Authors and Their Books > AUTHOR FORUM- SHELLEY STOUT

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message 1: by Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB (last edited Mar 11, 2010 12:18PM) (new)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Here is some information regarding my novel,RADIUM HALOS, A Novel about the Radium Dial Painters:

Radium Halos was first released as an ebook, then later from Librifiles Publishing as a trade paperback. It is historical fiction, based on the true story of the young women factory workers who were exposed to radium every day on the job, before anyone understood the dangers. This is the story of a feisty, sixty-five-year-old survivor, who tells the story of what happened to her family and co-workers in the 1920s and 30s.

Here is a review:
"Shelley Stout debuts with a novel of characters as compelling as the true story it covers. Like a good reporter, she follows the facts. In this case she not only uncovers a story little known, but more importantly she reveals in her characters, the humanity of a tragic tale." --Batt Humphreys, former senior producer for CBS News, and author of Dead Weight.

Amazon link here:

Radium Halos is historical fiction based on the true events of the Radium Dial Painters, a group of female factory workers who, in the early 1920s, contracted radiation poisoning from painting luminous watch dials with radium paint. Our narrator is Helen Waterman, a 65-year-old mental patient who worked at the factory when she was 16. She tells us her story through flashbacks, slowly revealing her past, the loved ones she's lost, and the dangerous secrets she's kept all these years. Includes a Foreword by Leonard Grossman, son of the attorney for the Radium Dial painters. FOREWORD Five years before I was born, my father, Leonard J. Grossman, represented women from Ottawa, Illinois in litigation against the Radium Dial Corporation seeking not merely damages but also recognition of what had been done to them. I grew up in the shadow of the Radium Dial case, a landmark in workers' rights in this country. I was deeply proud of my father and infuriated, as he was, by the injustice inflicted on these women. I am sure this background is one reason I became a government lawyer enforcing workers' rights. So when I came across Radium Halos by Shelley Stout I was very excited. Sometimes fiction can speak truth in ways that the bare facts cannot. Ms. Stout has found a unique voice in which to tell the tragic story of the Radium Dial workers and at the same time to say much about life in this country. The story goes beyond the Radium Dial case and reflects much about our attitudes toward work, women, mental illness and aging. Along the way it speaks of fear and loyalty and truth itself. Leonard Grossman September 2009

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I am always interested in how a novelist comes up with names for each character- did you have a specific method for naming your characters?

message 3: by Shelley (last edited Mar 12, 2010 06:04PM) (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Rick, thanks for the question. It's been a few years (around five)?? since I decided on the characters' names, so I don't remember exactly where I got them from. I do know that I have collected hundreds of names from various sources, (for example, when someone sends one of those emails that asks you to add your name at the bottom and forward to others). Then, I might mix and match first names with last names.

For me, the name has to sound great when read out loud, it has to be like no other character's name, (so there is no confusion for the reader), and it has to match the character's personality.

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
I think that is a terrific method - I recently read a book where two characters had similar names- they were minor ones- but I kept having to turn back to see which one it was!

message 5: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments I suppose you could have two characters with similar names, as long as the characters are vastly different in other respects, such as a grandchild who might be named after a grandparent. Otherwise, you're right-- that could get confusing!

message 6: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Oh, and before I forget, I have a giveaway posted for two signed copies of my novel. :)

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
interesting that when writing a novel- there are so many characters-subplots ect- how did you keep all of that information organized? Did you change story direction as characters took on life of their own?

message 8: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Since my novel is written in two timelines, (the 1920s/30s and 1972), I had to keep a spreadsheet of all the characters, their ages in both timelines, and even their parents. That way, I knew exactly which end was up! :)

Yes, the story changed quite a few times as I was writing and revising. In fact, some of my first draft had to be deleted and re-written. My first draft was written from the pov of Helen, Adrienne, and Benjamin. Early readers liked Helen's voice, and suggested re-writing all from her pov alone. With Helen "running the show," I never knew quite where things would go.

message 9: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Welcome to the club! A most fascinating idea for a book. There are many such examples that are rarely examined thoroughly in a book. Whether it is an after effect of coal mining, radiation or asbestos for example. I like the idea of using the narrator for the book by a worker employed by the plant. Was the concept preplanned or evolved as you were writing it? Sometimes revisions of that nature occur during the process of writing. Loosely based on a true story, is there any other event that was of inspiration to write this original idea for a book also? Reading your bio, one other example that comes to mind is a cast for a movie all died of cancer for they were not informed the movie was being filmed in an area formerly used as an atom bomb test site.

message 10: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Welcome Shelley! I agree with Brian, what an absolutely fascinating and unique topic to write on. I am wondering the cycle of emotions you must have experienced while writing this book? How would you classify them and how did you deal with what had to be some very difficult chapters to write?

message 11: by Brian (last edited Mar 12, 2010 05:01PM) (new)

