Author’s Corner: An Interview with Sherry Foley

Picture of Sherry Foley

Welcome to Author’s Corner, Sherry!

Q: Tell us about yourself.

A: I write full time and when I’m not writing I’m reading. Reading is called research you know, at least I tell myself that so I don’t feel guilty curling up with a good book.   I love to garden, travel with my husband, cheer my kids on at their games and cook. 

Q: What did you want to be when you were a child? Did you always know you wanted to be a writer? And, if you did always know, how did you go about nourishing that dream to fruition?

A: I wanted to be a grown up and be independent. Before I could read I was making up stories with imaginary characters. After learning to read and write I put the stories on paper. I kept writing and imagining readers curled up somewhere so engrossed in the lives of my characters that they took a break from theirs.

Q: You once wrote: “Concentrating on the positives erases the negatives and keeps the grumpies away.” I love this piece of wisdom. It is such a winning philosophy. But, I know that this is not always easy to do. How do you make it happen for you?

A:  I’m an optimist by nature and I always focus on the blessings instead of the negatives.

Q: Are you a pantser, a plotter or a little of both? Give us some idea how you plan the overall structure of your novel and your approach to each chapter.

A: I’m a total pantser. I think up a name for the hero and imagine his personality, do the same for the heroine and decide what their conflict is and begin writing.  I end each chapter with a cliff hanger and go to the next to find out what happens. I never know where the story is going. I like the adventure. 

Q: How do you go about getting the ideas for your stories?

A: My imagination bank is HUGE. I dream up a story I would enjoy reading.

Q: What is your favorite part of writing?

A: I like all the aspects of it including the editing too. I think of it as polishing the final look.

Q: Do you have a least favorite part to writing?

A: No.

Q:  When you are in the midst of writing a novel, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: I start out rereading the part I wrote the day before as it gets me back into the story and I write from there. I write at least 3,000 words and if I don’t have any errands to pull me away I try to write 5,000.  I stop whenever I feel like I’m trying too hard because I know it’s going to be what I will end up deleting the next day.

Q: How likely are people you meet or know to end up in one of your novels?

A: Very likely. I’m always people watching, eavesdropping, honing in on the gestures people make along with body language.  All of these things can be used to help you lift the character off of the page for the reader to experience.

Q:  Do you prefer to read in the same genres you write in or do you prefer to mix your readings with other genres? Why?

A: I read widely in my genre and then throw in other genres just to stay current. It all influences the way your voice sounds.  I call it research so I don’t feel like it’s a guilty pleasure to curl up somewhere with a book when I could be writing. 

Q: What is the most difficult for you to write? Characters, conflict or emotions? Why?

A: Sometimes I struggle with emotion and have to revisit those areas a few times until I feel the level is right.  I’m more even keel than emotional so I have to be sure my characters are reacting emotionally enough in the scene. 

Q: Having achieved your goal to be a published author, what is the most rewarding thing?

A: Being invited to book clubs to speak and hearing the readers talk about your book.  I mean, I know my characters are not real, but when the readers talk about them like they are…it’s so exciting.  

Q: Is there a downside?

A:  No, I can’t think of anything. I love all aspects of it and feel fortunate to have it as my day job.

Q: Have you any strategies for writers who suffer from writer’s block?

A: I just keep writing and give myself permission to get the bones of the story down.  You can go back and put some flesh on it later and dress it the way you want to then.

Q: Of the three books we will discuss today, is there one you found the most fun to write? Why?

A: Switched in Death. I  loved writing the twisted personalities. The brain fascinates me. The way it works is still a mystery. The mind can convince one of anything, even if it’s wrong.  We all can justify things, but some take it to the extreme. Example: John Gacy.

Switched_in_Death_cover Sherry FolleyQ: What inspired you (Where did you get the idea from?) to write Switched in Death about a serial killer?

