Sherri Browning Erwin [sherribrowningerwin]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
I started reading romance novels when I was twelve. I would sneak them off my mother's bookshelf and read them when she was at work. It was natural for me to start writing in the romance genre after reading so much of it. My first readers were some wonderful critique partners I found after joining some writer's groups. We would swap pages and discuss each other's work-- very helpful when you find people who share your style and sensibilities, not so helpful when you're with people who seem to just want to criticize. It takes some looking around to make a good match, but I recommend that new writers do seek and find other writers to share the process.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
I love romance, science fiction, comedy, mystery, literary fiction. I can't narrow it down. My writing probably reflects that diversity of reading interests, because there's a little of everything. You can read an excerpt of my latest, Jane Slayre, at my website: http://www.sherribrowningerwin.com or at http://www.janeslayre.com
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
I'm easily distracted. I try to stay focused by answering all email, searching for news, and checking blogs I follow first thing in the morning, before getting down to business. Once I start writing, I try not to take breaks for anything until I've written five pages. If I give in and check my email again, or Twitter, or Facebook, then I can lose another half hour in keeping up with social media. I like to get most of my writing done in the morning, and then I have another surge of creativity in the late afternoon.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
Good writing! The best writing. Nothing makes me want to sit down and write more than reading something well-written and engaging. It doesn't matter the genre. I'm inspired by other great writers.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Strong, likable characters and a cohesive, engaging plot.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I really enjoy writing in first person. I think it's more of a challenge to convey a scene and situation fully from only one point of view. It forces the writer to find ways to reveal the emotions of other characters, not just the POV character, by showing and not telling.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Dean Koontz, and Charles Dickens.
What is required for a character to be believable? How do you create yours?
I think believable characters have honest emotions and draw on the writers own experiences in life. I try to avoid stereotypes and cliches. It's so much more interesting when characters seem true to life, but also reveal something unexpected.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I'm much better on paper. I like to have the time to draw my thoughts out on the page
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
I write for me. I'm not easily amused, so it can be a challenge to win me over. If I've managed to engage myself, that's a good sign that I might be able to interest other people.
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
Writing is a form of personal therapy, but not in the sense that I will work out my own personal issues with words. The therapy comes from using the writing as an outlet to escape personal issues that might be wearing on my mind, not to put those issues on the page.
Does reader feed-back help you?
I love reader feedback. It doesn't necessarily change my process, but it does enhance the experience for me to know what worked and what didn't for other readers.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
I'm not much of a competitive writer, though I'm always thrilled with the idea of winning awards.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
I share drafts with my agent on occasion. I used to work with a critique group of other writers, but I'm more confident in my own writing now and rarely seek feedback before turning a manuscript in to my agent or editor.
Do you believe you have already found "your voice" or is that something one is always searching for?
I believe I have found my voice with every book, and then I go off searching for it again. I think voice changes a little as the writer changes. But yes, I think I've found it time and again.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
Staying disciplined is hard. Knowing I have to make a deadline tends to keep me inspired, so I set deadlines for myself even when I don't have one built into a contract.
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My work area is filled with mementoes from my past, gifts from friends, and things that make me smile. I have a remote-controlled zombie (gift from friend), a doll from my childhood, plaques with inspirational things written on them, books from friends and my own books, pictures of my friends at various writing conferences. They remind me why I love what I do and encourage me to keep going.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a computer and thank goodness, because I edit as I go along quite a bit and that's very hard to keep doing on paper. I don't print frequently, only when I have a full draft. I do see mistakes and problems better when I read in print, so I will read once in print, make corrections, and go back to the computer.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
I like the Whine Sisters for camaraderie and advice (http://www.whinesisters.com) and the websites of agents, editors, publishing houses, and industry news sites (like Publisher's Weekly) for keeping current with trends and news in publishing. I also enjoy looking at fashion blogs and keeping up with pop culture.
What has been your experience with publishers?
I've been fortunate enough to work with some wonderful people in publishing, so my experiences have all been pretty great.
What are you working on now?
I'm working on Grave Expectations, a retelling of Dickens's Great Expectations with Pip as a werewolf and Estella in training as a demon slayer, due out in May 2011.
What do you recommend I do with all those things I wrote years ago but have never been able to bring myself to show anyone?
Keep the things you wrote years ago in a drawer for now and start fresh. Write something you will not be able to prevent yourself from showing around, and then maybe you can attack the old manuscripts with a new outlook.
Sherri Browning Erwin