Thursday, January 19, 2017 | By: The Write Way Cafe

An Interview with Sherry Lewis

The Write Way Café welcomes Sherry Lewis, who's learned that sometimes books just need to evolve organically.

When did you first have the thought you'd like to write a book? I can’t remember exactly, but I know I was just a girl and I was younger than 11. To the best of my knowledge, I’ve always known that I wanted to write books.

Where did the idea for your story come from?

The character of Katie Scarlett O’Malley first made an appearance in my head about 15 years ago. I had a very clear sense of her and tried several times to write her story, but apparently I got her story wrong because none of those other incarnations worked. Then one day I heard her say, “If you make me shoot you, I’ll never forgive you.” That line of dialogue intrigued me so much, I decided to try again. This time, she opened up to me in a way she never had before. Once she revealed a few key elements of this story to me, we were off and running.

Why did you pick the setting you did? 

Because Yellowstone National Park is probably my favorite place on earth and during one of my attempts to tell Scarlett’s story, I spent a few days in West Yellowstone, Montana. Montana is home to me, so setting a book there is always a joy for me.

Are your main characters completely imaginary or do they have some basis in real people? Do they reflect aspects of yourself? 
The characters in this book are completely imaginary. I couldn’t even tell you for sure that I know someone like any of them. As for reflecting aspects of myself, I would have to say yes. I can’t tell you what those aspects are because it’s not a conscious connection, but unless and until I find an emotional connection with a character, I find it very difficult to write them. There’s something of me in Scarlett and in Kat, and probably even in Fergus. Maybe I’ll figure out what it is one day.

Did you face any blocks while writing the book, and if so, how did you handle them? If not, what's your secret? 
I faced many blocks while writing this book, beginning with trying to put Scarlett in a romance novel (she wasn’t having it), moving on to submitting a proposal to my publisher who wanted to wait to make a decision about the book since it was different from anything I’d written for them up to that point, and moving on to long periods of time when Scarlett wasn’t talking to me. I handled all of them by not giving up, by regrouping, revamping, and trying again. Persistence is a much-needed commodity in the life of a writer.

What did you learn? For instance, what did you learn about yourself, your process, the writing world; about women in law enforcement and about Montana? 

This is the longest book I’ve written to date, so I learned that I can, indeed, write a longer book. I’d researched women in law enforcement for an earlier book, and as I said earlier, Montana is home to me, so I set books there frequently. I also found joy in writing this book, which is something I’d lost to some degree after many years of writing to deadline. I let this book evolve more organically than I’d been able to do with books in recent years, and that made writing it a pleasure.

Tell us about your writing space and how or why it works for you.  
My writing space varies by the day. Most days, I work in my living room in a comfortable chair. Many days I work in my office, which is a lovely, sunny room overlooking my front yard. Other days, I pack up my laptop and work at the library, a restaurant, or a park near the beach. That’s one of the things I love about being a writer: I can work anywhere I want.

What are some of your favorite books and why?  

I like anything by Susan Howatch. She’s a master at deep point-of-view and character motivation. Right now, I’m working my way through the Poldark series by Winston Graham. I love big, rich, thick books and long for the return of the family saga.

What are you working on now? 
I’m just beginning the first in a series of eight related romance novels At this point, I think they’ll be set somewhere along the Gulf Coast, which is where I’m currently living. I have a very loose idea of how the stories are connected, but I’m just beginning the work of deciding on the characters and plots. I’ve always wanted to write a book based loosely on a fairy tale, and that’s what these books will be.

Would you like to try your hand at writing a different genre?  Which one and why? 
I’ve written contemporary romance, time travel romance, romantic suspense, and mystery, but I’ve always wanted to write mainstream historical fiction. I have always loved historical fiction, and for many years I’ve nursed the dream of writing a huge, rich book set around the Revolutionary War.

If you were not a writer, what would your dream job be?  

That’s a hard one. For many years, I couldn’t think of anything else I would want to do. Then I spent some time serving on the board of directors for Romance Writers of America and realized that I quite enjoyed that. But now, I think the only other job I might want would be retired grandmother with nothing more demanding to do but spend time with my grandkids.

What aspect of writing gives you the most trouble? 
Filling all the logic flaws and making sure the character motivation is working.

Who is your favorite hero/heroine?

It’s not possible to pick just one from my own work, so I’m going to say Kendrick de Piaget from Lynn Kurland’s wonderful Stardust of Yesterday.

