Monday 1 February 2016

Author Interview: Sheryl Browne

In the interview seat today we have the lovely Sheryl Brwone. Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal, Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Crime Writers’ Association, Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl has seven books published to date.
Sheryl’s new contemporary romance novel was recommended to the publisher by the WH Smith Travel fiction buyer. THE REST OF MY Life comes to you from award winning Choc Lit.

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Hello Sheryl and welcome to Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom

Hi Shona! Thank you so much for inviting me and allowing me to share a little bit about myself and my books! I’ll try not to be too boring.

Was there anything particular that inspired you to start your journey of being an author?

A policeman. Haw, haw! I joke, although I am rather inspired by men in uniform. Actually, I think I first started writing about the time I took leave of my senses. Well, you have to admit it’s a bit of a mad thing to do, especially in today’s publishing climate, but still, it’s a case of “I write therefore I am” with me, I’m afraid. I simply have to do it. Writing has always been my passion, since way back when a kindly English teacher gave me 22 out of 20 for an essay, bless him. I started writing novels in my early twenties (yes, it’s taken me that long!). I was a single parent back then and had taken compassionate leave from my job to nurse my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s. Naturally, there came a time when she needed more medical care than I could give and I found I badly needed an emotional outlet, so I picked up a pencil – an actual pencil then – and started scribbling. It turned out to be a real catharsis, but not in the gloomy way one might expect. Amazingly, I found I was reflecting on the humour and love we’d shared and out popped my poignant rom com style of writing. I write in two genres, romantic fiction and psychological thriller. I do have a dark side therefore – beware! – but I think those thrillers still tend to look at the fragility of love, life and relationships so perhaps the two genres are not so far apart.

My very first bestselling debut, however… Um, well it didn’t sell. I think the agent who’d hailed it as such went off in search of Prozac. I’d love to tell you about it but, unfortunately, I eventually tossed it in the bin. I can tell you the title. It was called Loose Screws! Hmm? Not so sure about that now. Silver linings and all that, though: my book, Warrant for Love – now published – was based on that first book. Or rather what I could remember of it, mostly that hunky policeman in his bite-the-buttons-off blue uniform.

What would you say is the hardest part of writing/publishing a book for you?

Honestly? Believing in myself. Yes, I had an agent’s interest and I’ve had several instances of coming close since. Your confidence does plummet with rejection though. You see, it’s so difficult to judge your own work. There are so many fabulous writers out there and even the best of the best will tell you it’s a constant learning curve. You are always striving to improve your writing and make it the best it can possibly be. One thing I will say, though, is that in amongst those rejections, often a publisher or agent would offer a little advice. Considering how many manuscripts they set eyes on in a month, I consoled myself with the fact that at least I had attracted their interest enough for them to take time to reply. I try to use criticism positively therefore, pull myself up by my bootstraps and forge on.

If you could only read four books for the rest of your life, what would they be?

Ohhhh, now that’s a hard one! As mentioned I write in two genres so I’d have to have … um, Marian Keyes (Water Melon and any of the Walsh family series. Or maybe The Woman who Stole My Life). I adore Marian’s writing. Her books tend to deal with modern ailments, but are always written with the compassion and humour I so admire. Also, pretty much any two books by Martina Cole. Martina is another author I admire tremendously. For me, the magic of Martina Cole’s books is her fabulously unique way of leading us seamlessly into the heads of her characters: real flesh and blood people we can identify with and get to know.

Do you and your main character share any personality traits?

My female protagonists? Definitely. We’re all gorgeous but don’t know it. Hmm? Well my heroines are. Seriously, I tend to write female leads who are vulnerable, in so much as they are possibly too caring for their own good, but who have a rod of steel-like inner strength running through them. Sometimes, they don’t know it until they’re tested and then … Well, woe betide anyone who gets in their way. My male characters tend to have to brace themselves a bit.

If you could live in any book what book would it be?
That would have to be The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis.
'It’s a magic wardrobe. There’s a wood inside it, and it’s snowing! Come and see,' begged Lucy.”
You have to admit the mythical winter wonderland that is Narnia seems very inviting – at first glance anyway.
Where do your ideas for your books come from? Dreams? Music?
I think most authors draw on life events and the emotions around them, looking at the inner and outer conflicts people might be dealing with. In The Rest of My Life, for instance, the inner conflicts and demons both Adam and Sienna were dealing with needed careful handling. Sienna’s mother struggled with bipolar disorder. Anyone who has experience of this knows that it is a much misunderstood condition. I do have experience of it, but still, careful research was called for, as with depression linked to post-traumatic stress disorder, which Adam acknowledges he has, but doubts that anyone can help him with. Talking to the people coping with such issues was paramount, followed up by whatever online research I felt was necessary.

As for characters, again they come from life, I think. For me, they’re an amalgamation of people and the good and bad traits they might have. As touched on above, the heroine is perhaps a mixture of our own strengths and vulnerabilities: who we are and how we want to be. I always start off with a nicely formed man, however (which isn’t a bad way to start). I have no idea why. Even when I have an idea for a strong female protagonist, the male lead, whether he’s good or bad, or a dangerously heady mixture of both, he’s right there, his features, his hair, his clothes, his mannerisms, his conflicts, inner and outer. I’m not sure he’s based on anyone I actually know (or if he is, I’m not saying).

Any advice for aspiring authors?

Based on my answer regarding my writing journey, never throw away your first manuscript! It might need work but as you write and learn, taking on board constructive criticism, you can fix it! Seriously, I’d advise a new author to climb on board social media platforms immediately. You can learn so much from other writers, connect on Twitter/FB and read author blogs, join online writing groups, ask for guidance on where to obtain editorial advice or enlist a beta reader. The most vital thing, in my opinion though, is to read – lots! To quote Stephen King: “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot. If you don't have time to read, you don't have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

The Rest of My Life

You can’t run away from commitment forever … “

Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…

Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.

And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?

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