Wednesday, November 28, 2012

A Visit with G.H. Sherrer


                                                   The Keeper Chronicles by G.H. Sherrer, a Synopsis
 
In spite of a surprising source of hope found in the kind Miz Alma Washington, a forsaken young girl Starr Bright endures deadly coastal crises only to face her greatest challenge yet. A seedy beach town is traded for luxurious mountain living with her grandparents, though learning of a family legacy plunges her into despair. Is a new friend failing her, too? An amazing Counselor emerges. Now she must put herself in the balance again to catch another criminal. This stirring family saga with a twist of mystery portrays a troubled young girl poised for a good life, a faith inspiring, fresh work of fiction satisfying readers of all ages.

Author Interview:

Why should readers pick up The Keeper Chronicles?

The Keeper Chronicles is written to inspire and entertain readers, provide an “escape” of their own issues into ones likely worse than their own, hopefully making them feel better about themselves. This story uses reality situations, not fantasy. Through the delightful, and sometimes harrowing, adventures of a young girl who sees herself as a detective, the reader cannot help being motivated to see others differently, look for ways to serve fellow mankind. The issues of the protagonist include abandonment, bullying, depression, grief, anger, social class, addictions, suicidal ideation and rejection. The saga reflects consequences of wrong decisions.   

         How did your book come to life?

While living in Phoenix, Arizona in the fall of 2006, I joined a writers’ inspiration group where I wrote a short story. Later returning to Birmingham, Alabama, I shared this story with a local novelist who suggested it might become a novel. Over several years, the story grew as I attended writer workshops and was further inspired, and entered a portion in a competition held by Alabama Writers Conclave, winning an award. 
The story's premise springs from a person in my childhood. During the early 1950’s in rural Birmingham, Alabama, battleground of the Civil Rights Movement, an epic story unfolded so quietly it was almost missed. Who other than Martin Luther King might imagine the impact of one unbiased black man with a loving heart on the lives of future generations? Like King, Matthew James knew the power of God’s love, and sang hymns while he worked as gardener for a nursing home. Nothing in the all-white community went unnoticed by him, not the poor children whose father “went north for work” deserting his family, nor the high-spirited young son of a doctor. When a school day ended, the children ran to Matthew, the bravest jumping aboard his moving tractor, others running behind in the fresh plowed earth. He never seemed annoyed, but would smile and patiently share wisdom, a kind word. He left vegetables at the door of the poor children, and counseled the doctor’s son to get an education, and not waste his talents. The unforgettable Matthew James lived as all those taking Christ’s name should, with a forgiving spirit and loving actions. Matthew touched lives by reflecting a heart in harmony with the true Keeper, the Creator of all mankind of one blood. Though this work is entirely imaginary, Matthew James and America’s 500,000 children who’re abandoned each year supplied inspiration for The Keeper Chronicles  

         Who is you favorite character in your book and why?

The young girl protagonist Starr has my heart completely, but I find myself respecting and adoring her mentor Miz Alma, too. This world could learn much from the elderly woman’s selfless giving, how loving and making a difference in a young life impacts the world in a positive way. 

         How did you name your characters? 

I chose the name Starr because it’s sassy, and reflects a certain social class. The girl is sassy, impudent, though she changes. Also, the fact that she was “named by her grandmother” has significance revealed in the book. Bright is her father’s name, and adds more quirkiness the poor young girl must face. Miz Alma Washington was chosen due to Alma sounding like Mama, and after all, she became a “Mom-in-the-heart” to Starr. 

         Are the characters in your books based on people you know? 

None really, other than the man from my childhood, who I described earlier. I’m a keen observer, and pick up characters and their traits from strangers in restaurants, meeting rooms, at the beach, and while travelling and so forth. 

         Why do you think your readers are going to enjoy your book? 

Everyone loves to be made feel good about their own life, and this character Starr Bright’s life is so wretched, all readers’ trouble pales in comparison. As Starr progresses in character development, solves riddles and crimes, one cannot help but applaud her, celebrate with her. The two-volume novel has a satisfying ending. 

         Are your characters’ experiences taken from someone you know, or events in your own life? 

