Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Life and Times of Sherry Thomas--An Author Interview

posted by Christine Wells
A good friend of mine, Joanne Lockyer, lent me the advance reading copy of Sherry Thomas's Private Arrangements, which Joanne picked up in Dallas last year. I read it, loved it and immediately asked Sherry to visit the lair. Now, Sherry is the best type of guest, because she's done all the work! Here is Sherry's interview...of herself. Let's give her a big bandita welcome!

Q: You don’t look like a Sherry Thomas.
A: Funny, isn’t it?

Q: So Sherry Thomas is your pen name?
A: And mostly my real name. I’ve been Sherry ever since the moment it was decided that I would come to live in the United States. My mom calls me Sherry. My husband calls me Sherry. Thomas is my married name. I’m Mrs. Thomas at my children’s school.
Q: So you weren’t born in the U.S.
A: No, I was born in the lovely coastal city of Qingdao, of Tsingtao beer fame, in China. And I lived there until I was thirteen. That year my grandmother, with whom I’d been living, passed away. My mother, who was a graduate student in the States at the time, brought my grandfather and me here to look after us. And I’ve lived in either Louisiana or Texas ever since, except for a year as an exchange student in France.

Q: I’ve had a look at your excerpt. I couldn’t tell at all that you weren’t a native speaker.
A: Thank you. Once I saw I had no choice but to learn English, I did.

Q: How did you come to write historical romances set in the Edwardian era?
A: You mean, having being born Chinese and all? How did a very prim and proper professor of English decide to write about hobbits and rings of power?

What an answer, eh, comparing myself to Professor Tolkien. Seriously, what happened was that I learned English reading historical romances. During summers, I used to loiter in the university bookstore and check out the—mostly historical—romance books one by one. I knew what dukes and marquesses were long before I knew what “modern” terms like “t&a” meant. So it is natural for me to write what I’m most familiar with and what I love to read.

As for the Edwardian era, I find it to be a fascinating time, and an interesting parallel to our current era. The British Empire was the most powerful force on earth, much as the U.S. is today. Technological advances were coming so fast you could scarcely keep pace. The world was changing rapidly. There was trouble in lots of places in the world, but England itself was at peace and prospering. It was the kind of time and place where it was possible for a significant portion of the population to lead secure, stable lives. That a generation later Europe would turn upside down gives La Belle Epoque, in retrospect, a certain poignancy.

Q: Now this might be a weird question. How come you don’t write the kind of books Amy Tan does?
A: Because I didn’t have a hard enough childhood? (Laughs) Amy Tan is a wonderful writer, and I’m glad she has written some marvelous book on the Chinese American experience. But I’ve never been a big consumer of experience-based novels, so I can’t write them either. I prefer imagination-based fiction.

Q: Is that what you consider romances?
A: Exactly. And the miraculous thing is, the most imagination-based fiction can turn out to be the most inspiring. When I think of poor Frodo struggling up Mount Doom, tears still well up in my eyes. And so it is with romances. Some of the most illuminating and profoundly moving moments I’ve lived through have come from reading romances. Because learning to love another person is one of the most deep-reaching, surprising, and sublime of human experiences. And because the genre boasts some of the best writers working today.

Q: Tell us a bit about your debut book, Private Arrangements, which has received starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Library Journal, a 4½-star review from RT, and a Desert Isle Keeper review from All About Romance.
A: (Cackles in secret delight; it certainly pays to write your own interview questions.) Do you have a couch I can jump on to tell you how much I love this book? No? Darn. Well, it is a rather unusual book, from the turn-of-the-century setting, to the storyline—girl loses boy big time thanks to her own devious machinations. As the story opens, they’ve led separate lives for ten years. She wants to divorce him to marry a lovely younger man, and he demands that she gives him a heir before he’ll grant her a divorce. Which leads to lots of mandatory sex. Woot!

Q: Mandatory sex is always good. And what about your sophomore book--Delicious, due out in August--does it contain mandatory sex too?
A: Alas, no. Which was why Delicious took forever to write and required 3.5 complete drafts before my editor would accept it. But it does contain buckets of voluntary sex, how’s that?

Q: Good enough for us. Tell us, what’s next for you, after two semi back-to-back releases in 2008?
A: Currently I’m taking a tiny sabbatical from historical romance to write a short, contemporary, angst-free romp. But once my next contract is finalized it’s back to historicals, though I do hope to break into science-fiction romances, too. And if I ever find time, I’ll fix my big historical fiction, a martial-arts action adventure with strong romantic elements, an homage to all the Chinese martial arts epics I devoured growing up. I call it Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon meets The Forsyte Saga.

Q: Sounds intriguing. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.
A: Thank you. And thank you for having me. It’s an honor to be breathing the same cyber-air as the Romance Bandits. Hope I didn’t stink up the joint too much. J

Aw, shucks, ma'am! We love having you here. Actually, Sherry, we do have a couch in the lair--made from the tanned hides of aged cabana boys *g* and we'd love you to grab yourself a cup of coffee or your beverage of choice, take a seat and chat with us about your books. Or there's a blue brocade chaise longue in the corner if you'd prefer...

And now I have a question for readers--in Private Arrangements, the heroine Gigi forms a scheme to win Cam and it backfires in a major way. Has that ever happened to you? What's the most outrageous thing you've done to win someone's heart?

69 comments:

Kim said...

Hey Sherry!

And could it be? Did I finally??

Christine Wells said...

Kim! Yes, you did! Congratulations on winning the Golden Rooster:)

Kim said...

Oh, I did!

bock, bock, bock.

Yes, my precious little GR, I'll take wonderful care of you. Just for the day. I know its awfully close to Easter but no worries. I won't let anyone dip you in chocolate. *g*

Christine Wells said...

Sherry, welcome to the lair! As I said, I loved Private Arrangements and I'm glad we don't have long to wait for Delicious to come out.

That's a great point about imagination-based fiction still holding truth. I think Tolkien said that he didn't consciously set out to explore themes--they emerge naturally when you write any story. I agree with that, though I might look back at a draft and realize, finally, what my book is about.

You said Delicious began with a yen to write Victorian food porn.Did you start with character, theme, premise or setting when you began Private Arrangements? Do you remember where the idea for Private Arrangements sprang from?

As an aside, I should explain to you that the Golden Rooster goes to the first person to comment on a given post. Our rooster is a hotly contested bird!

Kim said...

Sherry--isn't the Lair just awesome? If you poke around enough you can find Christine and Anna's stash of Tim Tams *g*

You know what I just love about Sherry? She wrote this rich and luscious historical romance but yet I have a feeling she's got quite the bawdy sense of humor. LOL. If she isn't already a fan of Kevin Smith I'm going to corrupt her with him.

Christine--I'm SO not answering your question. That would lead to me reliving much humiliation and angst that I swore never to relive.

Christine Wells said...

Kim, after all that training from P226, I don't think anyone's going to get near enough to dip him in chocolate.

jo robertson said...

Sherry, welcome to the Lair and how fabulous that your first two books come out so close together!

Yay, Kim!!! Protect the GR from the dipping chocolate.

What a great interview, Christine. I'm fascinated by authors who publish in a language not their primary one. Hey, didn't Joseph Conrad learn to speak English when he was about nineteen? Sherry, you're in good company.

I love the premise of your debut book Private Arrangements. I'll definitely pick up a copy.

And your assessment of romance was beautiful. With all the poo-poo-ing that romance novels often get, it's nice to be reminded that our relationship stories address the most basic and moving connections among men and women.

Christine Wells said...

Kim, I did get that sense of Sherry's bawdiness when I read the first couple of paragraphs of PA. *g* Something about a machine that spanks bottoms, all in a row. The mind boggles!

Christine Wells said...

Jo, Sherry's command of English is better than many people who have spoken it all their lives. You would love Private Arrangements. It's an absolute treat!

jo robertson said...

Oops, forgot to answer Christine's question.

Let me say that a full disclosure of outrageous behavior would involve confessions about a much younger JoMama, an artist's sketch pad, and very little clothing.

'Nuff said.

Donna MacMeans said...

SHerry - I'm delighted Christine managed to get you into the lair. I've been looking forward to reading Private Arrangements since I first read your agent's blog where she used your query letter as a perfect example of how to hook at reader. It certainly hooked me *g*

Kim - I'm gnashing my teeth that you snagged the Golden Rooster. I swear I checked the blog at 1:40 and yesterday's post was still up.
Oh well, some things aren't meant to be *g*

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Kim, congratulations on snaring the bird! All that red stuff over him is barbecue sauce - he hasn't been with P226 so you needn't fear anything too gruesome!

Sherry, welcome to the lair! Firstly, a huge congratulations on your fabulous debut. There's such incredible buzz about your book and all those reviews have been stellar. We love call stories here at the Banditas. Yours must have been really amazing - would you share it with us? Had you been writing a long time before you sold or were you a prodigy? ;-)

Jane said...

I won't incriminate myself and admit to any schemes. I love the Forsyte Saga. I didn't read the book, I saw it on Masterpiece Theatre. The Forsyte Sage meets Crouching Tiger should be very intriguing. I heard that many Germans lived in Qingdao because of the beer business, is that true?

Christine Wells said...

SNork! Jo, what a lot of images that conjures up. My question is--who was holding the pencil?*g*

Donna, yes, I remember reading that blog post, too. I've been waiting to read PA ever since.

Anna, good question! One I'd have asked IF I'd been allowed to do an interview of my very own. VBG

Jane, c'mon! Tell us your story. It sounds like it would be a doozy. Fascinating about the Germans. Are you sure it wasn't Australians? Australians would go anywhere for beer:)

Gillian Layne said...

I think I told my now husband something incredibly stupid, along the lines of "Sure, I'll go up in the nice helicopter with you" when I have a mortal fear of heights. Guess it's good when I'm deep in the throes of terror I don't scream. :)

Kim-congrats! :)

Sherry, congratulations on such an anticipated release! And the cover is lovely.

Christine Wells said...

Gillian, LOL, that showed true determination on your part. But worth it, I assume!

Yes, Bantam really have done a great job with Sherry's covers, haven't they?

Helen said...

Congrats on the GR Kim
What a great interview Sherry and I love the sound of this book. What a wonderful way to learn English by reading historical romance novels.
More books that I will be adding to my must get list.
Have Fun
Helen

hrdwrkdmom aka Dianna said...

Hello Sherry, yet another book/backlist for me to track down! It is so nice to have you in the lair, watch out for the boots, rapiers, claymoors and such. The Banditas have been in just a little bit of a tizz, they get so excited when there are guests to the lair.

Kirsten said...

Sherry, welcome and thanks for visiting the Lair! We do try to be welcoming...so welcoming that some of our guests never leave. But by choice (ahem). Only by choice! (Quick, someone check Maria's gag!)

Anyway...your books sound great and I can't wait to read them!

I admit I was a little surprised at some of your interview questions. It wouldn't have occurred to me to think that people born in certain countries should write certain kinds of books. That must be enormously frustrating.

As for our question of the day, I've never been bold enough for a scheme, really, except that I knew WAY before my husband that he was in love with me and we were meant to be. So I bided my time and let him figure things out slowly (while planning our wedding in my mind). It worked out just as I had planned, and when he finally said, "i love you," I just smiled and said, "I know." :-)

Kirsten said...

Go Kim! And please, wash off that BBQ sauce quick! Poor bird is probably on the brink of a nervous breakdown!

Christie Kelley said...

Hi Sherry, wonderful and funny interview. And welcome to the lair (one of these days I'm going to write liar instead of lair).

Your books sound great. There's nothing like mandatory sex. :)

And I also love your comment about imagination based fiction. I'm in total agreement. I think it's one reason I didn't do well in writing classes. It was always write a paper about this... Most of the time, it was something I had no interest in and couldn't get my imagination around.

And Kim, good job on the GR.

Sherry Thomas said...

LOL, I love the fight for the Golden Rooster. Is there a history behind it? Anyone need a coq au vin recipe?

In China our equivalent of the Oscars used to be called the Golden Rooster Award, I believe.

So congrats Kim. How long do you get to keep the bird?

And will someone kindly tell me about the P226? When I googled it I got only a Sig-Bauer firearm.

doglady said...

Hi, Sherry! I am going to remember that "write your own interview questions" trick. Great interview! I haven't read Private Arrangements yet, but I am really looking forward to it!

Congrats Kim on snatching the GR. If you dip him in chocolate he'll just spend the day cleaning his feathers. The Banditas have turned him into an addict!

I love that term "imagination based fiction" It says so much.

Hey, there is nothing wrong with mandatory sex, or voluntary sex or any other kind of sex. As long as it is tastefully done. Yeah! SNORK!!!

Sherry, after all of the accolades Private Arrangements has received do you ever worry about having to "top" yourself in the next novel and the next?

Joan said...

Kim, throw away the dipping chocolate and send it to me!

Welcome Sherry! Your books sound great and I'll be adding them to my own TBR pile (Do you think with all these towering piles the Bandits and Buds might tip the EARTH?

Joan said...

Sherry,

The Chinese had an equivilent to the Golden Rooster? That's cool.

The GR is near and dear to all of us in the lair. One of our own buds (FORGIVE me I can't remember which..it's early) named it for being the first poster of the morning and it...or rather he...ran with it.

As to p226 He is our representative guy.

Sherry Thomas said...

And hi everybody. I feel like I've just dropped in at a party where everyone's already had a few glasses of champagne! You guys are a rambunctious bunch and I luuurrve rambunctious women. Quick, somebody liquor me up too! :-)

And thank you again, Christine, for the generous invite.

Now I know Christine and Anna C are based in Australia. What about other members of the group? Where are the rest of you located?

Sherry Thomas said...

As to p226 He is our representative guy.

Huh? A little more explanation on that, pretty please.

MsHellion said...

I can't wait to get this book. (My local bookstores are always a bit late getting me the books I want most! Oh, to be landlocked here!) I cracked up at the Book Trailer. *LOL* Esp the note at the end that Lord Tremaine was a blond but there are not handsome blond paperdolls to be had for love or money. *LOL*

Christie Kelley said...

Sherry, p226 is one of our regular commentors, who happens to be a man. P226 is his username.

Sherry Thomas said...

Kim, I did get that sense of Sherry's bawdiness when I read the first couple of paragraphs of PA. *g* Something about a machine that spanks bottoms, all in a row. The mind boggles!

When I first got married, my husband was working on his Master's thesis, preparing for his defense. So he was often away in the evening--which was perfectly fine for me, more me-time to read!

One of the books I read then was about prostitution. I'm pretty sure it's called Whores Through History (What a name, eh?)--but I can't find it anywhere so I must be wrong.

Anyway, in that book, in the chapter on Victorian brothels, the author talked about the Victorian gentlemen's peculier fondness for being spanked--something to do with those public schools, maybe?--and casually mentioned this machine that could spank forty bottoms at once.

I think I fell off my couch upon reading that.

And it stayed with me ever since. I mean how could it not?

And I finally found a place for it in PA!

For those of you who have no idea what Christine and I are talking about, here are the opening 2 grafs from PA:

Only one kind of marriage ever bore Society’s stamp of approval.

Happy marriages were considered vulgar, as matrimonial felicity rarely kept longer than a well-boiled pudding. Unhappy marriages were, of course, even more vulgar, on a par with Frau Von Teese’s special contraption that spanked forty bottoms at once: unspeakable, for half of the upper crust had experienced it firsthand.


The full excerpt can be found here.

MaryKate said...

*MK waving* Mornin' Banditas, and welcome Sherry! Kim, congrats on the golden rooster! Just don't show him the peeps, or he might end up traumatized!

Sherry, I'm so impressed by the amount of really positive buzz your book is garnering. Everyone I talk to who has read it loves it. The thing I keep hearing is that it's different from other romances - which I think is a tremendous compliment.

I can't wait to pick it up next week and dive in! Congrats on your success!

Sherry Thomas said...

That reminds me. I made a book trailer for PA. (I promise it's not boring; I sure hope it isn't, for it plays out, in a highly condensed version, the first scene of confrontation from the book.)

Here's the link to it on YouTube.

Joan said...

Me and my Roman boys reside in Kentucky where we are expecting 5 inches of rain. Must get the floaties on Demetrius.

Truly, I suspect our beloved p226 is an agent of the super secret government agency in charge of fowl defense. An enemy would never suspect his Original receipe to turn on them :-)

Sherry Thomas said...

More wild waving to new folks who have joined since I last waved!!!

I cracked up at the Book Trailer. *LOL* Esp the note at the end that Lord Tremaine was a blond but there are not handsome blond paperdolls to be had for love or money. *LOL*

Thanks, mshellion! You wouldn't believe the search I went through for Mr. Golden-and-Beautiful. They either looked silly (as in the case of Mr. Bingley) or had full muttonchops. Argh!

Sherry Thomas said...

If she isn't already a fan of Kevin Smith I'm going to corrupt her with him.

Kim, I think becoming corrupted is one of the great unsung pleasures of life. Are we talking about the director Kevin Smith here?

We love call stories here at the Banditas. Yours must have been really amazing - would you share it with us? Had you been writing a long time before you sold or were you a prodigy? ;-)

Oh, God. I tried. I really, really wanted to be a prodigy. But no, I wrote for eight years before I sold.

BTW, Anna, I read your piece in the RWR and I can't tell you how much I admire your perseverance.

I wrote about perseverance
on my own blog once. (Funnily enough, as I look over it just now, I notice at the very bottom of it I said I was going to post "The Life and Times of Sherry Thomas" in the following week, the very piece that I never used and instead rewrote for my guest blog post here!)

As for the call story, I wrote a memoir-length piece for the First Sale feature at DearAuthor.com. It would be up this Friday (March 21), I think.

Here's a snippet:

Kristin sent the manuscript out on submission on Tuesday July 11. I think my stars were aligned for that month, for two days later we had our first firm offer. This led to an accelerated process whereby Kristin called all the other editors who had the manuscript and told them to read fast and get back to her by the following Monday.

She e-mailed me the next Monday—she’d called but I abandoned my cell phone home most days—and let me know that there were five houses interested in PA. The next day I took my cell phone to school, set it to vibrate, and left it on my desk. As soon as it buzzed, I rushed out of the classroom.

We had a very strong pre-empt from Bantam. Kristin was thrilled. She decided to ask for some more dough. I was still in a daze from when the first offer came. I went home and talked to my husband. Over the years, I’d always hoped that I’d one day get the Madeline Hunter treatment: She was brought out beautifully by a skillful and supportive publisher. And lo and behold, the publisher name I see on the spine of my copy of By Arrangement that I held up to show Dear Hubby was none other than—you guessed it—Bantam. It was meant to be.

Next morning Kristin called. Bantam had agreed to her terms and we had ourselves a deal. Since then, I have most definitely received the Madeline Hunter treatment, from the beautiful covers, to the lavish ARCs distributed at RWA Dallas, to the bookseller outreach on behalf of Private Arrangements
.

Sherry Thomas said...

I think I told my now husband something incredibly stupid, along the lines of "Sure, I'll go up in the nice helicopter with you" when I have a mortal fear of heights. Guess it's good when I'm deep in the throes of terror I don't scream. :)

Oh, Gillian! I quivered a little in my house slippers as I read your story. Now that is commitment to the cause. :-)

Susan Seyfarth said...

Hi, Sherry! Thanks for dropping by the lair! As another prodigy-wannabe, I can't tell you how inspiring I found your call story. I'll hit the five-year-without-The-Call mark this spring & I'm enormously pleased to hear an 8 year story with such a happy ending. :-)

As for insane things I've done for love? Nothing I'd care to admit to on the world wide web. :-) But I will say that I knew my husband was the one far earlier than convention would dictate, & thus had no qualms about picking up my life & moving a couple states to the left without an engagement ring or even a promise of such. I can't TELL you how many variations I heard on the tired old why-buy-the-cow thing. (Was I supposed to buy into a theory in which I am represented by an COW?)

Anyway, we'll celebrate our 8th anniversary this summer & I never regretted the move for a single second. :-)

Thanks again, Sherry. I'm adding you to my teeteringly tall TBR pile immediately.

Maureen said...

Hi Sherry!
Great interview. You asked yourself some very insightful questions. I too very much enjoy the fictional worlds that authors create, espcially the ones involving a good romance.

Suzanne Welsh said...

Welcome to the Lair Sherry and I love your interviewer. Such unique questions, she asked!

I can't say that I ever did anything desperate to try to win someone's heart, but I did meet my husband over some homemade texas sheetcake!

Suzanne Welsh said...

Sherry, I also have to agree with your comment that some of the best writing in literature today is done by many romance authors.

Suzanne Welsh said...

I'm in Texas, and since the GR spent the day with me yesterday, he's dealing with the BBQ sauce on the brisket.

Kim said...

Kim, I think becoming corrupted is one of the great unsung pleasures of life. Are we talking about the director Kevin Smith here?

Oh yes! That's the Kevin Smith I'm talking about *g* Snootchie Bootchies.

Since MK brought up Peeps, has anyone else seen the email that's been floating around? A Peep Show? Its so wrong that its hilarious.

Okay, chocolate off to Joan and I finally got all the BBQ sauce off the GR. He's resting comfortably with Max the Cat. He'll be all ready to travel to his new home tomorrow:D

Anna Campbell said...

Sherry, I lurve women who used words like 'rambunctious'! Try saying that after half a bottle of bubbly! Ram..ram... Oh, *(&^%$$, noisy!

I think it was Pam (aka Doglady) who came up with the Golden Rooster just on an off the cuff comment and he's turned into this MONSTER! Just goes to show the power of the imagination - I so agree with you about Tolkien and imaginative writing. The number of people who say, "Write what you know," and I think, "But I'd rather find out about what I DON'T know!" I think there's room for all sorts of writers in this world!

