PERSONAL: Born in Romford, Essex, England; married; husband's name Alan; children: Cheryl, Jennifer, Philippa.
ADDRESSES: Home—Galleywood, Essex, England. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Piatkus Books, 5 Windmill St., London W1T 2JA, England.
CAREER: St. Andrews Center for Plastic Surgery, Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, England, medical secretary.
AWARDS, HONORS: Winner of short-story competitions in Writers' News magazine.
The Trouble with Ally, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2003.
Other People's Lives, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2003.
Body & Soul, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2004.
The Travel Bug, Piatkus Books (London, England), 2005.
Would I Lie to You?, Kensington Publishing (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor of short stories to magazines, including Woman, Woman's Weekly, and Woman's Realm.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Sweet Nothings, a novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Sheila Norton is a novelist who also works as a medical secretary. In an autobiography on the Village of Stock in Essex Web site Norton stated, "I've been writing as a hobby virtually all my life." She was spurred to pursue a career in writing, she commented, after she won some short-story competitions in Writer's News magazine.
Norton's first novel, The Trouble with Ally, is about the title character, who is about to turn fifty. Ally is troubled that her ex-husband's new love was invited to her half-century party. To spoil the woman's satisfaction at attending her milestone, Ally declares that she is in fact forty-eight, and that her upcoming party will be for her forty-ninth birthday. This first white lie leads to ever-more complicated fibbing, until she tries to finally tell the truth and no one believes her. Struggling to overcome the mess she created for herself, Ally finds that life after fifty can have its advantages, too.
In Would I Lie to You? single mother Beth Marston struggles to make ends meet by working as a housekeeper for wealthy clients in a London suburb. Making matters worse, she is envious of her best friend, Fay, who has an ideal marriage and plenty of money, and annoyed by her parents, who brag about how well her other siblings are doing and believe that all Beth needs to do to turn her life around is change her job. Beth is bitter at the boyfriend that abandoned her and her four-year-old daughter, Ellie, who cannot understand why she has no daddy. Chances for romance are dismally few on Beth's cleaning rounds, which are interrupted by the odious Oliver, who keeps trying to convince her to join him for an afternoon romp. One of Beth's favorite clients is Alex Chapman, a man she has never met and whose apartment is always spotless and never needs cleaning. One day at the Chapman home, she decides to use her downtime and an unoccupied computer to start writing a script. Her activities are eventually discovered and she meets Alex Chapman in person, finding him to be a handsome man to whom she is immediately attracted. He offers to show Beth's script to his literary agent, who is also his wife. Beth's attraction for the married Alex then develops into a highly complicated situation. Norton offers a "terrific tale that amuses, pulls at heartstrings, and has the reader rooting madly for her heroine," commented Booklist reviewer Maria Hatton.
Norton told CA: "I've been writing all my life—it was the only thing I was really good at, at school! My work is influenced by everyday life—particularly the humour I find in ordinary situations. I don't plan my novels. I start out with a basic idea, a couple of main characters, and let the story develop as I write it. I'm often quite surprised by the ending!
"The most surprising thing I've learned as a writer is that, as soon as you have a book published, people presume you immediately become very wealthy! I'm continually being asked why I still go to work!
"I don't have a favourite book, although The Trouble With Ally will always be special to me because it was my first, and I'm looking forward to the publication of my next book, Sweet Nothings, because it made me laugh so much while I was writing it! I hope my books will make people smile, and make them think 'that could be me!'"
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 1, 2005, Maria Hatton, review of Would I Lie to You?, p. 42.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2005, review of Would I Lie to You?, p. 1105.
Publishers Weekly, October 10, 2005, review of Would I Lie to You?, p. 35.
Best Reviews, http://thebestreviews.com/ (April 14, 2006), Harriet Klausner, review of Would I Lie to You?
Chick Lit Books, http://www.chicklitbooks.com/ (December 3, 2005), Katie Bodnick, review of Would I Lie to You?
Sheila Norton Home Page, http://www.sheilanorton.co.uk (April 16, 2006).
Village of Stock in Essex Web site, http://www.stock.org.uk/ (April 14, 2006), autobiography by Sheila Norton.