We’re topping off our Sheryl Browne Bonanza Week with an interview with the woman herself. So, if you’re a fan of Sheryl, read on to see what we found out about the bubbly and incredibly likeable author:
BCL: We’ve noticed you’ve got a bit of a thing for sexy policemen in your books. Why do you think they make such perfect heroes?
SB: Who? Moi?
OK, well, yes I do, a bit. It’s the uniforms. I’m not sure I’m supposed to admit to that. I’m thinking there are one or two ladies out there who might agree with me however. I’m not suggesting that all men-in-uniform (be still my beating heart) are perfect hero material. Their motto generally being to serve and protect, making communities a safer place, though, it’s a good ‘man’ template, I think, for a hero. Of course, then you have to add in the flaws, heroes being mere mortals under the uniform *stops typing to breathe* and as prone the rest of us to the frailties of human nature. I suppose I’m aiming to show that our stereotypical heroes are real people too. The fact that they wear a uniform perhaps influences some of the decisions they make, their instinctive reactions to, say, a situation where someone may be in danger, but it doesn’t define them
BCL: Tell us about the ‘white-knight-in-blue’ who rescued you on the motorway! (mentioned in your blog bio).
SB: Haw, haw! Oops. I actually used this as a basis for a scene in Somebody to Love. Here you go:
‘The emergency services need to know whether there’s anyone in the car.’
What?! Did the man think she’d actually leave someone in a burning car whilst she wandered along the hard shoulder in search of extinct emergency phones?
‘No,’ she said flatly.
‘So, there’s no one travelling with you, then?’
‘No, no one,’ Donna confirmed, peering worriedly into the dense wooded area on the opposite side to the traffic. Oh, God! There might be a mad axe-murderer sharpening his axe, right now, even as she spoke! She took a step sideways, then another back sharpish, as a car shaved past.
‘Right, well, keep calm,’ the voice said, as Donna’s stomach tied itself in a knot. ‘I’ll make contact with the emergency services and inform them you’re a lone female.’
‘Thank you,’ Donna said, suddenly all too aware of the loneliness of being alone.
‘Meanwhile,’ the disembodied voice continued, ‘could you make your way back to the vehicle and let them know you’re safe?’
‘Yes, no problem,’ Donna croaked, reluctant to let go of the phone as the call ended. She was sure she could feel evil eyes watching her.
An icy chill prickling the back of her neck, she turned ready to flee, and then froze. There, before her eyes, a miracle occurred. Trundling towards her, blue lights rotating, was a police patrol car. Thank you, Lord. Donna prayed earnestly, utterly relieved and tremendously… Gobsmacked.
I’d just come from the gym, which I visited straight from work with a friend. You can imagine the natty little outfit I was therefore wearing, cue juggling bum-cheeks (mine), as I jogged along the motorway hard-shoulder. My car was well and truly on fire. On seeing acrid black smoke rapidly filling the interior and the dashboard melting, I’d locked all the doors for fear of some well-meaning person opening them. The police rescue vehicle, trundling towards me as I turned from the phone, was a Range Rover, at the wheel of which was definitely bite-the-buttons-off material. He looked at me as if was demented, for obvious reasons (Lycra shorts, trainers – you get the picture). Behind him were three (!!) fire engines. You can forgive me for imagining I had died and gone to girl-Heaven. So, how did it all pan out? You’d better read the book!
BCL: The recipes in Recipe for Disaster are absolutely scrumptious. Do you think you will write another recipe romance?
SB: I’d love to, if someone writes the recipes. Recipes for Disaster was written in conjunction with Kim Maya Sutton at Safkhet Publishing. While she is the culinary creative genius, I’m… Well, let’s put it this way, we once decided to have a Murder Mystery dinner party, as in how many guests I would murder by the end of the night and what with. I kid you not. You don’t want to know about the Stuffed avocado with Serrano Ham and Allioli I served up. In fairness, hot chilli powder is a similar colour to paprika, isn’t it? Fear not, however, Kim’s recipes really are truly scrumptious. Her Drunken Chicken, one of the fab recipes in Recipes for Disaster, really is to die for, in the best possible way
BCL: You are known for your feisty female characters. Where do you find the inspiration for them?
SB: Simply? From women. Take a look around. In person, on FB, I meet women every day who leave me in awe, juggling life work and family. Some caring for special needs children, some carers to parents, some just starting out pursuing careers, realising they ‘can’ where women perhaps once couldn’t; full-time mums, which from experience, I know can sometimes be the hardest, loneliest, most underrated job of all. Warrant for Love was inspired by the lives and love tribulations of my girlfriends. I salute you, girls!
BCL: Your protagonists are incredibly likeable, which helps the reader develop an immediate connection with them. How do you create such a likeable character?
SB: Through my writing I hope to leave the reader with that all-important feel-good factor. I think when we laugh at characters in a book, we’re actually laughing at ourselves because it’s a familiar, comedic or embarrassing situation we could easily find ourselves in. Basically, I want to write about real people, dealing with real life events, someone the reader identifies with and wants to get to know. A ‘boy meets girl, boy gets girl, despite all obstacles’ story portraying characters readers can relate to and hopefully laugh with as they fall over life’s little ‘obstacles’, because the reader is empathising with the character, because they’ve been there.
