characters in Hear Heaven and she thought she would try that too. Others have commented on the portrayal of the Heavenly Father as being so approachable and present in the characters’ lives. These are lovely things to hear.
JS: Is there another book or CD in the works?
SD: I have story lines for two more books in the Braydon Manor series and some writing has been done on those. I think I would like to do a sixth book to finish Isgoré’s story and bring the series full circle.
JS: What do you like best about the writing life?
SD: Being inspired and writing lyrics or passages of stories that amaze me is a wonderful experience. I thank God for such a lovely thing to do.
JS: What do you like least?
SD: Waiting is a toughie for me – waiting for blocks of time to write, waiting for a response to query letters, waiting for a book to lumber through the publishing process. I find myself waiting for one thing or another all the time, and this week God pointed that out to me (again) and said, “Enjoy Me now.” Just be thankful for my walk with God that day and stop focusing on future things. I’ve thought about that the past few days and even started a song about it.
JS: What does your family think of your writing?
SD: They are very encouraging and are glad to see me enjoying this lovely creative time.
JS: I know they support your music, since your husband produced the CD and your son and daughter both perform with you on certain tracks. Is music a family thing?
SD: Definitely. I grew up in a musical family, singing and playing French horn, Tim has played bass and guitar since high school, Emily sings and plays bass, and Martin is in his final year of a music degree in jazz – he plays saxophone.
JS: Is there a particular song (yours or someone else’s) or Scripture verse that’s made a big difference for you?
SD: Joel 2:25 “I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” Through nearly two decades of depression this verse was brought to me several times and now I am seeing its wonderful promise fulfilled beyond anything I could have imagined.
JS: Writers are told to read widely and voraciously. I think that’s one of the perks of the deal. What are you reading these days?
SD: Prayer as a Place, by a friend of ours, Charles Bello, a lovely little book about taking time to center in on God (which harks back to “Enjoy Me now”.) And I just finished My Soul to Keep by Davis Bunn, a novel that deals with the movie business, which was very interesting.
JS: Thanks so much for taking time to let us get to know you a bit, Sheila. May the LORD continue to bless you and make you a blessing to others-in every area of your life.
SD: Thank you for inviting me, Janet. And all God’s very best to your readers in this brand New Year.
You can read the first chapters of each novel at Sheila’s website. The books and CD can be ordered through her store or (books only) through Vineyard International Publishing. Heaven Knows is also available through Amazon.com. You can view Sheila’s lovely pen-and-ink drawings on her site as well.