Welcome Sheryl and Snoops, lovely to see you both here at Sally Lunns.
Hi, Joanna. It’s lovely to see you, too. Thank you for inviting Snoops (aka Rambo, star of Recipes for Disaster) along. He’s perfectly well-behaved, as you can see, as long we can avoid the usual hordes of screaming fans. Yes, Snoops, they do serve cream with their teas. Ivy House clotted cream, to be precise. Nothing but the best at Sally Lunns, you know. Sorry, Jo, he’s a bit fussy now he’s uber-famous.
My regular opening question is to ask my guest to reveal a little about themselves.
Ooh, now, what to reveal that hasn’t already been seen? Well, I live in Worcestershire but grew up in Birmingham, UK. I’m a mother, a partner in my own business and a foster parent to disabled dogs. I can’t help myself. If a hoppity three-legged dog in need of care comes along… Well, do you blame me?
I decided to become a literary superstar when… Lol! I am now published, but I’m not sure many writers become literary superstars in today’s tough publishing climate. We keep writing though, (passionate souls that we are), lovely reader feedback so often giving us the impetus we need to keep at it.
How did your writing career begin and where do you get your inspiration from?
My writing career began when I took leave of my senses. Ignore me. I love writing. I simply wouldn’t know how to be without it. I’m artistic by nature therefore I’ve always had a creative imagination. Reading, anything and everything, and making up stories in my head was a kind of escapism for me. And, believe me, when you come from a large family, escapism is as necessary as food for survival sometimes. I suppose then I’ve had a passion for writing since childhood. I’m an avid reader. I love anything that explores life and relationships and how people cope with and grow through certain life events. Looking back, my first attempts at novel-writing were possibly a catharsis to loss in my own life. Without going into too much detail, I’d taken compassionate leave from work to nurse my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s. Losing my mum in my twenties was devastating, of course, but I found my way of coping was to remember the hysterically funny moments we had (and we did, much to the bemusement of my father, who just didn’t get women’s quirky SOH). Out of necessity, I’d worked since leaving school and being a young single mum when my mum got ill giving up work to write wasn’t an option. I started jotting things down in my spare time, though, and from little acorns…
Do you put any of your personality into your female characters?
Oh, God, yes, definitely. I think we are all multi-faceted creatures and, though we would prefer to put out best front forwards, there are times when we might be sad, angry, lonely, feisty, quirky, have a touch of the old green-eyed-monster. Human beings come with a whole gamut of emotion, after all. I think I’m generally a happy, bubbly person (mainly because I’m happier when I’m happy, if you get my drift), but sometimes life’s little mishaps or obstacles have caused me to be any of the above. I draw from that. I think most writers draw from personal experience, and then go on to do a great deal of research, determined to get the detail right and never to trivialise emotive issues that some people might live and struggle with on a daily basis. My writing, though romantic comedy, has been described by an agent as funny but thoughtful. Thoughtful because I feel drawn to look at the relationships of people whose lives may be little more complicated than most (someone parenting a special needs child, for instance, or caring for an elderly relative).
You are signed to Safkhet and I understand have another three book deal which is brilliant! How did you become one of their authors?
It’s a long story, but I’ll try to keep it short. My first book got picked up by an agent but, sadly, it didn’t get picked up by a publisher. The bug, however, had bitten. Being a passionate soul who would wither and die without her writing, I kept at it, enlisting editorial help, drafting and redrafting, taking on board feedback; using every piece of criticism constructively and – the dreaded part of the writing process – submitting. Eventually my current lovely publisher, Safkhet Publishing, read some of my work, liked my style and commissioned me to write my debut book, Recipes for Disaster (romantic comedy written around fun recipes)! I was so nervous waiting for their initial feedback I’d almost bitten my fingernails down to my elbows. And then they said Yes! They loved it! Music to a writer’s ears. Needless to say, I was euphoric. Thanks here to Snoops, co-writer and, as mentioned, superstar of Recipes for Disaster.
You are a well-known rom-com writer with a great following. Could you ever see yourself moving into a different area of writing and if so what would it be?
Ooh, I could. Well, sort of. I’m currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing (very part-time at Birmingham University). One of my modules (which I passed, I’m pleased to say) was screenwriting. I once reached runner stage up in a BBC sitcom comp and would love to write script basically – though I think it would also be romantic comedy. I still have a lot to learn though. Maybe, one day.
Changing the subject completely I know you are a disabled dog fosterer which must be really rewarding, how did this come about?
