Please help me welcome Sheryl Steines, author of The Day of First Sun, Book 1 in the Annie Loves Cham series. I met Sheryl through Twitter and her website (http://www.sherylsteines.com).
The Day of First Sun releases today, and I am honored that Sheryl chose to talk with us this morning. Thank you so much, Sheryl, for joining me on this very exciting day!
And now, on with the interview:
1. Where did you grow up?
The suburbs outside Chicago.
2. What inspired you to start writing?
I was seven and just started reading the Nancy Drew series. I loved the books so much. I fell in love with the mystery genre and I wished that I could come up with ideas like that. So I started writing my own stories.
3. If you could go back in time and share one writing lesson with “new writer you” before starting your first manuscript … what would that be?
I would go back to my seven year old self and tell her to write something every day. And if life gets too busy, hard, or difficult, always carve out time to write.
4. What inspired you to write The Day of First Sun?
Actually it came out of my love for Harry Potter. I missed the books after reading The Deathly Hallows. My brother and I would read the books at the same time and discuss them. And then it was over. I started imagining my own characters in their own situations and finally came up with something that I thought would be a great book.
5. The Day of First Sun is the first novel in a series involving vampires, zombies, the FBI, and the murder of a princess. Can you tell us a little about the challenges involved in twisting genres to produce this unique fantasy series?
My biggest challenge was to keep the focus on the murder mystery which involved the non magical princess. I didn’t want to get sidetracked with things not pertinent to the story. The rest of the pieces, the FBI, and the vampires really had supporting roles, to give backstory and to “assist” in finding the murderer without overwhelming the book. The zombies were on the fringe. They were mentioned but not the main source of trouble. I may bring them back at some point in the series. When there are a lot of pieces to the puzzle, I think it’s important to concentrate on the main part of the puzzle and let the other pieces get filled in as necessary so the story doesn’t get overloaded with too many side stories.
6. Do you have a favorite author? If so, who and why?
I have a few favorite authors. I’m a huge fan of Stephen King. His books are creative and imaginative and fall somewhere outside of the box. I always admired that and hoped to tap into my own imagination, to get responses to my stories like he did. I’m also a huge fan of J.K. Rowling. I love how she turned her personal experience into different aspects of her books. I love how she turned a whole lot of folk tales and other stories into one flowing, exciting story with characters that I really liked.
7. Please tell us about the last book you read, and what made you choose to read it.
I read Farsighted by Emlyn Chand. She’s one of my marketing gurus and I was curious about her work. It was an enjoyable read.
8. Which character in The Day of First Sun do you, personally, relate to the most?
Annie Pearce. I actually wrote her to be the type of person I would like to be. She’s smart and a strong female character and yet I wrote her to also be vulnerable and real. She’s going to be going on a journey of sorts as the books progress. Its representative of the journey I went through as I wrote the book and the changes that I made to my own life. I want to be a role model to my kids and I wanted to write a role model that other girls might want to emulate.
9. What did you enjoy most about writing The Day of First Sun? What was the most difficult part?
I just loved the writing. I loved to imagine a scene and work through it on paper. I wrote the first draft in 6 weeks and it was the most rewarding experience to finish the book. I cried when I wrote The End. The hardest part was the editing. It took a year to edit, I think I went through 8 drafts in total. And still there are some things that I might have rewritten if I had another chance. It can never be perfect even though we keep trying for that.
10. Do you have hobbies aside from writing? Please tell us about your favorite.
I love reading and traveling. My favorite hobby was always interior design. I like the hands on creativity that comes with it. I’ve even reupholstered furniture by myself and I sew my own curtains and pillows.
And now, the speed round:
– Plotter or pantser?
Pantser. The most I plan is one paragraph that gives me a rough idea about the book. Most of the time I never even follow that. I looked at my notes for The Day of First Sun and chuckled. Originally the princess was supposed to wind up as a vampire instead of dead. But I like writing without being restricted to an outline. This way I get to be surprised like the reader does. It’s fun but a little chaotic.
– Coffee, tea, or bourbon?
I’m not a tea totaller, but tea is definitely my choice. Chai Tea Latte specifically. It’s creamy, foamy, sugary and spicey. It’s the perfect treat.
– Socks or no socks?
Socks in the winter because I’m always cold. Once it’s warm enough for sandals, I’m no socks all the way.
– Cats, dogs, or reptiles?
Dog. They’re like small children. They offer unconditional love and they’re playful and like to cuddle on the couch.
– For dinner: Italian, Mexican, Burgers or Thai?
Mexican. Specifically, chimichangas with lots and lots of cheese sauce.
Sheryl, thank you for letting me share your release day through this interview. I’m looking forward to reading The Day of First Sun, and I’m sure my readers will too!
While attempting to stop the vampire Sturtagaard from creating a zombie army, Annie Pearce and Bobby “Cham” Chamsky find themselves recruited by the FBI to solve the magical murder of the mortal Princess Amelie. Amelie’s magical boyfriend Jordan is missing, and with him the key to finding her killer: a magical glass Orb used to capture and trap souls, which Sturtagaard also needs to create his zombie minions.
Annie and Cham locate Jordan, the Orb, and Sturtagaard, and manage to escape, but when Jordan is murdered in custody Annie and Cham realize that the murders are part of a larger plot to overthrow the ruling Wizard Council. They set a trap with the Orb, desperate to capture the killer before the magical Day of First Sun, when magical forces threaten to expose the magical world and to damage both the magical and non-magical societies beyond repair.
The Orb, the Wizard Council and the world are depending on Annie and Cham.
And here’s a little more about Sheryl Steines:
Sheryl Steines’ mind is chaotic and surprising and it shows in her writing. Sheryl is driven to write every day, in between being a wife and mother. Amidst the chaos, she finds the time to volunteer and give talks to book clubs and students about her writing, as she drives off in her ’66 Mustang.