Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Interview Questions

Welcome, Cerella!

How long have you known that you were a writer? Did you receive a clear "call?" Or have you just loved writing all your life?

    As a child, I ADORED books. I ate them up like they were candy. I attribute a lot of it to my mother, who used to read to me nightly. She’s a drama/theater-lover, so every story’s telling contained dramatic dialogue and sound effects. It made stories come alive for me. As I grew, I continued to consume books rapaciously. Of course, children love to discuss what they’re going to be ‘when they grow up’, and like most children, I had a varied list of what I wanted to do as an adult.

    Then, one night when I was ten years of age, I watched a movie in which the heroine was a novelist. I can’t say there was a choir of the heavenly host or a booming voice, but a light bulb did go off in that moment – this was a career. The books I was reading began with an author. I latched onto this and throughout the rest of my childhood and teenage years, felt that desire grow into a calling.

What is the genre you write in? Would you explain what it is?

    My current book is a modern-day romantic comedy, although I’ve been known to write in other genres. For a long time, I wrote historical novels but had no luck getting them published. After years of receiving rejections on the manuscripts I was submitting, I decided to do a 180 and try something completely different. Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania was born out of my ‘foodie’ personality – it’s light, fun and sweet…like Angel food cake. =)

How do you spend your writing days? Do you set goals to reach a certain number of words per day? Can you give us a general idea of how long it takes you to write a novel?

    The system varies. A lot. Like many writers, I work a full-time job in addition to my writing, plus I’m taking college courses at the same time. Time is precious! Right now, I’ve been consumed with the necessary promotion and details that go along with the publication of my first book. It’s exciting but leaves little time for the actual writing!

    Love Finds You In Hershey was mostly written in two large spurts. I wrote the first half and then walked away in the dreaded middle, feeling drained. I returned to it some months later, re-inspired, and finished the second half. The actual writing is the least time-consuming part of the process – editing, fact-checking, polishing, researching, plotting…these are what take up the most time. I would say it probably took me about a year, from conceptualization to finished product. It all depends on how much real life interferes with one’s plans!

What is the spiritual message in your latest book? What can readers expect to get from reading it?

    My character’s struggles are often born out of my own. There’s usually an issue I have to work through before I can help my character resolve it.

    In Love Finds You in Hershey, Sadie Spencer is forced to face her inner perfectionist: that she cannot be the very best in everything she longs to excel at. It’s a hard lesson, and one I’ve had to face myself – this need to be something more than I am.

    Sadie is a talented woman when it comes to food and her restaurant. But the one gift she doesn’t have is the skill to create a truly delicious dessert. It’s her Achilles heel, and she nearly loses some very priceless relationships in the pursuit of it.

    Of course, there are some very comedic (and chocolaty!) moments along the way, as well.

You recently had a book published. Would you take this time to describe it to us? How and where can readers buy your books?

    Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania is part of Summerside Press’s Love Finds You series, which takes place in unique, real-life small towns across America.

    Love Finds you in Hershey centers around Sadie, a single mom who is juggling raising her precocious five-year-old daughter and managing the restaurant she owns. She’s a little bit jinxed and finds herself in several hilarious (and occasionally alarming) circumstances. Her best friend, Jasper, sticks by her and helps her raise Kylie, her daughter, and begins to realize he feels a lot more for his lifelong friend than mere friendship. There’s also a mysterious Russian entrepreneur threatening Sadie’s business and the return of her erstwhile father, seeking amends.

    It’s a story cooked up with a little bit of everything: humor, romance, drama, redemption, relationships and obviously, chocolate.

    Love Finds You in Hershey, Pennsylvania is available wherever fine books are sold: Amazon.com, Borders, Barnes & Noble, Christian bookstores, etc. You can find links on my website (http://www.cerelladsechrist.com/) as well as read the first chapter and discover more information on the story – including recipes from the book, character bios, merchandise, tidbits on the town of Hershey, soundtrack recommendations and more!

Where do you get ideas? Character names? Do you find your characters similar to you in any way?

    I think writers find their inspiration just about everywhere – at least, I know I do. The surest way for an idea to take root and bloom for me is when I ask that fateful question, "Well, what if…"

    As for character names, I used to be extremely fussy in regards to this. I’d spend hours trying to find names that were ones I liked. In recent years, I’ve learned to let go more and allow the name to find me. The better you know your character, the more they’ll end up telling you about themselves – and the name is usually included in that for me. Characters often name themselves.

    Whether my characters are similar to me or not – absolutely! Not in every way, but there’s a small part of me in each of them, for better or worse. For instance, with Sadie – I can definitely see her drive to succeed in myself, especially in the way she beats herself up for the skills she’s lacking. On the other hand, I will never possess her flair for withstanding public humiliation.