Scarlett (don't call me Katie) was raised by her father after her mother walked out when Scarlett was just three. Now thirty years later, Scarlett learns that her mother was killed when she lost control of her car less than 50 miles from Scarlett's home town. The news is unnerving, especially since Scarlett had no idea her mother was anywhere around.
Frankly, Scarlett doesn't give a damn. She'd be happy to ignore her mother's accident completely, but that proves to be impossible once her egg donor's ghost shows up in Scarlett’s bedroom Not only has Kat failed to go toward the light, she’s become attached to Scarlett for some reason neither of them can understand. When Scarlett's aunt asks her to prove that Kat's death was no accident, Scarlett agrees, but only so she can send her ghostly visitor on to her great reward.
Together, Scarlett and her amnesiac ghost of a mother look into the accident that claimed Kat's life. It doesn't take long for things to get worse and soon they're caught up in a web of secrets and lies that turn Scarlett's whole world upside-down.

Available for pre-order: Amazon

Sherry Lewis is the award-winning, national bestselling author of more than 30 books across several different genres. She’s also the owner/instructor at Dancing on Coals Workshops for Fiction Writers. Sherry is the mother of two wonderful daughters and the world’s best son-in-law. She’s the grandmother of two delightful granddaughters, and makes her home along Florida’s Emerald Coast with the two most uncuddly cats on the planet. 

Website        Facebook        Twitter: @SherryLewis        Pinterest


Sandy L. Rowland said...

I've read a number of Sherry's books and love her writing. This new venture intrigues me. Thanks, Sherry, for sharing your writing struggles. It gives me hope with my own work. I hope for your continued success.

HiDee said...

I loved visiting Yellowstone, and we stayed at West Yellowstone when we visited. Beautiful country! I'm looking forward to checking out your book. Thanks for being with us today!

Sherry Lewis said...

Thanks for stopping by Sandy! If there's one thing no writer can avoid, it's the struggle. We all have them, that's for sure.

and HiDee, I'm delighted to be here today. Thanks so much for having me.

Melissa Mayhue said...

That sounds like an awesome story, Sherry! I can't wait to read it!!

Judy Baker said...

I love Yellowstone too, Sherry. We visit once a year. Scarlett's story sounds like a great read. Enjoyed your interview.

Anonymous said...

Were you ever on the New York Times?

What was your favorite book?

What was your bestselling book? How many copies?

From: 6th Grade at GC, MO! :)

Sandy Loyd said...

Great post! Scarlett's story sounds intriguing. Can't wait til it comes out!

stanalei said...

The new book sounds so awesome, Sherry. Can't wait to pick it up. The interview was like sitting and visit with you again. Wishing you the best!

Sherry Lewis said...

Thanks for stopping by Melissa, Judy, Sandy, and the 6th grade in GC, MO!

I have not been on the New York Times bestseller list yet, but I hope to be some day.

My favorite book when I was your age was probably MISTRESS OF MELLYN by Victoria Holt. My grandmother gave me a copy to read and I read it guess where? In Yellowstone National Park! It was very mysterious and I loved it!

My most recent bestselling book would probably be A SHEETCAKE NAMED DESIRE, a book I wrote under the name Jacklyn Brady. I'm afraid I don't know how many copies off the top of my head, though.

Thanks for your questions. Keep reading! Even if you think you don't like reading now, keep trying new books. There's a book out there somewhere that you'll love. I promise.

Sherry Lewis said...

Waving hello to you too Stanalei! Wish we could sit down together and chat. That would be great.

Jo Jones said...

Wonderful interview, Sherry. I love that amazing characters and a great storyline, can evolve out of one intriguing line of dialogue. Best wishes for huge success with DEAD ON ARRIVAL!

Sherry Lewis said...

Thanks so much for stopping by, Jo. I agree with you. So much can come from a single, random line of dialogue (or narrative) it makes writing fun :)

Harley Brooks said...

So excited for this new one. The premise sounds great and set in the middle of a place already rich with myths, ghost towns, and unexplained deaths. Yellowstone has been a part of my summers since the year I was born. Can't wait to read this, Sherry. Good luck!

Sherry Lewis said...

Thanks, Harley! Yes, there's so much about Yellowstone to fascinate, isn't there? It's an amazing place.

K R. Bailey said...

Great interview. I too love Yellowstone and Montana and didnt know you call Montana home. This book sounds very intrquing

Mary Martinez said...

Great interview! Love Yellowstone and Montana, it's been WAY to long since I've been there.

Book looks awesome.

Sherry Lewis said...

Thanks for stopping by K.R. and Mary! It just occurred to me that Yellowstone would be an awesome place for a writer's retreat, don't you think?

Sherry Lewis said...

I just found out that the 6th grade at GC, MO really wanted to know my favorite book to write, not my favorite book to read, so in case they're still out there, here's my answer:

It's a hard question to answer because I've written a lot of books and I like them all for different reasons. But even though I like them all, some of them have been more fun to write than others. I had fun writing DEAD ON ARRIVAL. I found myself laughing a lot at the things Scarlett and Kat said. I also had fun writing A TIME TO DREAM, which was my first time-travel romance novel. It was set in Hannibal, MO, by the way. And Sam Evans in AN ECHO IN TIME made ma laugh almost every day. I'd have to say those three books were probably my favorite books to write so far.