Hi, Sherrie. I’m thrilled you have a new book published. What is your book, Sweet William, about?
On the outside, Sweet William is about castles, kilts, and cows. It’s about sweet vs. savory – in the kitchen, and in the bedroom. It’s about family, friends and bull semen. On the inside, Sweet William is about doing the right thing, even when your heart is screaming at you to do the complete opposite. It’s about the good ones dying and the ones who irritate you no end still hanging on and refusing to go away. It’s about the unthinkable, the impossible, having a life you love and being asked to give it all up and move to an alternate universe on the other side of the globe because there is no other option.
It all begins when Minnesota farm boy, William McKnight, and sassy Scot, Lyndsie Morris, are forced to work together in the kitchen of Rabbit Hill Lodge. William is a real sweetheart (sickeningly sweet according to Lyndsie). Lyndsie is a wee bit tart (although William is too nice to ever point out such a thing.) The atmosphere is as charged as an episode of Chopped. It remains to be seen whether someone will get cut, or if they’ll find a recipe that works. Things just start to get spicy when an angry bull butts his way into the picture, and Lyndsie has to decide if she loves William more than everyone and everything she holds dear.
What inspired you to write this particular story?
When William McKnight showed up at Michael and Isabelle’s wedding in Shy Violet, it was love at first sight (for me, not Lyndsie, who was totally irritated when he stole the limelight away from her dainty finger foods and crudités with his roasted grunter, buttery soft potato rolls and overly sweet Farm Boy Barbeque Sauce.) The two of them were so great together that I decided they had to be.
Sounds fun. Tell us a little more about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
William is getting rave reviews from my readers. He’s being called my best hero ever. I’m still so enamored of Pastor Ian in Wild Rose, that I can’t quite see it, but that’s another story. I adored writing Lyndsie. She’s spunky and sassy and self-confident. She knows her own mind and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone who challenges her. She loves her family and would do anything for them, even when she’s totally disgusted by their actions. She’s a very loyal friend – until she has to choose between her two best friends and a family member that all desperately need her – and they live on opposite sides of the globe. Lyndsie has such snark – and William’s sweet disposition is the perfect foil for her sass.
Did you do any research for Sweet William? If so, how did you do it?
Although I grew up on a farm, my dad never raised cattle, so I had to do a lot of research on various breeds of beef cattle and their traits and behaviors. I researched cattlemen’s association in Scotland and the U.S., the origins of the Aberdeen Angus breed, agricultural import and export regulations, and… bull semen. I accomplished my task by visiting Scotland, Devon and Cornwall, interviewing veterinarians, talking to my niece, Victoria, who raises beef cattle and shows them at the fair, and tracking things down on the internet.
What about your book besides the Scottish setting might pique the reader’s interest?
I’ve been told by several readers that when I started writing my Wildflowers of Scotland novels, they missed the local color, familiar places, and quirky Midwestern characters from my first five books, which are all set in Minnesota or Iowa. While I maintain that people are the same everywhere (check out the church ladies in Wild Rose if you doubt me), my local readers will be pleased to know that Sweet William is partially set on a farm in Southern Minnesota. Backdrops like the Minnesota State Fair and a family gathering at William’s family’s farm in Blue River, Minnesota, should make them feel right at home.
What was the most difficult part about writing Sweet William?
I’ve “killed off” bad guys, in both Wild Rose and Blue Belle, and sent nefarious pirates to the slammer in Shy Violet, but in Sweet William, I had to do away with a good guy. Writing those scenes, and grieving alongside my characters, cut me to the core and filled me with complete and utter trepidation about the time in my life when I will have to face this kind of loss.
Are you writing to reach a particular kind of reader?
One of the hardest things for me to do, as an author, has been to single out a particular type of reader to whom to market my books. They call it branding, and I’m terrible at it. My Wildflowers of Scotland novels are a good example. The focus of Wild Rose is faith and forgiveness, which appeals to a certain type of reader. Although there are no steamy scenes in Wild Rose, it does not fit the parameters of inspirational fiction – Rose is much too quirky, and well, too wild, for that. Blue Belle and Shy Violet are quite steamy, and the behavior of the bad guys in Blue Belle is sometimes gory, gross, and too explicit for the faint of heart. Sweet William is sweet, and except for one teeny, tiny, mildly steamy scene, suitable for all readers. It’s less suspenseful than the others, and focuses more on family “situations” for conflict. The thing is, my books are character driven. No two characters are the same. I think my books are better because I don’t try to put my characters in a box, but if you’re going to come along for the ride, you need to be willing to take whatever each particular character throws at you – me. If you’re open to it, I think it’s far more fun that way.
Which is more important to your story, character or plot?
As expressed above, I’m into characters. A reader recently wrote to me and said, “Boy, you know people. I have been practicing psychology and social work for 45 years and you must have been sitting in the office next to me. You know your stuff!” Although my characterizations are subtle, it thrilled me that she could appreciate the inner workings of the men and women I write about. I feel that if my characters are honest, well-motivated, and real enough, my plot will basically write itself based on their actions, fears, and needs.
Does your understanding of the story you are writing change during the course of the book?
How could it not, given how unpredictable people are? I always say that I write the first one third to half of the books, and my characters write the rest.
Have you written any other books?
Sweet William is a Wildflowers of Scotland novel, and follows Thistle Down (a prequel novella), Wild Rose, Blue Belle, and Shy Violet. I’ve written two stand-alones, Night and Day, and Love Notes. I also have a trilogy, the Maple Valley novels, about three quirky sisters who can’t stop with the quilts – Stormy Weather, Water Lily, and Merry Go Round.
Where can people learn more about your books?
Here are some links to places where you can learn more about my books:
http://www.BlueBelleInn.com or http://www.BlueBelleBooks.com
Don’t forget to check out Sherrie’s new release: Sweet William. https://amzn.com/B01H2TUD3U