An Interview with Mystery Series Author ~Cheryl Hollon

TS. Cheryl Hollon writes a charming series entitled Webb’s Glass Shop mysteries. I particularly like her well-developed characters. Let’s follow her around in her writing processes in this entertaining interview.

 

Q. Where do you write? Do you have a special room, shed, barn, special space for your writing? (please provid

my writing shed

e a photo/s of your shed, room, closet, barn….) Or tell us about your ‘dream’ work space.

CH. I have a little writing shack behind the house. It’s an ordinary wooden storage shed that used to contain husband’s woodworking tools. He sacrificed that to my writing addiction by emptying it out, painting the inside white, and installing a lot of shelfs. Since we live in St. Petersburg, Florida, he also installed a small window air conditioner. It looks out over the bird feeder and is shaded by an old oak tree.

Q. Do you have any special rituals when you sit down to write? (a neat work space, sharpened #2 pencils, legal pad, cup of tea, glass of brandy, favorite pajamas, etc.)

CH. I have a well-established and reliable morning routine that gets me writing every day. My alarm goes off at 6:30 am and I get dressed, grab coffee, then walk out to my writing shed. I power up my laptop to post a Facebook comment by 7:00 am to a group of writers who start their day with a sprint. This focusing technique is hosted by Ramona DeFelice Long. In short, we each sign in and then write for an hour with no interruptions. She puts up the Sprint Thread every morning. It’s a way to get those fingers moving and ensures that I have accomplished a good bit of my writing target for the day.

Q. Could you tell us something about yourself that we might not already know?

CH. I spent a few years as a card-carrying Boy Scout Leader. First as a Den Mother, then as a Committee Chairman, and finally as a member of the Training Council. My husband was and still is basically allergic to nature, so I stepped up in his place when our two boys wanted to join the local troop. It was a terrific experience – I received the best leadership skills training I’ve ever experienced. It was simple, direct and actionable.

Q. Do you have a set time each day (or night) to write?

CH. In the early morning, the words just fly from my fingers onto the page like eager ducklings. After that, if I haven’t met my word target, I must hunt those words down, grab them by the scruff of the neck, then stab them to the page. I really try to finish my new words before eleven in the morning.

Q.What’s your best advice to other writers for overcoming procrastination?

CH. I’m getting to be an expert in confronting and defeating procrastination. In fact, I’ll be presenting a workshop on that topic at SleuthFest 2018. I basically trick myself into working for little rewards during my writing sessions. One of my tricks is to use an hourglass to write for a continuous thirty minutes with no breaks for e-mail, social media or any breaks at all. I also line up a series of rewards for successfully achieving the sprint. The rewards are a combination of candy treats, on-line crossword puzzles, social media time and reading intervals.

Q. Where/when do you first discover your characters?

CH. When I have a need for a new character, a waiter for example, I’ll take several distinctive features from recent restaurant experiences and Frankenstein them together into one person. To make that character come alive, I free-write dialogue to discover their personality in how they use language. It’s a method that works for me – your mileage may vary.

Q. What first inspired you to write your stories?

CH. In my previous career as a project engineer and program manager for foreign military sales of flight simulators, there were many long-haul flights to Singapore, Taiwan and even India. I started scribbling ideas then as well as during the several months the team was on site for delivery and acceptance testing. Taking advantage of a corporate downsizing incentive, I left to write full time and haven’t regretted it for a second.

Q. What comes first to you? The Characters or the Situation?

CH. The situation comes to me first. Since I write for a series, the characters are already known. First, I pick the site for the discovery of the victim. Then I concentrate on how someone could be driven to make a violent fatal choice as a reaction to difficult circumstances.

Q. Do you ‘get lost’ in your writing?

CH. I get completely immersed in my writing world. I’m a visual writer and play the scenes in my head as if I’m watching a movie. I’ve also been told that my writing is heavy in dialogue. I like that – that’s how I hear what my characters are feeling and what they’re thinking about doing next.

Q. Who or what is your “Muse” at the moment?

CH. My muse is Lujoye Barnes who lives in a woodland cottage near Gainesville, Florida. We have been friends for more years than I care to count. We have always shared a love of books and especially mysteries. When I get stuck in a plot, I always ask myself, “What would Joye like to see happen next?” It works every time. She has been my number one inspiration since I first confessed to her that I would like to write.

Join us for Part II of this fascinating Interview on Aug. 25th
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2 Responses
  1. lizboeger says:

    A very enjoyable interview. Thank you for letting us see into the routines and tricks to get those words on the page. From one scout parent to another-thank you, Cheryl.

  2. cherylhollon says:

    You’re very welcome Liz! I loved being involved with the Boy Scout program. Some of the best management training I have ever experienced.

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