Help me welcome Author Sharlene Almond to the site today. Sharlene offers up some advise as well as tips on her writing process.
1. What does the writing process of Sharlene Almond look like?
I first think about where I want Annabella to go next, location is key. Once I have decided on the location, I then research the myths, conspiracies and crimes associated around that area.
Sometimes the historical element may come in first, which means the present-day element revolves around that.
Once the location and historical element are sorted, I focus on the short character synopsis. A few sentences describing the main characters, and some sub-characters help me get a better picture of the characters; then a plot outline.
From there, I use word excel to do the chapter outlines. The chapters will have a sentence or two underneath to describe what each chapter will contain.
Then the writing begins. Before writing and during writing, plenty of research takes places. The more I write, the more ideas come, until I have a novel ready to edit.
Editing and editing, again and again has proven to be crucial. I tend to change a lot throughout each edit I do.
2. Do you have any strange writing habits (like standing on your head or writing in the shower)?
I wouldn’t describe it as strange. But during the day, when I’m out, or especially watching a movie, ideas come to me, in which I have to immediately write down. Even at night, I need to make notations, so I remember it.
One movie I watched, the Equalizer, was great for ideas for the more violent scenes. Everything can be an inspiration.
3. You have a fascinating background, with so many talents. What do you feel inspired you to take up the pen and try your hand (Pretty successfully) at writing fiction?
I have always enjoyed writing, but certain life events allowed me to take the time to finally commit to sit down and write my first novel.
I’ve always enjoyed reading, so finally to have all these ideas and put them on paper, it was just something that was bound to happen eventually.
4. If you could cast your characters in the Hollywood/England/Australian/New Zealand adaptation of your book, who would play your characters?
For Annabella Cordova, Scarlett Johansson.
Andres Valero would be Jim Caviezel
Gary Oldman as Jack The Ripper
5. How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
I always choose my names based on the meaning. I want the name to fit the character. So, depending on location, I google meaning of Spanish names; or in the case of my other books, meanings of Romanian, Egyptian or Greek names. And find the meaning that fits the character.
6. Sharlene, how did it feel to receive that publishing contract?
After all the work, the constant rejections, the endless emails; it felt a little surreal, I had to read the email again to make sure I was seeing it right. It was a great feeling though, that at last a publisher can see something worthwhile to publish in my work.
7. The contract is to re-release your first novel. Is there discussions on future work that you are free to talk about?
I have written three other novels, all of which I hope to have publish; but I would like to go soft-cover, as well as E-book with the next ones.
8. I have always found the juxtaposition of past and future to be a fascinating way to contrive a plot. What inspired you to take that avenue?
When I first started to write, it was going to be a typical thriller novel, with elements of connecting past events, but nothing more than that.
However, when I started to edit the novel, I started to put the dots together. That’s when I realized I wanted to write more about Jack the Ripper. But I wanted to get inside his head, write a psychological profile, enable the reader to see who this person may have been. His life, and why he eventually became Jack the Ripper.
I didn’t just want someone else to talk about it, I wanted to create the scene. When I finished my first novel, that’s when I realized I wanted to do that with every other novel.
I have always been interested in history, so combined with that, it was a winning combination for me. And it shows how history can easily repeat itself, and challenge the reader to analyze history a bit more.
9. Is there some advice that Sharlene Almond would be willing to share with the aspiring writers who will be reading this interview with fascination?
Never give up, do what you love, write about what you love to write about. It’s easy to fit into a mold, and write about what is most popular. But if you don’t enjoy writing about it, what’s the point..?
10. What is your best marketing tip?
Contact as many people as possible through Link In. Either with reviewers, advice for promotions, marketers, publishers etc.
Linked In is probably one of the most influential forms of social media. You never know who you might meet.
11. What is your least favorite part of the publishing / writing process?
Marketing. Writing is easy, but trying to market the book is a very long process that you have to stick to every day. It’s very easy to get lost among all the other books, so an author has to be very persistent.
12. Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it?
Romance. Even though it is a very common and popular genre, most appear unrealistic and a bit too slow for me. I like to read and write things that are going to keep me excited.
Although, children’s books would be pretty hard to write as well.
13. How has living in this new Global world where we can communicate across oceans instantly, changed how you perceive those in other countries? Do you feel this has helped or hindered your growth as a writer and as a citizen of your own country?
It wouldn’t be impossible to market my novel if we didn’t have social media and other channels to promote the book. There is no other way but through the internet.
It’s great to communicate with others cross-culture and country, especially those that are located in the places I write about.
