From your most recent release, Sweet Danger, tell us about the hero, Jesse Nightwalker. What is his greatest strength? What is his greatest weakness?
Hi Sarah! Ooohh, Sweet Danger and Jesse Nightwalker. Jesse’s greatest strength would probably be his determination to do the right thing. He is truly a very good person, though he does have his flaws.
He is going to give himself up to the villain, Tabor Hardin, without a fight, though he knows what Hardin is capable of. Still, that will possibly mean that the safety of the others is insured.
His greatest weakness would definitely be the fact that he has fallen in love, hard and fast, with one of the other hostages, his neighbor. He’s had his eye on Lindy Oliver for quite some time now, but this chance meeting at Silverman’s Deli has turned into a nightmare for both of them with the entrance of Tabor Hardin and his gang. Because of the circumstances, Lindy and Jesse’s relationship moves a lot faster than it normally would, and he realizes that ironically, after four years of not allowing himself to feel anything for any woman since the death of his wife, Lindy has broken those barriers down in a matter of hours and she, along with his son, are the two people he cares about in the world. And if he doesn’t save them, they are going to die at Hardin’s hands.
What is the trait you most admire in the heroine for Sweet Danger, Lindy Oliver?
Lindy Oliver is young but she knows what she wants and she’s prepared to do what she has to do to save Jesse. I guess the trait I admire most in her is her ability to keep a cool head and try to manipulate Hardin with the few things she has observed about him—his contradictory soft spot for children, for one thing. She is able to read certain things about him and use them to try to save the others. She does what she has to do, and she is very calm for the most part, even though she is horribly afraid.
Of all the villains I’ve ever read, Tabor Hardin is the best. What are the three most important things you want your readers to know about him?
The first thing would be the fact that revenge for what he thinks Jesse did to him by helping to put him in prison five years earlier suddenly outweighs anything else—including the ransom money that was the original motive. His hatred for Jesse takes over and blinds him to everything else.
The second would be that although he is horribly evil, he does have quirks and turns in his personality that all humans have. No matter how evil he is, in his mind, there are some good things he’s done—and he even tells Lindy this. That’s part of the “chink” in his armor that she is able to use to get some of the children to safety.
The third is, no matter how he might seem to be reasonable at times, he isn’t. Ever. He’s very convincing at some points that he might be able to be reasoned with and so on, and I think the scariest thing is that Lindy almost begins to be swayed into thinking that she might understand his thinking, but she realizes that he is too twisted and sick to even try to figure out, and that they have to just do what they can to survive, and in the end, he almost kills her.
In Fire Eyes you also had a downright mean villain the reader was sure to hate. Why do you feel it is so important to have a strong villain?
If you don’t have a strong villain, your hero is weakened to the point that the reader might not care what happens to him, or what happens in the plot. So to me, a strong villain is very important. Andrew Fallon, in Fire Eyes, was the only villain I have ever created that was mean just because he was mean. He seemed to have a normal family—father, mother, and two brothers. He was the middle child. There was no mention made of any kind of trauma that might have shaped him into being the villain he became, and that was what made him so real and so scary. There are people who walk the earth today that, I believe, are just mean. They haven’t had a bad childhood or any trauma, they are just evil. In that respect, Andrew Fallon was very real.
Since the volume of your work is in historical fiction, what led you to decide on writing a contemporary?
I wrote a kind of transitional novel, TIME PLAINS DRIFTER, that was a time travel. The “travelers” were a young substitute high school teacher and some of her students from 2010 who were flung back in time to 1890’s Oklahoma Territory. That got me thinking about other stories that I wanted to do, and I came up with an idea for a contemporary story that popped into my mind as I was having one of those sleepless menopausal nights. It started with just one scene, and from that, I went on with it to develop a whole cast of characters. It’s called INTERSECTION, and would probably be classified as a mainstream with romantic elements. There is a romance in it but there are a lot of characters—too many right now for it to be classified as a plain ol’ romance. While I was working on that, I wrote a couple of short stories that were contemporary, and then came up with the idea for SWEET DANGER.
Of all your books, which one is your favorite? Why?
Gosh. That’s like asking a mother to pick out her favorite child. LOL I love them all, just in different ways. I always think the one I’m working on at the time is my favorite.
Homecoming is a different kind of Christmas story. Without giving away any spoilers, what was your inspiration for such a deeply moving story?
Actually, I had written HOMECOMING about a year ago, and felt like I didn’t know where I’d ever get it published. At the time I wrote it, it was a little shorter, and didn’t have much mention of Jack’s fiancé, Sarah. When I was asked to submit a Christmas story to the Victory Tales Press Sweet anthology for A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION, I knew that was the one. I reworked it a bit and gave Sarah a bigger role in the story, and it has been a huge hit with so many people that it is truly humbling to think that that story has made such an impact on so many. I’m not sure of the inspiration, but I have always thought that the War Between the States was the saddest time period a story could ever be set in. I wasn’t sure I could write a story or a novel set then. So maybe this was my way of proving to myself that I could do it. I’ve been very happy with the finished product.