Okay, I’ve got to admit I was somewhat of a “Starr” myself, when it comes to her adventuresome spirit. At age eight I was on a wooden raft afloat on a very deep lake, pretending I was Huck Finn, and couldn’t swim a stroke. I explore mountain trails, once discovering a rattlesnake so long it stretched across the trail maybe eight feet. It was stone dead. Thank God. When thirsty I drank water from deep-woods springs, and pretended to be an Indian. All this activity was done while my parents were at work, in ignorant bliss of my daytime fun.  

         How long did it take you to write your book?

I started the novel in 2007, and published Volume I in 2011. This long process was due to several factors: transforming my nonfiction skills into writing creative fiction meant attending many workshops and writing classes, getting writer feedback, editing, getting professional critiques, editing again.

         Who designed the cover?

Chris Master is my graphic designer for both of my published works, however I offered suggestions. 

         Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected? (What was it?) 

Of course, I learned much along the way, mostly how little I knew about writing fiction, and how the publishing world works. On a personal level, a writer must look deep inside themselves (and others) in order to produce authentic characters and a believable story. Writing has changed how I view myself, others and the world. I’ve learned of myself, and am a better, more content person because of what writing this novel has taught me. 

  • How do you start writing a new book? What comes first? The characters? The story?
The inspirational “aha” moment and a strong urge to write are how my novels always begin. The Keeper Chronicles being my first fiction project, I went forward the way any organized obsessive perfectionist would: by outlining the plot, selecting characters, giving them names, birthdates, characteristics and quirks. Of course much of the work changed over time, but having a framework to build upon started the story flowing.  

         Do you like to write in series? Or single titles only?

I enjoyed writing this “duet” The Keeper Chronicles, a two-part novel, and left an opening for a third if readership demands. However, I am passionate about my historical novel in progress. I’ve always enjoyed reading and studying history, and plan to write others after this one. 

         Can you describe your main character in 3 words?

       Resourceful, spunky, street-wise

         Can you describe your heroine in one sentence?

Starr Bright, the young heroine of The Keeper Chronicles, will be your new best friend showing you how to be a true survivor of our world’s greatest ills.  

         Can you describe your hero in one sentence? 

 Young Matt Thornberry, arriving on the scene in Volume II, is a motorcyclist and part-time l  lumberjack who loves Sherlock Holmes novels, and is destined to become a key player in Starr’s future. 

         Without giving away details, Can you describe one interesting scene in your book in less than two sentences?

In spite of experiencing stunning success as a young detective, Starr Bright is again terrorized, discovering she’s in the crosshairs of a true stalker who tampered with the Jeep she’s driving, and is placing her in jeopardy on a treacherous mountain road.  

         In two sentences or less can you tell readers something unique about your book?

The complexity of the plot, which consists of subplots, hidden meanings, foreshadowing and backstory, makes this story an enigma, a little puzzle for readers to decipher along with mystery, with an unusually fresh approach to subjects needing aired by today’s readers, and a Book Club Edition with discussion questions at the end. 

         List three adjectives that describe your book as a whole:

       Fresh, sincere, deep 

         Where can a reader purchase your book? 

Currently at www.BuyBooksontheWeb.com however it will be available by request at all bookstores soon, including those on the Web, such as WWW.Amazon.com and others. EBooks are coming available.

                     What other books are most similar to yours? 

The Keeper Chronicles a story with more pathos than Sue Monk Kidd’s The Secret Life of Bees, a winsome protagonist like Lucky in The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron, and the mystery and intrigue of Carl Hiaasen’s novel Hoot. 
 
         Where do you find your ideas? Does something trigger them? Do you carry around a notebook in case inspiration strikes?

My novel notebooks are filled with scribbled notes, outlines, lists of characters and traits, and even photos found online which seem to capture people in my books. I’m writing on sticky notes or paper napkins in cafes many times, when inspiration becomes more enticing than the food or companionship of friends. A word spoken at a nearby table, a stranger’s glance or mood, the look of a sunrise outside my window, all these and more trigger my inspiration. 

         How do you research your books? 

The Keeper Chronicles was set on the Atlantic coast and North Carolina mountains, so I travelled to both scenes, visited museums, plus I researched flora and fauna online. Often I pull information from my own career in medicine, and from topical books in my home library. Also, I read many similar fiction books. 

         Have you written your entire life? Have you always considered yourself a writer?

