I’m really delighted to have Sheryl Browne answering some questions about herself and her work today. I read Sheryl’s book The Rest of My Life last year (you can read my review by clicking here) and really enjoyed it. The main male character, Adam, seemed like a most unlikley hero but he turned out to be much misunderstood! The Rest of My Life has just been published in paperback having been a great success as an e-book and you can order a copy here. Amazon: http://lrd.to/rest-of-my-life
First of all, would you tell me a little about yourself?
I’d love to! I live in Droitwich, England with my family. I’m a mum, a foster mum to disabled dogs and I’m super-pleased to have completed my Masters Degree in Creative Writing at Birmingham City University. I’m a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and Crime Writers’ Association, and I was shortlisted for Innovation in Romantic Fiction by the Festival of Romance in 2012 and also the Lovestories Awards in 2015. I have several novels previously published with a small Independent. The Rest of My Life, recommended by WH Smith Travel, is published with multi-award winning Choc Lit.
What inspired you to start writing?
People inspire me. In Somebody to Love, for instance – another book currently under consideration by Choc Lit, I based the story on a policeman friend who is a single dad with a special needs son, ergo, he has an awful lot to consider when entering into relationships. I first met him when his son threw his shoes over my garden fence in order to facilitate a meeting with my three-legged dog. Up until then, the little boy had only ever peeked curiously over the fence at the dog, but never had he uttered a word. Whilst my story was a fictional one, it was therefore very much based on fact and intensive research. Adam in The Rest of My Life simply appeared one day. I’m a keen boater and often pass neglected boats. I can’t help but wonder at their story. Suddenly, in my mind’s eye, there was Adam, fully formed, his mannerisms, his clothes – or lack of. A man living an apparently carefree, bachelor existence on a dilapidated boat. A shallow man at first glance. There was something more though, it was there in his eyes, the challenge to like him. A self-confessed womaniser seemingly hell bent on a road to destruction, he seemed not to like himself and I wanted to know more about him. Having experience of caring for someone suffering a depressive illness, I couldn’t help thinking that that might be part of his story.
Tell me about your journey to publication
I started writing actual books as a catharsis, in truth. As a single parent and nursing my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s Disease in my twenties, I needed an outlet. I’m the arty sort by nature but painting not being an option due to time constraints, I started scribbling my thoughts down. It turned out to be a real antidote, because I found I was reflecting on the humour and love in what would otherwise have been a sad situation. My bestselling debut, however… Um, well, it didn’t sell. I think the agent who’d hailed it as such went off in search of Prozac. Not one to give up easily, though, I took inspiration from having got that far and just kept at it, making sure to use every snippet of advice and constructive criticism positively. Most importantly, I read! In the words of Stephen King: “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write”.
In a nutshell, what is your latest book about?
The Rest of My Life is fundamentally a story about letting go, realising that the past can destroy the present and the future, if you let it. At the core is a deeply flawed man, a womaniser, who simply doesn’t like himself and challenges anyone else to. He needs to make peace with his past in order to move on with his life. The question both Adam and the heroine, Sienna, have to ask themselves is: When is it time to stop running? The video I think sums it up nicely: https://youtu.be/7p319itbVKg
How did you come up with the title for your book?
Oh, titles are awful to come up with. I’ve usually finished the book before I’ve come up with a suitable title. Adam’s story, though, was a little bit different. He was having conversations in my head from outset. When Sienna’s father demanded to know if he truly loved her, Adam replied, for the rest of my life. Couldn’t be any other title really, could there?
How did you celebrate publication day?
Probably boring people to tears on social media. Seriously, the support of my online friends has been fabulous. The Rest of My Life was listed as a recommended Book of the Month by Lovereading on Print Publication day and people didn’t mind me shouting and whooping about it at all. Someone also sent me ‘shelfie’, a pic of my book on the shelves at WHSmith Travel. Much wine was consumed, which is possibly when I really started to bore people. A slightly more extravagant restaurant meal at the weekend was justified, I think, after so many years striving to get my books out there.
Do you have a work in progress just now?
I’ve started – and finished – several! My next book, coming from Choc Lit in May, is Learning to Love. Written around a short published in a Birmingham City University anthology, it looks at a single father’s struggle to reach out to his grieving son.
I do also have another contract and two more currently in the pipeline. Did I mention how much my confidence has grown? I can’t stop writing now!
What’s your favourite book you’ve read in the past few months? Or favourite three if you really can’t choose!
I’m going to plump for three by John Donoghue. I like to bring humour into my romantic fiction, but I couldn’t even hope to aspire to the natural wit and humour this author brings to his writing. My first book by this author was Police, Crime & 999 – The True Story of a Front Line Officer. At the time, I badly needed something uplifting after my partner’s cancer diagnosis and his undergoing various surgeries. You can probably guess then that this author had his work cut out. He succeeded! I laughed until I cried. The book is totally hilarious. His other books, Police, Lies & Alibis, Shakespeare My Butt and Police, Arrests & Suspects are similarly sidesplittingly hilarious.
What are you reading just now?
‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ by Laura E James, the first book to be published under Choc Lit’s ‘Dark Choc Lit’ imprint. As the imprint suggests, the book does deal with some darker issues, but it’s written with huge sensitivity. The romance aspect is strong and you really want it to work out for the hero and heroine, though with a huge moral dilemma forcing them apart you are wondering whether it can. Loving it.
Tell me about your reading habits: book or kindle, bed or bath, morning or evening?
If I’m honest, writers don’t have a lot of time left over for reading. However, you simply have to make time. As Stephen King famously said, “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write”. I make sure I take an hour out during the day, which is specific reading time, and then I read last thing at night. Reading in the morning is out as I have to walk my odd dogs – in rotas!
How can people follow you or connect with you on social media?
You can find me by clicking on any of the links below. I’d love to hear from you so do feel free to contact me.
And finally, if you could be a character in any book you have read, who would it be and why?
Paddington Bear. Memorable for his squashy hat and duffle coat.
The Rest of My Life
“You can’t run away from commitment forever …”
Adam Hamilton-Shaw has more reason than most to avoid commitment. Living on a houseboat in the Severn Valley, his dream is to sail into the sunset – preferably with a woman waiting in every port. But lately, his life looks more like a road to destruction than an idyllic boat ride…
Would-be screenplay writer Sienna Meadows realises that everything about Adam spells trouble – but she can’t ignore the feeling that there is more to him than just his bad reputation. Nor can she ignore the intense physical attraction that exists between them.
And it just so happens that Adam sees Sienna as the kind of woman he could commit to. But can he change his damaging behaviour – or is the road to destruction a one-way street?