Anna Campbell said...

Wow, Sherry, what an amazing story! I'll have to check out the full version. Glad you liked the RWR article!

Nancy said...

Kim, congratulations! I have yet to snag the old bird.

Sherry, welcome to the lair! Your life sounds fascinating, and so do your interests. I think of the Edwardian age as the last bright moment of the British Empire, leading up to World War I and the ugliness of the Somme. I'm always eager to try a new time period, so I'm looking forward to picking up your book.

flchen1 said...

Hi, Sherry! I loved your (self) interview today! I have not yet read your books, but they're now on my TBB! Congrats on your successes!

Out of curiosity, have you been back to China to visit since you left? Do you still have family there? (My parents are originally from the Canton province, and it was fascinating to visit with them and hear how much things have changed and what's stayed the same.)

As for schemes to win hearts, in high school, I remember just desperately wanting to meet certain guys. Forget about winning their hearts--I just wanted them to know my name! And when my DH and I were dating, we'd had some prior history so I was fairly assured of his heart--I was just champing at the bit to receive that ring ;) I wasn't all that subtle either!

Sherry Thomas said...

I heard that many Germans lived in Qingdao because of the beer business, is that true?

Qingdao, my hometown, used to be a German cession.

From Wikipedia:

Little was done, however, until 1897 when the city was ceded to Germany. The Germans soon turned Tsingtao into a strategically important port that was administered by the Department of the Navy (Reichsmarineamt) rather than the Colonial Office (Reichskolonialamt). They based here their Far East Squadron, allowing the fleet to conduct operations throughout the Pacific. From 1898 the marines of III. Seebatallion were based at Tsingtao. The German Imperial government planned and built the first streets and institutions of the city we see today, including the world-famous Tsingtao Brewery. German influence extended to other areas of Shandong Province, including the establishment of rival breweries.

The Germans came for the natural deep-water harbor. But they couldn't help brewing once they got there!

And I used to wonder why I've always preferred the European style of architecture until I saw some pictures of Qingdao's old downtown and realized that the buildings, lots of them, such as the central bank and the city hall were all constructed in--guess what--the European style.

Sherry Thomas said...

Let me say that a full disclosure of outrageous behavior would involve confessions about a much younger JoMama, an artist's sketch pad, and very little clothing.

Can anyone say "Titanic"? :-)

I've never been bold enough for a scheme, really, except that I knew WAY before my husband that he was in love with me and we were meant to be. So I bided my time and let him figure things out slowly (while planning our wedding in my mind). It worked out just as I had planned, and when he finally said, "i love you," I just smiled and said, "I know." :-)

You go, girlfriend!

I can't TELL you how many variations I heard on the tired old why-buy-the-cow thing. (Was I supposed to buy into a theory in which I am represented by an COW?)

This immediately sent me to open the file for my little contemporary partial, cuz it had an exchange that went like this.

“Nice,” he said. He sounded like he meant it.

“Free to a good home.”

“You mean I get to keep you?”

One hand skimmed down my sides to stroke between my legs. I sucked in a breath this time. He touched me lightly, delicately, delicious little caresses at just the right places.

“Do you buy cows when you can get milk for free?” I teased him, my voice just a little unsteady.

“When I want a steak.”

Kate Carlisle said...

Honestly, you had me at "mandatory sex" but Christine's line about the "machine that spanks bottoms, all in a row" sealed the deal for me. What else could I do but race to Amazon and pre-order?

I'm another one who first heard about Private Arrangements on the Bookends Blog and I've been waiting impatiently ever since. Your interview was delightful! How smart of you to write it yourself. LOL. Congratulations for all the wonderful reviews you've received. I'm off to check your book trailer now...

Kim, way to go on snagging the GR! (And did you know you won my Amazon gift certificate from last week? Email me, girl!)

Kate Carlisle said...

Oops oops oops, I meant to say I read about your book on Pub Rants, Kristin Nelson's blog!! Sorry, Sherry!! (And sorry to Kristin!)

I've obviously been dipped in chocolate myself today. :-)

Sherry Thomas said...

Yes, Bantam really have done a great job with Sherry's covers, haven't they?

Oh, yes they have. I keep telling people, please do judge my books by their covers. :-)

Sherry, after all of the accolades Private Arrangements has received do you ever worry about having to "top" yourself in the next novel and the next?

Oh dear! Talk about it. Sometimes it felt like a steam cooker.

