Good morning, all! I am very pleased to introduce you all to Sherri Hayes, author of the BDSM romance Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), who has stopped by for a quick chat.
Sherri is a country girl at heart. She lives outside a small town in Ohio with her husband and four cats. Her mother encouraged her love of books and fondly remembers childhood story times. Sherri satisfied her need to be creative through singing and performance throughout her high school years. About three years ago, the urge to write started and she has not stopped since. It has become an outlet for her and is excited to be able to share the characters and stories that constantly float in her head.
Before we get into the interview, let's take a quick look at Slave Slave (Finding Anna Book 1):
Stephan has lived the lifestyle of a Dominant for five years. After several rebellious teenage years, it gave him the stability and control he had been seeking after his parent’s death. As president of a not-for-profit foundation, he knows what his future holds and what he wants out of life. All that changes when a simple lunch with his college friend and Mentor, Daren, leads him to buying a slave.
Thrust into a situation he never thought he’d be in, Stephan can’t walk away. He is compelled to help this girl in the only way he knows how. Brianna knows only one thing, she is a slave. She has nothing. She is nothing.Can Stephan help Brianna realize that she is much more than just a Slave?
And now, without further ado, please welcome Sherri!
♥ For those who may be new to your writing, and who haven't yet checked out your latest release, please tell us a little about yourself.
I have two published novels, Hidden Threat and Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), and a short story, A Christmas Proposal. My mother fostered my love for books at a young age by reading to me as a child, so I’ve always loved reading. Once I entered my teen years, my reading choices drifted toward romance with the occasional mystery. Although stories have been floating around in my head for as long as I can remember, I never had the desire to write them down growing up. Now, it’s become a creative outlet that allows me to explore a wide range of emotions while having fun taking my characters through all the twists and turns I create. When I’m not writing, I can usually be found helping my husband in his woodworking shop.
♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?
I wrote my first story on-line four years ago. It was nerve wracking to put it out there for everyone to see, but it turned out to be one of the best things I ever did. The success of that first story led me to write my debut novel, Hidden Threat. I don’t think it really hit me until I held the book in my hands for the first time even with all the hours I spent working with my editor; seeing it, feeling it, made it real.
♥ Did you deliberately choose a genre because there's something specific that draws you to it, something you feel it offers that other genres don't, or was it just 'right' for the story you wanted to tell?
For my first novel I choose the genre I loved most at the time, which was romantic suspense. I still love that genre, and probably always will. For my second novel, Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), I choose BDSM because it was right for the story. It’s a key element that, if taken away, would change the entire tone of the book and the series. Only after beginning to research and write the story did I become intrigued with the genre itself.
♥ How does your past influence your writing? Are you conscious of relating the story to your own experiences?
I think all writers draw on their own experiences in one way or another to write their characters. However it not something I consciously think about while writing. I try to get to know my characters before I begin a story, and approach the story from their perspectives and backgrounds rather than my own.
♥ Do you have a schedule or a routine to your writing? Is there a time and place that you must write, or do you let the words flow as they demand?
Normally, I allow the story to flow as it comes to me. However, since I have deadlines with my stories now, I do sometimes have to discipline myself. During those times, I tend to be the most productive in the morning. I sit down at the computer with my breakfast, read over what I’ve written last, and pick up where I left off.
♥ Do you have a soundtrack to your writing, a particular style of music or other background noise that keeps you in the mood, or do you require quiet solitude?
I don’t usually have music playing while I write. Though, I might put on some classical music to help myself focus when the words aren’t flowing.
♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing?
That’s easy; book titles and character names. I’m in the middle of writing the second book in my Finding Anna series and I still don’t have a title for it, so I have to keep referring to it as ‘Book 2’ in my tweets and on my Facebook page.
♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?
Always. I don’t outline my stories before I write them. Although I always have a rough idea of where I want the story to go when I start it, getting there is completely up to my characters. I let them tell the story how they want it told. One example of this is in the sequel to Slave. A past character decided he wanted to attend a party unannounced. It threw an unexpected twist into the story creating drama and the opportunity to find out a little more about Brianna’s past.
♥ When you're not writing (or reading), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you happy?
I love to sing. In my younger years, I took voice lessons and participated in a few vocal competitions. I even went down to Nashville once and recorded a demo with a live band. It’s not uncommon for me to break out into song while shopping in a store or even doing the dishes.
♥ When writing, do you ever consider how a reader or reviewer will react, or do you write solely for your own satisfaction?
That’s a good question. I do consider how a reader would react to a point, but I’ve never changed anything major in a story just to make a reader or reviewer okay with something. My characters are not perfect. They make mistakes like everyone else. I try to make them and the situations they find themselves in as relatable and realistic as I can. You will never make everyone happy and you’d drive yourself crazy trying. I’d much rather write a book that I would enjoy reading.
♥ What first compelled you to begin writing, and what is it that keeps you motivated?
Frustration is what tends to start the stories in my head, and it’s what started me writing. I can’t tell you how many times growing up where I’d watch a movie or read a book, get to the end, and want to know what happened next. Instead of just leaving it there and moving on with my life, I would close my eyes and let the story continue in my head. It was much the same the first time I sat down to write. I was irritated at how a show I was watching on television was handling a romance between two characters that I loved, so I decided to ‘fix it’. Little did I know that a year later I would be writing what eventually became my debut novel, Hidden Threat.
Today, it’s usually deadlines that motivate me. The characters and plot lines continue to flow faster than I could ever possibly write them, but I’ve set a goal for myself to write two books a year and that keeps me busy and focused.
♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to your work that you've ever encountered?
That has to be when my husband’s step-mother called me and asked me what BDSM stood for. She’d just started reading my novel, Slave (Finding Anna Book 1), and there at the top of page two was ‘BDSM’. She had no idea what it was or what it meant. Even after I told her, she said, ‘oh. Well they should have a glossary in the back or something for things like that. I had no idea what it meant and neither did your father-in-law.’
♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?
That’s a difficult question, but I think I’d have to go with one of the Outlander books, although I think I’d try to pick a ‘slow day’ in their lives. Jamie and Claire tend to get themselves in way too much trouble. Claire is an amazing character, and I’d love to pick her brain more than anything; see how she keeps from knocking some of those male doctors who think she doesn’t know anything because she’s a female on their backsides. As for Jamie, I want to know more about how he feels knowing Claire lived a whole other life in another time without him and how that knowledge affect his daily life. We get glimpses of it in the books, but I always want to know more of his point of view on the subject.
♥ Is there a particular theme or message you're expecting readers to take away from your work?
The biggest thing I want people to take away from my first book Slave is that human trafficking is real even in the US, and we can’t be blind to it. It really doesn’t matter what country you live in or where you’re from. And the people who are enslaved have everything they are taken away from them including their individuality. It isn’t as simple as just freeing them. They need support and assistance in finding themselves again. It something that for many takes a very long time, and for some, it never fully happens.
♥ What can we look forward to from you next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?
I’m currently working through the second round of edits for my third novel, Behind Closed Doors, which is due out February 9, 2012. It’s a romantic suspense novel dealing with betrayal and domestic abuse. In my downtime, however, I’m also in the process of writing my forth novel, which will be the second book in my Finding Anna series. It will be exciting to see that completed. More than any other characters, Stephan and Brianna have pulled me in and grabbed me by the heartstrings. I want to know what will happen next in their story just as badly as everyone else.
Thanks so much to Sherri for stopping by! You can check her out at The Writers Coffee Shop or on her Finding Anna blog.