Hello. My name is Shelly, and I am an extrovert.
When I first moved to the Bay Area, my dear late brother Tom was living in the Castro district of San Francisco. In my mid-twenties, bright-eyed and fresh from a lifetime in the deep South, I wanted to talk to everyone about everything. I wanted to find out why a drag queen was a drag queen and where in the world she found size 13 pumps. I wanted to find out why those guys went out in leather chaps wearing nothing underneath but a g-string. I wanted to know exactly what that device was they displayed in the window at the leather shop because I could not figure out for the life of me what body part would fit in it. By the time it took my brother to go get us a couple of beers at a bar, I’d have a table full of people all telling me their life stories. Tom used to say, “I’ve lived her twelve years and I know three people. You’ve been here twelve minutes and you know everyone in the Castro.”
OK, yeah, no one is 100% extrovert, but I’m pretty dang close. I’ll talk to anyone about anything. Want to see me have the time of my life? Put me in front of a big group of people to give a speech. Throw me into a gigantic party and I’ll make lifelong friends. I thrive on the energy of people around me. It’s exhilarating for me.
And that’s what works for me as a writer. A friend of mine tells me I have a big neon sign over my head that says, “Tell me about you life.” I love talking to people about themselves. And they tell me the most amazing things. They also tell me sad things and quiet confessions and the little hurts that make us all too human. And all of it drives my fiction. I don’t use their stories as they tell them, but they help me understand people more, how complex we all are and how that complexity makes us beautiful.