I have to apologize to Sherri. Her interview was scheduled last week but due to personal and work issues, I wasn’t able to post it. So I’m featuring her today, and our regularly scheduled interview tomorrow. Sherri writes YA, thrillers, and horror, and today speaks about a science fiction thriller. You can find more about Sherri on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1099515.Sherri_Fulmer_Moorer
1. What first led you to write? I’ve always been a writer. Before I learned how to write, I’d draw pictures in my picture books to expand on the stories, or to tell my own. I guess I’ve always been a storyteller. Once I learned to write, I’d keep notebooks and journals of short stories I created. When my husband and I got a personal computer in 2001, I decided it was time to write the book I always dreamed of writing. It grew from there.
2. You seem to write in a variety of genres. What inspires you? Everything – my own life experiences, experiences other people share with me, news stories I read online or see on television, other books I read, TV shows and movies I watch – inspiration is everywhere! I think the bulk of my inspiration comes from personal experiences and the issues I deal with on a day to day basis.
3. What differences have you found in writing nonfiction versus ficton? Fiction is more challenging, but more rewarding. I started out writing inspirational non-fiction, and the well of inspiration ran dry on me in a few short years. There’s only so much you can do in one genre without repeating yourself. But there was another problem – credentials. You can’t write non-fiction for long before somebody comes along saying “who makes you the authority on this?” and questioning why they should listen to you. Unfortunately, it doesn’t take long for them to get others asking the same questions. If you don’t have a doctorate degree or specialized, high level career experiences, then you’re going to have to overcome the “why should you be the boss of me?” hurdle, and to me it wasn’t worth the fight. My end goal had always been to venture into fiction. When I hit the resistance in inspirational writing, I decided it was time to overcome my fear of creating my own worlds and to dive in, if I wanted to keep my dream of being a writer alive. In my experience, it seems that creating a work of fiction requires more research, because you have to create everything yourself and make it believable to the readers, whereas non-fiction deals with just the facts. It’s worth it, though, because there’s a magic in being able to create your own world and to watch it take a life of its own. Plus, people seem to enjoy fiction more. I think it’s because it gives them an escape from reality, and the freedom to draw lessons that speak to their own life. People can take a number of realizations and inspirations from fiction, whereas non-fiction is limited to the specific theme you choose. I do still enjoy venturing into non-fiction work occasionally, but these days I limit it to articles with tips and tricks I’ve found that make life easier, or opinion pieces.
4. Tell me about your latest book. Splinter is an apocalyptic science-fiction novel about a young woman that finds herself as one of the last 1,000 survivors of Earth’s destruction due to a solar flare. In the days following the event, dark matter starts to rip open the fabric of space and time, showing alternate realities where it seems the destruction was planned and executed by a radical religious group that believed it was their mission to bring about the end of the world. I wrote this novel at a time in my life when I was facing a lot of change in my life. I was frustrated with keeping up with all of the change, and especially with other peoples’ decisions changing my life in ways I didn’t agree to. As I said many times during that difficult season, I was mad at the world, so I killed it – fictionally, at least. But the novel brings about good questions about how much you can take, and what lengths you would go to in order to preserve the life you have and the world as you know it. Is the world worth saving? It depends on your perspective, and this novel gives readers a good look at what it would be like if you could see the “what if’s” in life, and what lengths you’d go to in order to take advantage of them.
5. Who is your favorite writer, and why? I’d have to name two. J.R.R. Tolkein for fiction, and C.S. Lewis for non-fiction. The reason is because both of these gentlemen had great minds. They were masters of weaving a tale and expressing it beautifully, and they had to fit their writing into a full life. Tolkein and Lewis worked until retirement, and did their writing during their free time from work and home obligations, like so many writers today. They’re excellent examples of how someone can be a brilliant writer and fit their writing into a full life just like their readers have.
6. What are you working on next? Right now, I’m working on a sci-fi novella titled Incursion. This is about a crew that witnesses a brutal attack on an Earth sector while making a supply run from The Jovan System, and they have to decide whether to get involved in the political dispute or withdraw, per their orders. Things get complicated when they’re contacted by the attacking sector asking for clemency, and their neural chips malfunction due to a strange carrier wave that initiated during the Earth attack. The only way to repair the chip is to return to Earth to investigate this carrier wave, which puts them back in the crossfire between disobeyed orders and an outcast sector begging for intervention and clemency.
7. What led you to indie publishing? The number one thing that led me to indie publishing is the rise of ebooks. I saw the sales figures and popularity of them rising in recent years, and I wanted to get on that trend while it was still growing. I was lucky to be picked up by two e-publishers for my “bigger” works, but I decided to supplement it with self publishing for some of my shorter works. Another compelling factor was that I like to write in a variety of genres, and you can’t do that if you’re traditionally published. If you’re picked up by one of the big publishers, you’re pretty much stuck in the genre they pick you up in. I like writing mystery novels and want to continue doing that, but I also love science-fiction and would like to expand into that market as well. And third (and most obvious) is facing the cold, hard truth: the Heavens are made of brass in traditional publishing. The big publishers in New York aren’t keen on picking up new authors without an agent, and agents aren’t keen on taking a chance. The “breakout” hits like Harry Potter and the Twilight Series are very rare exceptions. Truthfully, you’re going to have to do most of your own promotion whether you publish indie or traditionally, but at least going the indie route gives you an opportunity to build up an audience on your own terms. Going indie puts you in better contact with your readers and better control over the development of your work. And doesn’t the power in the book industry really belong in the hands of readers and writers? It does in indie publishing, but not so much in traditional. Sure, I’ve heard the theories that the quality of indie novels are worse, but that’s not always the case. If a writer takes care and attention to getting good edits and a great cover, they can stand against just as good a chance as the big timers; and introduce something exciting and new to readers that the big publishers wouldn’t take a chance on.
8. What advice do you have for other writers? Be patient and don’t give up. This is a rejection heavy business, and the only way to succeed is to keep trying, keep working at it, and never give up. One of my e-book publishers asked me to rewrite my last mystery novel, Move, because it was a mix of mystery and urban fantasy, and they said they weren’t comfortable with making that leap yet. I respected their decision and knew they had good reason for asking this, but there was no way for me to rewrite the novel and keep what I felt were the important elements of the story if I removed the urban-fantasy element. I decided to self publish Move, and it’s done as well as my others so far. Writing takes a heavy dose of discernment, because you have to know which criticism and advice to take, and when to let it go and strike out on a new direction.
I often tell people that in writing, fortune favors the persistent. What takes a year in the rest of the world could well take a decade in the writing world, and if you aren’t willing to put in that investment, then there’s not a way for you to succeed. Keep in mind my own journey: I told you above that I started pursuing novel writing and publication in 2001. My first book was published in 2004, and it was a flop. It took me until 2011 and switching genres to get any traction back in writing, and I had a three year interval from 2007 – 2010, where every single thing I wrote was rejected. It was hard to stay the course and keep writing during that dry spell, but things started moving again in 2011, and everything I wrote during that time has now been published.
Keep trying and don’t give up if it’s truly in your heart to be a writer. In time you not only grow in the craft, but learn that precarious balance to get established, connect with readers, handle the criticism, and keep things moving in a positive direction.