Name Lydia Sherrer
Age: I was born the year the Berlin wall fell.
Where are you from: The wonderful, verdant, mosquito-ridden, yet enchantingly beautiful northern Kentucky countryside. Kentucky is the home of thoroughbred horses, bourbon, and Kentucky Friend Chicken. Of the three, chicken is really the only one I care about. For more detail, take a peek at my full author bio (lydiasherrer.com/about-me) which I slaved over for a full five minutes while contemplating the advantages of humour and self-deprecation in autobiographies.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
While I have several short stories and articles under my belt in various publications, I’m taking that leap into self-publishing and releasing the first two books of a modern fantasy series Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus, at the end of April. The kickstarter to fund the publishing goes live February 2nd (a good chance to pre-order the books and get signed copies). The launch is in late April, they’ll be available on Amazon.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
When? No idea, but the first story I kept record of was written at ten years old (read here: http://lydiasherrer.com/milestones-the-first-story-i-ever-wrote/) Why? Because I was cursed with the delightful inability to keep my mouth shut, and blessed with the eternally frustrating talent of putting words together in a pleasing order. Ultimately, though, I believe we were created in the image of a story-telling God, and so we tell stories to understand ourselves better, discover who we are, and who we were meant to be. In conclusion: biological imperative.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I struggled over whether to put “writer” “professional writer” or “author” on my business cards.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
Sisterly love, the plight of orphans, and the moral quandary of vampirism. That book won’t be published until 2017/18, but it was the first one I wrote more than a few chapters of.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
If you mean voice, my voice leans toward the more prosaic and formal (think Jane Austin), but I alter it somewhat depending on the genre and topic I’m writing in. I favor female protagonists, and usually write from a limited third person perspective.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus, has a title that accurately describes what the books are about: love, lies, and magic. But magic doesn’t sound as snappy, so I used hocus pocus instead. While my first book (remember sisters, orphans and vampires) came long before a title (I still haven’t decided on one), Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus came first, and the story followed from it.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Always, always, always. I’ll quote from my favorite book on storytelling by Mike Cosper,
“…we tell stories to know who we are–to understand ourselves and our place in the world. It’s as though all of our stories are a way for the imagination to poke at the human condition, testing its borders and depths, looking for ways to understand the why behind the what of our lives…”
Though the messages in my books aren’t always universal or life-changing, they are truths that make up who we are as humans, truths that help us become better versions of ourselves. Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus has themes of searching for wisdom (truth vs lies, if/when each is appropriate and why), doing one’s duty, and loving unconditionally and selflessly.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus is set in modern day Atlanta, GA, on the campus of Agnes Scott College. Though I take creative liberties in my descriptions of the college/campus, I try to keep my setting as real to life as possible, even if the magic in it is not. Check out this fascinating blog post (http://lydiasherrer.com/behind-the-story-my-trip-to-agnes-scott-college/) about when I visited the REAL Agnes Scott College, and got a special tour! (complete with pictures)
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Not so much experiences as the characters themselves. As writers, we do best when we write what we know, yet throw in enough imagination and fantasy to make it unique and original. My characters are an amalgamation of myself, my family, and my friends. My experience in LIFE, period, informs me how to write the lives of my fictional characters.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
The Bible. Before you mob me for being cliche, realize that everything an author writes, deeper even than their voice, genre, dialog, humor, and more is all guided by their worldview and sense of morality (or lack thereof). I get mine from the Bible and my strong belief in a system of truths taught us by our perfect and holy Creator. Many people disagree with my views, which is fine. However, I’ve seen the truth of these things worked out in life too often to dismiss them in my own mind just because they’re unpopular.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
On Basilisk Station by David Weber (for the third time), A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (for the first time).
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Terry Maggert! He isn’t exactly a “new” author, with a few years and books under his belt. I met him last August at a convention and was immediately entranced by his humor and creativity. I enjoy his books and he is not only a good writer, but a good person and a good friend.
I also would love to mention J.J. Sherwood, author of Kings or Pawns, a new epic fantasy novel that she released last Oct. Also someone I met at a convention, I’ve become fast friends with her and her family. I’ve both enjoyed her book and been blessed by her advice, friendship, and encouragement as a fellow self-published author.
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My Love, Lies, and Hocus Pocus series. You can see a complete breakdown on my website (lydiasherrer.com/my-writing), but in short I’m publishing the first two books in April, and hopefully the next two later in 2016 or early 2017. Those four books make up Season 1, and I have two more seasons planned. I also have an urban fantasy series on the back burner (remember those vampires?).
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
Haha! Just one? That’s cruel! I’d probably give a shout out to long-time friend and now fellow author Ronald R. Van Stockum Jr, the first person who ever pushed me to publish and lent me his copy of “Writer’s Market.” In the past few years he’s published some great magical realism books, you can check out reviews of them on my website (http://lydiasherrer.com/book-review-cosmos-the-stellar-stalker-by-ronald-r-van-stockum-jr/)
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Abso-bala-lutely (homeschooler here, we make up words). I did, after all, quit my successful corporate job in October to stay home all day and write. What most people don’t realize, however, is that making a career writing takes years of patience, as one doesn’t really start breaking even until after several years and several books. First book wonders happen so rarely, you should never expect to be the exception. You have to take time to build your audience and momentum. Also, career writing is only 50% writing. The other 50% is marketing, which every author has to do, traditional or self-pub.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
It would have been nice to know then (when I started them) what I know now, but it wouldn’t have really made a difference in how they turned out. It would have just make the process easier and shorter.
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Biological imperative. That, and my parent’s excellent taste in literature. If you read enough, telling your own stories is a natural next step, assuming you possess an imagination (sometimes I wonder if everyone does).
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
“Oh no you don’t!” She snatched him up, intending to deposit him outside the door. “The Basement is no place for a cat, especially one that’s already gotten himself into trouble messing with a magical artifact.”
He squirmed vigorously, so she dropped him rather than let him claw her blouse in an attempt to escape. Turning to sit just out of reach, he glared up at her, unblinking.
“No.” Arms crossed, she tried, and failed, to stare him down.
He remained silent, staring.
“Fine,” she said, reflecting on how frequently she used that word these days. “But no scratching any of the furniture, no licking, no jumping up on things, no opening drawers or cabinets—” she’d never seen him do it, but it was safer to assume he could “—and do not touch anything. Got it?”
He blinked at her. “I promise to be perfectly civilized,” he said.
Throwing up her hands, she turned, knowing that was the best she could expect. He darted in to join her in the dark closet, and she opened the magical door to the Basement. Before she could wonder if she’d have to carry him through, he’d already disappeared into it.
“Well aren’t we just special today,” she grumbled, following him.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Keeping it tight! I’m a wordy person, when talking and writing. So I constantly have to nip and tuck and keep my writing to the point and clean.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I love the way C.S. Lewis uses metaphor and story to point to larger truths that encompass us as humans. My favorite book of his is the Horse And His Boy. Then, of course, there is the legend among writers, J.R.R. Tolkien, who dedicated his life to creating a whole universe whose quality and detail surpasses anything that was written before or has been written since. His achievements inspire me to treat the calling of “writer” with dedication and reverence.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I have some, but will do so more in the future once my books come out and I will be attending conventions and book tours. I love to travel, and it is a great way to meet new people, share your work, and build an audience.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My amazingly talented cover artist Tony Warne. I found him on deviantart (check out his work here! http://jedi-art-trick.deviantart.com/), and convinced him to take a chance with me. He is very patient with my perfectionism, and I intend to make him famous for his generosity.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Consistency. What I mean is, my muse doesn’t always want to write, but to make a living writing you have to treat it like a full time job and write regularly. It is a lot of work to sit your butt down in the chair and start writing when you don’t feel like it. Once I actually start writing, everything flows from there.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I got to learn all about Agnes Scott College and the Atlanta area! As the setting for my series, I had to do quite a bit of research including several trips there to personally experience it. As far as writing goes, I learned that you have to balance your vision as a writer with concern for your reader’s interests and desires. You can write purely for yourself, giving into every whim and idea that tickles your fancy, but your books might not do very well as a result.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Put your butt in the chair and write something. Once you’ve written it, get beta feedback. Never assume it’s good enough, everything can always use another edit. While writing, take time to be a part of the writer community. Help other people and they will help you. Listen to others and treat constructive criticism as the most precious thing in the world, even if it hurts, you can always learn something from it.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Yes. Readers, I hope you realize how important, special, and wonderful you are. Writers write for their writing to be read, so without YOU, we aren’t much at all! You have a tremendous amount of power in your hands, to make or break an author. I hope you realize, and utilize your power: if you read something you like, tell other people about it. Word-of-mouth advertising is an author’s most useful asset. Please take time to leave reviews, they directly affect your favorite author’s sales. If you read something you don’t like, let it be known, just make sure your criticism is constructive. Don’t attack the author personally or call names. Say why you didn’t like it and how it might have been better. That way the author can use it to improve. Thanks for your support and time!
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Yup, The Gingerbread Man. The version I read had beautifully detailed illustrations.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Snarky/witty humor makes me laugh. People killing and hurting each other makes me cry.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Vin Diesel. Check out the first movie he directed, Strays.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
“Don’t cry, I’m in a better place.” Because I will be.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Tons, most of them stuff I don’t spend nearly as much time on as I’d like: reading, hiking, archery, singing/playing instruments, drawing, traveling, collecting insects, running, cosplay, larping, ren faires, and not-cooking. I’m not sure if the last one is a legitimate hobby, but I still love doing it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Bones most recently. Love the character development.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Cinnamon Toast Crunch. It’s my writing food. I don’t have a favorite color, they all serve their purpose. I love epic soundtrack music, like Two Steps From Hell. That’s usually what I listen to while writing.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Collect exotic insects in remote locations around the world. It’s a hard market to get in on, but I’ve always dreamed of traveling to places like the Pacific islands, the African savanna, and the Amazon rainforest to collect insects.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Absolutely! My personal website is http://lydiasherrer.com/ . On it you can read more about me, my writing, check out my blog, and sign up for my bi-monthly email newsletter. My newsletter contains updates on my publishing progress, upcoming author events, sneak peeks and behind the scenes info on my story, and best of all GIVEAWAYS! So head over there now and sign up, you’ll get the first chapter of my book sent to you for free! (link http://lydiasherrer.com/subscribe/ )
Facebook Authors Page https://www.facebook.com/lydiasherrerauthor/?fref=ts
Thanks for your time Fiona! I hope everyone enjoyed this post, I look forward to seeing you all around, on the interwebs or in person.