Name – Sherrill Willis
Age – Adult, but not necessarily mature.
Where are you from – Sacramento, CA
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc – I’m a single mom of 3 great kids, which was the very first thing I ever wanted to be – a Mom. Second was becoming a writer. So now I’m pretty much set for life! I enjoy living in Northern Wisconsin and love having actual seasons. I grew up in Sacramento, CA, so this is a much different life that I have chosen than the one I previous led. There is no need for Manolo’s up here.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I should be releasing my third book, Stay a While in Ruby Lake, later this month. Stay tuned!!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I actually started writing poetry when I was little, five or six, but seriously writing – that was probably about six or seven years ago. My dad called me the day after the last Harry Potter was released and said, “Sherrill, did you see how much money that woman made? Why are you doing this?” I took a couple writing classes, was invited and accepted a one-on-one class with the Dean of Writing at my school, and began writing my first novel, Ruby Lake, then.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
That’s a hard one to pinpoint. I think a few months after Ruby Lake was released and I started seeing reviews on Amazon by lots of people I didn’t know.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
My love for Northern WI. I really wanted that to come across in the book, my love for this place.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Dialogue. Lots and Lots of dialogue. I tend to skip over descriptions when I read, I can “see” what I’m reading fine, so I figure other people can too. So I only do little sketches of description, and make sure my readers know where in “room” the characters are.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Originally, I was going to name it Cranberry Lake, I liked the imagery, but that’s an actual place in Wisconsin, so I opted to create a purely fictional town. That way no one can say I have something in the wrong place, hahaha.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
We are all in this together, and none of us get out alive so let those in your life know you love them.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Quite a bit, in fact, many of the things I put in the books have happened to me. Not all, but many. Like the story of Sydney buying worms in the first book – yes, I did that.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Yes, yes and yes.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most?
Oh there’s another hard question – I started with Laura Ingalls Wilder, then much later Danielle Steel, Lavryle Spencer, Nora Roberts, Anne Rice, Dean Kootz, and my absolute favorite: Diana Gabaldon. All of their books, and yes, I have read them all (almost).
Fiona: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Diana Gabaldon or Anne Rice – can’t I have two? Please?
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Last Kingdom – Bernard Cornwell – it’s all about the Vikings. I find I can’t read contemporary books while I’m in the middle of writing.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Oh yeah – Glenn Scrimshaw is Hilarious, D. Michelle Gent is one of my favorites, K.D. Emerson is great for edge-of-your-seat-nail-biting stories, Crystal Hubbard, oh there’s a lot!
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Stay a While in Ruby Lake, the 3rd in my Ruby Lake series, is very close to completion, and I have a couple more rumbling around. I usually have at least 3 stories going in my head on any given day. I wish I could write faster!
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members
There are two (I suck at following orders by the way) Gingernut Books Ltd who edited my first two books and waiting until I could pay them to charge me, and Master Koda on Facebook which is run by Kim Mutch Emerson, who has given of her time and energy to help me in many, various ways.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Absolutely. I’ll do this until I die.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, although in my second book my readers hated the cliffhanger ending, so I probably won’t do that again, but no I wouldn’t change it. That’s the way it has to end.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I love words. I always have. I started reading independently when I was three and never stopped, so writing just became an extension of that. I was lucky to attend a private school (Waldorf, shush haters haha) and my teacher allowed me to put myself in my papers (for history, English – anything I had to write for really) as long as all the facts were right. That’s truly what made me think I could be a writer. I always have been in some way or another.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Sure, the second book, A Wedding in Ruby Lake, ended um let’s say abruptly, so this one picks up where that left off, here’s a little snippet from the first few pages of Stay A While in Ruby Lake:
Illana was sitting between Graham and Zeke, her head on Graham’s shoulder when she heard a distinct southern twang. “Who’s in charge here? I don’t give not one rat’s patootie if I’m family or not, I want information on Sydney Greyson and I want it now!”
Illana rolled her eyes and looked at Zeke. “I got this,” she said as she stood up. “Hey Kentucky, we’re over here.”
Mel swung around, her long, blonde hair swaying behind her. “It’s Oklahoma, but oh I’m glad to see you. How is she? Any word on Annie?” Mel asked, running over to hug each of them. She was followed by a man Illana recognized but couldn’t place.
If I give anymore, it will give too much away, but there’s a little bit to whet your appetite.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Beginnings and endings. The middle is a cake walk.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Diana Gabaldon. She can do scenes with 6-8 people and the reader never gets lost as to who is speaking and she doesn’t usually give clues like “Jamie said,” “Claire said” etc. How does she do that??
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet, but I do have this idea that will “make” me go to Rome, Scotland, England and Paris.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
Tammy Brown Canady at GYC Designs. She’s responsible for making me look as good as I do, and she is also one of my very best friends.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Writing isn’t hard. It’s waiting while the reader’s digest it, and waiting for their response. I write for me, I publish for them.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I can follow my dreams and be successful. It may not be exactly as I pictured (I am still hoping to someday buy a plane hahaha) but it has been infinitely worth it.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Do not allow others to tell you how good you are. You know, when you reread your stuff if it still makes you laugh, cry, smile, whatever – then it’s good. Go for it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Without your support, I wouldn’t still be doing this crazy dream. You all are the ones who make it worth it. Thank you to everyone who tells their family, friends, store clerk (my mom does this), and others about me, and a special thanks to everyone who takes the time to write a review. It is hugely appreciated.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies
Reading, talking with friends/family on the phone, Facebook (okay it’s more like an addiction), watching movies – normal stuff. (Yes, Facebook addiction is too normal!)
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I love The Walking Dead! My friend and her husband and I all watch it together every week – LOVE that show. Movies – most of them as long as they aren’t gory. Pretty much a fan of everything else.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Mexican food, purple and I’m pretty eclectic on my music tastes – anything from 80’s metal to Classical (i.e. Mozart) to top 40’s to folk to blues – I’m all over the place. Oh and musicals, LOVE musicals. And Jet Li films. And and and…
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Stand up comedian, but I’m not that funny, darn it to heck.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website?
If so what is it? I have a Facebook page (read above) that my readers interact with me on almost daily – please come by, there are always some sort of shenanigans going on – https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSherrillWillis