Indie Author Interview – Sharon Gerlach

Hidey-Ho Scribblers – J Monkeys here.  Happy Wednesday to you and yours!  I’m excited to bring you an interview with Indie Author Sharon Gerlach.   Sharon – take it away!

How do you battle the doubt monster?  Doubt Monster: the nagging feeling while writing, that your prose is terrible, you plot is silly, your characters are insipid and no-one in their right mind would read this drivel, let alone buy it.

Oh, the doubt monster…it has its own bed and food dish in my house because it’s here so often. When I start to feel like I couldn’t write an interesting word to save my life, I walk away from writing for a while. Sometimes that’s really hard, because I have stories pinging around in my head, desperate to get out onto “paper,” and delays make me crazy.

Usually I’ll read, or maybe I’ll work on an Access database, do some business tasks that I’ve been procrastinating about, gardening if the weather’s nice. I love to browse antique shops, so sometimes I’ll go do that.

And when I start to feel better, I go back to it and read through old stuff, new stuff, whatever I have in my folder, reviews, anything to affirm that I have talent.

Have you thought about writing something that is completely different for you?  Perhaps writing in a new genre or just taking a story someplace that you haven’t done before.

Funny you should ask. I’m not much into writing noir, although I love to read it and love noir movies. But last year I had this idea bouncing around in my head and it wouldn’t stop until I wrote out the first chapter. It’s told completely in second person POV and is set in the Memphis blues scene. It’s a hard POV to write in, and I’m not sure where it might go in the future, but I’d like to explore it a bit more. It’s definitely not like anything I’ve ever written.
What story haven’t you told yet that you want to tell?  What is holding you back?

I have so many stories I want to tell – sometimes I don’t know which I want to get out first. I wrote a preliminary chapter on one so I didn’t lose the feel of the story and the idea, and then tucked it away while I finished other projects. It’s called BURNING BOOKS, and it’s about a brother and sister, fraternal twins, who find old books with their names in them. When they read the books aloud, they’re sucked into the story and have to find another Burning Book to read aloud so they can escape.

Besides a lack of time and other priority projects that are stopping me from working on it, this one is going to take a lot of work – a lot of research, a lot of planning, which I admittedly am not used to. I’m a “pantser” – the only planning I usually do is to have the start of a story, one or two major events, and the end planned. Other than that, I let the story flow unchained.

What is the most surprising thing that has happened in your writing career?

I have fans! I know that shouldn’t come as a surprise, but to hear from people who have read my work, to have them follow me in social media, watch for my new releases – and not be a traditionally published author…it really takes me by surprise sometimes.
What would you do if you couldn’t be a writer any longer?

I think I might have to be locked up somewhere. I often joke that I write to quiet the voices in my head and keep myself of Thorazine, but more and more I don’t wonder if it’s the truth. I always have plotlines and dialogue running through my head. It’s rare to have 100% of my attention. If I couldn’t be a writer – for any reason other than I have no words left, no more stories to tell – it doesn’t mean the stories stop forming in my head. I think I’d go crazy.

They say that every author has a partially completed, quite-possibly-terrible half a story shoved in a drawer somewhere.  What is yours?  What is it about?  What makes it terrible?  Would you ever consider picking it up and finishing it?

I don’t have suckage hidden away anymore; I’ve cleaned it all up and finished it for fear that someone might find it and publicize it. I started writing a novel back in 1982 that went through five different plot changes but never seemed to get finished. The more I wrote, the better I became at writing, but the story still sucked. Eventually I tucked it away; I stopped writing altogether for about 10 years while my kids were young. Finally pulled it out of the cyber-drawer in 2006 and finished it, then put it away – I was too close to it, so I couldn’t see what made it terrible (other than its whopping 176,000 words – woo-ha!). I wrote two more novels after that (OFFICE POLITICS and THE SECRET DREAMS OF SARAH-JANE QUINN), and I learned to write cleaner, more concise prose with those two. I took the first novel out of storage and hacked away at it. After two revisions and a 40,000-word weight loss. I just released it in December – THE WYCKHAM HOUSE.

Author Jane Haddam says that anyone who seriously annoys her gets bumped off in her next book.  How do you incorporate your real-life experiences into your stories? 

*laughing* I don’t necessarily bump off those annoying pests, but I may write them into my story in unflattering ways. I had a boss at a former job who was seriously incompetent, devious, and submarined her workers every chance she got, all the while pretending to be perky, understanding and compassionate. So I wrote her into OFFICE POLITICS, gave her a drinking problem, and took her husband away from her. *grin* One of my friends gave me a magnet for my birthday that says ‘Be careful or you’ll end up in my novel.’ Yep.

How do you come up with your schtick? 

Anyone who picks up one of my books should expect someone in the story to have a dry, sarcastic wit. If it’s not the main character, it’s one of the secondary characters. You know then that I’m present in the story, kind of like Alfred Hitchcock’s cameos in his movies. There will also always be an element of humor even within dire circumstances, simply because that’s the way the mind works. Often in the midst of a crisis, a random thought occurs that you just think is funny.

What are you working on now?

My current work-in-progress – barely even begun, actually – is titled REAL MEN and is a stand-alone romance, not related to either of my series, and tells the story of a woman’s journey to self-confidence and self-sufficiency after being abandoned by her husband, and his best friend’s decision – as godfather to their children – to help and support her rather than his friend.

What was your biggest mis-step in your writing career so far?

Wow, that’s a hard one. I’ve made a few mis-steps, I think everyone does. Probably my biggest one was asking a reviewer on a reading site to remove her personal attacks from the review of a friend’s work. I didn’t ask that the review be removed or tell her that she was way off base in her assessment of the manuscript, because she wasn’t. I just asked that the attacks against the author herself be taken out. I had no way to privately contact the person, as she didn’t accept private messages, so I had to ask on the review. My purpose wasn’t solely because she had attacked a friend; I truly didn’t want to see this person burn her reputation as a reviewer. And wow! I’ve never been treated so poorly in my life. I won’t do that again; you can’t protect everyone.

Do you have a word related pet peeve?

It used to be the ever-popular know-your-homophones (they’re, there, their; you’re, your; it’s, its). Then it was discreet/discrete. Lately my major annoyance has been with adverbs. See, I love my adverbs, and with word counts being so carefully noted, why use five words to say what you mean instead of using an adverb, as long as you’re judicious with their use? Everyone who read King’s ON WRITING now seems to think that adverbs should be completely eradicated from language (which is not what King actually said). I defend adverbs every chance I get. So…SAVE THE ADVERBS.  I like them too, maybe we should shirts made up!  🙂

What is your junk food of choice?

Ha! Whatever I can get my hands on. I switch between salty and sweet cravings. Usually I make popcorn – salty or kettle corn. The last year or so, it’s been Cheez-Its (any flavor). On the sweet side, it’s been Hostess Zingers. My junk food habit tends to rear its ugly head in the colder months (I live in the north, so that’s pretty typical). In the summer, I barely eat anything but meat and salad.

What’s the most dangerous or risky thing that you’ve done?

Out of all the stupid things I’ve done in my life – and there have been many – the most dangerous, risky thing was sneaking into the state park just outside my city. I was 22 or 23. It was full-on dark, probably midnight or later. I was with a guy I’d known since I was 14, and he was beautifully crazy. Since we didn’t want to run into the park rangers, we snuck in from a bluff that overlooks the park – which meant climbing down a steep scree of volcanic rock in the dark with no flashlight. Just the light of the full moon. Then we crept down the trail through the woods to the picnic area. With no regard to the fact that the woods are teeming with wildlife, much of nocturnal. Lots of cougars. *shakes head* Then we went back through the woods and back up the rocks a couple hours later. By then the moon had moved and no longer was shining on the scree, so we were literally blind as we climbed back up to his car. Cuh-RAZY!

What is your guilty pleasure? {Remember: this is a ‘G’ rated blog! 🙂 }

*laughs*  I wouldn’t admit to anything beyond a “G” rating, anyway.  😉 
I have this secret addiction to textures. I’m the woman trailing her fingers over the marble or granite countertops. Over polished wood surfaces. The one with her hand in the barrel of polished rocks, or beans, or lentils, or rice. On the beach, I can sit for hours just sifting the sand through my fingers. Yeah, it’s weird.

Sharon – thanks so much for your time!  Click here to find more about Sharon and her books. I loved Office Politics and Secret Dreams of Sarah-Jane Quinn.  I can’t wait for Chubbalita!


4 thoughts on “Indie Author Interview – Sharon Gerlach”

  1. Sorry I’m getting here so late, Sharon. Your interview was so much fun! I think Doubty has a food dish and water bowl at my house too. I will definitely check out your work — love the titles. Thanks for being here today!

    1. LOL – no worries, Susannah – it looks like I’m not very popular… LOL Thanks for stopping by & reading the interview. Hope you enjoy the books!

      1. YIKES…I don’t know what happend yesterday…We had 88 views…but no comments? Hmmmm – maybe next time we need to give something way…Sorry Sharon!

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