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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 started writing.

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?

SALA: Yep.

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 doesn’t happen very often. I was very blessed.

WFD: Was writing as easy as you had thought?

SALA: I learned that it wasn’t as easy as it looked. But I was so hooked on the process that I pursued it. Thank goodness.

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 that’s 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. It’s 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. It’s just a personal quirk of mine. I don’t 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 it’s own, and quite often down paths I never knew were there. When that happens, you know you’re doing it right.

WFD: How many drafts do you write?

SALA: I edit as I write, so when I’ve finished a manuscript, I rarely go through it more than two more times.

WFD: Are your characters based on people you have known?

SALA: Never. Never. Never. I hope I have more imagination than that, although I have taken funny characteristics from people I’ve 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. I’ve 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 can’t 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. I’m 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. It’s 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 that’s due out in April 2002, under my pen name, Dinah McCall.

WFD: As a "self-taught" writer, do have any advice for others who are just beginning?

SALA: Join a writer’s group. A writer’s 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 what’s selling and where the conferences are being held.

WFD: For those who need motivation, what would you tell them?

SALA: Believe in yourself, because if you don’t, nobody else will, either. Also, write, write, write, and be your own worst critic. Never think that what you’ve written is set in stone. Be willing to learn and edit and take critiquing in the manner in which it’s meant, which is to make you a better writer.

© Copyright 2002, Michele Rader

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