You can find Cheryl and her books online.
BMH: Where did you grow up?
CH: I grew up in Dayton, Ohio, the birthplace of aviation. I attended Ruskin Elementary School where we walked home for lunch each day. It seemed like miles, but in reality was only about six blocks. It was the kind of neighborhood where all the kids ran free each evening until the street lights came on – then you’d better scurry to get home!
BMH: How did your youth influence your writing?
CH: The grandparents on both sides of my family were great storytellers. With significant Irish and Scottish ancestry, telling tales was a normal part of any gathering and a treasured skill encouraged by all.
BMH: If you were going to be on a desert island by yourself for an extended time what three things would you take with you and why those three?
CH: I’m assuming I have enough things to stay alive, but I would want the complete works of Shakespeare, Sherlock Holmes and enough paper and pencils to keep writing.
BMH: If you could go back in time and meet with anyone, who would it be? What would you talk about?
CH: I would like to meet Leonardo da Vinci and talk to him about his fountain of creativity. How does he organize his thoughts? Who does he talk with for inspiration and direction? I would like to watch him paint.
BMH: When did you write your first book?
CH: I started writing a traditional mystery with a wedding photographer who had been a forensics specialist in early 2008. It was the first book I actually finished. That was a huge boost to my confidence.
BMH: When you signed your first book contract, how did you celebrate?
CH: My family are craft beer aficionados, so naturally we met at 3 Daughters Brewing for the official signing of the contract. The owners are happy to be included in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery Series and my characters visit there frequently.
BMH: Tell us about your first public appearance as an author.
CH: After I received the publication date for the first book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mystery series, I approached my local independent, Haslam’s Book Store, to schedule my first book signing. I was so excited. Haslam’s owner — not so excited. He had recently experienced some signings with no books sold. He was not convinced that I could draw a large enough crowd to make it worth his time and expense. I was shocked! Where were the open arms embracing the newest literary phenomenon? It was an effective wake-up call. No one would know who I was until I concentrated my promotion efforts. That I did and am happy to report that over 75 people attended my signing! Wild applause from the owner. He’s now one of my biggest fans.
BMH: What’s your daily writing routine?
CH: On weekdays, my alarm rings at 6 AM, but I hit the snooze at least once. After dressing, I get a huge cup of strong coffee and head out to my writing shack. I power up the computers and address my social media tasks, then I am usually working on my current manuscript for a least a couple of hours. I take frequent breaks, but keep writing until I’ve reached a minimum of 1500 words. On weekends, the alarm is set for 7 AM and the word target is only 500. It’s important that I write every day.
BMH: What is the best advice someone gave you about writing?
CH: Start writing. You can’t fix a blank page.
BMH: What do you wish you’d known before you became a writer?
CH: I wish I had known how little time I would have for reading purely for myself. I would have read a lot more.
BMH: What’s the hardest thing about writing?
CH: The first draft is the most difficult part of the process. Although I have an outline with plot points identified, I’m in a constant state of making choices. Word choices, character choices, action choices – too many choices.
BMH: What is the easiest?
CH: The research is the most delightful part of the writing. Wandering among the many websites that feature glass art classes, visiting the local art museums and discovering new eateries in St. Petersburg is just pure fun.
BMH: How do you use social media?
CH: I’m easily distracted, so I limit my social media efforts to Facebook, Twitter, and GoodReads. I’m in several message groups associated with Sisters in Crime and the fabulous DorothyL listserve.
BMH: Do you blog?
CH: Yes, but I don’t have a personal blog. I am a member of www.killercharacters.com featuring cozy authors that post as the characters—major and minor—who inhabit the pages of some wonderful mysteries. I frequently guest blog with my friends and for each new book release, my publisher sends me on a blog tour.
BMH: How about some hard-learned advice for new authors?
CH: Writing well takes a lot of time. Try not to send out your submission before they are ready. Take one more look before you press the SEND button. Read your material out loud. I guarantee you’ll find something that needs to change.
BMH: Name a few authors who have influenced your writing?
CH: My Golden Age influences are Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie and Nagio Marsh. They were straightforward entertainers but their language was filled with rich descriptions of setting, mood, character and social interactions. My favorite modern author is Louise Penny. I admire the complexity of her plots, the fully developed characters and especially the Quebec village of Three Pines nestled in the woods not too far from Montreal. Especially delightful is the fact that Chief Inspector Armand Gamache is a happily married man with realistic personal and professional challenges.
BMH: Why did you chose to write crime fiction?
CH: I love the challenge of creating a plausible puzzle and putting my characters under emotional stress. The unfolding of clues, risks, crisis and finally achieving a satisfying resolution give me great satisfaction.
BMH: What do you do to cut loose and have some fun?
CH: There is a wonderful British fusion restaurant within walking distance of our house, Three Birds Tavern. The atmosphere is casual and we know the staff well. On Thursday evenings, they offer $5 martinis and we love to sample the creative staff’s newest creations.