Welcome, Sheryl. It’s great to talk to you today. What is your book about?
ILLUSIONS, available from sapphirebluepublishing.com, is the story of Lily Cabot, a young mother striving to keep her six children and wheelchair-bound grandmother safe from her sadistic estranged husband. Little does she know but she has an ally in her children’s enigmatic music teacher, Alex Anderson, who has reasons of his own to despise and fight against Peter Cabot.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
Oh, so many things. My mother, also a mother of six, the quintessential Mother Lion. My own fierceness about protecting my children and the people I love against all odds and ills. And I guess I’d have to say my fascination with cliched stereotypes. They drive me nuts! The whole black hat/white hat thing. When my children were born, my husband had a beard and hair down to his waist, and drove a motorcycle. Now, being Spanish/Cajun, the man has a temper, but no gentler man ever lived. Yet, when he finished school and took a supervisory position, he was forced to cut his hair and “clean up his act.” Guess I’m still a little peeved. You will find the villain in ILLUSIONS is a golden, high powered, pretty boy, while the hero is a long haired, tattooed musician. Yin Yang with a twist. LOL
How long did it take you to write your book?
LOL…let’s see, how old am I? Honestly, the first draft of ILLUSIONS has been written for years. My daughter suffered a life-threatening illness when she was eleven, the effects of which we battled for seven years. All my writing was put aside to care for her and help her with her recovery. Now that she and my son are grown and in college, Mama has a little more time to devote to writing again. So, I guess it took me about six months to write the story, but another nine years to edit it and have it published.
How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
I usually have the bones written down…sometimes in as many as ten or twenty pages…before I start the actual story. That doesn’t mean I chisel it into stone, however. By the time I finish a story, it may only resemble the original newsy letter I started with.
How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
I tend to SEE my characters. I will even go so far as to “cast” them, fishing around the Internet finding photos of actors/actresses, models, etc to “play” them in the book. I’ll collect them, and pull them out to make sure I have keep the eye color, facial or other features, hairstyle/color consistent. This also helps with mannerisms and habits. For example, I was fascinated in one scene Lou Diamond Phillips in played the 90′s movie, Renegades. The particulars, in this case, aren’t important, but someone asks him something, his grandfather I think, and he raises his eyebrows and stares out the window with this heartbreaking expression of vulnerability on his face. I thought, PERFECT! That’s perfect for a character in another of my works in progress. Seeing my characters helps me make sure they all have different personalities, different speech patterns, different attitudes, etc.
How (or when) do you decide that you are finished writing a story?
LOL Ask any of my crit partners and they’ll tell you I never do. I get restless very easily. I seldom have a spare minute, so my writing time isn’t consistent. Translated: I can’t do the “write at the same time everyday” thing. There’s always something that needs doing right now, or someone that needs something right now, but I do adapt. I take my laptop with me on days when during the course of Mama Taxi Service I have to wait for an hour or two, and a story is worked on. There are nights I work all night and sleep all day. So, there are times I’ll go days without even looking at the story. I will work on several stories at a time…Presently there are 12 in progress…LOL So, once a story feels right, and the characters aren’t balking at me, that’s when it’s done. Usually the rough draft takes no time to write. Editing and rewriting, though…that can take a while. I will never submit anything until I AND my characters are satisfied that it’s the best story we can tell.
How does your environment/upbringing color your writing?
I’m the eldest of six kids. Our family life was always very important. While we all had outside friends, it was the family unit we were drawn to in times of joy and need. Our home was always full of kids…imagine six kids with two or three friends each. On any given day, it was like my mother was hosting a teen convention. LOL Presently, my three sisters and my parents live within 50 miles of each other, and there is rarely a time when one of us is in need that there isn’t someone to touch when we reach out. That sense of connection, of being a part of something that is inherently a part of you, is a running theme in all my books. They’re all set in the south…so far. I spent most of my life in Georgia and Florida. I love small country towns..what’s left of them…and mountains, and the people who populate them.
Do you prefer to write at a particular time of day?
Oh yes! I have two favorite times and it’s very hard to choose which would rank highest. I have always been very barometric…that is to say, I ADORE rain. Rainy days, drizzly, overcast, even cold and rainy. I’m sure our neighbors think we have no running water as my daughter and I make a beeline out the front door when the first drops fall. “Those crazy Torres women are showering again.’ LOL On days like that, I’ll add sugar free hot cocoa mix or cinnamon to my coffee, depending on what kind of scene I’m going to write, park myself by a window and tear up the keyboard. My other favorite time to write is in the middle of the night, when I know the kids are both home, hubby is home, animals are cuddled up together and I can hear everyone breathing. I know I have no one to worry about ..everyone is within my touch, and I can relax and just write.
What are you working on right now?
Well, like I said, I have 12 stories in the works, each at a different point in completion. I’m currently working on a story about a woman who receives a letter informing her that her family home is in jeopardy from her father’s child with a woman who wasn’t her mother. In this story, the family that surrounds Lisa Keller isn’t biological, but consists of Native American twin brothers she grew up with, a sister-in-law, one eleven year old girl, two five year old boys, and her cousin. When an old college friend of one of her brothers joins them for the holidays, Lisa learns how to trust
What do you like to read?
I’m eclectic. I love fantasy…but not political fantasy…(Someone please bring back the Lord of the Rings-type quest fantasy.) I love romance. I love smart fiction…Dan Brown’s Deception Point, Michael Crichton’s Timeline. I love paranormal. Okay, I’ll admit it, I love vampire romances…(Dear Linda Lael Miller, would you PLEASE write that last book of your series. You really kind of left us hanging.)
What writer influenced you the most?
Kay Hooper. I devoured her Hagen Series. her characters were smart, strong, NOT WHINEY or too stupid to live. Her humor was subtle but quirky. The situations made sense, even if they weren’t exactly situations I could see myself going through. When I read them, I didn’t feel like I’d just gone through a few pages of mental bubblegum.
What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you’d written yourself?
CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. The terrible TV show, notwithstanding, this is one of the most endearing and colorful stories I ever read. The characters breathe and you feel it when the wind blows through. The reader walks right along with the characters. I read it when I was 10, and it’s still one of my favorite books.
Who gave you the best writing advice you ever received and what was it?
John Marco, author of The Eye of God. When I first started writing in the mid 90′s, John and I were in a short story writing group together. This was before he burst on the writing scene like the hurricane he is, and it was my week to be critiqued. One of the partners advised me to stop writing and take up plumbing. I was crushed. John told me that I would never write a book or story or grocery list that would please everyone. Chances were we’d never write anything that would please any kind of majority, so if I gave up on one person’s ill advised comment, he’d come to Georgia and hit me with my keyboard. LOL Thanks to him, I never stopped.
What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Let someone else do the plumbing.
Have you written any other books and where can people learn more about them?
I have two novellas currently available in separate anthologies: Fate’s Little Trick in Enchanted Holidays and ENIGMA in One Touch Beyond, both available from
jasminejade.com. You can find out more about my books, works in progress and read my not-updated-nearly-as-much-as-it-should-be blog at sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com
Thanks, Pat. This was fun. You can read about my books and me on my wordpress pages. http://sherylhamestorres.wordpress.com/books/ –Sher Hames Torres