Memory is very a selective thing. I know, since it took 10 months to write, that PA wasn't a cakewalk. But during the long months I spent writing Delicious (16 months and counting, since the copyedits are arriving tomorrow), I looked to PA with such wistfulness.

For the longest time, all I could think about Delicious was please don't suck--because suck it did. (I wrote three-and-half complete drafts before my editor would accept it.)

Especially in the summer of 2007, after positive word-of-mouth started going around for PA, and after I read PA for the galleys, Delicious looked even worse by comparison.

By that time, all I wanted was a book on a par with PA--while I worried that perhaps I'm one of those authors who only have one book in them.

And then something wonderful happened. Things began to gel on Delicious. And I knew that I was no longer just typing, but creating. What a glorious feeling.

I'll bet when I start my next historical, the process would start all over again. The crappy writing. The worry. But you know what, if it means I'm improving, that I'm producing good books, so be it. I chose this.

Sherry Thomas said...

Hey, didn't Joseph Conrad learn to speak English when he was about nineteen? Sherry, you're in good company.

LOL. I hardly dare compare myself to the greats.

If we wanna talk about tremendous linguists, how about Nabokov, who published novels in Russian as well as in English?

I can barely write a postcard in Chinese these days.

And also, Granny Rosemary--that's what I call Mr. Rogers :-)--was born in Ceylon, if we want to look within the genre for a very successful author writing in something other than her first language.

Sherry Thomas said...

(Do you think with all these towering piles the Bandits and Buds might tip the EARTH?

I'm beginning to think there is nothing the Banditas cannot do. Everything is possible with Golden Rooster. :-P

love your interviewer. Such unique questions, she asked!

Oh baby, I can't wait to work with her again!

And more waving at Banditas. So good of all of you to take the time and so sweet of you to heap such kind praise on PA. I'm sure I don't deserve it but that won't stop me from enjoying everything. :-)

Beth said...

Welcome to the lair, Sherry! Wonderful interview and your books sound wonderful!

I honestly can't remember any of my schemes - although I'm sure I had plenty, just as I'm sure they all backfired :-)

Christine Wells said...

Sherry, we've loved having you here. It was a great interview, thanks so much for giving us the inside story about how you came to write historical romance. I'll be interested to read your piece on Dear Author. I never get tired of call stories!

Kate Carlisle said...

Sherry, the "why buy the cow" snippet from your contemporary made me laugh out loud! Very sexy and funny!!

Wow, I just noticed when I stopped by RNTV that you're pulling double duty today. We Banditas are extra lucky and honored to have you here in the Lair with us today! :-)

Keira Soleore said...

Banditas, you sure spoil us with these fabulous guests.

Sherry, a late afternoon welcome to the lair. I was incredibly bummed I missed finding your ARC at Dallas last year, so I've been counting down the days in my little spreadsheet to your release of PA.

I was very intrigued by your differentiation of experience-based novels (lit fic) v. imagination-based novels (romance).

Whether it's Tolkein's characters or Jane Austen's, aside from the funkiness of costume or skin color or what-have-you, their struggles and joys are universal, human, and very reality-based. To me, that's the part that attracts people to certain books: How much they can identify with what's happening within and without the characters' personalities. So, to you is this universality imagined and not experienced? Or did I not understand what you wrote in that sentence.

As an AYU, I'm working daily on trying to make outside connections to what's happening to the people in my story. So it was great to see you mention this in your interview with yourself (sounds Escheresque). :)

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, the guests have rocked the lair lately, haven't they?

Sherry, it's been great getting to know you - thanks so much for taking the time to visit us and tell us about Private Arrangements. It sounds like you have a huge hit on your hands! Congratulations again on all your success!

Keira Soleore said...

Sherry wrote, "Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon meets The Forsyte Saga".

A-ha-ha. Love it, love it. Missed this nugget in my first pass through the interview. I hope you go back to it someday. I really want to see Ang Lee's imagination soaring on the page.

Christine asked, "Has that ever happened to you? What's the most outrageous thing you've done to win someone's heart?