Another Christmas story included in an anthology from Victory Tales Press, you used the inspiration of an old song, Scarlet Ribbons. Do you find that music inspires you? Do you have any other stories based on a song like Scarlet Ribbons?
I am not one of those people who can put music on to write by. I was a classically trained pianist and also was in a band for many years with my husband, playing guitar and singing, so music is quite a distraction for me if I’m trying to give my thought to something else. But I have loved the song SCARLET RIBBONS ever since I was a child, and when Harry Belafonte sings it, there is nothing more heart-wrenching than to picture a father trying to figure out how he can give his little girl something so simple as some scarlet ribbons for her hair. I knew I wanted to write a story based on that but wasn’t sure about the premise. One day I was working on my long project—a novel, and the idea for that story came to me. I put aside the novel until I had finished the short story. There are a lot of songs I would like to base novels on. In reality, songs are just VERY short stories, and in my mind, I think “what if?”
Most of your work is published with The Wild Rose Press but your Christmas stories are included in anthologies with Victory Tales Press. Because so many of our members are authors, would you tell them about Victory Tales Press?
VICTORY TALES PRESS is a wonderful company owned by Rebecca Vickery. Rebecca and I were both contracted with an unscrupulous publisher, and when Rebecca got her rights to her stories back she took some positive action. I admire her so much for learning about the publishing business from the ground up, and building her own company, VICTORY TALES PRESS, with a subsidiary company, WESTERN TRAIL BLAZERS (which publishes western novels and short stories, both print and e-book).
Rebecca is one of the most honest people I know and she always puts out a quality product. Covers are done at VTP by Laura Shinn and my daughter, Jessica Pierson, and again—are very much a quality product. I have been privileged to have stories selected for several anthologies with VTP: A SUMMER COLLECTION, A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION-SWEET, A CHRISTMAS COLLECTON-SENSUAL, A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION-SPICY, A HALLOWEEN COLLECTION-STIMULATING, and A VALENTINE COLLECTION.
All of VTP’s anthologies are “heat rated”—so you know what you are getting before you purchase them.
Some upcoming projects for this year that my stories will be featured in with VTP will be another summer collection, a mystery collection, a Christmas collection, and a very cool special project where Rebecca invented a backstory and all the authors wrote stories based on descendants of the original characters she created.
Pop over to VTP and see what’s shakin’!
Please, give us your website addy, a list of your books and a short bio.
My website is: www.cherylpierson.com
My books…okay, here you go:
FIRE EYES (historical western-The Wild Rose Press)
SWEET DANGER (contemporary romantic suspense-The Wild Rose Press)
SHORT STORIES/STAND ALONE e-book format
A NIGHT FOR MIRACLES (historical western-The Wild Rose Press)
UNTIL THE LAST STAR BURNS OUT (historical western-The Wild Rose Press)
SHORT STORIES/FICTION ANTHOLOGIES (print and e-book format)
TO MAKE THE MAGIC LAST (A SUMMER COLLECTION-Victory Tales Press)
ALWAYS AND FOREVER (A HALLOWEEN COLLECTION-Stimulating; Victory Tales Press)
HOMECOMING (A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION-Sweet; Victory Tales Press)
SCARLET RIBBONS (A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION-Sensual; Victory Tales Press)
WHITE CHRISTMAS (A CHRISTMAS COLLECTION-Spicy; Victory Tales Press)
A HEART FOR A HEART (A VALENTINE COLLECTION-Victory Tales Press)
SHORT STORIES/TRUE ANTHOLOGIES
I have several short stories published in Adams Media anthologies (Rocking Chair Reader series and Christmas series) and in Chicken Soup (Chicken Soup for the Empty Nester’s Soul)
These as well as my other works can be found at my Amazon author page.
Cheryl was born in Duncan, Oklahoma, July 28, 1957, and grew up in Seminole, Oklahoma. She graduated from the University of Oklahoma, and holds a B.A. in English. She is the co-owner of FabKat Editorial Services, a division of West Winds Media. She has taught numerous writing classes and workshops over the past years and also works on an individual basis with many of her students, and other authors, locally and nationwide.
Cheryl’s most recent publications include short stories for the Adams’ Media’s anthologies “The Rocking Chair Reader: Family Gatherings”, as well as the earlier “The Rocking Chair Reader: Memories from the Attic”. Another of her stories appears in the Christmas 2006 edition of “Classic Christmas.” In addition, four of Cheryl’s students’ works were also bought by Adams Media for inclusion in these anthologies, as well.