BCL: Hilarious and outrageous situations are your forte. Is this something that happens regularly in your everyday life, or does it all come from your imagination?
SB: If you’d read thus far, you’ll now that outrageous situations and I go hand-in-hand. An example: I get all dressed up in my finery to go to my MA Awards ceremony, I walk outside and the fence falls down.
I do borrow from life, frequently. I think most writers draw from personal experience and then go on to do a great deal of research. My writing, though often humorous, is described as poignant, because I feel drawn to look at the fragility of love, life and relationships, often the relationships of people whose lives may be little more complicated than most (someone parenting a special needs child, for instance). Somebody to Love, which has a single father and his autistic little boy at its heart, was inspired by ‘a lost little boy’. An autistic little boy, who was on a mission, it seemed, to throw his shoes over my garden fence in order to facilitate a meeting with my three-legged dog. That same fence, actually. I feel another story coming on.
BCL: Your books are hilarious, but the humour often hides some very real underlying pain. In your opinion is laughter the best medicine for heartbreak? Or would you recommend adding a little light revenge into the mix as well?
SB: Oh, a mixture of both. I definitely apply the ‘laugh or you’ll cry’ adage. Have you noticed, when people lose someone close, they’ll often reminisce about the good memories they cherish, even dare I say, laughing at a funeral? Looking back, my first attempts at novel writing were possibly a catharsis to loss in my own life. Losing my mum quite young was devastating, of course, but I found my way of coping was to remember the hysterically funny moments we had. Similarly (and I am talking female pov here), have you noticed, when a relationship falls apart due to, say, the man cheating, how women end up laughing hysterically through their tears? They’re probably rubbishing the poor man, but the laughter is great therapy. The revenge bit, well, whether the heartbreaker is male or female, I think we do get huge satisfaction from seeing them get their just rewards.
BCL: Your foster dogs are a big part of your life and sometimes make an appearance in your work. Will we be seeing more of them in your future books?
SB: Well, now you come to mention it… Sienna, the heroine in my upcoming book, currently titled The Rest of My Life has a dog with dodgy hips. Our hero, Adam Hamilton-Shaw, isn’t best-pleased when he has to leap into freezing cold harbour waters to save him from drowning. I’d say that’s definitely a ‘yes’.
BCL: Have you got any tips for authors trying to tie everything together neatly at the end of a novel?
SB: That’s a difficult one as I fall somewhere between a plotter (at outset) and a pantser (when the characters wander off in their own direction). I do have a beginning, vague middle, and rough ending at outset though. I find that bearing in mind any characters introduced have to be there for a reason helps, i.e. their story has to tie up satisfactorily too. I make notes of all plot points as I go. If it doesn’t need tying up, I do wonder whether it might be padding. Simply, if something doesn’t move the story forward, I take it out. A neater story makes for a neater ending, which are always best, imho.
BCL: We’re very excited to hear you have been signed by Choc Lit Publishing. Is there an author with them who particularly inspires you?
SB: My first ever Choc Lit read was Sue Moorcroft’s Starting Over. I was hooked, I have to say, and inspired by the strength of her hero, Miles Arnott-Rattenbury, affectionately known as “Ratty” – gorgeous and perfectly flawed. That said, have you dipped into a Choc Lit read lately, where heroes are like chocolate – irresistible? You’ll be spoiled for choice.
BCL: Will you continue to work with Safkhet Publishing?
SB: I do hope so! I owe a huge debt of gratitude to Safkhet Publishing, who not only commissioned me to write my first book for them, but opened an imprint for three further novels. Despite my determination, I was at a point then where I wondered whether continuing to pursue my dream was sheer self-indulgent madness. Safkhet believed in me, giving me huge impetus to keep writing. I currently have a thriller – just the last chapter to type (yes, it’s all there in my head), the title of which, Death Sentence, was supplied by a chief constable! It needs another edit, but I’m hoping it might be worth considering.
BCL: Will you be going to see 50 Shades of Grey at the cinema on Valentine’s Day?
SB: I think I might have to. Purely in my professional capacity, you understand. I write reviews for Loveahappyending Lifestyle magazine and, as with books, don’t judge it unless you’ve seen/read it is my motto.
BCL: Have you forgiven our reviewer, Francesca, from spilling wine on you at the Festival of Romance in 2012?!
SB: Haw, haw! I’m thinking you’d better show Francesca this. Tell her to rest assured, she could have spilled wine on me if I was in a different room. Yes, all is forgiven. The dress washed beautifully. And Rose went quite well with the shade!
Thank you for featuring me here, BestChickLit. Can I also just add a huge thank you to all the other wonderful bloggers, readers and reviewers out there, who give of their time and work so hard for authors? THANK YOU!
Heartache, humour, love, loss & betrayal – and a little Ohhhh la la! Sheryl Browne brings you edgy, sexy, poignant fiction. A member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction, Sheryl has six books published with Safkhet Publishing and has now been signed with Award winning Choc Lit Publishing.
COMING SOON from Choc Lit
The Rest of My Life – Two damaged hearts, a sizzling sexual connection. Can love find a way to bring Adam and Sienna together?