Cheryl Wright is an award-winning Australian author, freelance journalist, and editor. In addition to an array of other projects, she is the owner of the Writer2Writer website and the Writer to Writer monthly ezine for writers. She also owns Resources4Writers.com
She is widely published, including novels, short stories, non-fiction books, poetry, and magazine features. Her work has also been published in anthologies and other collections.
In addition, she dabbles in website design and other creative endeavours. Cheryl presents workshops at schools, libraries, and writer’s conferences, and teaches writing online when time permits.
It’s amazing what you can do when you have to.
On a writing level, I have one novel published, and around fifteen non-fiction books. (I have lost track. ☺) I’ve had short stories published (including one in the now defunct Arabella Romance Magazine), articles published in several magazines (was a regular columnist for two), and my work has appeared in several anthologies, including one as the lead story.
When did you start to write and how long did it take you to be published? I started writing when I was about nine years old, after a hippy substitute teacher came to my school. He introduced me to poetry, then later short stories. It was the beginning of my love of the written word.
At the age of eleven I was editor of my high school newsletter. Everything just grew from there.
After bringing up a young family and finally having some ‘me’ time, I began to take my writing seriously. In 2003 – about thirty years after my first foray into writing - my first professional publication happened. In the period of one year I had a magazine column accepted, a short story published in Arabella Romance Magazine, an article on a writing website, and my first novel accepted for publication.
What sparks your creativity? Anything and everything. I’ve written short stories after going to the supermarket where a robbery occurred, watched a woman sitting impatiently in her car, and even just closing my eyes and seeing a scene play out in my head.
What do you think it is about your genre that readers find so fascinating? I mainly write romantic suspense. It is a very intriguing genre for me. I love learning about how crime works, forensics, etc. Going by the number of popular crime shows such as CSI, Law & Order, The Mentalist, etc, that are running on the television, other people find them fascinating too.
In regard to novels, I think it’s the excitement factor, as well as being able to root for the heroine. Finding out how she’ll get out of the curly situation she’s found herself in.
Are you a pantster, scener, or plotter? Is it your characters or plot that influence you most? Pantser. I’m definitely a pantser. Sometimes that’s good, but I often write myself into a corner.
My characters always influence the story. Plot is important of course, but as a pantser I always let my characters decide which way to turn next.
What’s your writing process from start to finish when writing a book? I start off with the smallest gem of an idea. Usually it’s a first paragraph or a premise. Once I’ve written that first paragraph I’ll work on a brief outline of one or two pages.
Sometimes I’ll write the last chapter or epilogue, other times I won’t.
That’s it. As a pantser, I can’t write a plot, otherwise the story is written as far as my muse is concerned.
Sometimes I write the novel from start to finish in chronological order, but other times a scene will be aching to be told, so I’ll write it then slot it in where it belongs.
Can you tell us about your latest release? SAVING EMMA is a romantic suspense, and is a ‘woman in jeopardy’ story. Her husband has been murdered and the murderers are looking for something, but she doesn’t know what.
Along with her four year old daughter, Sally, Emma Larkin flees her Melbourne home where she meets Gary Bedford.
Unknown to her, Gary is an uncover cop. He sets the wheels in motion to protect Emma and Sally.
Emma Larkin is running for her life--nowhere is safe. Stalked by her husband's killers, desperate to protect her young daughter, Emma must find what the killers are looking for before she becomes their next victim.
When undercover cop Gary Bedford planned a relaxing break, he hadn’t counted on bumping into Emma. Now he can't resist the temptation to discover all her secrets...
But should Emma trust her life and heart to Gary Bedford?And can they solve the mystery surrounding her husband’s death -- and uncover his deadly secret?
What is it about your characters that made you want to tell their stories? I’m one of those inquisitive types. ☺
I like to know what makes people tick, and why they do the things they do. Emma and Gary are no different.
Emma was acting strangely when Gary first met her, and he needed to know why. Once he found out the truth, he set the wheels in motion to keep Emma and her four-year-old daughter, Sally, safe.
Can you share a few fun facts about the geographic locations where your novel takes place? I tend to write about places I’ve been to in the past, or have been recommended by other people.
Before embarking on a new novel, I usually revisit them to get a feel for the place as it is today. The other reason for visiting again is to absorb the atmosphere and observe the people. That means the novel will reflect the setting better.
One of my novels is set is Maldon in country Victoria, and like my other settings, I visited there. I booked a room and stayed for a few days.
I immediately embarked on a tour of the town. I’d been told it was Olde Worlde but didn’t expect it to be so quaint.
I fell in love with it immediately. The town is heritage listed, and it was like stepping back in time. It even has an old fashioned lolly shop, like the sort you’d encounter at Sovereign Hill. Of course that was included in my book.
In addition, the motel I stayed in was furnished with antiques, and I made sure they featured as well.
What was the easiest and hardest parts about writing the book? The easiest is writing the first few pages, and creating the characters. The hardest part for me is always the ‘hump’. The so-called sagging middle.
Maybe it’s psychological, but I always worry about keeping the middle interesting for readers.
What’s the worst writing mistake that taught you a valuable lesson? Believing I knew it all and didn’t need to learn how to write. Yep, I was raw and new.
What’s the most unusual place you have visited? A tip in Rosedale (Gippsland) that had previously been known as a tourist attraction.
Which book that you’ve read has made a lasting impression on you? And why? “How to Create Fictional Characters” by Jean Saunders, published in 1992. It showed me I was doing it all wrong.
I still have the book, and occasionally lend it out, but always know who has it!
Do you have a pet that keeps you company when you write? I’m a cat person and have had as many as three cats at any given time. My cat Shadow always sat next to my chair keeping me company. When he died a few years ago, Fluffy, a tortoise-shell, quickly took over.
If she’s not under my desk, she’s either sitting on my diary or jumping on my keyboard!
If you weren’t doing what you do today, what other job would you have? I spent six years as a debt collector, but found that very stressful. Then I became an account manager for an international insurance company. If I hadn’t become a professional writer, I’m sure I’d still be doing that job.
Are there any particular settings or sorts of characters you’d like to use in a future book? I’ve already written the first paragraph of two romantic suspense novels. Surprisingly, both are set outside, and in country areas.
Both are women being pursued by killers. My heroines are generally kick-ass heroines (can I say that here?☺) so they’re not meek and mild wallflowers. In some cases, they protect the hero.
What’s next for you? What are you working on? I’m currently working on a romantic suspense that began with the snippet mentioned above where the woman sat impatiently in her car.
When that’s done, I’ll finish a contemporary romance that is three chapters written.
Do you have any advice/handy tips/craft skills you’d like to share with unpublished authors? Don’t give up. Never. Ever. It will take time, it will be frustrating, very frustrating sometimes. People will discourage you, and sent negative vibes your way.
But don’t ever let go of your dreams. Without them, you have nothing.
If you'd like to know more about Cheryl, check out her website.
Some of Cheryl's other books: