Interview with Cheri Gillard

What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
When I can't sleep (which is way too often) I work out problems or scenes or dialogue in my head. I've got to get to my computer before it all vanishes like a dream. I keep a notepad and pen by my bedside, but because I can't always read in the light of day what I've scratched in the dark, it's best to just get up and get to my computer. And it's fun. So I enjoy getting my hands on the keys so I can start creating.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When am I not writing?
No, really, I guess there is a little bit of time here or there. I love reading, so I often have two or three books going at once—at least one non-fiction and one fiction. When I'm too tired to create my own stories, I curl up on the couch and let someone else do the writing. I love playing violin with my band. I hate cooking and I hate cleaning, so fortunately those don't get in my way too often.
Who are your favorite authors?
I love Sharon Kay Penman. Her historical precision is a delight to read. I also love books by Connie Willis. Her "Doomsday Book" is one of my all-time favorite reads. I've read it many times, including to my family when my kids were younger as an after-dinner family time story. Laura Hillenbrand is an amazing writer, and her personal story is an inspiration to me. I've had chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia for fifteen years, and to read what she has accomplished in the midst of her severe illness has helped me keep pushing through when I wasn't sure that I could.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I have a list of my favorite books on my website, cherigillard.com. But I'll mention a few titles here. ''Katherine" by Anya Seton is one of my all-time favorites—because it's a great story and it's in a time and setting that fascinates me. "Time Traveler's Wife" by Audrey Niffenegger grabbed me immediately; one, because it's time travel and done in a refreshing, unique way; two, because it was her debut novel and so well done; and three, because it's in Chicago, where I lived for five years, and she does a fantastic job of describing the town. My husband and I visited Chicago, where we met and married, for our 25th and 26th wedding anniversaries. We went to Newberry Library and a VERY nice librarian gave us a private tour of "the cage" in the staff stairwell on which Niffenegger based the infamous bane of the character Henry DeTamble. Thrilling! Connie Willis is a delight to read and to hear in person. She's in Greeley, where I grew up, and in the state where I now live, so I feel privileged to be so close. Her description in "Doomsday Book" takes you there with Kivrin. You FEEL the Middle Ages. You start to worry you might have boils starting under your arms.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I was barely a reader until after college. I really couldn't read with any significant comprehension. I could pronounce words enough to string a bunch of them together, but I didn't know what they meant. Those Scholastic book clubs fascinated me in grade school, and once in a while I actually got to order one. I loved the smell and feel of the new books. When I was ten in fifth grade, I ordered "The Incredible Shrinking House," I think it was called. (I've looked for it since but haven't found it.) Somehow, with sheer determination, I worked my way though it and got the gist of it. It triggered something in me regarding fantasy/paranormal books, and I've loved that genre since. When I look at all the fiction I've written, I find I include something supernatural or paranormal in everything I write, even if it's straight historical fiction. There's always something amazing in even real-life stories that is unexplainable and amazing.
When did you first start writing?
My first paid writing gig just kind of fell at my feet unexpectedly. I was working nights in a rural Minnesota hospital. On nights when I didn't have any women in active labor or delivering a baby, I could catch up on other work, which sometimes included reading professional literature. I came across a call for articles in a Proctor and Gamble magazine. I wrote a piece using the expertise I'd gained working in the NICU at Children's Memorial Hospital in Chicago and submitted it. I totally forgot about it. A year or so later, a check came in the mail. I had no idea who it came from, so I called the distributor to see if there was some mistake. I learned it was from Proctor and Gamble. They'd published my piece. So of course, that fed into my delusion that writing would be easy!
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up mostly in Colorado, with a few formative years (late elementary and junior high) in Oklahoma. After college I went to Washington D.C. and Chicago and rural Minnesota. Every single place informs my writing when I create stories or scenes. I like to stay mostly with what I know. It's safer. And easier. But sometimes, my writing leads me to places out of my reach. I'm working on a historical story that is based on a woman who experienced the 1862 Dakota conflict in Minnesota. I've visited many of the places from her life and interviewed descendants, but she originally came from Pennsylvania, which I haven't been able to visit (yet!). In the meantime, thank goodness for Google Earth and wonderful staff at historical societies!
Describe your desk
Oh my. It's a mess. I have piles of projects all over it. Who has time to clean? If I sit down there, I'm on a mission. And it's not cleaning. I love it clean, but then I can't find anything. I know where to find everything in all my piles. Mostly. Usually.