It has definitely helped; whether it be through advice, images etc, it helps to connect with authors and readers globally. It can be a bit difficult to connect with people from other countries, and vice versa without it, especially readers.
It makes me proud to be a New Zealand, as I find many that contact me are curious about what New Zealand is like.
14. Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy?
I actually enjoy all the scenes I write, some may take longer; especially the historical part. I do sometimes find it a challenge to write the historical part though, because it reminds me of how awful our history is. And because so much research goes into writing the historical aspect, I have to decide what to put in there, and what not to put in.
15. Sharlene, we have heard that you have not only a diploma in Freelance Journalism, a Certificate in Editing and Proofreading, a Diploma in Criminology, a Diploma in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, but that you are currently studying NLP; and continuing on to study body language. How have you managed to fit all that into your life and still found time to craft such fascinating works of fiction?
I’m fortunate to have a very supportive mum, that enables me to study and write from home without having to work throughout that time. Studying for me is almost like a hobby; just like writing. So, when I have spare time, sometimes I just sit down and write more.
I also get up early in the morning to get as much done as possible, and because it is at-home study/online, I can work with my schedule, instead of having to fit with someone else’s.
16. Sharlene you have four books finished, can you tell us what are you working on now?
Currently, I want to go over the editing of all my books again, just to make sure I haven’t missed anything.
I have just finished editing my second novel, The Legend Returns; so from there, I will be contacting publishers to consider my book. While I continue to study body language. But I still have a lot more ideas that include Annabella, so watch this space, another Annabella Cordova novel is in the pipeline.
The following is some Crazy Questions That No One Ever Asks Authors, well no one but me anyhow!
What is the very best thing that has happened to you so far in life?
Well, I have to admit, over this past year, a lot of good things have happened. But of course, my biggest accomplishment is getting published, combined with getting great feedback of my novels.
It takes a lot of dedication and time to get the word out there about my book, so when people interview me, review my work etc, it is very rewarding; and worth the time spent on doing the marketing and promoting.
How has all the time you invest in your education, helped or hindered your journey as a fiction writer?
Studying definitely has helped. Although, I only work part-time on writing, and the other on studying, what I am studying has enabled me to really create a realistic view on the body language aspect. I just didn’t research it, but it is fast becoming a specialty. I include things in the books that perhaps a person cannot find on-line, as well as understanding exactly how it works.
Does Sharlene Almond fear anything, and if so what is it?
I fear not taking any opportunity that is presented to me. I guess, I fear regretting, but not regretting the things I’ve done, but regretting things I could have done. The ‘what if’ scenario. At least I’ve had that experience, and learnt from it.
In 200 years I am walking through a cemetery and come upon the tombstone of Sharlene Almond. What do you imagine will I read on the weathered stone?
‘It’s not about the destination, but the journey, and the characters Sharlene met along the way.” Sharlene Almond embraced every opportunity, made the most of life, and allowed the tide to take her further than she ever could have imagined.
If Sharlene Almond had a superpower, (not suggesting that you do not) what would it be?
Definitely to be invisible. What I would learn if I could walk in a room, or be among a group of people, and no one realizing that I’m there.
The Invisble Woman
That, or to fly. So I wouldn’t have to pay for flying…
Where is one place you want to visit that you haven’t been before?
Well, there’s too many to count. But the locations I write about in my novels are up at the top of the places I want to go. So, either Seville, Spain
or the Greek Islands.
If you were an animal, what would you be?
A dog. A dog is loyal, when they learn to trust you, they’ll protect you to the death. And dogs like Jack Russells may occasionally be quite vocal/opinionated.
What is something you want to accomplish before you die?
That would be becoming a well-known author. I always remain realistic about what I want, but to be well-known, for people to meet me and have heard about or read my books would be very rewarding.
Do you dream? Do you have any recurring dreams/nightmares?
I have quite a few, and they tend to all be around violent things happening, I guess it’s on the brain.
What is probably the worse thing that happens, is that occasionally, I wake up and think someone is standing in my room. I literally have to blink and focus to assure myself there’s no one there. But the creepy thing is, when that does happen, it continually occurs throughout the night. In which, I try to go back to sleep, only to be jolted awake because I have the feeling someone is in the room.
It’s not because a nightmare feels real, because I don’t really have a chance to go back to sleep. It’s just a feeling, that causes the heart to race. When that happens, I can’t really sleep after that.
Find out more about Sharlene Almond and her debut novel “Initiated to Kill ” on the following links
Website & Blog
Amazon Author Page
Thank you Sharlene! Great answers to some tough questions.