What happens when the past won't stay in the past? The Write Way Café welcomes Cheryl Rees-Price, whose book Echoes explores that problem.
When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? Was that first thought related to writing romance?
Several years ago I wrote a play for the local church. It was a wonderful experience to see the play come to life and witness the reaction from the audience. After that I wrote a few pieces of poetry before gaining the confidence to write a book. I didn’t set out to write a romance novel, I just had an idea for a story with the main theme being mystery and paranormal. The romance element developed as I wrote. It did make Echoes difficult to place with a publishers as it didn’t fit nicely into one genre.
What was your path to getting this book written and published? What type of research did you do?
When I started writing Echoes I had an idea, started writing and let the plot unfold. I’ve since learned that this is not the best approach, you can easily lose track of the character descriptions and traits and also tie yourself in knots with the time line. Now I create character profiles, timelines and extensive notes for each chapter. Then I start the research, again this is put into a file for easy reference.
There are many books available for leaning the craft of writing, and you can pick up some good tips but most of it is trial and error until you find what works best for you.
Where did the idea for your story come from?
The idea for the story came from a nightmare which is the same dream Alice experiences in the opening chapter of Echoes. As the second half of the book is set during World War Two, I had to do extensive research on the subject and pay particular attention to the timeline, as well as researching the mining industry during that period. The internet is a fantastic tool for research but I also visited museums, talked with older people who had first experience of working down a mine and was fortunate to have a copy of my husband’s grandfather’s memoirs which gave an insight into life during that time.
Why did you pick the setting you did?
I used two locations for the book, the first half of the book is set in New York, the second half a mining village in Wales. This was essential to the plot. The main character had to travel to a different country away from all that is familiar and trust her instincts to find a connection to her past.
What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about dreams and nightmares, soldiers, and secrets from the past?
I have learned to have patience and perseverance! It is difficult to get your foot in the door of a publisher. The big houses only accept manuscripts through an agent and the smaller, independent publishers only publish a handful of books a year. The competition is fierce.
The submission process is long with three months or more for a reply and some publishers don’t accept simultaneous submissions. So it can take years of trying before a manuscript gets accepted. In my case it was nearly seven years! I was on the point of giving up but gave it one more try and luckily Echoes was accepted.
Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.
I hand write my stories so I go through a mountain of note books and pens. I find the process easier, I’m not the best typist and get distracted from all the red lines that appear on the screen from my typing errors. Using a notebook has the advantage of being able to write anywhere. When I transpose my story to computer I generally work at the kitchen table where I can spread out all my notes. Tea and biscuits are close at hand, which is a great but not so good for the waistline!
What are some of your favorite books and why?
I enjoy a good thriller, one that keeps you up at night. I have to be hooked by the first chapter. There are many books that I have enjoyed over the years. Harlan Coben, Michael Robotham, and Wilbur Smith are among my favorite authors. As a child I read The Hardy Boys and The Famous Five. I loved the mystery. If I had to pick one book that stayed in my memory it would be The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, as a child it magically transported me back in time and to another country.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on the second book in a crime series. This is the genre I am most comfortable writing. I enjoy the excitement of creating the storyline and piecing together the plot.
If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?
This is a tricky question as I already hold down a job and fit my writing around my work. So I guess being a full time writer would be my dream job. I would love to have a cottage by the sea where I could walk on the beach every day as I conjure up plots and characters. Maybe one day!
What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble?
I would say editing gives me the most trouble. The process can be tedious especially when you have gone over the manuscript several times. You begin to question every sentence, re-writing and re-structuring paragraphs only to change them back. I had a great editor for Echoes and learned a lot during the process and was able to apply this knowledge to my next book.
Do you believe in ghosts?
It started as a nightmare, an unknown soldier, glimpses of a buried past. Then a death and the nightmares turn into hauntings. It’s time for secrets to be told.
Alice is an ordinary woman, a good career, handsome husband and a comfortable home. But her life is suddenly thrown into turmoil when she begins to experience terrifying nightmares of a young soldier. These dreams set in motion a chain of events that irrevocably change her life.
As the nightmares intensify and merge with reality Alice begins to sustain physical injury and sees the ghostly figure of the soldier in her waking hours.
Fearing for her sanity she must find the identity of the soldier and the link that draws them together. Her search takes her from New York to a sleepy village in Wales. Here she meets a cantankerous old man who holds the key to unlocking a seventy year old tragedy which will save Alice from a similar fate.
Available from Amazon
Cheryl Rees-Price was born in Cardiff and moved as a Young child to a small ex-mining village on the edge of the Black Mountains, South Wales, where she still lives with her husband, daughters and two cats. After leaving school she worked as a legal clerk for several years before leaving to raise her two daughters.
Cheryl returned to education, studying philosophy, sociology and accountancy whilst working as a part time book keeper. She now works as a finance director for a company that delivers project management and accounting services and sits on the board of a local circus company.
In her spare time Cheryl indulges in her passion for writing, the success of writing plays for local performances gave her the confidence to write her first novel. Her other hobbies include walking and gardening which free her mind to develop plots and create colourful characters.