Monday, April 23, 2007


Author’s website address:

Books in Print: PARK RIDGE: A Senior Center Murder

Books in Process: Senior Games

Welcome, Cheryl,

1. When and why did you begin writing? All writers say that they’ve been writing forever, which is probably true. I began writing seriously at graduate school working on my master’s in writing from DePaul University.

2. What inspired you to write your first book? PARK RIDGE started as a class assignment at the Park Ridge Senior Center where I’m the writing instructor. Several of the stories were so good (and so much fun!) that the director decided we should have a center-wide mystery writing contest. Eventually the top three winners were adapted as plays to be performed at the center. I wondered what my story might turn into if I took off the word limit – after all, it had five murders in 969 words!

3. How did you approach writing your first book? I started with the four elderly pinochle players who turn into killers. First, I created distinct personas for each, patterns of speech that matched those personas, and wrote their backstories. Second, I layered in the romance between the suburban cowboy detective and the voluptuous senior center director. Having never written mystery nor romance before, in fact, I hadn’t written any fiction beyond one short story, believe me, it was a real challenge! Lastly, I crafted the videotaped interviews to reveal backstory and wrote special first-person, present tense sections for the thoughts of the killers during the actual murders.

4. Who or what influenced your writing? I really enjoy the psychological explorations and discoveries that Ruth Rendell (writing as Barbara Vine) employs in her writing. Patricia Cornwell does a lot of that as well, although it’s not the focus of her books.

5. Why do you continue to write? I enjoy it and to tell the truth, I’m curious about what’s going to happen to the characters. I’ve just finished the second in the series and am hard at work on the third. I’m not sure that there will be a fourth. But if there isn’t, I’ve already started a sci-fi sort of book, have an almost book-length allegory that I want to get back to. Then, when I’m done with fiction and can take a breath, I’ll get back to the biography Iof Theodora Van Wagenen Ward that I started two years ago.

6. What do you hope to accomplish through your writing? Spending time with my characters, asking them why they did this, or why they feel that way, or why they reacted a certain way, forces me to look at my own motivations and responses. Hopefully the results work their way into my books and influence my readers to consider themselves.

7. What has been your experience as a published writer? Elation, depression, frustration, pride.

8. How do you promote your book(s)? Tirelessly. I’m always searching for places to post my book information, to network with other writers. I have a
blog (Senior Center Murders), a website. I’m doing a virtual tour.

9. What advice would you like to share with other writers? Don’t be afraid to use those Freudian slips to your advantage. For instance, in GS, Obs. I was typing along and described the hands of one of my characters as having long dark fingers. I had never considered making him African –American. But I left the "dark" in there and the change really brought something to the story that I had never envisioned.

10. Any other comments you would like to add? Ah, of course!
Buy my book, please.

Thank you Cheryl for your time and good luck with your writing.

Interviewer: Kaye Trout 4/23/2007