Welcome New York Times Cheryl Holt to our “10 Questions With…” today! We’re so excited to have you with us.
When creating the perfect hero and heroine, do you rely solely on your imagination or do you draw inspiration from other sources (family and friends, actors/actresses etc.) or a combination of both?
I rely on my own imagination. It’s very difficult to come up with two great characters to lead the story. I’m currently writing my 37th novel, and the character development never gets easier. If anything, it’s harder now that I’m more experienced. I see the issues more clearly, and I’m much more attuned to what my audience might like or dislike. When I’m first developing a new plot, I’m consumed by choices, and I have to force myself to make decisions and move forward. Otherwise, I’d spend forever wondering if I’m doing the right thing.
Which character from your own work would you most like to meet in the real world and why?
I would probably pick Charles Sinclair, Lord Trent, who was the main character in my bestselling and wildly popular “Lord Trent” trilogy that I released in summer, 2013. In the three novels, Charles is around fifty years old, but he’s had a long life as England’s most notorious roué. So he has illegitimate children scattered everywhere. The books tell the stories of some of those children. Charles is a detached, aloof, and enigmatic person, who fascinated my readers and myself.
Which character from another authors work would you also like to meet?
If you had to choose between writing a story that would leave your readers LAUGHING out Loud, CRYING from all the intense emotions or with a pressing need for a COLD SHOWER, which response would you prefer?
I pick crying from emotion. People always tell me that my books are funny, but I don’t ever notice that when I’m writing them. I am capable of writing scenes of devastating emotion, especially when I arrive at the “black moment” in my books and my hero and heroine separate. I love to have readers weeping.
Living and breathing a cast of characters for months/years while writing a story must make it hard to set that character aside when the story is finished. Which character did you most have the trouble with saying “Goodbye” to?
John Sinclair, aka Jean Pierre, “The French Terror”, the dangerous pirate who is the hero in my novel LOVE’S PERIL. He is macho, yummy, sexy, and was so fun to write. I wish I could write a hero that terrific every time I start a book.
A lot of authors are now using social media websites like FACEBOOK and TWITTER to connect with their fans and promote their new and upcoming work. How much of a difference do you believe that these interactions help in engaging new readers/fans to your work?
I haven’t found that either FB or Twitter has helped me much. But my experience with the two sites isn’t exactly typical. I had quit writing for a time in 2010 and 2011 after the economy crashed, and I shut off my web page during that period. Those were the years when the two social sites were really exploding in popularity. When I started writing again in 2012, and I had the two sites added into my arsenal of promotional tools, I was probably the last person on the planet who joined FB or Twitter. So fans hadn’t really noticed that I was using either one. As I mentioned, my situation isn’t typical.
Now that self-publishing is growing in popularity and even established “Print” authors are choosing to release some of their work outside the traditional norm of a publishing house, do you believe that the added level of control given to the author will ultimately see a rise in the quality of the works available or just the quantity?
I would say just the quantity. I get so many email solicitations now from companies that say, “You can be a published author!” And they offer to help a person get a book posted on Amazon. There’s a lot of insinuation that people can get rich by doing it. Which is just ridiculously wrong. I think what we’re seeing is an enormous hoard of people posting books who shouldn’t be. The novel is a very difficult, very complex art form, and it takes a long time, and years of practice to get good at it. There’s a misconception that “anyone” can write a novel. And too many people are.
Speaking of control…when it comes to the cover art, when a character or couple are portrayed it’s not uncommon for them to be shown as a perfect model of themselves without any of the descriptive flaws found inside the pages of the story. Do you think that readers prefer the more romanticized version or would they rather see a truer version of the characters being portrayed? AND, which would you prefer?
I write historical romances, and in a way, they’re fantasies. I give my female audience a hero and heroine who are larger than life, who exhibit all the remarkable traits that we wish we could find in people but so rarely do. I think the models on the cover should reflect the beauty of the people in the story. Readers want it, too. The big NY publishers have done tons of research, and romance fans want beautiful people with stellar personal traits.
The NEWS is always doing stories on pirate and file sharing websites that illegally make copies of music, movies and television freely available online, but they rarely if ever include mention of eBooks in these reports. What are your thoughts on the lack of attention being given to this issue?
I have read few stories about e-book piracy, but I think it’s a bigger issue than authors realize. I actually heard from a piracy-fighting company in England a few weeks ago. An author could hire them to search for pirated books out on the web. They charged a small fee, and would constantly look for your books at pirate sites. I thought it was a great idea. I once met a book buyer from Thailand who told me that I was an extremely popular author in the country. But I’ve never had a book translated into the Thai language. My renown there was all from pirated books. I expect that with e-books, this situation will only get worse and worse.
Would you care to share something about your latest release or a story that you are working on now?
My new release is book #36 for me. It’s titled, THE WEDDING, and it’s my first work of commercial women’s fiction. Typically, I write historical romances, and that’s where I’ve made a name for myself. But I’m self-publishing now, and one of the great benefits to me is that I can write and release any kind of book I want. I’m not bound by a publisher’s requirements or schedule.
I always wanted to do a general women’s fiction novel, so I tried it with THE WEDDING. It’s about a rich family, hosting a quickie wedding for their daughter who wants to get married in a hurry. Of course, everything that can go wrong does go wrong. It’s different from anything I’ve written before, and was a fun break from my romance writing.
I’m back to romances now, and writing Book #1 of a new historical romance trilogy. I haven’t made any announcements yet as to titles or theme, and my cover artist just started working on the cover art. So it’s all hush-hush for now, with big news coming about it after the first of the year.
She’s also a lawyer and mom, and at age 40, with two babies at home, she started a new career as a commercial fiction writer. She’d hoped to be a suspense novelist, but couldn’t sell any of her manuscripts, so she ended up taking a detour into romance, where she was stunned to discover that she has an incredible knack for writing some of the world’s greatest love stories.
Her books have been released to wide acclaim, and she has won or been nominated for many national awards. She is particularly proud to have been named “Best Storyteller of the Year,” by the trade magazine, Romantic Times BOOK Reviews.