I had a dog that was so badly grieving the loss of her mate that the poor girl was on sedatives.. When she became skeletal from not eating, I knew I had to do something fast. I decided the best course of action was to put her in the rescue centre. No, not permanently! Just over a few days to try her out with different dogs. So, fingers crossed, that’s what I did – and every time I rang hopefully thereafter, I was told, ‘Not happening. They’re fighting like cat and dog.’
Then we tried one last dog. I rang the next day, my heart in my mouth, and they said, Yes! Apparently, they were sleeping together like little bookends. I’ll take her, I said. What make is she? Cross Rottweiler, they said (Eek!) and she has cancer. So, that’s how it all started. I fostered her, knowing I’d have to make a huge decision whether to allow her surgery, which might save her or kill her. She survived and loved life. From there on, I decided I would take the OAP or disabled, ‘special needs’ dogs. Snoops was brought in by the police, who’d rescued him from youths playing football, unfortunately using Snoops as the ball. He was blinded in one eye, the other also damaged, so he has very little sight, but… Well, do I need to say he’s happy and healthy now – and that I love him to bits?
If you could take four people on holiday who would they be and why?
George Clooney – so I could bask in his smile. Ben Affleck – so I could … drool. They’d probably only fight over me, though, wouldn’t they? *sigh*. OK, really? My son. He hasn’t had a great time of things lately, but keeps fighting. Oh, and Snoops, Odi and Dougal, my current dogs. Well, they are little personalities – and at least we’d have a healthy walking holiday.
If you had to spend six months on a desert island what five things would you take with you?
My dogs (do they count as one?). A fishing rod, so I could feed them. I’d like to say my Kindle (the one time I would prefer it over paper books) so I could catch up on all the books I so want to read. I’m guessing there would be no electricity though, so I’d have to take a trunk packed full of books. A huge fat pad and a box of pencils.
If you would like to know more about Cheryl and her writing , check out her social network links below:
Romantic Novelists’ Association
Sheryl is a Loveahappyending Lifestyle Author and Feature Editor.
10 thoughts on “Tea and Talk at Sally Lunns, this week hosting Sheryl Browne, a lady who writes fabulous, funny, heartbreaking romantic fiction.”
I think Snoops deserves to be a bit fussy in his uber-fame. He’s so lucky to have been rescued by you.
Great interview, ladies.
Aw, thank you for showcasing my beautiful little Snoops, Joanna (and me!). Really thrilled to be here at Sally Lunns! Pass the buns! 😉 Apologies for spitting crumbs (Snoops) and talking so much (me). It is very therapeutic, though – as long as you’re not on the listening end. 🙂 xx
Hi Sheryl, glad you did talk, that’s what makes the whole thing so interesting! I’ve learned so much about my guests since I started Tea and Talk – and they just seem to be getting better and better! Thank you for spending time with me! xx
Sharing with writerly folks is always inspiring. I think we can learn so much from each other, on the personal and writing front. Have you ever noticed how supportive authors are? Thanks, again, Jo! 🙂 xx
Hello Sheryl, lovely to find you here. I have really found your story fascinating and your victory over adversity and sorrow is inspirational. It is wonderful you found a great home with your publisher and that must be a great feeling of satisfaction. Half the battle is over when you have someone behind you to support you and get your books out there. I really hope that your success continues and that each day you become happier because you are happy – I get you! Thanks for this, great reading it and thanks Joanna for such a lovely guest. J
Hiya, Sheryl, so lovely to see you here! I love that answer about how your writing career began when you took leave of your senses. Brilliant response, even though you shrug it off later. There’s just a little bit of you in there… and of me, possibly! #kindredspirits… I love, love, love your work and your funny, quirky writing style. I’m just about twenty percent into A Little Bit of Madness (will she or won’t she do that steeple trip??) and I adore every word of it. Thanks to Jo for hosting you today, so glad you had fun at Sally Lunns! Rock on.
Finding out a little bit more about you here Sheryl – Good luck with your MA. Lovely interview, thank you ladies.
Oh and Sheryl, don’t worry about not taking George Clooney with you on holiday, I’ll look after him for you … 🙂
Ooh, Sue! Give him back! The man’s indecisive enough without you leading him astray! 🙂 xx
A lovely interview and so interesting. Good luck with the MA Sheryl – I’m in awe – and I do love to hear about your rescue doggies who are as lucky to have you as you are to have them. xxx
Enjoyable interview. I’m thrilled you found a publisher eventually. It’s so discouraging to be taken on by an agent and then find they can’t place, as I well know. George Clooney’s just told me he can’t make those dates for your holiday so I’ll have to take him on mine instead! Good luck with the MA, am sure you will do well. xx