I remember first hearing about Cheryl St. John from Kristie of Ramblings on Romance, who has mentioned a number of times that Cheryl is one of her favorite authors and she writes western historicals (win!) I knew I had to add her name to my to buy list.
I started by reading the highly recommended Joe's Wife. And yes, it was all that Kristie said it would be. Loved that book! (You can read my review here.) The thing about Cheryl's writing is that it's real. Real people and situations that the reader can relate to even when those people lived in another time and place.
Some information about Cheryl from her website ~
Cheryl St.John is the author of over thirty Harlequin and Silhouette books. Her first book, RAIN SHADOW was nominated for RWA’s RITA for Best First Book, by Romantic Times for Best Western Historical, and by Affaire de Coeur readers as Best American Historical Romance. Since then she's received several RITA nominations and three Romantic Times Achievement Awards. In describing her stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real life situations."
As well as being an avid collector and a gardener, Cheryl is an amateur photographer. Visit her blog to see photographs of her garden, her family, and learn about the things that make her laugh--and there are a lot of them.
Cheryl is admittedly blog crazy. She has a personal blog, From the Heart, a recipe blog, and a blog that follows a home remodel. She guest blogs whenever and wherever she's asked, and blogs twice a month at Petticoats and Pistols.
Cheryl has led writing classes on a local and national level, and she teaches monthly online workshops for writers. Her motivational gifts of exhortation and encouragement make her a sought-after speaker. She's the worship leader at the fastest growing Word of Faith church in her city, serves on her church's advisory board, and is active in Heartland Writers Group, her local RWA chapter.
Does she sleep? Not much.
Cheryl was nice enough to indulge my inquisitive nature and answer some deep and meaningful questions. Okay, the questions may not be too deep but Cheryl's answers are insightful and interesting. She has great taste in authors (Maggie Osborne and Pam Morsi, two of my favs). She likes the angsty dark brooding hero (don't we all) and gave us a peek at what she's currently working on.
Leslie ~ Is there any one particular book you are most proud of? Why?
Cheryl ~ That is such a difficult question to answer. It's like thinking about which of your children you are most proud of. They're all special in a different way. There are books I am LESS proud of than others, but I won't say which ones or why. When I think back, there are books that stand out in my mind as projects I particularly loved and still do: Land of Dreams, Saint or Sinner, The Doctor's Wife, Joe's Wife, Prairie Wife, Marvel's story in A Western Winter Wonderland, Her Montana Man and my upcoming Her Colorado Man.
L ~ What do you enjoy reading? Romances, non-fiction, mysteries. Who are some of your favorite authors?
C ~ I saw you reviewed The Promise of Jenny Jones recently. I love Maggie Osborne. I fell in love with romance by reading LaVyrle Spencer, Candace Camp/Lisa Gregory, Francine Rivers, Jill Marie Landis, Pam Morsi and others. I still love the Americanas and western the best. I also enjoy contemporary romance and an occasional Stephen King or Dean Koontz.
L ~ When you start writing a book, what do you start with - the main characters and build the plot around them or do you start with the plot and build the characters around it?
C ~ A combination probably. Usually some glimmer of an incident or situation that grabs me. Ideas strike writers at odd moments, usually when we're not trying too hard. When the left-brain backs off and allows the right brain freedom, ideas flow. This happens in the early morning, in the last hour before falling asleep, in the shower, driving, and while baking. Relaxing my left-brain is my reason for shopping and making brownies. That's my story and I'm stickin' to it. I start with a situation and a character and then flesh out the character, add more people and create a believable lot from there. Sometimes it takes me as long as a year or two to actually get all the pieces to come together. Such was the case with Her Colorado Man. I had this idea that a man would get letters from a child and then--to the mother's dismay--pretend to be the child's father. How in the world I would make that believable was the problem, so that binder kept going back on the shelf. Occasionally I'd pull it out and drive my critique partners crazy trying to brainstorm it. And then finally, when I wasn't trying too hard, the answers came to me.
L ~ Do you have a favorite type of hero you prefer writing?
C ~ A couple of types. I love the wounded, angsty dark brooding hero, but I adore the guy next door equally well. I don't mind a guy with a secret, but most often it's my heroines who hide things. And how.
L~ On your website you mention that you enjoy photography, gardening and collecting. Do you incorporate these joys into your writing?
C ~ Laughing here, because I'm doing that right now. In my current story, my heroine is a fish out of water, trying to make a home for her governor candidate husband and impress the locals, while she knows nothing of normal families. The ladies put a bug in her ear that she needs to do crafts and decorate her home, so she's ordering and decorating, and I'm having a heyday with the research. I love Victorian collections. An excess of possessions were so much a part their society that they defined people's and morals and culture. And thank you for visiting my website! It's still shiny new and I'm super proud of it.
L ~ Do you have a favorite place where you like to write? Or do you write wherever you happened to be when the mood hits you?
C ~ I work at my desk. It's a method that works for me. When I sit and put my fingers on the keyboard, words come. Occasionally when I only want to see a few lines and not edit, I sit on a sofa and use my Alphasmart, but I'm basically an office writer.
L ~ What book are you currently working on?
C ~ My working title is Wyoming Wildfire. I brought my heroine from a bordello in Dodge City and married her to a man running for governor of the Wyoming Territory. And whoops--he doesn't know about her past. What fun this is going to be!
L ~ You're well known for your historical westerns, is there another genre that you would like to write?
C ~ I like to write contemporaries as well. It's a change my brain needs from time to time. I can only choreograph story people on ranches and horses for so long before I want them to drive a Mustang and drink a Coke, you know?
Cheryl has a wonderful backlist of treasures to search out at your UBS. If you don't have a UBS handy you're in luck. Wendy aka Super Librarian, recently shared some exciting news about some of Cheryl's hard to find books. The people at eHarlequin were smart enough to ask Wendy for some recommendations for ebook bundles, see Wendy's posts here and here. Two of the bundles selected will feature Cheryl's books. The first bundle, The Harvey Girls, to be released in January will include Cheryl's books; The Lawman's Bride, The Preacher's Daughter and The Doctor's Wife. The second bundle, Love American Style, to be released in February, will include Cheryl's book Prairie Wife along with books from Judith Stacy and Cheryl Reavis. Check back at either Cheryl's website or eHarlequin for ordering information as the release dates near.
Cheryl's newest release (December 2009) is Her Colorado Man.
When eighteen-year-old Mariah found herself pregnant and unmarried in her small Colorado town, she disappeared. One year later, she returned with a baby—though minus the "husband" who had conveniently ventured off to Alaska's gold fields to seek his fortune….
But now, with handsome adventurer Wes Burrows turning up and claiming to be the husband she had invented, Mariah's lies become flesh and blood—and her wildest dreams a reality!
I haven't read it yet but Kristie did and you can read her review here. She gave it a 4.5 out of 5!
Also available are three reissues from Cheryl's Montana Mavericks series.
The Magnificent Seven (September 2009)
The Gunslinger's Bride (October 2009)
Marry Me...Again (December 2009)
Cheryl, I just want to thank you for taking the time to answer my questions and visit here at Leslie's Psyche!
And now for the giveaway ~ Cheryl has been generous to offer two books from her backlist, as long as she has copies. You can go here to view Cheryl's backlist. Since Cheryl will be sending these out and postage has gotten so expensive, this is open to US residents.
In addition to Cheryl's two books, I'm giving away one copy of Cheryl's new release - Her Colorado Man. This is open to any one that Book Depository ships to.
So that's three winners! Leave a comment on this post by midnight Sunday, December 6 to be entered in the giveaway.