I'm thrilled to have author Sherry Isaac joining me today on Armchair Heroines.
Winner of The Alice Munro Short Story Award, Sherry Isaac's tales of life, love and forgiveness that transcend all things, including the grave, appear online and in print. Her first collection of shorts, Storyteller, debuts July 2011. For more information, or to order an autographed copy, click HERE.
Your collection of short stories, STORYTELLER, came out recently. Tell us about it.
Writer Lesson #1: When a publisher calls to tell you she's read some of your short stories, and then says, 'I'd like to be the first to look at your collection. Do you have one ready?" the answer, whether you have a collection or not, is, "YES."
She did give me time to get existing stories polished, and I admitted that I'd need to write a few more. Then I pushed everything else aside and focused on that one task night and day for three months. I polished and revised existing work, dusted off and developed some ideas (that idea file sure does come in handy) and came up with a few new ones.
It's odd, because I never saw myself as a short story writer. Shorts were for contests and magazines so I'd have credits to point to when soliciting agents for The Novel. Now, I'll have a printed book to point to. I'm good with that.
Congratulations! In your interview with C.J. Lyons you characterized yourself as "...a trouble maker often resigned to the children's table...". I can sympathize. Care to tell us more about that?
Don't suppose I can plead the fifth?
I think it comes down to not knowing when to shut up. I heard a great line years ago: 'Sometimes I only take my foot out of my mouth long enough to put the other one in.' That would be me. I speak out of turn, blurt out whatever comes to mind, rarely use a filter. But it's done in fun and with humour.
People say I'm funny. I'm not. I just say funny things. I attribute those quips to the lack of filter, that knee-jerk response. Humour has to be honest and raw to work, to touch another who thinks, Yeah, I feel like that, too. There are people who make a living out of crafting comedy on demand. I'm not one of them. That's not to say their humour isn't honest or that it's forced. If it's not true, if it's not natural, it's not humour. I'm just not good at finding that humour switch. Mine turns on when it wants to.The rest of the time, I am a miserable, sad and lonely soul. Snort!
A very long and round-about answer but there you have it: trouble, for me, comes from being silly.
A good way to get in trouble, I'd say. Who is the most memorable character you've written about? Why?
In the collection, I'd say Ella Ryder. Ella is in the early stages of Alzheimer's. She's alone, and not terribly likeable, but I feel an empathy for her all the same. Some of her traits are not what you'd call neighbourly, but as the story progresses, (I hope) the reader sees that some of her behaviour is defence-driven, as she tries to deny and conceal her symptoms. I think the connection we make is this: that our mind is our identity. The helplessness when a silent monster slides into our psyche and steals what is most precious, our memories, our personality, our self, is a very scary thing.
I agree. And who is the most memorable character you've read about and why?
My favourite book growing up was 'Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret.' Years (and years and years) later, I was surprised to find an adult novel by Judy Blume, 'Summer Sisters'. Fabulous. I still react when I think of the story in too much depth, so I won't dwell.
Two reasons why. One, the plot is about two women, not sisters, and their complex relationship. Those characters, and their journey, still haunt me. Two, my deep emotional response to their story. A writer in waiting, I remember thinking, if I could harness the talent to make a reader feel one tenth of what I felt reading Blume's book, what an awesome gift that would be.
The goal of all writers! Are you a night owl or an early riser?
Night owl? Are you kidding me? Bonafide morning person here. And I do like naps. Mmmm. Naps.The world would be a better place if we all took naps.
I'm with you on the nap thing. If you could compile a soundtrack for your book, STORYTELLER, what would it be?
Being a short story collection, it would have to be a various artists compilation. Haunting fiddle for title short, Storyteller. Spirit in the Sky (Norman Greenbaum, 1969) for The Visit. Une Bal-musette (a French Waltz) for Pickpocket in Paris.
Interesting choices. Other than telling readers about STORYTELLER, what are you working on now?
My middle-grade novel, Strawberry Hero, is on the agent circuit, looking for representation, and I am diving nose-first into revisions on my current work-in-progress, Homecoming, a paranormal romantic suspense set in a rural town on the Canadian prairie.
You are busy! Where can we find you in the www? Twitter? Facebook? Shelfari, etc.
sherryisaac.com for a start. I have my own blog, Wildflower, where I feature emerging and established authors. I was recently asked to join the blog Romance & Beyond with Carole St-Laurent and Sharon Clare, where the focus is the writing journey. Twitter is on my To-Do list. Author chum Joan Swan wrote a great three-part Twitter How-To. I'll be consulting Joan's advice a lot! I suppose I'll have to look into a Facebook/Twitter feed or whatever it's called. This is the point where the brain tissue turns to jelly...
I haven't heard of Shelfari. What's that? NO! Don't tell me! I'm on technological overload.
Just in case you change your mind down the road, Shelfari is a social cataloging website. As a registered user you build virtual bookshelves. You can also rate, review, tag, and discuss books. Authors can have a page and add blog posts, covers, a bio and other information. I belong to several readers groups there that are a ton of fun! Check it out at www.shelfari.com
Thanks for joining me, Sherry!
Sherry is offering up an autographed copy of Storyteller to one lovely Armchair Heroine reader. Tell us about a time you got into trouble because you couldn't keep your mouth shut or ask Sherry a question. We'll use random.org to choose the winner.
Have a great day!
** If you're at RomCon this weekend, find me and introduce yourself! www.romconinc.com