by Sheryl Fish
What inspired you to start writing?
My kids were grown, my yard was landscaped, and all my canvases were painted. In addition, I had maxed out my remodeling graces with my husband. I possess a natural aptitude called high ideaphoria—a constant flow of ideas. The world of story is the perfect place to direct my creative energy. If I want another arbor, it’s a keystroke away!
Along with suspense and romance themes, you included elements of mystery and intrigue. Why?
Each genre has a specific form to follow. I find it stifling to color between the lines of just one genre. I want to ask, “What box?” In addition, puzzles have always intrigued me, so I enjoyed dropping clues and weaving the parallel story lines together to make a more interesting story.
You have a thread of ancestry in your book. Why?
After moving to Ashland in 1980, I discovered that my grandfather and his siblings were born here and were raised in Talent. When he showed me places they had lived, it felt like I had come home. Later, the City of Talent began exciting plans to revitalize their downtown. This story helped me to participate vicariously in the story world of Tangle Grove.
Are there any characters you relate to most?
Lisa, the protagonist. While I was writing her, I remember wishing I had her courage. She risked everything on her dream. Writing became that for me. It’s been a major investment of time and resources, but I feel this is what I was created to do—even the six-year learning process has been fascinating.
Are there any other lessons have you learned along this writing journey?
Much of human nature has become blatantly obvious. When writing a character arc, the character starts out one way then the author puts her through the gauntlet of tribulation and turns the heat up under the cauldron. In the end, she either rises to the challenge, or ends in self-destruction. It’s so true to life.
You brought in the very tough subject of domestic abuse. Why?
For the plot to work, I asked, “Why would Lisa need to hide her activities?” The focus settled on her husband. I needed an inciting incident—the moment the protagonist is pushed out of her accustomed way of life. Abuse is tough to write. Though I haven’t been physically abused, I have been around it and interviewed women who’ve gone through it. One reason it is so widespread seems to be confusion. People wonder, “Is this really abuse?” or “Why try? I’m stuck in this.” There is a list of discussion questions on my website that serve as a starting point. The right question can lead to the right answer.
Are any of the characters based on family or friends?
Possibly. When I began writing, everyone was nice. Then I learned to write villains and amplify the suspense. I took all the story elements to the extreme—to the world of fiction. So although some characters might have their genesis in real life, they’ve undergone dramatic changes into personalities you love to hate.
You said you have a sequel coming out?
Yes, a prequel, actually. I promised my readers I would have it finished by next spring. The first chapter is available on my website: www.cherylcolwell.com, under: Books/Adriana’s Secret.
Bloomsbury Books will be hosting an author reading with Cheryl Colwell on Thursday, November 7 at 7:00.