I’m thrilled to welcome Sherry Jones, author, of the recently released FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS to Between the Sheets. *waves* Hi, Sherry. I had the good fortune of meeting her last summer at HNS. She was gracious and as passionate as the characters in her books. Leave a comment and one lucky reader will be drawn to receive their own copy of FOUR SISTERS!
When Beatrice of Savoy, countess of Provence, sends her four beautiful, accomplished daughters to become queens, she admonishes them: Family comes first. As a result, the daughters—Marguerite, queen of France; Eleanor, queen of England; Sanchia, queen of Germany; and Beatrice, queen of Sicily—work not only to expand their husbands’ empires and broker peace between nations, but also to bring the House of Savoy to greater power and influence than before. Their father’s death, however, tears the sisters apart, pitting them against one another for the legacy each believes rightfully hers—Provence itself.
WHAT DRAWS YOU TO WRITE ABOUT CERTAIN CHARACTERS?
I write about women I would want to befriend — or, in the case of the bitch-queen Blanche de Castille in WHITE HEART, women I admire. Unfortunately so far, they’re all dead, so I can only imagine them instead of really getting to meet them. On the other hand, maybe that’s a good thing. In my books, we only see them during their truly interesting moments, instead of, say, when they’re feeling whiny or dull or are on a talking jag.
WHEN YOU’RE IN THE FINAL HOURS OF REVISIONS, DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE VICE THAT HELPS YOU MAKE IT TO THE FINISH LINE?
Revision is so enjoyable, it is its own drug for me. It’s writing that first draft that bogs me down. In my “stuck” moments, I have a smoke and pour myself a drink — red wine, usually, or an IPA — and my imagination kicks in. It’s bad for my health, I know, but great for my creativity.
IF YOU COULD BE ONE OF YOUR CHARACTERS, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE AND WHY?
I’d be Eléonore, the Queen of England in FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS. She had it all: beauty, a great wardrobe, a husband who loved her, a close family, and the Crown of England. None of her sisters had such an easy time — not Marguerite, who had to contend with that wicked Blanche; not Blanche, who gave up love (and sex) in exchange for power; not Sanchia, married against her will to a philanderer when she only wanted Jesus and the convent; not Beatrice, who seemed to have everything except the love of her sisters. And A’isha from THE JEWEL OF MEDINA and THE SWORD OF MEDINA was married to the Prophet of God, supposedly a very sexy man who loved her very much, but she had to share him with eleven other wives. No, thanks!
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR ASPIRING WRITERS?
Don’t read trashy writing. Remember: “Garbage in, garbage out.” Also, don’t self-publish unless it really is a choice. If you’re doing it because you’re getting rejections from agents and editors, then your work probably isn’t ready for publication yet. Either that, or you’re not doing it right. Querying one agent at a time is about as efficient as mowing the lawn with fingernail clippers.
“Jean de Florette.” Also the films of Luis Bunuel. But really, who has time to watch movies? Why aren’t you researching your next book right now?
YOGA OR RUNNING?
Running very, very slowly. I walk for at least half an hour every day, getting the kinks out of my legs, back, and imagination. And walking doesn’t make me sweat, anathema to a Southern belle.
CURRY OR ENCHILADAS?
I make a damn good curry, with goat and home-made green curry. I also make incredible enchiladas, with goat and handmade corn tortillas. But if I’m going out to eat, I’ll choose Indian or Thai over “authentic” Mexican any time — unless I’m in Santa Fe, when I go to the Coyote Cafe.
DO YOU SPEAK ANY LANGUAGE OTHER THAN ENGLISH?
I dabble in Spanish, French, and Arabic, but nobody ever understands a word I say. I speak Southerner, too, but they tell me I still sound like a Yankee.
DO YOU HAVE A CRAFT BOOK YOU WOULD RECOMMEND TO YOUR FELLOW WRITERS?
John Gardner’s “The Art of Fiction” told me that if I write a book that’s good, someone will publish it. A light went on in my head when I read those words — so I highly recommend it for inspiration. Donald Maass’s “The Breakout Novel” is the best writing book I own, however. So many good techniques of plotting, structure, characterization — techniques forgotten since the last novel — await on those pages. And then, to get the creative juices flowing, the books of Natalie Goldberg can’t be beat. It’s because of her that I laugh when my “monkey mind” tells me I suck. I remind myself that Ernest Hemingway said the first draft is always shit (thank you, Anne Lamott, for telling me that in “Bird by Bird”) and I write that money right off my back.
Sherry is the international bestselling author of THE JEWEL OF MEDINA & THE SWORD OF MEDINA, as well as the sparkling novella WHITE HEART. In addition to writing, she’s a gourmet cook, mother of a terrific daughter, and a student of languages. She loves taking long walks, floating rivers, giving speeches, growing gardens, and dancing. Sherry believes in human rights, peaceful solutions to conflict, protection of the environment, freedom of speech, and a spirituality whose only tenet is that God is love. And, after all the turmoil surrounding “The Jewel of Medina” in 2008, she’s an impassioned believer in the power of the written word. She hopes to use this power, as the old saying goes, for good and not evil – to empower women and girls to aim for their highest potential, and to inspire men to break down patriarchal barriers to equality for all.