An interview with Cheryl Hollon

CherylHollonCheryl and her husband design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks. She is a member of Sisters in Crime, the Florida Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and the Tampa Chapter of the Romance Writers of America. A mystery conference addict, she regularly attends SleuthFest in Florida, Malice Domestic in Washington, D.C., and New England Crime Bake in Dedham, MA. Cheryl and her husband live in St. Petersburg, FL in a 1920’s Craftsman Bungalow. Learn more at www.cherylhollon.com.

 

Facebook URL:     https://www.facebook.com/cheryl.hollon (profile)

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-Hollon-Writer/357992230995844  (fan)

Twitter: @CherylHollon

Buy links:

 

Pane & Suffering http://www.amazon.com/Pane-Suffering-Webbs-Glass-Mystery/dp/1617737607/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1439334392&sr=8-1&keywords=pane+and+suffering

 

How would your friends describe you in 20 words or less?

Cheryl is cheerful, levelheaded and funny. She loves good friends, good books and good beer – in that order.

 

Tell me a little about yourself

I was born in a small town in Eastern Kentucky and have inherited the oral tradition of my Scots-Irish ancestors for story telling. I grew up in Dayton, Ohio and could read before I went to school, which seriously annoyed my teacher. Science and math were my favorite subjects and led me to a career in digital communication software programming followed by flight simulation engineering and program management – neither easy but immensely rewarding.

 

Where would you live if you could live anywhere in the world?

I would live right here in Saint Petersburg, FL. During my engineering adventures, I had a chance to live and work in amazing countries, but I was always happy to come back to St. Pete.

 

State a random fact about yourself that would surprise your readers.

I was a Boy Scout Leader.

 

What’s your current guilty pleasure?

The discworld novels by Sir Terry Pratchett. I reward myself with one after I finish the first draft of a new manuscript.

 

If you weren’t a writer, what you would be?

I would still be an engineer. It took me a long time to scrabble myself up the technical and professional ladder, but I would do it again.

 

When did you decide to become a writer?

It got serious for me when I attended my first Malice Domestic Convention in 2005. I had been dabbling with photography when a particularly haunting image spoke to me to tell her story. The image is of a homeless woman dressed completely in white moving slowly through the flower market in Boston. I titled it ‘Wishing for Daffodils.’ That was my first attempt at a full-length manuscript.

 

When did you begin writing?

I began writing poems in the sixth grade instead of submitting essays on my English weekly exams.

 

How long have you been writing?

I started writing seriously about eight years ago with a series based on a crime scene specialist who quit her job to make a fresh start as a black & white photojournalist. At her first wedding, she discovers the wealthy Indian bride collapsed and cold. The working title was ‘Shooting Brides.’

 

Who are your cheerleaders?

My husband George is my staunchest promoter who is ordinarily quite reserved, but he will tell complete strangers that I am a mystery writer. My friend for life, Joye, has weathered the anxiety, tears, frustration and terror of getting published. She continued to feed me a steady diet of positive praise and constructive critiques to make my writing better and better.

 

Did you have support at the beginning and/or during your writing?

In the very beginning, I didn’t tell anyone I was writing. It was my secret. That was a happy time.

 

Did you always have in mind to be a writer or did it just happen?

I didn’t always want to be a writer, but on the long-haul flights to overseas projects, my writing took on a more structured form and I began studying the craft of writing. After a few years, I began to get serious about it as a business.

 

Aside from writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

My husband and I have been working in glass for a long time. He is colorblind in the green/blue range, so I have always picked out the glass and helped with the design of our projects. Our current project is making glass jewelry.

 

Do you keep track or write reviews for books you read?

After I discovered Goodreads, I enter what I’m reading now in my account and I like to use the ‘would like to read’ shelf to keep track of new books. I have been slowly entering all the books I’ve enjoyed in the past. I write short reviews to help other readers choose the books I’ve loved, but I don’t really read long ones – I could have finished the first chapter by then.

 

Do you read reviews written about your book?

Of course I read them, I can resist anything but temptation! I want to know what readers think.

 

Have you always wanted to be a writer?

No, as a child I always wanted to be an artist. After I figured out how exciting an engineering career could be, I headed that direction. I was right.

 

What started you on your journey to be a writer?

It was a gradual awakening to how powerful stories can be to the reader and also to the writer. I love it when a reader comes into my story world and enjoys the visit.

 

When you made your first sale, how did you celebrate and with whom?

When my agent called to tell me that my series had been sold to Kensington, I was home alone. I danced around the room like Snoopy and had champagne waiting when my husband returned from his errands. On that Saturday night, the whole family went to our favorite restaurant. We were a noisy group!

 

Do you listen to music while writing?

When I’m creating new material, I need complete silence. In revisions, however, I can listen to soft classical music.

 

What are your favorite hobbies?

Reading, glass art, oil painting and impossibly hard jigsaw puzzles. I prefer the wooden ones with the little whimsy figures.

 

What’s the most memorable thing (good or bad) that’s happened to you while promoting your work?

Nothing yet, I’ve only been on one panel at the SleuthFest Conference in Deerfield Beach, FL. I am a conference-junkie and will travel far and wide to meet with readers and fellow writers.

 

With more books being released each month now than ever before, what do you believe sets your work apart from the others?

Every writer is unique and that is what sets each one apart. I think my mystery fantasy world is inviting and the people are interesting and some even adorable. I’ll work hard to ensure that readers know about my books – they can read them if they don’t know that they exist.

