Interview with Sherrie A. Bakelar

Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in a small town where everyone knew everyone. One elementary school, one main employer, one grocery store, etc. I don't know how much that has influenced my writing but it was a rural setting in the most amazing mountain valley. I spent an unusual amount of time simply listening and watching the world around me: walking in fields, playing in streams, hiking the nearby foothills. I think that unhurried time spent in the natural world helped me realize how important setting was to a story.
When did you first start writing?
I've been writing since I was nine years old. I remember that first story still. It was about a squirrel who lost his acorn right before the winter snow came. It was a class assignment and I remember my teacher hung it on the bulletin board for everyone to read. That was the moment I knew. The thrill of having a story in my head, writing it down and then watching other people read it and experience the same emotions I was feeling when I wrote it - yes! That was what I wanted to do with my life.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a wide variety of works. From graphic novels and manga to non-fiction and political "call to action" type books. When I was younger, I read fantasy exclusively and dabbled in sci-fi. As a teen and into my 20s, I read horror - nearly every Stephen King book I could get my hands on. I am currently reading through various YA series and trying to go back and read the classics I never got around to.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I think it comes down to the decentralization of power that the internet provides. Traditional publishing has an ultimate goal of making a profit. Only books that the Powers that Be think will sell are purchased. This means that good stories are passed over in favor of good-selling stories. But the internet removes that entire centralized power structure and lets anyone write a story and publish it on their own. (This is both good and bad in that there are millions of stories available to read but at the same time, there are readers for every one of those stories.) Through indie publishing and ebooks, I have world-wide distribution from one website without worrying about large boxes being shipped to and from stores, the books themselves are simple to produce being completely digital, and my readers can always find me/follow me without having to worry about midnight release parties in inclement weather. Somehow all of that appeals to the anarchist in me. It's the same side of me that enjoys indie films, and indie bands. Why should someone be denied an opportunity to create and share their visions and dreams just because their audience may be small?
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I stumbled upon this site from Nanowrimo.org and I couldn't believe my luck! I'd been looking into the ebook platforms at various retailers, trying to figure out how I would keep everything straight, IF I could keep everything straight and worrying that if I were lucky, I might be able to do Amazon.com and perhaps one other. Then I found Smashwords and saw that they had a whole list of distribution partners. Not only that, but...in all honesty...they offered free ISBN numbers! It may be sad to say, but that was the clincher for me. After opening my account and reading about the distribution system and the TOS, I decided that this was my home. As an indie author, this was where I belonged. Then I read the style guide and marketing guide and felt empowered.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
As I said, I grew up in a small town, but I always felt like an outsider. Writing gave me a chance to experience new things and meet new people when I was younger and it still does today. Of course, these "new people" are all in my head, but I never know what they're going to get up to until I'm writing the words down on paper. Sometimes, I'll spend an hour writing down a conversation then go back and reread it only to shake my head at the screen and say, "What are you doing now? That's not what we're supposed to be doing (according to the carefully constructed plot outline hanging from the top corner of the hutch)." But the conversation is so good that it becomes the new plot. I think that's the greatest joy for me, meeting all these fascinating characters.
What is your writing process?
For me, writing starts with one of three things: A crazy dream, a line of poetry, or a momentary daydream. Those get written down and thrown into a dark corner until it's time to write something new. Then I haul them all out and look at them and say, "Who is this story about?" For me, the characters come first. Once I find a character and have a grain of sand story idea, I start fleshing out the world that the character inhabits, filling it with bit actors, natural wonders, sights, smells, sounds. Afterward, I take the character, stick it in the world and say, "Ok, now what? Here's the grain of sand story idea from my dream, from this line of poetry, or from my daydream. What are you going to do with it, newly minted character?"

And then I watch - like a movie in my head - as the character goes about the world, working on this grain of sand story idea.
Describe your desk
I actually write in three different places: On my laptop, which is sometimes in my car, sometimes at the park, and sometimes in hotel rooms...but usually in my living room; on my tablet...which goes everywhere with me. If I'm tapping on my tablet though, it's usually just a random line of inspired poetry or a plot point I don't want to forget before I get back to the main computer; and on my desktop. The desk itself is 1/4 plant stand, 1/4 computer stand, 1/4 paper and book storage area, and all cat territory. It is an old wooden desk with a hutch and entertainment center feel to it. I think it was originally designed for the old computers with the massive CRT screens that were heavier than a television set and the big bulky tower computers. Taped all along the hutch/entertainment center frame are writer's notes, fortune cookie fortunes, and sketches of characters, fantasy world maps, real world time zone conversion charts, and inspirational quotes. ...and the cats. They are good helpers....
Who are your favorite authors?
That's a tough one. I can start with the ones I read the most as a child: Jane Yolen, Piers Anthony, Anne McCaffrey, Edgar Rice Burroughs, and Robert Aspirin. Throw in those I read and re-read: Stephen King, Robert Jordan, Laurell K Hamilton, C. S Friedman and Terry Pratchett. And round it off with those I enjoy but maybe don't read often enough: Isaac Asimov and Agatha Christie.
But that's just a start.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a soft spot for my kindle. It's the second generation one. It was a gift for completing my Master's degree and was purchased as part of an attempt to not buy real books any more (My personal library is to the point it requires professional movers and an intervention.). The attempt failed but I still have the kindle.
What are you working on next?
Now that I've finished my second book, I will be returning to the story I started in my first novel. The story will continue to follow D'Mique and Trillip as they investigate a murder and rescue a kidnapped child.
Published 2016-12-27.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Great Danes Don't Hunt Werewolves
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 50,840. Language: English. Published: January 1, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Romance, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Life is confusing enough when you're a teen in a new town and a new school. A person can find themselves lost and alone, navigating an alien world full of unusual customs and strange rituals, even when they're human. Being a werewolf? That makes everything so much harder. Now, finding yourself in love with a human? Well, that just takes the cake!
Lady Warrior, Mage of Man
Price: $1.99 USD. Words: 118,170. Language: English. Published: December 20, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Epic
D'Mique's dreams were bigger than the walled village where she grew up. Following them meant leaving her village behind and joining the military, hoping to one day lead an army. However, her first assignment was to a diplomatic post where a rowdy tea party was the most she could hope for. But she and her fellow tea partiers soon learn that a gifted seer has named them most likely to save the world