Author Interview With Sheralyn Pratt
photo by Heather Zahn Gardner
What are your favorite setting and hang out spots?
Ha. At first I wasn’t sure if you were talking about me or Rhea. My favorite hangouts are outdoors on sunny days in an area where my dog can be off leash and the ground isn’t pokey. I can’t wait until they make a writer’s laptop that isn’t backlit (like e-readers) so I can write outside. That will be a beautiful, beautiful day.
When did you start writing and what was your first book? I’ve always written, I think, sort of in the way most people doodle. I was 18 when I finished my first book from beginning to end. It’s called “the Jade Prophecy.” One day I’ll revisit it, I’m sure.
What are your all time favorite books?
Is that question even possible to answer? I just never know what to say when asked that question, but I did read an ARC of a first-time author named Rebecca Maizel called “Infinite Days” that I really liked recently. I think she’s an upcoming author to watch out for.
How did you get the idea for the Rhea Jensen series and which character do you most relate to? Interesting question. Rhea came to me pretty fully formed. I’m not a writer who brainstorms and maps things out. I just see scenes in my head and write them. Sometimes I don’t even know that some of scenes go together in the same story until later. It’s hard to describe, but suffice it to say that Rhea is a pretty immutable character. She shows me a bit, waits until I do the research to write it right, then she shows me more. It’s a fun growing pattern for me. As for which character I relate to the most… if I am yin, then Rhea’s best friend, Kay, is yang. She and I are so polarized that we barely communicate. I don’t how it’s possible that I could relate to her the most, but she is the character who has the strongest grip on my heart. You may see why in Book 4.
Do any of your characters have real life people they remind you of? Stars who would play them…If so, who and attach a photo That’s a fun game! Physically, Rhea is based on Nelly Fertado, but I would love to audition Jill Wagner, Evangeline Lilly, and Missy Peregrym for the role. For Kay, I wish Kristen Bell was like a foot taller, because I would beg her to play the part. Still probably would. There’s just that perfect balance of sass, anger and vulnerability an actor would have to portray to steal all focus the second she walks into a scene. Kristen could do that. She could be “bad” while still making it very clear that she is good to her core. It would be fun to audition Maggie Lawson for the part as well, though, but she just seems waaay too sweet for Kay.
What do you do for a day job and in your free time? I’m a publicist by day, and at the moment I don’t have any free time, but I always make time for walks/hiking with my dog. There’s no way getting around exercising a border collie. That’s the reason I got her—to get me out of the house. The poor thing is bored the other 22 hours of the day, though.
Advice for young writers? Let it flow. Don’t judge your writing as it comes out. Unless you are a freak of nature, it’s going to suck at first. That’s okay. The key is to create until your tapped dry. Then you put your creation to the side and go and read a bunch of authors you love and admire for a couple of weeks before returning to your work. Looking at it with fresh eyes, your goal is to then make your story as fun to read as the books you love. That’s my advice. Repeat this process until you forget you are reading your own work and just want to keep reading your own story for fun.
Do you have a playlist for your books and do you listen to music while you write? Yes, yes, and yes. Music keeps the theme of my book on track and keeps me from going off point of onto tangents. It can take a while to find the right songs for a character or story. Sometimes I only find one song and just listen to it over and over until it’s white noise. I’ve listened to the same song over 1,000 times in a row over a week while writing before. It achieves its purpose, though.
Any upcoming books or events? Oh, my. Yes. Many. And they’ll all be fun. Book 2, Welcome to Stalk Lake City (read first 5 chapters here) technically releases on August 6, which is why we’re having the Stalk Lake Scavenger Hunt on August 7th where one non-profit will win $1,000 in an Amazing Race type of event in downtown Salt Lake. It will be fun, and everyone is welcome to participate by joining a team. See a list of competing teams here. There will be more to come, though, so feel free to keep in touch at http://www.sheralynpratt.com/.
What is the overall message you hope to get across to your readers? Hmm, in a nutshell? I might have to channel Mufasa for that one and say, “Simba, you are more than what you have become.” If I don’t write a story that inspires the reader to contemplate stepping out of his/her comfort zone, grow in some way personally, or become more self aware, tolerant, confident, or empathic, then there’s really no reason for me to be writing at all.
Describe the process of re-writing the books and why?
Well, to start off with, they were dated from their original incarnation. Things (technology, especially) have changed a lot in the past eight years. That, added to the fact that the publisher wanted to change the titles made me feel morally obligated to change and update the books, since someone might end up buying City of Angels who already had Spies, Lies and a Pair of Ties. It’s disingenuous—and should be illegal—to take the same book and package it with a different title and cover without changing it. In some ways I just wanted to start all the way over and change everything, but that would have been even more confusing to people: (“Wait, is this book 5? No? It’s book 1, but everything’s different? So this book pretends that your 3 previous books never happened? What about the ebook? So I should just forget them?…”) It would have been a disaster, so I simply updated them and added new scenes, twists, and endings. Book 1 is fairly similar, but I changed the rest of the series significantly. They’re new rides, and I hope readers of the original versions like these new ones too. *crosses fingers*
Favorite writing snacks? Writing and eating? Hmmm. I think I mostly just drink while writing. Water. How absolutely boring is that? I’m too reactive to food to introduce it into my system while I’m writing. Sugar, caffeine, and carbs put me to sleep and protein makes me want to go run around. It’s best if I don’t eat within a few hours of sitting down to write, so water it is!
Do you have a writing group or peers who beta your work? “Beta.” I just learned that lingo last week, so I’m all in the know now. I just joined a writing group (last week). Yay! We don’t work on Rhea books, though, but the other stuff I write (YA Fantasy). With the Rhea books, it’s actually just been me and my editor because of the tight deadlines.
Favorite scene to write and why? Specifically, or in general? Generally speaking, I like to write action and chemistry. I always say that I don’t write romance, I write chemistry. If it happens to be romantic, then fine, but that push-pull in all relationships can take many shapes, and all of them are equally fun for me to write. Rhea taking down a guy in an alley, two people meeting for the first time, or two colleagues who hate each other can be just as fun to write as a first kiss.