 

What would you like to share with writers who haven’t reached the point of publication yet?

The fascinating thing about writing is that it is a skill you teach yourself. As a result, all input has to be filtered by what it means to you and where you are on the writing path. I’ve attended some workshops that went completely over my head – I wasn’t ready for that information. The jazz is when that one tidbit bounced along that gives you an ‘aha moment’ and vaults your work to the next level. Bliss!

 

What do you feel is your most effective tool for promoting your published work?

My mailing list and newsletter is where I have the most direct contact with readers. Every news event or promotional activity is announced to my subscribers first.

 

Your favorite books and author?

Louise Penny and her Inspector Gamache series. I love the small village setting of Three Pines. The first book in the series is STILL LIFE.

 

Which genres do you prefer to read?

I enjoy the entire wide range of mystery/thriller/suspense as well as Science Fiction/Fantasy and adventurous Young Adult.

 

What book is currently on your nightstand?

THE ANGEL COURT AFFAIR (A Charlotte and Thomas Pitt Novel) by Anne Perry.

 

Are there any particular books and/or authors that inspired you and continue to do so?

The first book that planted the seed that I might be able to write mysteries was WRITE AWAY by Elizabeth George. Her writing process is similar to mine and it awakened the desire to prove that I could finish a novel. After that I found DON’T MURDER YOUR MYSTERY by Chris Roerden. It helped me overcome newbie mistakes and improved my plotting as well and characterization. I am always reading a non-fiction book to sharpen my writing skills.

 

How many books do you read/month?

I normally read five or six more a month. I usually have two novels and one non-fiction writing book going at all times. This is a drastic reduction from before I started writing. I’m resigned to that now, but it still disappoints me that I can’t read as much as I want.

 

What is the one book that you think everyone should read?

TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee. I read it every year to remind me what Olympic class storytelling is like.

 

Do you have an all time favorite book?

The first book I received as a Christmas gift from my Aunt Thelma was Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I read that book to shredded tatters. Aunt Thelma was a kind, thoughtful soul who took special time to encourage me and my sister to spread our wings into untraditional career territory.

 

How important do you find the communication between you and your readers? Do you reply to their messages or read their reviews?

Hearing from my readers inspires me to dig deeper and reach down to those emotional depths that make a story compelling.

 

Do you prefer Twitter or Facebook?

I like tweeting on Twitter a little more than posting on Facebook, but I prefer reading my Facebook feed.

 

Where can your fans find you?

 

My Website: www.cherylhollon.com

On Twitter: www.twitter.com/cherylhollon

On Facebook: like my Author page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cheryl-Hollon-Writer/357992230995844

 

Do you have a local independent bookseller you’d like to mention?

My local book seller is Haslam’s Bookstore at 2025 Central Avenue, St. Petersburg, Florida 33713. My first ever book signing is scheduled for October 3, 2015 at 3PM. Although around the store, I’m known as ‘Eric’s Mom’ because the owner’s son and my son went to high school together. St. Petersburg is a small town. Their website is www.haslams.com for news of upcoming events.

 

Give us a list of your published titles in chronological or series order:Pane&SufferingCover

PANE AND SUFFERING (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #1) October 2015

SHARDS OF MURDER (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #2) March 2016

CRACKED TO DEATH (Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries Book #3) October 2016

 

Share with us an elevator pitch (no more than 30 seconds) of your latest title:

 

Pane and Suffering, releases October 2015

 

When Charlotte Webb loses her father to an unexpected heart attack, she drops everything to return home and handle his affairs—particularly the beloved, family-owned stained glass shop. When she finds her glass expert dead of an apparent heart attack on her first day at the store—and the foreboding note her father left behind—she realizes their deaths were anything but natural and sets off to catch a killer.

 

With a rival glass shop in town and a visiting entrepreneur looking to replace her store with a supermarket, she has a couple of good suspects right off the bat, but things start to get colorful—and a lot more dangerous—when she realizes the stained glass orders from one particular patron are suspicious, and his explanations crack under scrutiny. When she isn’t teaching the crafty locals how to make stained glass turtles, she investigates, and with help from some of her students, the bar-owning British hottie next door, and a boy and his dog, she tries to shatter the killer’s plan before someone else ends up dead.

 

Where can we buy it?

 

Amazon, Barnes &Noble, Bookish.com, Books A Million, IndieBound, Target, and Walmart

 

If you could ask your readers one question, what would it be?

Who’s your favorite character in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries?

 

Are you working on anything new and if so when can we expect to see it?

The Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries is a series and I’m currently working on the rough draft of Book #3, Cracked to Death. I’ve only just started it so it won’t be out until October 2016.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to share to your followers and readers?

The most helpful thing you can do for an author you love is write a review. Now a review is not like the dreaded book report you inflicted on your teacher ages ago. It can be three sentences explaining what you liked or didn’t like. That’s all. Really. Seriously it makes a huge difference to the author’s visibility and may make the difference when a publisher is deciding whether or not to continue publishing her books.

 

What last thing would you like to share with us that nobody knows about you and your work?

Keep reading – that’s all, just keep reading.

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One thought on “An interview with Cheryl Hollon

  1. EARL STAGGS says:

    Great interview, PJ. Cheryl, a lot of your personality comes through and it’s all good. Best wishes for continued success with your writing.

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