Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Author Intervew

Interview with Author Sharon Ervin

by Jacqueline Seewald

Hi, Sharon, thanks so much for joining us today at the Author Expressions blog. First, let me congratulate you on the excellent review your new novel CANDLESTICKS has received from GUMSHOE REVIEW.

Question: Could you tell us a little about Jancy Dewhurst, the heroine of Candlesticks. We’d also like to know about Jim Wills.

Answer: Jancy, 24, is a bright, observant newspaper reporter who is unconcerned about clothing or appearances, hers or anyone else’s. She prides herself on looking beneath veneers to the person within. She often observes things others miss, but has no idea what they mean.

Jim Wills, 28, is a natty cop, not as observant as Jancy, but a snappy dresser. Jim is able to take Jancy’s observations and deduce their meaning. Combining their natural gifts, Jancy and Jim solve crimes.

Question: You’ve had two previous novels in this series, The Ribbon Murders and Murder Aboard The Choctaw Gambler. Could you tell us a little about each of them?

Answer: THE RIBBON MURDERS introduces Jancy and Jim. It is based on my first homicide--not one I committed, one I covered as a newspaper reporter. The sheriff who invited me on a homicide call all those years ago, lives again in Ribbons, under an alias, of course. MURDER ABOARD THE CHOCTAW GAMBLER also is based on a homicide I covered. In 1969, the managing editor of The Tulsa World asked me to check rumors that a prominent rancher was in financial trouble. County records verified that the heir apparent had mortgaged property, stock, equipment, etc., to the tune of $12.5 million. He and I had a confrontation detailed in the book. Several months later, the managing editor called to say the father or son rancher, had been shot and killed. I used that case to advance Jancy and Jim’s crime-solving techniques and their romance. In real life, the case remains “unsolved,” but that sheriff and I agreed on what transpired. Our solution is provided in Gambler.

Question: What inspired this series? How did it come about?

Answer: Advice is: “Write what you know.” I know about newspaper reporting, and I mixed actual murders and a little imagination. Melding fact and fiction made it easy.

Question: Can you share with us some information about your background?

Answer: The oldest of seven children in blended families, I have a degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. Over the years, I worked on several newspapers, while Husband Bill was in the army, later when he was in law school, when he was an assistant district attorney, associate district judge, a member of the state legislature, and a small town lawyer. I am a probate clerk and work half-days in my husband and now our older son’s law office. Bill and I have four grown children. Life experiences--being a big sister, a wife, a mother, a campaign manager, etc., has provided a wealth of material for plots. I draw on all of it in my writing. I tell older writers they have just earned enough life experiences to be capable story tellers. Years and events season one.

Question: As a well-published author, what advice would you offer to those who have novels they would like to submit for consideration?

Answer: Before and during the time you are writing, DON’T discuss the project with others. Get it just like you want it, then present it for critiquing and input from others. Attend conferences and workshops. Take business cards with your picture on them. I hate pictures of me, but it helps agents and editors remember which one I am. After you are satisfied that the manuscript is exactly like you want it, submit it. Initially, send it to three agents or editors or all of the above at once. Some will take months to respond. When one rejects it, submit to three more, immediately. It’s better for your morale to have more than one submission out at a time. I tell pre-published friends they are not a professional writer until they have at least one rejection. If/when that one comes, I congratulate them on “becoming a pro.”

Question: I know that many of our readers are going to want to read your books. Could you tell us where they can find your novels?

Answer: and Barnes & have them all most of the time, including CANDLESTICKS, the one released June 16, 2010. They have both new and used books and sometimes offer special deals.

Sharon, thanks so much for being our guest today! It’s a pleasure to learn more about you and your writing. You are certainly one of the best qualified authors to write mystery fiction, romantic or otherwise! And you offer novice writers excellent advice.

Readers and writers who have comments, please know that they are very welcome here. So feel free to join the conversation!


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Sharon, for the interview. I especially like your advice to authors who are submitting work--three queries out at a time, and when one comes back, send another out to replace it. I heard the great late Stuart Kaminsky speak about his submitting process, and he did about the same thing. His advice: always have seven projects circulating at once. Stories, novels, screenplays (Stuart was a prolific writer!) and when one comes back a few times, put it away for awhile, consider revisions, then send it out again.
Thanks for being with us!

Stacey said...

I agree with your assessment about older writers finally having enough experience behind them, Sharon. That's me. I've written short stories and poems all my life, but I could never get a novel completed because I didn't think I had anything to say. At age 47, I'd worked a lot of jobs, lived a lot of places, done a lot of fun and unique things, raised my daughters,and I was finally able to write a full-length novel. Getting older isn't much fun in some ways, but having wisdom and varied life experiences does make writing even more pleasurable than when I was young.

Jacqueline Seewald said...


I'm in total agreement about doing a variety of writing projects. I don't believe in obsessing on one. The old cliche is never put all your eggs in one basket. Lot of truth in old cliches!

Jacqueline Seewald said...


I believe life experience does make us wiser writers. Wishing you great success with your work!

Sharon Ervin said...

Thanks for the comments.

Rebbie, about rejections, I actually mean that when one of the three initial submissions is rejected, I send three more to replace that one.

I keep a card file for each manuscript, and tack a copy of each cover letter on a bulletin board. I staple responses to cover letters and file them. I always have about 30 letters thumb-tacked to the board. It's encouraging when I get a rejection to see how many others are out. The letters cover nine completed manuscripts.

Another bit of advice: You don't need an editor or an agent who doesn't "get you." One editor told my wanna-be agent that the editor didn't find my manuscript "compelling enough." The agent was in tears, disappointed that her delight in my work was so wrong. Could I make the book more compelling? Sure, but what did that mean? The agent had no clue. As kind-hearted as the would-be agent was, she went into another line of work. A writer has to be tough.

My writing is remarkably good. Those who disagree, obviously have no taste. Some discerning folks like what I write. Very bright people.

Alice Duncan said...

I love your attitude, Sharon :) Great interview.

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Sharon and Jacqueline: First, thanks to Jackie for asking Sharon to contribute. Someone told me early on to always have other submissions out so when you get a reject, it won't be the end of the world. I, too, just sit down and send out another query. Thanks for the good advice. I enjoyed the hints and reminders from a pro!

Joyce Yarrow said...

Thanks for sharing your "back-story" Sharon and for your insight that being rejected is one of the first steps to becoming a professional writer. Come to think of it, overcoming rejection is often the key to the success of our fictitious characters as well.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Joyce and Joyce,

There's no way around it: rejection is a bitter pill, but it does make success when it comes so much more appreciated and meaningful.
It also keeps us humble.

Anonymous said...

Sharon, thanks for sharing your background. It's interesting how you've been able to take your "day jobs" and weave it into your writing. Best of luck with CANDLESTICKS! Sounds like a fabulous read.

Maryannwrites said...

Congrats on the release, Sharon. Enjoyed the interview and getting to know a little more about your books.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

Drue and Maryann,

I just want to say thank you for dropping by and leaving comments. I'm certain Sharon appreciates it and I sure do!

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