Name Cheryl Butler
Where are you from?
I live in a small village halfway between Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells in Kent and have lived here for nineteen years. I’m married with two gorgeous young boys and a beautiful step-daughter. I left school with seven O-Levels, determined I was done with education but, although I have had many, many jobs since, I have never quite found anything that I wanted to stick with. I have, however, found many true friends through work, so I’ve been lucky. I always wanted to do something creative and have tried several outlets but, again, nothing lasted…until now, but it’s all-consuming and I need to find a way to organise my time better! Both my husband and I have large families and we see them as often as we can, although our children’s activities seem to dominate our time so life is pretty busy.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My first novel, A Proclivity To Prurience, is due for release April 28th and I am so excited, though slightly apprehensive as this is all very new and unfamiliar.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing my first novel two years ago after my husband suggested it and a close friend encouraged me, but before that I’d written monthly reports, for three years, on the activities of my sons’ pre-school for local magazines and the occasional article for local newspapers and, although I loved it, when I stopped, I didn’t consider writing anything else until my husband’s suggestion.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I’m still waiting for that…but if Proclivity does well, I have several ideas waiting to be explored.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I had an idea that I tried to ignore but couldn’t and told my husband and he suggested I write a book. When I finished laughing, I spoke to a close friend and she agreed, so I started writing, expecting to complete maybe five chapters but a year later, I’d written two books.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Yes, I think so – very direct but very elaborate at the same time, which contrasts well.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
I wanted something obscure but appropriate so played around with many titles before settling on this one. It’s one of the things that kept me awake and I was halfway through my second book and had a title for that one before I finally decided on the first.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes: don’t judge people by their actions or your own standards. None of us knows how we would react in a given situation unless we have experienced it and even then, our own personalities and how they have been shaped dictate our responses.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic and are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None! The characters, their experiences and behaviour are completely fictitious, I’m happy to say!
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
None, really. I’m always captivated by autobiographies, especially when they are completely honest – an insight into someone that you hold in high-regard is often therapeutic.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest and who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Since I’ve been writing, I have read very little because I don’t have the time, but I enjoyed Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On The Train. My favourite book is Wuthering Heights – like everyone else, I was enthralled by the complexities of the story, but especially because of the time it was written and because it was written by a young woman who had no experience of the lives she was writing about. I don’t have a favourite author…apart from Rob Osborne, of course and having already read the manuscript for his book, Anything Is Possible, I’m looking forward to reading it again when it’s published.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
My family could not have been more supportive, but my friends have been amazing too. Amanda, one of my closest friends, has spent the past two years listening to me talk about nothing else and every time doubts crept in, she would patiently encourage me to keep going. She also read my first two books before I found a publisher and is currently reading the third. Another friend, Tracey, helped me with research, without any clue as to what she was getting involved with, as did Amanda’s dad, Paul. Rob and his wife, Marsha – my closest and oldest friends – have been as excited for me as they have been for Rob.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
Yes – I have never found anything else that I want to spend every spare minute of the day and night doing and still not tire of it. There are two more books to complete the story of the characters in Proclivity and I have started a fourth unconnected book. I have ideas for at least three more stories after that so that should keep me busy for a while.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Probably! I’m a perfectionist so I’ve rewritten it dozens of times and would probable do so again if I had the chance but it’s too late now! I’m currently rewriting the follow-on which I will no doubt rewrite another two or three times before I’m happy…and then maybe again, just to be sure!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
Yes – to get rid of a niggling idea so I could get on with other things…but that didn’t happen, I just carried on writing. If it hadn’t been for my husband’s suggestion and continuing support, I may never have started.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
Yes – it’s a story about a young man’s obsession with his best friend’s mother and the repercussions of his fixation. It’s very direct, explicit and intense but the writing style fits with the characters…I hope. It’s the first of three books that focus on the uncompromising attitudes and lives of two main characters and those caught up in their questionable exploits.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Yes – time, mainly. Some days I can spend two hours trying to write a single paragraph because I can’t find the right words or phrasing; luckily, that doesn’t happen too often but when I reread the difficult parts, it’s generally worth the time spent.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Not yet but I have a meeting with my publisher this week in Leicester so that’s a bit of a trek.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
My publisher, The Book Guild – I wanted something subtle and they delivered.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Having the confidence to continue with something that I knew could be controversial and would offend some. At times I felt it I should soften it, but I honestly believe it’s more authentic and necessary as it is to portray the characters accurately.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
That I could do it. I’ve never considered writing before because I felt I should have a complete outline before I started and I struggle with that. I don’t plan beforehand, I have a simple idea that unfolds as I write. I can’t formulate the story and characters first because the plot and personalities develop as I go along and it works for me…I just wish I’d realised that sooner!
Fiona: If any of your books was made into a film who would you like to play the lead
Ooh…that’s difficult! I really have no idea but I would very much like to have a say if the time comes!
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Write whatever you’re thinking. If you dismiss a plot or even a single sentence, you’ll lose it but if you write it down and then decide it’s not appropriate, you can always remove it at a later date or use it elsewhere. And always keep a notepad or your phone close – there have been too many times that I’ve struggled with the next sentence or paragraph late at night, closed my computer down and then had the perfect idea!
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I hope you enjoy A Proclivity To Prurience and I hope you love the characters as much as I do…no matter how despicable they might be! But, it is just a story.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
I’ve just finished reading Bruce Springsteen’s autobiography.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Probably a Peter & Jane story at primary school!
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Laugh – I love comedy and panel shows and of course, my husband, children and family keep me constantly amused; cry – anything that involves children; I hate to think of any child suffering in any way.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Bruce Springsteen – he’s a self-taught genius and not without his quirks, but that just makes him more human and fascinating.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why ?
Still dancing – I think that’s pretty self-explanatory.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies ?
Music. I listen to music all day, every day and love to watch my children play their cellos. I cannot imagine my life without music and am immensely proud that my children have developed their own interest. Photography has been an on-going interest and there’s always socialising…
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Currently I’m enjoying Lucky Man, Big Little Lies and Broadchurch but loved The Replacement. Films – I love anything with intrigue.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
I adore Mexican food; green is my favourite colour and most of the rooms in my house are green; I love Blues and especially The John Doe Trio, but my favourite singer, without doubt, is Paolo Nutini – he’s in a class of his own.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Been involved in music somehow but it’s very difficult when you’re not at all musical!
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Not yet but I’m working on it.