Stress Free Book Marketing Interviews Aspen’s literary Hippie Chick, author Jill Sheeley about her latest book and other work.
RL: Tell me about your latest book and why you wrote it?
JS: The latest book I’ve written and published is my memoir from the 70s in Aspen: Those Were The Days, Memories of a Hippie Chick. Since I’d written and published 12 books previously, it was inevitable that I’d write about my life moving to Aspen, Colorado in 1970 as a broke college student with my dog and a strong desire to be a ski bum. You’ll find fun stories about living in a one-room shack with no electricity or plumbing to a chapters devoted to John Denver, Ted Bundy and Spider Sabich. It’s filled with historical photographs and recipes from my previous 3 Aspen cookbooks.
RL: What kind of challenges did you come up against while you were writing?
JS: The biggest challenge I came up against while writing my memoir was when my husband died unexpectedly of complications from surgery and completely shook my world. As you can imagine, my life totally changed. But I needed to continue.
RL: When did you write your first book and how old were you?
JS: I was in my late 20s when I wrote my first book: Christmas in Aspen. I had always wanted to write a book and once I began and got my artist mother on board to illustrate the book, I knew I had to take it all the way. It was typeset and cut and pasted on boards—the old-fashioned way. I loved the entire process and it was an instant success. I borrowed the money from my CPA brother who had taken a year off to bet on the racetracks. I paid him back 4 months after the book came out. In those days, you had to print thousands of books and distribute yourself.
RL: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
JS: As I said earlier, I have written 13 books and I have a couple I’m working on. I’m proud of every book I’ve written but I would have to say, my first children’s book, Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog, Rescue on Snowmass Mountain was special as it was about my family and my soon-to-become famous dog, Fraser. Kids who read it as children are now reading it to their children. Not to brag, but the entire series are my 3-year-old grandson’s favorite books!
RL: What kind of feedback have you received on your writing?
JS: As far as feedback I’ve received, because I put myself out there for events, I get to interact with my fans and am really grateful to get all positive comments. My books usually generate great stories of their own from my fans. I got a great email from a woman I met in the Caribbean. She bought my book, The Blue Bottle and wrote to me about how much she learned about the islands and their history from reading this novel. She then ordered all my books! As an author, the best part is to talk to people. I also run a 3rd and 4th grade writing contest at our local elementary school. I love passing on my love of writing to the next generations. Some of my past winners have gone onto major in journalism!
Jill Sheeley moved to Aspen Colorado in the late ’60s and spent her 20’s enjoying the care-free lifestyle and hippie chick persona that came with that era. She supported herself by working as a ski instructor, cocktail waitress, house cleaner in exclusive Starwood, and hostess, earning just enough money to get by.
Writing was always a passion for Jill, and she found a way to weave her love of writing with her love for the area and created her first book, Christmas in Aspen. This tribute to the wonderful people of Aspen was followed by two cookbooks Tastes of Aspen and Lighter Tastes of Aspen.
After getting married and having a daughter, Jill embarked on writing and publishing six children’s books-The Adventures of Fraser the Yellow Dog series, featuring their beloved family Labrador. The World According to Fraser, a memoir written by the now-famous dog followed. For Fraser fans, she published her first young adult novel, The Blue Bottle set in the Caribbean. Next came Adventures of Kip in Aspen and Snowmass featuring her daughter’s Australian shepherd, Kip.
Jill teaches writing workshops all around the world and sponsors an annual local writing contest for 3rd and 4th graders. She has been featured on TV–Colorado and Company, PBS’s Kid Stew (produced by James Patterson), several podcasts, KSPN and KFNO radio shows, and has been the feature of many articles in Ski Magazine, The Denver Post, Snow Country Magazine, The Aspen Times, The Aspen Daily News, Aspen Sojourner, Aspen Magazine, Aspen Peak and in many publications in the Caribbean. She has been a key-note speaker at the Aspen Words Literary Festival. You can read more about her work on her website.