In this latest special SPFBO author interview I spoke with S.R. Cronin about her entry into the competition and what she enjoys most about writing fantasy.
- Hi Sherrie. Tell us a bit about yourself and what inspired you to write?
Like many others, I made up stories in my head as a child. I also read all the science fiction and fantasy I could find in Western Kansas in the early Pleistocene. (It wasn’t much.) When I tried my hand at a dystopian short story in eighth grade, my English teacher told me to keep writing. I was an obedient sort, so I’m still doing as she said.
- What appeals to you most about the fantasy genre?
It’s my world. I make up the rules, I create a place that fascinates me, and I let people have adventures in it that I like. Why would you want to constrain a story and write anything else?
- Tell us a little bit about your latest project and the challenges you’ve faced putting it all together?
I don’t like doing easy things and that’s a shame because I’ll probably never know if I could just write a good book. To my own misfortune, I like complicated.
So after my first six-book series (complicated in another fashion) I got this idea to tell an alternate history/historical fantasy story seven ways, each time through the eyes of a very different sister. I called it “The War Stories of the Seven Troublesome Sisters.”
Because these seven young women will manage to save their realm, it’s a little like a female Seven Samauri with some Rashomon effect thrown in. (I thanked Japanese film genius Akira Kurosawa for his inspiration in the first book’s dedication.)
Book one, about the intellectual mastermind of the girls, came out in November 2020 and is in entered in the SPFBO#7. I released book two, the story of the nurturing sister, in February 2021, and book three, the story of the warrior sister, in May 2021. These days I’m writing book five, at least when I’m not checking SPFBO sites to see if book one has been reviewed and cut yet.
- What type of characters do you like to write the most and how much of yourself do you put into them?
I like my main characters to surprise themselves with what they are capable of. I’m not a particularly grey or dark writer, though every good story needs a little grimness to be interesting.
I put a lot of me into most characters, including (or maybe especially) the villains. You can’t write what you don’t know, and I think spinning tales is cheaper than therapy. It sure gets you to confront things in yourself you don’t like.
- For any wannabe writers out there what’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?
Write. Write more. Keep writing. Don’t get me wrong .. classes and writer’s groups and beta readers and online blogs are all a wealth of information and should be tapped. But unless you write, rewrite and edit a lot, the rest won’t matter.
- What writing tricks do you utilise to hit your deadlines and keep your stories on track?
I set aside three writing days a week and don’t let myself do anything else. No social media. No laundry. No random ordering junk from Amazon. I write, or I sit and stare at my screen. It works. After a while I get bored and I start writing. (I do let myself eat cookies though and that helps.)
- Are you a plotter or a pantser (make it up as you go)?
Much more of a pantser. I always have a vague idea of the story’s main conflict and how it will be resolved, and I often do an outline with a few sentences per proposed chapter before I start the book. (I seldom stick to it.) But I always do a more detailed outline of the next chapter before I start it, listing what has to happen in it somehow. It usually reads something like: Jason and Margie MUST meet now and Jason’s cat HAS to die. Hit by a car? Margie’s car? Maybe Jason’s car. Is it because he was looking at Margie?
- What plans do you have for the future? A new series or perhaps a dip into other genres?
I can’t imagine life without thinking about the next series. I already know mine will be a crime novel/fantasy hybrid. (Crime novels are my other love, a taste not developed until adulthood.) I’m thinking I’ll have three different detective protagonists from different times and places who loosely work together. Like I said, complicated fascinates me.
- With the world the way it is at the moment what sort of tales do you prefer? Ones with heroes where good triumphs over evil or ones that take a darker approach?
I’ve always been a good triumphs kind of lady when it comes to my entertainment, although I think a little shading makes it more interesting. (Good triumphs but …) It’s not because I’m inherently cheery or an optimist, though, but more like because deep down I’m pretty cynical. I like my entertainment to take me out of the dark places I’m prone to go to in my head.
- What’s better, Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings or Star Wars?
Star Trek – none of the above.
Follow Sherrie via –
Author Blog: https://sherriecronin.xyz/