Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Right Brain/Left Brain a Perfect Balance, Meet Sheila Deeth

Donna: It’s my pleasure to introduce my guest Sheila Deeth today. Sheila is new to ICFW, so I know you’ll give her a warm welcome. Sheila and I have made a special connection since she is an English woman who sets her books in America and I’m an American who sets her books in England. Add to that, that we both live in the Northwest, so we’re practically neighbors.
Welcome, Sheila. Tell us what brought you to America and why you chose to set your books here rather than in your homeland.

Sheila: Coming to the States was rather a lengthy process. My husband and I were both computer programmers with a small firm in Cambridge England, which was taken over by a larger company in America. We came over here for a three-year visit and returned to England with an expensive but delightful souvenir, now a doctor with the US Army. When a larger company took over that second one, they brought us back to the States and helped us move toward permanent residence. Meanwhile our sons—two English and one American—grew up, the jobs went away, my husband found new employment, and we ended up moving to the Northwest and earning our American citizenship.
Setting my books here was almost an afterthought. I’d imagined a small town, peopled it with characters who milled around in my head, then found an editor who asked, immediately, “Where is this set?” I knew I didn’t want a real location as I’d be sure to get something wrong, and I lived in the US now, so I picked America. I ended up fashioning the location after several small college towns I visited with our youngest son when he was finishing high school, but I combined them with memories of small towns expanding in England as well.

Donna: Tell us about your Mathemafiction series.

Sheila: The stories are set in an area called Paradise that’s recently been absorbed into a nearby college town. Paradise is a subdivision—a word that feeds nicely into my mathematical background. And it’s about to be divided by a major crime, hence Divide by Zero, the title of my first novel. I wove the book together as a tapestry of small-town characters with interconnected lives, whose affections would be tested by the breaking of one frayed thread. At the end, after one child has died and another has begun to rebuild the community, I found the characters simply wouldn’t let go. In particular, one young woman of whom readers could ask, “Why did you let it happen?” turned out to be asking that same question of herself. So I invited her deeper into my head, followed her search, wrote Infinite Sum, and was surprised to learn the answer. Now, of course, more characters clamor to tell their stories too, so the series will go on! Subtraction is nearly done, and Imaginary Numbers will follow.

Donna: I have almost finished reading Infinite Sum, book 2 in the series, and I’m finding it an outstanding read. I know you have a degree in mathematics (from Cambridge University!) and your obvious love of literature shows through the literary quality of your writing, but I have also been amazed at the knowledge of art and the profound psychology this novel displays. Do you also paint and read psychology?

Sheila: I dabble, is probably the best answer to both those questions. I have always loved drawing and painting, doodling my way through school exercise books as a child, filling sermon notes with pictures at church (even now), insisting on taking art lessons as well as math in high school, and now drawing on the computer. I love psychology too—our middle son studied math and psychology at college and I stole his text books! But I also have two very personal reasons to be interested in psychology. Firstly, depression runs in my family, and I was treated for it over a period of several years. Secondly, our extended family includes several members who have been given diagnoses on the autism spectrum.

Donna: The relationship you drew between art and mathematics was interesting to me because one thinks of them as being polar opposites— art all right-brained and math all left-brained. You must be a very balanced person to be able to call on both sides of your brain so thoroughly.

Sheila: I have a suspicion my family might consider me totally unbalanced! But I had a very musical, mathematical friend at college who loved to lecture us on the connections between math and music. Connecting math, art and words isn’t so different. All deal with patterns, symbols and, indeed, beauty—ask any mathematician about the joy of a perfect equation or a well-proven theorem.

Donna: And then there’s the profound Christian theme underlying the story. The Christianity is woven in so subtly, which I felt made the impact of the forgiveness theme all the stronger. This must make marketing to the general market an important part of your calling.

Sheila: It is, yes, though I have to confess I’m still trying to find my way into the market. With a Catholic father and a Methodist mother, it was always important to me to look for the things (patterns, symbols and beauty even) that unite Christians, rather than those that divide us. As I grew up, this fed into a desire to show where we and non-Christians are united too—a common humanity in need of a wonderful Savior—which led to a desire to write stories where those less likely to listen to a sermon might find faith has something important to offer after all.

Donna: Yes! The things that unite us are so much more important than the things that divide us. Now, tell us about your Five-Minute Bible Stories and Tails of Mystery series.

Sheila: TheFive-Minute Bible Stories are a fulfilment of a long-term dream for me. As a college student (studying math, of course) I imagined writing my way through the Bible with stories that would combine faith with science, history, and imagination. When my kids were in children’s church, I began to tell children’s “sermons” in five minutes (it was all we were allowed). And when I lost my job, with the youngest son entering high school, I finally got around to writing the stories down. So far I’ve covered Genesis to Joshua, the Gospels to the first half of Acts (I’m working on the second), and Psalms. So I’ve still got a long way to go.

Tails of Mystery is a very different collection of stories, written “just for fun.” They started as entries to contests at our local writers’ group, and now they’re one book, soon to be followed by a second, telling children’s stories from a dog’s point of view. As you might guess, I love dogs!

Donna: What wonderful variety in your life and in your writing! Thank you so much for being my guest today, Sheila. I can’t wait to read more of your books—as a matter of fact, I just ordered Divide by Zero so I can learn more of the story.

Sheila: Oh wow! Thank you so much Donna! And thank you for this opportunity to meet more readers and writers. I’ve really enjoyed our interview.

Donna: For readers who want to know more about Sheila and her books, here are the links:
Sheila Deeth is a Catholic Protestant, English American, mathematician writer, author of the Mathemafiction series of contemporary novels, the Five Minute Bible Story Series, Tails of Mystery and the self-published Inspired by Faith and Science books. She studied mathematics at Cambridge University England, and she loves coffee, chocolate, family, faith, science, history, cats and dogs, in no particular order.
Sheila can be found on her websites at and or on

Posted by:
Donna Fletcher Crow                                                    
An All-Consuming Fire,The Monastery Murders                        
The Flame Ignites, Elizabeth & Richard Literary Suspense
Where Love Begins, Where There is Love series
Glastonbury, A Novel of The Holy Grail


  1. Thank you so ,much for the interview, Sheila. It was a delight to interview you and I hope this will hep lots of new readers discover your wonderful books.

  2. Great interview as always Donna. It is lovely to meet Sheila and I love the sound of her books

    1. I know you ladies would enjoy each other, Wendy.

  3. Thank you so much Donna. And what a lovely site this is. I'm honored to visit here.