Brian | 274 comments Hi Shelley; Gary makes a compelling point. A good story teller will provoke emotions in a book. As an author I am very interested about the intensity you feel while writing it. Did you find the emotional aspect difficult? Can that be extremely intense also? Lastly, are there times when you stop writing for a period because of the emotions involved? Close to the same questions just a little different. Readers can easily be drawn to the general topic of the book as lawsuits have resulted from the unsuspected dangers of the work enviroment. Some companies know they are placing their workers in harms way and are aware of the health risks. How has the responce to your book been so far? I am sure a multitude of people can relate to the story.

message 12: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Thank you, Gary and Brian for your questions. First, to answer Brian’s question about whether the concept for my novel was preplanned or evolved as I was writing it-- at, Chelsea Badeau did a very thorough interview with me, (link to the Q& A here-- and she asked me a similar question about my main character, Helen. In order to tell this story properly, I needed a narrator who could recall it as an elderly person who had endured a tragedy, but who had continued to endure other hardships throughout her life.

There was no other event that inspired me to write this novel, although currently in the news, we are constantly hearing about new workplace dangers and medications that are causing harm to unsuspecting consumers.

Gary and Brian, to answer your question(s) about the emotional aspects of writing this novel, yes, while researching the subject matter, I was horrified and yet fascinated by this little-known event in American industrial history. I knew the subject matter would be intense, so I tried to focus more on the characters and the impact it had on their lives. I felt sorry for these young innocent women, and I knew I wanted to share this story with new generations who had never heard of it.

Since I had first heard about this topic in the late 1980s, I had spent nearly 20 years thinking about it before writing the novel. I tried to channel the emotions I felt into my characters, so hopefully the readers could also feel the horror and devastation these young women experienced.

The response so far has been great! RADIUM HALOS was first released as an ebook, then due to increasing sales, the publisher released it as a paperback. Most readers have noted that they can relate to Helen, and in fact, they feel a range of emotions in that connection.

message 13: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Shelley,

I apologize if this has already been asked, but I am wondering if you regularly hear form people (relatives, friends, etc) of the women affected by this tragedy? Also this seems like such a powerful story that a film should be made, is there any chance of that?

message 14: by Shelley (last edited Mar 19, 2010 04:27AM) (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Hello, Gary. In answer to your first question, someone from Goodreads contacted me a couple of months ago who had two relatives affected. She posted the information on my Facebook fan page:

As far as a film, that is left up to the fates, I'm afraid. I do not have an agent at this time to sell film rights. Maybe some day!

message 15: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Thanks Shelley. Just ordered the kindle edition of your book. How tough was it to keep in character with regards to the use of words as the main character would speak them? How did you research how to put the words into a way in which she would communicate them?

message 16: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Gary, it wasn't all that hard, because once I got into the character, it was a little like playing a part in a play. I just knew who the character was, and went from there.

Thanks for the download!

message 17: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments I just wanted to mention, you can order an ebook version of Radium Halos for only .99! It is available in multiple formats here:

or as a Kindle here:

message 18: by Gary F (new)

Gary F | 170 comments Really looking forward to reading it!

message 19: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Hi Shelley; what I find most appealing about your book is that so many people can identify with working in a health hazard environment. The situation becomes dire when such a job occurs in the military since one has no choice but to follow orders. I watched a documentary a number of years ago on early versions of Russian nuclear submarines. The officers and crew were very aware of the high levels of radiation in the air. They drank Vodka to sweat out the poisonous air quality. Of course all were elderly that were interviewed. Notably missing was any mention of the officers or crew members who undoubtedly died young. Thought you might enjoy this historical commentary as it ties into you book very well.

message 20: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments Thank you, Brian. History is full of dangerous and hazardous work environments. Even with OSHA, we are still exposed daily to harmful toxins at work AND at home.

message 21: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments Very good point Shelley! Just house cleaners contains poisons. One just has to look at all the products and see all the warning labels. Which can easily penetrate through our pours into the bloodstream. That is precisely why your book touches upon so many aspects of our lives. Statistics show a marked increase in at least the last three decades of cancer. The food we eat, the air we breath, our homes, work, etc. Are your planning to write another book that is different yet connected to this book?

message 22: by Shelley (new)

Shelley Stout | 0 comments For some time now, I have been working on a new novel, which has a medical bent to it. It is not, however connected to Radium Halos.

message 23: by Brian (new)

Brian | 274 comments That is great Shelley! One of my favorite authors wrote suspenseful medical/mysteries, Robin Cook. He is one of the few who wrote in that genre. There is a vast field to harvest in that theme. I think it would be great to see a women write in a similar fashion. Best Wishes.

Rick-Founder JM CM BOOK CLUB  | 7278 comments Mod
Brian wrote: "That is great Shelley! One of my favorite authors wrote suspenseful medical/mysteries, Robin Cook. He is one of the few who wrote in that genre. There is a vast field to harvest in that theme. I th..."

Brian- just took out Robin Cook's newest book- He and Michael Palmer dominate that genre- there was an author- last name was Clement I believe who wrote several medical thrillers a few years back- havent seen any from him since

Shelly- what kind of research goes into writing a book that deals with such intricate a subject as medicine?

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