A: I was made fun of while growing up because I was the only one in class that didn’t have parents. Divorce was rarely heard of during that time period. I was raised by my grandmother. Kids can be so cruel.  I got to thinking about all of this bullying you hear about these days.  There has always been bullying, but it seems to be addressed more at the same time these poor kids are taking their lives over it. Words can never be taken back and we must be careful what we utter. They can heal. They can sever. I wanted to show that in Switched in Death.

Q:  Was the killer based on an actual serial killer or a compilation of several serial killers?

A: I just came up with the name Christina Mitchell and flipped it to Mitchell Christian.  One is the tortured child and one is the personality they would’ve had if they had not been verbally battered by others.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Switched in Death?

A: A serial killer hunts for a murderer responsible for tremendous amount of deaths.

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses. (Please include how you arrived at the name Seth Banning.).

A:  My son Seth asked me one time, “Mom, do you think you might ever name one of your characters after me?” Seth Banning was born out of desire to show my son great things can be achieved from having noble character. Seth desires to play by the book and protect the lives of others.  He has allowed his past hurts to stand in the way of his future until Laney shows him some risks are worth the pleasure.  Laney believes in wonderful things for others, but doesn’t reach for them enough herself.

Captive_Memories Sherry FoleyQ: In your novel, Captive Memories, you quite nicely captured the emotional turmoil Brian Helms was living through after the loss of his wife. I think writers go to a ‘special place’ to do this. What was your ‘special place’ and how did you hook into it?

A: No matter what the betrayal is, we’re always left wondering if the person ever really and truly cared or whether it was all a selfish act on their part at our expense.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Captive Memories?

A: Betrayal is hard to bounce back from, but the risk is worth it when love is found through some amazing circumstances.

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses.

A: Brian Helm’s heart has been broken by the one he trusted most. In order to self preserve he has built some pretty thick walls. When a disoriented Shawna McFadden wanders into his studio, not only do Brian’s cop instincts kick in, so does his long dormant need for love. Torn between her feelings for Brian and her fear of what might lurk in her past, Shawna will do anything to protect him, even if it’s from herself. When someone from her former life steps out of the shadows, Brian and Shawna find out what real loss—and real love—are all about.

A Captive Heart by Sherry Foley

Q: What was the most difficult thing you found in the writing of A Captive Heart? Why?

A:  It was my first story that I wrote and I was amazed at how much of yourself you pour into your stories.  You show your core, all walls down, and it leaves you very vulnerable.

Q: In order to capture the realism for the characters and the situations, writing often involves research and preparation before the novel is written. How did you prepare to write A Captive Heart?

A: I read a lot of books on writing, went to conferences and practiced learning POV.

Q: In one or two sentences, what is the premise (logline, elevator speech) for Captive Heart?

A:  When your life is at stake how far will you go?

Q: Tell us about the hero (heroine) including strengths and weaknesses.

A: Uncovering corruption within his own department, FBI agent Ian Mulherin watches the lines of justice blur as he finds himself in the middle of greed, betrayal, and double-agents tied to the Mafia. Realizing he is being framed, he must now protect Nicole, the innocent woman marked to be his victim, as feelings between the two of them begin to blossom. While the conspiracy tightens around Ian, he frantically races to clear his name, bring down the perpetrators, and protect the woman who has captured his heart.

Q:  What is next for you? I understand that you are working on a detective series. What can you tell us about it?

A: I have just finished the first book. The series is set in my hometown of Springfield, Missouri.  I celebrate the area with combining the past with the present into a lot of the mysteries.  I grew up hearing the local lore and incorporated some family stories into the mix too. The first case is very close to my heart. There was something that happened in our town when I was in grade school that kept me glued to the news every night. It was hard for me to get over it. I’ve told the story in a fictional way and written an ending that heals some of the memories.

Q: What is the most valuable lesson you learned on your road to publication?

A: If you fight self doubt you’ll write faster

Q: And, what advice do you have for future novelists?

A: Hold on tight to your dream and don’t let anyone rip them out of your hands.

It has been a pleasure meeting you Sherry. Thank you.

And, a BIG thank you goes out to all of you who dropped by to meet Sherry! Have a great day!

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