Maybe next month I'll take out an afternoon and work on it...
How do you approach cover design?
I'm an artist myself (primarily watercolor, but I've tried acrylics lately with fun results), so I have definite ideas of what I want my covers to look like. But I don't have the graphic art background to create the end result that satisfies me. So when I found my graphic designer—Shelley Schadowsky—who would work with me and take my ideas and turn them into a reality, I knew she was a good fit to do my art work.
What's the story behind your latest book?
I read a Bible passage in Genesis and couldn't believe it. They'd never mentioned it in Sunday school when I was a kid! Sons of God having kids with Daughters of Man. What? Immediately I thought this is a perfect protagonist. I did more research and found a lot of ideas of what the passage might mean, and even stories that fleshed it out a little. So I took off with it. I really enjoyed "Harry Potter" and the paranormal aspect, and the bigger-than-life battles. This protagonist gave me the chance to develop some similar themes, but in a different worldview. I used a biblical worldview—monotheistic with angels and demons, good versus evil, judgement versus grace—because it's so available and a lot of people are familiar with it in one form or another. Whether readers believe and follow it, or just know a bit about it, the world Horatius lives in, with it's rules and constraints, should be easy to relate to and enjoy.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
When I decided to Indie publish, I realized I needed to figure out what an ebook was. I'd never even seen an ebook device up close, let alone read an ebook. I don't have a Smartphone, so that touch screen technology wasn't in my skill set. (Isn't that a nice way to say I was a touch screen idiot?) So I went on a quest. I started researching and asking around. I went with a Kindle Fire. I'm loving it! And so is my daughter, so there might be another one in my future soon.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
In my bio at cherigillard.com you can read the several near hits I had. Mostly, after years and years of failed attempts to get past the locked gates of legacy publishing—even with all my publishing credits and writing experience and having agents and connections—I looked into Indie publishing and realized it's changing dramatically. I heard Mark Coker at a writers' conference, and he went "head to head" with a major legacy agent who is adamantly opposed to Indie publishing as a legitimate option, and that was the start of letting my perceptions change. With research, I learned about the benefits of keeping creative control and determining my own price. I won't have to go through the excruciating process of finding a house for every single title I've written. I can release on my own terms. It's a HUGE amount of work, but in the end, I believe it's worth it.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords is amazing. The process is clear and simple (that doesn't mean EASY—nothing about publishing is EASY) to follow. If only the Affordable Care Act website could be so straightforward to use and dependable! I love it. The staff has answered my questions quickly and thoroughly, too. I'd say watch the tutorials first and you'll be on your way.
What are you working on next?
I'm working on Book II (yet to be named) of "Chloe's Guardian," plus I have the Minnesota historical fiction in the works I mentioned before, and three other complete novels to be published in the near future. I need one of those days where the sun holds still and gives me some extra hours, or a time machine so I can grab an extra, uncounted day here and there.
Published 2014-07-14.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Babies by the Litter
Price: $8.99 USD. Words: 73,410. Language: English. Published: September 25, 2018. Categories: Nonfiction » Biography » Personal memoir, Nonfiction » Parenting » Twins, Triplets, & More
The must-read memoir about going from nothing to everything in less than sixty second—one woman’s journey from infertility to having babies by the litter. Enjoy the laughter, endure the loss, and feel the love in this remarkable story of endurance and unquestionable blessing. Once you start, you won’t want to put it down, except maybe to find a baby—or any loved one—to embrace.
The Raid of Balvenie and the Maiden Who Survived
Price: Free! Words: 21,260. Language: English. Published: February 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal, Fiction » Historical » Medieval
A young lass unwittingly helps a vengeful demon while simply trying to reclaim the shreds of her lost life. In this prequel to “Chloe’s Guardian,” discover the untold story of how Horatius came to be in the unscrupulous hands of the murderous Angus MacKay, and what the Maiden of Balvenie did to drive him there. The mysterious machinations in play that fateful night are finally revealed!
The Nephilim Redemption Series
Price: $10.78 USD. Words: 359,550. Language: English. Published: November 28, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Paranormal, Fiction » Adventure » Action
Chloe and her drunk half-angel guardian, Horace, want nothing to do with each other, but the only way to survive when the demons attack is to work together. Chloe is swept into Horace's supernatural world of heavenly flight and time travel, magic and mystery, when all she wants is to get home and be normal. But once Horace invades her world, Chloe's life is anything but normal!