Do you ever feel like giving up? Most people don’t understand the stress, the work, and the joy of being a writer. How tenuous becoming a writer is. Do you care to share how it feels, what discouraging/encouraging times you’ve gone through? Who’s inspired you the most?

    Wow, this is a big one. Okay, it’s true – the writing life is hard. Super hard. Especially when you’re writing day in and day out with no acknowledgment or return on your efforts. I wrote my first novel at age 16 and started submitting for publication when I was 17 years old – it took 13 more years to finally see something published. Everyone knew this was my lifelong dream, but along the way, most people stopped asking me how it was going. In a way, this was a relief – telling people ‘nothing yet’ grew wearing after several years.

    I think the most important thing you can remember, though, is that success does not define you nor your ability. If you like to write, then write. Don’t do it to be published – do it for you. Do it because you enjoy the telling of a story and appreciate the value in them. If you do it because you love it, the discouragement is still there, but it rolls off easier than if you’re doing it to prove yourself. If I didn’t love the art of words, I would have given up a long time ago. And if I wasn’t being published, I’d still be writing anyway – because stories matter to me. Immensely.

    For me, inspiration comes from other stories – the kind that make you dig deep and recognize that who we are and what we do matters.

Would you explain how you "chose" (or was chosen) a publisher? Do you just go "inny, minny, miny, moe?" Grin. Now, that you’re published, can you sit back and relax from the success you’ve experienced?

    Ha ha! It’s so facetious of you to place this question after the last one. I’ve only heard of one or two writers in my lifetime who had the pleasure of selecting from a platter of eager publishers with their first book. I was extremely fortunate in receiving an offer from Summerside Press, who maintain a high standard of quality in their titles. I’m blessed and grateful that they chose to take a chance on me.

    As for relaxing….um, no. =) There’s always more work to be done.

Do you mind telling us some of your likes and dislikes? Hobbies, interests? Where would you like to travel if you could? Etc.

    Well, beyond the obvious answer of reading and writing... I love history, and I love touring historical places. My dream is to visit Scotland one day, since I have family history there and love all things Scottish. I’m enamored with pug puppies (including my own, named Bronte after the classic Charlotte and Emily.) Obviously, I’m a bit of a foodie and derive great interest from anything related to food and cooking. I’ll try just about anything except some of the stuff seen on Andrew Zimmerman’s Bizarre Foods. (I admire that man’s fortitude in the face of gastronomical horrors.)

    I’m addicted to coffee, but I’m trying to drink more tea since I’m taking classes in holistic health and recognize the health benefits of the latter. And I’m so excited for the final season of the TV show, Lost.

Would you give us your blog or webpage so everyone can check it out? Anything else you’d like to share? Promotional information?


I try keep my websites interesting with lots of goodies to be found, both on my author website and my personal website and blog. Definitely check out my sites:

Author website with fun book content (recipes, soundtrack, character blog and bio, etc.): http://www.cerelladsechrist.com/

My personal website and blog (with fun, random info. about me):

http://www.thecerellalife.com/


Join me on Facebook at:

www.facebook.com/thecerellalife

And make sure you check out Sadie’s character blog at:

http://www.suncatchersadie.blogspot.com/

Wasn't that fun? Thank you, Cerella, for joining me today!

Blessings!

7 comments:

Renee (SteelerGirl83) said...

Great interview! I hope you work on getting a historical novel published...you know I have a soft spot for those! *wink wink*

xoxo~ Renee
steelergirl83(at)gmail(dot)com

Cerella D. Sechrist said...

Thank you, Renee! I'm sure, one day, you WILL see a historical from me. You know I love those, too. :) Thanks for commenting!!

Jo said...

Great interview. Love how you ended up actually writing the book in 2 segments. Reminds me of a book that my hubby started many many years ago and reached a point where he got stuck and have always wondered if he would ever finish the book. There is hope now. Please enter me in the drawing.

Blessings,
Jo
ladijo40(at)aol(dot)com

Cerella D. Sechrist said...

@Jo - It's always hardest when you're midway through the story and the ending is so far away, but the newness of starting it has long since passed. Sometimes, it helps to get distance, but that requires coming back to it! Tell your hubby to give it another chance. :) Thanks for commenting!

Caroline said...

Thanks for the comments, ladies!

Edna said...

Great interview


mamat2730(at)charter(dot)net

Deborah said...

What an interesting interview. I love discovering new authors, and I will go check out your blog now and website also. I too am interested that you started writing the book and then went back to it sometime later. Can't wait to read it! Please enter me in the drawing!
dleathers36(at)yahoo(dot)com