I’m so happy, today, to present author Sherry Knowlton. Sherry is the author of the successful Alexa Williams series of suspense novels: Dead of Autumn, Dead of Summer and Dead of Spring. When not writing the next Alexa Williams thriller, Knowlton works on her health care consulting business or travels around the world. She and her husband live in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania.
Thank you so much for chatting with us today, Sherry.
1. Let’s start with something fun. What’s your favorite hobby?
Reading, of course. I’ve been a bookworm for as long as I can remember. My other interests include travel, photography, yoga and Pilates. My husband and I do a lot of traveling. In the past six years or so, we’ve been trying to visit remote and exotic places, recognizing that we aren’t getting any younger. We’ve been to a number of countries in Africa, India, Indonesia, most of the Southeast Asian countries, Chile and Peru – with a few more sedate visits to Europe thrown into the mix. We both also enjoy travel photography and exhibit many of our photos locally in Southcentral Pennsylvania where we live. When I’m home, I attend yoga and Pilates classes at local studios.
2. If you had the opportunity—who would you like to spend an afternoon with and why?
I miss my mother so much that she’s the obvious answer. But, if I’m choosing someone among the living, I’d like to spend an afternoon with Bill Gates. Obviously, his major accomplishments are co-founding Microsoft and growing the company to a huge, profitable corporation. But, I would like to talk to him about his post-Microsoft efforts. I really admire the way that he and his wife, Melinda, have spent so much of their fortune in philanthropy, especially in projects to eradicate malaria, bolster family planning, and address other health issues prevalent in African nations and elsewhere.
3. Coffee, tea, soda or something else?
Tea first thing in the morning. Cherry Coke Zero during the day. I’d really like to kick my Coke habit. Everything I read says drinking soda is bad for me. But, so far, haven’t been able to do it.
4. What are you working on right now?
My third novel, Dead of Spring, was just released on April 22. Now, I’m in the early stages of working on my next novel in the Alexa Williams, which will be titled Dead of Winter. Although I’ve written a draft of the first few chapters, I’m about to begin my research which should take a month or so. Also, as always, I’ll write a fairly detailed chapter by chapter outline of the book before I plunge into the serious writing. My outlines are never hard and fast; they often evolve as I write. But, I like to have a roadmap to follow during the first draft phase.
5. How would you describe your writing style?
I write suspense with an element of mystery and a little romance. Each of my novels also includes a historical subplot that intersects with the main, contemporary story. My protagonist, Alexa Williams, is a strong character who has a propensity for stumbling into danger. All the books deal with hot-button social issues that you read about in the headlines and are important to me, personally.
I’m probably not my most insightful critic, so I’m not sure that I can describe my actual writing style. I can say that I emphasize description, sense of place, and have been told that some of my romance scenes can be a little steamy, The suspense is action-packed because my goal is to keep readers on the edge of their seats.
6. Do you have any advice for a person just beginning their writing career?
Go for it. I hope you enjoy writing as much as I do. But, go into it with a willingness to learn. I’ve done a huge amount of professional writing in my job – and before that high school and college journalism. But, writing fiction required me to learn a whole different structure and style. Don’t be afraid to take writing courses or seminars and benefit from expert advice. A writing critique group and beta readers can also be helpful to obtain honest feedback on your work in process. And, above all, don’t become discouraged. Writing requires inspiration, skill, and a huge amount of willpower.
7. Do you immerse yourself in new situations for writing ideas or do your ideas come to you through your normal, day-to-day life?
A little of both. I’m in my sixties, so I’ve had quite a bit of life experience that I draw upon in my books. For example, I’ve used my travels, my work in government, and my participation in the Woodstock Festival of 1969 as fodder for my novels to date. But, I also expand my knowledge with research, talking to experts and more. My most recent book, Dead of Spring, deals with fracking, so I talked to a number of experts and did a tour of actual fracking sites in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
A lot of my ideas for imagery and plot points come from my everyday life. Things that I observe or experience can easily become the inspiration for something you’ll find in one of my novels. An experience my husband and I had with Somali refugees in Kenya provided me with the springboard to an important scene in my second novel, Dead of Summer. My frequent visits to the Pennsylvania State Capitol inspired me to set key events in my latest, Dead of Spring, in that historic building.
8. Where can we find you on the interwebs?
And you can buy my books at:
Sherry I really appreciate you taking the time to come and talk with us today. Looking forward to the next book!
Gentle readers, don’t be afraid to check out Sherry’s sites. You’ll be glad you did.