Although Cheryl has written and sold articles to local newspapers as well as short stories to nationwide publications, her first love remains romance novel writing. She has completed five novels and is currently at work on the sixth. She lives with her husband and two teenage children in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
For further information on services provided by FabKat Editorial Services and upcoming projects from West Winds Media, please visit our website at www.westwindsmedia.com.
What is your process from idea to first draft?
You know, I write everything out longhand. I do very little in the way of note-making or outlining and all that. I usually have a rough idea in my head and start writing a scene in a notebook. It might be the first scene, the middle of the book or somewhere near the end. Then I work forward or backward from that scene. I type it into the computer on days when I don’t really feel very creative, just so I don’t have a day when I haven’t actually “done” something.
Who or what inspires you when your creative mojo is lagging?
Good question. LOL I don’t really have any inspiration other than just knowing I have to get on with it or nothing is going to get done. If you don’t write your stories, they won’t get written.
What importance do you place on writing workshops? What workshops would you recommend to us?
I teach writing classes in the Oklahoma City area. It is just invaluable to have classes where students can go to learn not only what to do to put a novel together, but where to submit it once it’s completed, and HOW to submit it. These are all things I had to learn on my own. I think that critique groups are one of the worst things that can happen to writers who are just starting out. A critique PARTNER is a different matter—someone you can work one-on-one with and talk about your writing, and do the same for them, is different than going into a group where everyone has differing opinions and you are pulled many different ways. Trust your instincts as the writer of the story. And get into a good structured class to learn what to do. Once you learn what the tools ARE, then it’s up to you to learn to use them to show your own style and voice to tell the story you want to tell.
One of the best online workshops I ever took was one offered by Keena Kincaid. It was about the secrets our characters have and why they are important, when to reveal the secrets, etc. If you ever get a chance to take that workshop, it is just excellent.
What person would you like to thank for inspiring you in your writing aspirations? How did this person help you?
Probably my parents, in my growing up years. I did a lot of reading and writing, and they always praised my imagination, and enjoyed reading my stories I wrote then. They were very encouraging.
What do you consider your greatest accomplishments in your career so far?
I would say the three novels I’ve written and published. Although one of them wasn’t in print for very long.
I’m hoping it will find a home very soon. My first novel, Fire Eyes, was probably the most exciting solo thing I’ve ever done, because it was the first—and there is not another feeling in the world like opening up a box of books with your name on the cover.
If you won the big lottery, what would you do with the money? Would give any of it to charity? If so, which one?
Oh, yes! I would have a really tough time deciding which charity to give it to, so I probably would give a lot of it to different ones. Among them would be those that include basic needs for children and animals.
What is the best advice you want to give to a new writer?
Submit your work to some of the smaller places first and build a portfolio. Of course, everyone dreams of the “big contract” but that doesn’t happen very often—especially with your first book! Writing short pieces for magazine publication or short story anthologies can familiarize you with the submission process and help build your body of work before you get serious about submitting your first novel somewhere. Keep at it and don’t give up!
You operate an editing service called FabKat. Would you tell our members about the services your company offers?
At FabKat we do editing for writers who want to submit their manuscripts for publication somewhere. We do everything from line edits to offering plot modification to “fill in the gaps” for all kinds of projects. My business partner and I have worked with numerous individuals as well as small publishing houses to prepare manuscripts for the public eye. We also teach classes for writers at all stages of their writing projects. Our classes include instruction on everything from the nuts and bolts of writing to how to submit the project once it’s completed. We have also done workshops for our local library branches as well as the Indian Education Dept. in one of the major local school systems.
If money, talent and fear were no object, what big adventure would you like to have?
Hmmm. Good question. Probably it would be to travel to Ireland and have enough time and energy to research my genealogy there.
If you had the power to change two things in the world, what would those two things be?
I would be sure that every child got a GOOD free education at least through college and on into grad school if they wanted it. My kids have really had to struggle to scrape up money for their education and it is just a monumental strain on what should be the best time of their lives. There are just no scholarships left for the non-minority kids out there, or very few, no matter how good your GPA is.
Another thing I would change would be that charity organizations and churches here in the USA would see to their own neighborhoods and country before trying to go off and offer aid to foreign countries. It is terrible to think that we have people still going hungry here in our own country, with all the wealth we have. It’s unbelievable that in the 21st century we still have children living in poverty in our country and going without warm clothing and the necessities. I have seen this myself in the poorer counties of my state, and I know it exists in other states as well.
I guess in other words, to boil it down, I would like to see the social programs and educational system and the charities take care of the USA before they feel they have to give away tax money to other countries out there. Charity begins at home. Truer words were never spoken. Of course, it would be nice not to have war, and to fix world hunger, etc. while I’m at it.