At the age of 69, Shirley Hoisington fulfilled her life-long dream of publishing a book.
“Beyond Despair,” a non-conventional romance book that’s based in Oregon, hit shelves this past August and, according to Hoisington, reviews have been positive.
“The reception of the book has been astronomical,” she said, explaining how she has had many friends tell her that they couldn’t put the book down. “One of my friends read it twice.”
Hoisington started writing the book in 2001 and authored portions of the book over the course of the month while she was taking a creative writing class.
“I started this journey in 2001 with a laptop my husband Richard brought home from work. Over the years I went back to college to take an English course because I realized I needed to learn grammar and punctuation,” Hoisington wrote in the preface of “Beyond Despair.”
In the preface, Hoisington also explained why writing the book took as long as it did.
“Due to the loss of my husband, and taking care of my mother who was in her 90s, I just let things slide,” she wrote.
The book follows twin sisters Miranda and Cindy in Oregon as they fall in love with the same man, Roger. While Hoisington said she couldn’t pinpoint the exact catalyst of where the idea of the book came from, she said she has always been fascinated with the idea of identical twins and has twin nieces of her own.
Hoisington said making Oregon the setting for the book was an easy choice as she “loves the area she lives in.”
Hoisington explained how she loves to spend her time outside looking at the scenery, going on hikes and exploring the area.
“It’s just so beautiful around here,” she said.
Along with setting the scene in the Pacfic Northwest, Hoisington said another large influence in her writing is the current state of romance books and their explicit scenes.
“I moved away from the genre because a lot of the books lean on that,” she said.
Hoisington went on to explain that her book doesn’t have any scenes like that because she felt it wasn’t important to the story at hand.
As for the writing process, Hoisington said she had trouble with the ending of the book and working on her sentence structure and grammar. To go about finding an editor for the process, Hoisington put an advertisement on Craigslist.
“I got a ton of replies,” she said, mentioning that her current editor, and Brush Prairie native, Lane Bjelkevig, helped her immensely with the process.
“I told Lane I didn’t want him to change my story, I just wanted help with the grammar and sentences,” Hoisington said.
According to Hoisington, Bjelkevig did that and more.
“He did more than edit my sentences,” she said. “He helped me expand my story to what it is.”
Future plans for Hoisington include the publication of her next book, “To Heal a Broken Heart,” as well as promoting her book around the area and online.
She is planning a 70th birthday celebration as well as a reading at Literary Leftovers in Battle Ground.