I met Cheryl a few years ago and we’ve remained cyber friends ever since. She had just published her first book, Black Diamond Death, the first in her Sloane Monroe private eye mystery series. Since then, she has published four more in the series as well as two other books outside of the series. Cheryl has reached the USA Today Bestsellers list and was named one of the seven best authors to follow on Twitter. I asked Cheryl to take time away from her busy schedule to answer a few questions that may interest readers and authors. Here is that exchange…
Cheryl, your Sloane Monroe series is about a spunky, no nonsense, female private eye. Tell me where her inspiration comes from:
I suppose if I’m being honest, those two words could be used to describe me. In some ways, Sloane is me. At least, my friends and family think so. And she is, to a degree. The inspiration to create a private eye stems from an interest I’ve had in the FBI since high school. I’ve always been fascinated with forensics and how crimes are solved. I drew from my research and experience to create my main character.
I enjoy the settings in your books, tell me a little bit about where Utah and Wyoming fit in your life.
I read a lot. And I notice a lot of writers use the same metro areas for their series, so I decided to change things up and use a backdrop from two areas I’m quite familiar with, as I’ve lived in both places. In Black Diamond Death, Sloane Monroe series #1, Sloane is living in Park City, Utah. Park City has a rich, interesting history, so it was easy to choose a place I thought readers would enjoy. Through the series, Sloane has grown and developed a lot, and book six (which I’m writing now) has her selling her home in Park City and contemplating a move, possibly to Jackson Hole, Wyoming, another town I feel has been underused in writing and is equally as fascinating and historical as Park City.
Is this type of book, mystery/thriller, what you enjoy to read as well?
Yes. I write in a few different genres, but mystery is my main genre. I started out reading authors like Agatha Christie and Robert B. Parker and fell in love with their stories. I have now branched out into paranormal suspense, romantic suspense, and contemporary romance, but I weave the mystery storyline into almost everything I write.
Speaking of, who are some of your favorite authors in this genre?
I’ve already mentioned Agatha Christie and Robert B. Parker, but right now I am really enjoying Blake Crouch. He’s an excellent storyteller. There are many up and coming authors today that I’m getting into, and I find myself reading more indie published novels than traditionally published ones.
Murder on the Orient Express: Agatha Christie
Pride and Prejudice: Jane Austen
Pines: Blake Crouch
The List: J.A. Konrath
The Secret: Rhonda Byrne
The Art of Happiness: Dalai Lama
You’ve also written a ghost series, how did that become about?
I’m a curious person by nature, and I love a good ghost story. I was watching Celebrity Ghost Stories one day and started thinking about writing a story about a girl who inherits an old house in Rhinebeck, New York and discovers she can communicate with the dead. Originally, I meant to write a short story, but I really liked how the story unfolded as I wrote it, so I kept going and decided to make it into a series. I plan to write the second in the series this year.
We met in 2011 and your success since this has been amazing to watch. Are you completely overwhelmed by what has happened?
No matter what happens, I honestly feel like there’s still so much to achieve, but I am humbled by the success. I have made the USA Today bestsellers list twice, and a few of my books have some excellent accolades attached to them. I’m represented by one of the most talented agents in the business, and, most recently joined a group called THE TWELVE. I am very grateful for all the milestones I’ve achieved and I feel like the best is yet to come.
I’m sure you are writing now more than ever, what is your schedule from having an idea for a book, to the day it is published?
My schedule is to get everyone out of the house so I can get things done! There’s no school on Friday where I live, and my husband works swing shift, so it’s impossible for me to set any kind of consistent schedule, which is a little maddening at times. I bail every now and then and go to a hotel so I can think straight, usually when I’m completing a novel and going over it for the last time.
On a day to day basis, I try to get four hours of writing in a day if I can. The rest of the time is spent doing promotional things. I set a goal for novels to be completed in 3-4 months and novellas in 1-2 months, and I have a spreadsheet I tally weekly to let me know if I’m on track or how behind I’m getting. Right now I am writing two novellas and one novel.
What would you say to other authors out there that are struggling to find readers?
If you’ve been published for more than a year and you’re still having a hard time gaining an audience, it’s time to rethink your strategy. In this business, I believe who you know can be a tremendous asset to you. Get involved in groups, and pay close attention to what successful authors are doing and how they did it. So many authors post advice for other authors on their websites/blog. What works for them won’t always work for you, but there’s no harm in trying something new. I’m always trying new things, branching out, reinventing my brand. Believe in yourself. Roll your sleeves up, and look at this wonderful talent you’ve been given for what it is: a business. Businesses take work. Lots of it.
Here’s an article last year I wrote on promoting and getting yourself out there:
What’s the plan for the rest of 2014?
I am currently writing Hush Now Baby (Sloane Monroe series #6). I also have a novella coming out in April called Echoes of Murder, and I’m picking at my contemporary romance novella series as well. Once all these things are done, I’d like to write the second in my paranormal series and then either start a new thriller series or write Sloane #7…all before 2014 is over!
Here is where you can find Cheryl and all of her books.