I was published in Grit (a newspaper at the time) and was paid for my article when I was age thirteen, and wrote and was widely published in my corporate career, later becoming a freelance columnist for a national journal or two, and yet I never considered myself a writer until hired as a columnist for a local newspaper in 2007. My becoming a published novelist in 2011 was a new literary achievement. 

         Why do you write?  Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do?

I write because I must write. Writing is my passion, a mental and emotional release, catharsis. The actual process of writing is, to me, its own reward. 

         What is your writing process? 

First, I’ve no idea what writer’s block is, for I take up any notes and scribbles I’ve collected, if any, sit down with my laptop and before I know it hours have passed and I have written several thousand words. I write most easily early in the day. Sometimes I take a beach trip alone for writer solitude, though I find that at home very easily. 

         Where do you want to go with your writing career?  Where do you see your writing career in five years?

I wish my novel The Keeper Chronicles to be read and recommended widely. I want to see children in Boys and Girls Clubs of America reading this book and becoming inspired. I don’t write for fame or riches, however. 

         What is your work in progress? Tell us about it. 

Love in the Crossfire is the working title of my next book, and is based the true story of a couple who were Union Sympathizers living in the heart of slavery, in South Carolina before the Civil War. They migrate to escape the social and economic pressures and avoid the war for two years, yet are ultimately forced at gunpoint to fight for the Confederacy. It’s a portrait of the couple’s determination to survive, their love and bodies intact, against almost unbelievably enormous odds.

         If you were told your stories were unbelievable and not written very well, would you continue to write? What would your response be? 

Of course I can take criticism, even when it’s given rudely. Yes, I do listen, and learn. As stated earlier, I write because I must, no matter how harsh the criticism. 

         Would you ever consider converting one of you stories/published books into a screenplay? And if you could corroborate with someone, who would it be? 

Yes, I’ve imagined my book The Keeper Chronicles produced for cable television and viewed on Lifetime TV. The plot is perfect for that. I know of no screenplay writers to suggest, but will work with anyone who is serious about their craft. 

         Which do you prefer to write – full length novels or short stories? 

This may sound crazy, but I prefer to write novels over short stories. Why? I love the literary challenge.

         Do you have a specific writing style? 

I’m enjoying writing my novels in first person present tense, for the immediacy this brings readers, though this style is challenging for a writer. When I’m reviewing and editing my work, I read aloud, taping myself and then listen for lack of rhythm or confusing areas, and make changes accordingly.

If there were one wish you could ask the genie in the bottle to grant, what would it be?
 
I wish all the children ever born were wanted, protected and truly loved.-G.H. Sherrer 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

A Saga for All Seasons

 
The Keeper Chronicles book cover, designed by Chris Master,
depicting the novel's troubled young lady as she comes of age,
and her kind ally Miz Alma who helps get the girl's life on track.

In spite of a surprising source of hope found in Miz Alma, the forsaken Starr Bright endures deadly coastal crises only to face her greatest challenge yet. In The Breakthrough (Volume II of The Keeper Chronicles) her seedy beach town is traded for luxurious mountain living at her grandparents, though learning of a family legacy plunges her into despair. Is a new friend failing her, too? An amazing Counselor emerges. Now she must put herself in the balance again to catch another criminal. This stirring family saga with a twist of mystery portrays a troubled young girl poised for a good life, a faith inspiring, fresh work of fiction satisfying readers of all ages.
 
This new novel is available at www.BuyBooksontheWeb.com by entering the title in the search box, and will soon be sold by request at book stores worldwide, as well as on the Web at www.Amazon.com and others. Look for it soon on Kindle, Nook and other eBooks. -G.H. Sherrer
 
Today I am pleased to announce to my readers and friends the publication of my new book, The Keeper Chronicles, Volume I & II, Infinity Publishing 2012. If you read Volume I, The Mall Street Sleuth, published by Infinity in 2011, you will be glad to know it's included (edited version) under the above cover with its sequel Volume II, The Breakthrough.
 
Novel writing isn't easy, nor quick like creating a watercolor painting. I have steadily worked on this book project since 2007, and in my various lulls (due novel critiques or marketing activity for Volume I) began a new novel unrelated to the above one. My antebellum era historical novel, Love in the Crossfire, is at the halfway mark of its first draft, and possibly the one I was "meant to write".