I'm cringing big time about what I'm about to write. OMG, I can't believe I was so foolish. The summer I turned eleven, a street-smart good-looking most popular girl in the neighborhood suddenly decided to befriend me. Me! As it turns out, her best friend was visiting her grandmother, but I took no notice of that fact. This girl convinced me that the guy all the tweens in the neighborhood admired was having a birthday coming up. Since she had an older brother, she couldn't do this in public, but I could wish him happy birthday. I was thrilled to do so. (I'm blushing even as I type this.) One evening, while most of the tween and teen kids in the neighborhood were playing/strutting about on the street, I waltzed up to the window of the small community center and shouted a huge greeting out to him. There was a stunned silence and cessation of all movement by everyone. It slowly dawned on me that it wasn't his birthday and that I had been taken for the worst fool. For weeks I was persona non grata while I hunkered down at home reading. O the mortification!

Aunty Cindy said...

Welcome to the Lair, Sherry!

And WTG on capturing the GR, Kim!

Sherry, thanx so much for sharing your writing process, call story and other insights with us!

As to extreme measures taken in the name of love... AHEM! Aunty does not take measures to win, OTHERS must take the measures to win Aunty. ;-) There was one cute lil Texas boy (we were on the annual family vacation) who kept falling at my feet during a volleyball game... Of course Aunty noticed. Alas, in those waay pre-internet days such a long distance romance was doomed.

AC

Christine Wells said...

Oh, Keira, what a sweetheart you must have been, you poor little cherub! I'd love to come across a popular girl who actually deserved her popularity one day. THanks for sharing your story:)

I didn't share mine, did I? Hmm, it involved two boys, a university toga party and a very short sheet. No, that's just a joke. There was only one boy.

Aunty Cindy, I love it! So, you don't have a strategy involving a certain riding crop??

jo robertson said...

LOL, Christine, mum's the word on who held the artist's pencil. Wouldn't want to raise any hackles of jealousy with Dr. Big.

Yes, Sherry's covers are to die for. How lucky is that? AC and I spent a long time today in B&N making fun of all the bad covers. I know, not very charitable of us. I suppose in the name of karmic justice that we'll get our just desserts some day.

Keira Soleore said...

Joan said, "Kim, throw away the dipping chocolate and send it to me!"

Kim, send the GR to Joan and the chocolate to me. Throw the chocolate away? Sacre Bleu!

Kirsten, I was so hoping for a juicy story from you for the question-of-the-day! But you do the aw heartwarming tale spectacularly; I was mollified.

Sherry wrote, "this machine that could spank forty bottoms at once."

The image boggles the mind. I mean I know the crazy English (as the French call them), but this... urk.

Sherry Thomas said...

Whether it's Tolkein's characters or Jane Austen's, aside from the funkiness of costume or skin color or what-have-you, their struggles and joys are universal, human, and very reality-based. To me, that's the part that attracts people to certain books: How much they can identify with what's happening within and without the characters' personalities. So, to you is this universality imagined and not experienced? Or did I not understand what you wrote in that sentence.

Excellent question. Forces me to think deeper into what I've said. :-)

I think what we are saying is more or less the same. When I say imagination-based fiction, I don't mean that the universality is imagined, but that it is expressed in an imagined setting.

Take Professor Tolkien. Many elements of the world of Middle Earth arose from his fascination with mythology and languages. But the themes of death and ineluctable changes and great sadness (not entirely without optimism but pervasive nevertheless)surely came of his WWI experience during which four best friends from unversity went to war and he was the only one who returned alive.

Yet he did not write a book about WWI. He poured everything into an imagined world and refought his great war there.

It is the same with Austen, though in a different way (how's that for oxymoron). She never married herself, which in those days, I suppose (austenphiles correct me since I'm likely to be quite wrong) meant that she didn't have a courtship that worked out. And yet she managed to write one of the most celebrated and ultimately fulfilling courtships in all of literary history. Here it is her optimism and humanity that triumphed; that all her wit and nuance did not turn bitterly to observations of why deserving women did not find mates or why matrimony often sucked, but to the traits and circumstances and choices that did lead to well-matched and successful pairs.

So when I say that I do not write experience-based fiction, but imagination-based, my settings and character might be from places and times and social strata far removed from my own, but the themes that run through them are very much those that resonate most with me because of what I have experienced in my own life.

So yes, experienced universality expressed in imagined settings.

See, I told you we were talking about the same things. :-)

Sherry Thomas said...

And Keira, no it's not too late. The query contest runs till 3/25.

Sherry Thomas said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sherry Thomas said...

And let me just say again how wonderful and fun it has been to be among the Banditas. I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Banditas rock!

Christine Wells said...

Thanks so much for being with us today, Sherry, and best of luck with your books!

Keira Soleore said...

So yes, experienced universality expressed in imagined settings.

Perfect, Sherry, that's perfect. I'm going to quote you on this.