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An Interview with Sharon Sala
by Michele Rader
Sharon hated her job -- she was a checkout clerk
at a grocery store. She especially hated her job on "Chicken Sale" day. Working
at an unsatisfying and frustrating job may have inspired her to follow her
dreams and become a writer. As an avid reader she would finish a book and think
to herself, "I can write like that." As time passed, she even thought, "I can
write a book BETTER than this one." So, at the end of one "Chicken Sale" day,
Sharon decided she just couldn't stand to drag across the checkout counter any
more of the stinky chickens with all that "clear, dribbly stuff" leaking through
the plastic bag. She went home, grabbed the typewriter and a stack of paper, and
Learning from her first two attempts at
manuscript writing, the third book she finished sold. With forty books now in
print and several more on the way, you could say that her determination and
perseverance has paid off.
WFD: Your first two books sat under your bed for
years before you burned them. Were they really that bad?
WFD: After practice on those two, how did the
third one turn out?
SALA: I sold that book to the first publisher to
whom I submitted. It was a case of a good story being in the right place at the
right time. It doesnt happen very often. I was very blessed.
WFD: Was writing as easy as you had thought?
SALA: I learned that it wasnt as easy as it
looked. But I was so hooked on the process that I pursued it. Thank
WFD: Did you originally set out to write a
psychological thriller/romance or did it just evolve?
SALA: As a reader, a story that was just about
the relationship evolving between two people never really kept my attention. I
always wanted more to be going on. I think thats why I love the genre of
romantic suspense so much. Not only do you have the developing love story, but
also you have a mystery intertwined.
WFD: You said that many of your stories come to
you in your dreams.
SALA: I still do a lot of that. When they come
to me in dreams, I consider them gifts. I see the whole story, usually from
beginning to end and even dream dialog. Its weird, but wonderful.
WFD: At what point, while you are writing, do
you know the ending?
SALA: I always know how the story is going to
end before I start it. I also have to know the title of the book before I put
one word on paper. Its just a personal quirk of mine. I dont ever do
"outlines" but I do have a synopsis, which is a thumbnail sketch of the entire
story. Even if I wrote an outline, I would probably never look at it again. Once
I start writing, the story always takes a road of its own, and quite often down
paths I never knew were there. When that happens, you know youre doing it
WFD: How many drafts do you write?
SALA: I edit as I write, so when Ive finished a
manuscript, I rarely go through it more than two more
WFD: Are your characters based on people you
SALA: Never. Never. Never. I hope I have more
imagination than that, although I have taken funny characteristics from people
Ive known and incorporated them into my books. For instance, my sister, Diane,
who passed away in 1985, never wanted the ice in her glass to float. Ive used
that a time or two in my books and always smiled as I did, remembering how funny
I always thought that was. Everyone has a peculiarity or two in their
personalities that makes them unique and interesting.
WFD: How do you research your stories?
SALA: I research in various ways. Ideally, I
would like to visit the areas in which I set my stories, because geography
always plays an important in my books. However, I cant always do that, so I
rely on help from friends in the area, information that receive from people I
interview, such as policemen, local chambers of commerce, etc. Im also very
well read in what a lot of people would consider useless knowledge, so there are
a lot of technical things I already know.
WFD: Is Snowfall your newest release?
SALA: Yes. Its done very well on all the
best-seller lists and is one of my favorite stories. It was on the New York
Times Extended List for four weeks, peaking at #16. It also debuted at #1 on
WaldenBooks mass-market bestseller list.
The next book of mine to be released will be
WHITE MOUNTAIN, and thats due out in April 2002, under my pen name,
WFD: As a "self-taught" writer, do have any
advice for others who are just beginning?
SALA: Join a writers group. A writers group is
vital to a writer, especially someone who is yet to be published. It keeps you
inspired to persevere, as well as keeping you in the loop of up-to-date
information regarding whats selling and where the conferences are being
WFD: For those who need motivation, what would
you tell them?
SALA: Believe in yourself, because if you dont,
nobody else will, either. Also, write, write, write, and be your own worst
critic. Never think that what youve written is set in stone. Be willing to
learn and edit and take critiquing in the manner in which its meant, which is
to make you a better writer.
© Copyright 2002, Michele Rader
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