INTERVIEW QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS
1. What is your greatest regret?
I try very hard not to dwell on past mistakes, preferring to focus on the present and my resolve to do better. However, one thing I have always regretted is not taking time out after leaving full time education – where I was completely sheltered from the realities of life – to gain more experience and simply enjoy being young before rushing headlong into the very different demands of a career, relationships and the inevitable responsibilities that come with both.
Although I definitely do not regret the path I chose in life, had I taken that break and maybe travelled more, I would have hopefully been more mature – and better prepared – to deal with the unexpected challenges that were ultimately thrown at me, instead of having to stumble my way through it on a daily basis, without the luxury of time – or worldly experience – to do a better job.
Despite this, I managed to have a successful career and a very happy marriage… but I still regret not taking that gap year!
2. Please explain more what you do
I had a long career as a graphic designer, mainly working for a magazine publisher in London. I was primarily responsible for designing and producing the company’s weekly news magazine for the fresh produce industry, but I was also responsible for other publishing projects, including involvement with the PR and marketing department. In this capacity I designed exhibition stands and took care of clients’ marketing needs, such as brochures and other printed matter. From time to time I even wrote the odd press release.
These activities meant that I worked extremely closely with journalists – proof reading their copy and occasionally writing captions and headlines. I was already an avid reader and had enjoyed writing essays at school, so being exposed to this environment helped to hone my skills as a writer.
Sheila Rawlings – Biography
Having always been a prolific reader, I soon began to expand my literary passion by writing short stories as part of my English Literature projects at school, a process that was actively encouraged by my teachers.
During my secondary education – at Bexley Technical High School for Girls in Bexleyheath, Kent – I also discovered I had a gift for art and design and, after obtaining 6 O Levels and 2 A Levels, went on to complete a four-year course in Graphic Design at Medway College of Art in Chatham, Kent (now the University of Creative Arts). However, my interest in literature and writing remained.
After graduating from college, I worked as a graphic designer for two separate mail order companies, designing and producing their catalogues, before finally joining a magazine publisher. As well as designing and producing their weekly trade magazine, I was also involved in the production of a variety of their other publications, working closely with editors and journalists.
When the company decided to form a PR department, I was enlisted to run it. As well as the design and exhibition side, this involved producing press releases and marketing literature, giving me an opportunity to hone my writing skills.
While exposed to this environment, I began to write my first novel. However, due to the long hours and pressures of publishing, I was forced to abandon what I had begun. It was only after recently retiring, and missing the focus and discipline of the schedules I was used to, that I finally managed to complete the novel – a thriller – which went on to be nominated as a finalist in the Wishing Shelf Independent Book Award 2014. I have since completed my second novel – book one of a trilogy – which is also a thriller.