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A Conversation with Shelia A. Nielson, Author of SHADOW IN THE SEA (and a giveaway!)


Thanks so much for agreeing to be with us today, Sheila!

Thank you for having me! It is my pleasure to be here.


What 3 things should readers know about you?

  1. I’ve been a children’s librarian for almost nineteen years. So, I know books.
  1. I have a phobia of deep water and fish—which made writing Shadow in the Sea, a novel all about mermaids and their underwater world, a rather interesting experience.
  1. Old fashioned ghost stories are my favorite kind of book to read. (I also like to write them as well.) I think classic ghost stories are becoming a lost art.

LOL #2—I hope writing the book isn’t going to leave lasting scars…


Tell us all about your main characters—who are they? What makes them tick? Most importantly, what one thing would they need to have with them if stranded on a desert isle? 😉

There are two main characters in Shadow in the Sea. The first is Sadelyn Hanson. She is a fierce, almost sixteen-year-old, who desires to belong and be loved more than anything in the world—but is so damaged by past experiences she can’t trust anyone anymore. Not even herself. She must use her clever and quick wits to stay one step ahead of those who hunt her like prey.  But a life spent in fear and hiding is no life at all. Sadelyn must make a choice. Does she survive in a life of lies and misery—or does she risk everything for a chance to love someone who could betray her in the end?

The second important character in Shadow in the Sea is Araedyn, the Sea Prince. When your mother is the iron-willed and all-powerful Queen of all the Seas—it’s hard to be in control of your own destiny. His whole life Araedyn has had expectations heaped on his royal shoulders—which is probably why he has such a rebellious heart.  He takes great delight in out foxing the Sea Queen and her plans for his future any way he can. It’s the only way the merprince feels he can hold onto who really he is under the princely, well-mannered façade he is forced to wear.

If Sadelyn were stranded on a desert isle—Prince Araedyn is what she would want most. Whether or not that would be a wise choice—remains to be seen.

What would Prince Araedyn want most if stranded? You’ll have to read Shadow in the Sea and find out.

Not fair! 😉 But we’ll take that challenge!


Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Working as a children’s librarian. I had lots of kids coming in and asking me for mermaid stories. There weren’t a lot of mermaid books in those days. The stories we had in our library had been read and re-read. The kids wanted new books. I decided needed to write one for them. The first mermaid book I wrote (published by Scholastic Press) quickly led to a second mermaid book—Shadow in the Sea.

Perfect inspiration! Especially considering your phobia…


How long have you been writing, and what (or who) inspired you to start?

I wrote my first book in sixth grade—but I’d been creating stories in my head for years before that. I used to be afraid of the dark when I was young. In an attempt to distract myself from thinking about the monsters under my bed, I would make up stories in my mind instead. If not for my fear of the dark, I never would have become an author.

That is definitely the first time I’ve heard that inspiration for becoming a writer—what a unique “origin story”!


What do you like best about being a writer? What is the most challenging part?

I spent so many years writing books and sending them out to publishers—only to have them rejected over and over. Ten years of rejection, actually. Even after you get a book published, it doesn’t guarantee that every book you write thereafter is going to be accepted. I have dozens of manuscripts that no one will ever get to read hidden away in the back of a closet. That is the most challenging thing for me as a writer. Putting in all that hard work, coming to love your characters so much—only to have no one ever get to meet them.

On the flip side, my favorite thing about being an author is when fans write and share their experiences about reading my books.  I love the probing questions, the fan theories, and the stories of how my book made them think differently afterward. Stories are meant to be a shared experience. There is nothing more satisfying than that.

Great answers 🙂


What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

I have a middle grade novel that is almost complete. It is a ghost story. I’ll be sending it off to my agent very soon. She will begin shopping it around to publishers. I also have a brand new teen fantasy novel that I’ve just started writing the rough draft for. It’s a different sort of tale than what I’ve written before—but those who liked the feel of my first two books will definitely love this one as well.

Sounds great! Good luck with the publishers.


What authors and/or books have inspired you?

  1. M. Montgomery, Patrica C. Wrede, and Gail Carson Levine are all authors I adore. I’m nowhere near their caliber yet—but reading and studying their work has helped me become a better writer.

I love L.M. Montgomery! I re-read Rilla of Ingleside every couple of years.


What are you currently reading? What are your thoughts about it so far?

Dolls of Hope by Shirley Parenteau. So far, I am loving it! It’s a novel about the friendship doll exchange between the USA and Japan back in the 1920s. Not only is it a great story, but I am also learning about a fascinating little-known event in history at the same time.

Wow! Both the book and the subject are new to me—sounds fascinating!


If you had to “sell” this book in a single Tweet, what would you say?

Sadelyn has nowhere left to escape. Pursued by a mysterious merman, she must learn to trust the one person on Windwaithe Island who doesn’t fear the merfolk’s dark magic.

Great job! Thanks again for visiting, Sheila!

Read more about Sheila and Shadow in the Sea below, and don’t forget to enter the giveaway!



Sheila never did figure out what she wanted to be when she grew up. She graduated from college with a BFA in illustration, has worked as a children’s librarian for over eighteen years, and would eventually like to be a full-time author. Why pick one career when you can have many? Sheila lives with her two pets, a goffin cockatoo and a tiny toy poodle. She was born and raised in California but has come to also love her adopted home in Utah where she currently resides.

Author links:



Shadow in the Sea
by Sheila A. Nielson
Publication date: July 15th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult


When sixteen-year-old Sadelyn Hanson washes up on the shores of Windwaithe Island, her beauty and the strange marks on her wrist make superstitious locals suspect she is a mermaid. Feigning amnesia, Sade hides a far worse secret: she was sailing to her own murder trial when she was thrown overboard by the real killer, the cunning and cruel Captain Westwood.

Sade’s quiet effort to rebuild her life on the island is threatened when she meets an actual young merman. Unable to speak his language, Sade still longs for the warm companionship he offers, despite the locals’ dire legends about merfolk and their dark magic. But her confused feelings for the impossible boy become the least of her problems when Captain Westwood’s ship docks at Windwaithe. With nowhere to escape, Sade must trust in the one person who doesn’t fear the merfolk. A woman who had dealings with them herself—years ago.

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  1. Corey Clancy Corey Clancy

    What an interesting concept. I love paranormal books and this one sounds great! Congratulations on the release! Thank you for sharing and Happy Holidays!

  2. Great interview! This book sounds like such a fun, exciting, and interesting read! Looking forward to checking this book out!

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