Sherri A. Wingler lives and works in Indiana with her husband and an array of pets (from her website: “many rescued kitty cats, two geriatric dogs, and a co-dependent Shih-Tzu named Spanky!”) She is the author of the amazing Immortal Sorrows series (check out my review for Wings of Darkness here, and stay tuned for my review of Wings of Shadow next week!)
Do you remember when you first discovered your love for writing? What inspires you to write?
Oddly enough, I didn’t discover a love of reading till I was about 8 years old. Once I did, though, I drank the Kool-Aid! By 11 or 12 I was convinced writing was the thing I had to do. I think most writers know by the time they’re teenagers. I spent several years teaching myself the mechanics of writing before I attempted it. Way back in the day there was no internet so I had to look everything up at the library. I taught myself to type over summer vacation one year. I got a subscription to “Writer’s Digest” magazine when I was 13 and it was my prized possession.
My first book was written at 19, and it’s still in the drawer somewhere. I’m not gonna lie… it was bad, but the first book usually is. It’s a learning process, and one I’m glad I went through. Life has a tendency to get in the way, and I’m really fond of electricity and running water, so I gave up that dream for a long time and got a real job.
There was about a 20-year gap before I tried to write another book, but when I turned 40 I decided it was time to put up or shut up. So I wrote “Wings of Darkness.” It was my midlife crisis, I think! As it turns out, I can work in the real world and write books! It just takes a bit longer to get a book finished that way.
When you start writing a book, how do you first broach it? Do you start with a character or a plot outline? Are you a planner or do you just start writing and see where it takes you?
I do a bit of both. I like to plot, but then once I start writing I seldom hang onto the original outline. The story tends to take over and I end up with some unexpected twists I have to figure out how to deal with. I can’t seem to write a story in a straight line, either. I get the beginning, then jump to the end, then figure out how I got there and piece it all together. It’s not a great process and I do about 15 runs through the manuscript before I get it finished. I’m horrible about editing as I go. I know it takes way longer to write like that, but I can’t seem to help myself.
I like to start with the characters first and build the story around them. “Wings of Darkness” started out with the character of Izzy. I wanted her to be flawed. Naturally, as it’s YA, she had to be a teen. I didn’t want to make things too easy for her because that’s boring. ThenI needed the hero to be supernatural, of course. The vampire market is absolutely flooded so I decided against that route. Werewolves and shifters are pretty full too, but then angels are just starting to gain traction. I didn’t want a character to be too good, either. The angel of Death isn’t a character you see often. So Asher was born.
The other characters came along as needed. The only one which surprised me was Grim. He just showed up in the story one day. I didn’t know which side he was on until the very end and I think that’s why he worked so well as a secondary character. That uncertainty keeps the reader guessing. It certainly kept me guessing!
Lots of YA fantasy has a teenage girl fall in love with an immortal being who is centuries or even millennia older than her. Asher and Isabel are no exception. It’s always made me wonder about the age gap between the two. How do you broach that issue?
You mentioned in your review that there are a lot of clichés in my book, and you’re correct. The reason for that being I really wanted it to sell. There really is nothing new under the sun. All the stories have been told, but it’s the way someone tells a story that makes it unique. There is a huge demand for young adult/paranormal books because people enjoy reading them. With any genre, there are certain patterns one must hold to for it to be considered part of the whole.
First, I think you need to look at what about that type of story appeals so much. In general, I think immortality holds a certain fascination. The immortal guys in these stories aren’t showing their ages. Obviously, no teenager is going to fall in love with some guy who is 300 years old if he looks like he’s dry rotted. With the immortal being you get all the beauty of youth, plus all the experience only time will give you. They know how to woo a girl.
We read this type of book to escape reality. Reality is a young guy who makes rude bodily noises, probably plays video games while he’s ignoring you, and may or may not remember your birthday. With my characters, in particular, there’s more of a meeting of the minds between Asher and Izzy. She isn’t the typical teenager. She’s an old soul, and more adult than most of the adults around her, so it’s not surprising that she should be less attracted to the boys her own age.
As I mentioned in my review, Wings of Darkness has a lot of philosophical tidbits. You look into the myths and explore the supernatural. Was this intentional or a by-product of writing a great story? Do you think that sort of depth is required to turn a good story into a great and memorable book?
Well, as I mentioned earlier, it’s the way a story is told that makes it enjoyable. The devil is in the details. I like to get some knowledge from the books I read, even when I’m just reading for fun. I think it makes for a richer experience, so I try to incorporate that in the books I write. The details make or break a story.
Here’s a fun tidbit for you: almost all the names for the Reaper angels are actually names for the angel of Death (in different cultures). Suriel, Mairya, Samael. Asher was a play on Azrael. Little things like that make a difference.
If you had all the powers of Fate, what would you do? Do you think we can control our own fate?
Those are both tricky questions. Do I think we have control of our Fate? Yes. To a certain degree. The choices we make certainly have repercussions, but you can only control so much. I do think people who are considered lucky tend to make their own luck just by showing up and working hard for the things they want.
On the other hand, circumstances have a way of conspiring for or against us. Someone can’t help the conditions they’re born in, for instance. Accidents happen and in a split second your whole life is rearranged.
To answer your first question, I wouldn’t want the power of Fate because I’m pretty sure I’d abuse it. How’s that for an honest answer? In the very least, I’d have a really good time messing with people who deserved it. I’m usually really easy to get along with, but there are certain types of people, abusers of animals, for instance. I could do some really bad things to those people and enjoy myself completely.
Who is your favourite character from the Immortal Sorrows series?
Can I say all of them to one degree or another? Izzy has a lot of my best friend in her, so I adore her. Grim and Gwen have a lot of me in them, so they’re fun for me to write. (There’s not a lot of filter with those two.) Asher is perfect…
Alright, if I have to pick one out of all of them, then it’s Fate. She’s crazy as hell and I love her for it. I really think most women can relate to her. Who hasn’t been crossed in love? Hasn’t just about everyone had that fantasy? What would you do to get even if you had no limits? I enjoyed exploring that and I went into a little more depth in the short story I just released, “A Glimpse into Darkness.” Everyone has a dark side to them, but a good villain is always the hero of his or her own story. No character is ever one dimensional, unless they’re incredibly boring. Fate just did what she had to do to make herself feel better. Was it a good choice? Probably not, but it made for an entertaining story.
What are you writing at the moment? Is there going to be more in the Immortal Sorrows series, or are you going for something different this time?
I’m working on book 3 of “The Immortal Sorrows.” This one is “Wings of Defiance,” and it follows Grim and Gwen for the most part. They were only meant to be secondary characters, but they have such huge personalities that they steal every scene I put them in. Readers seem to really enjoy them and I like keeping my readers happy. So they needed a book of their own. It fits in nicely with the over-all story. After that I have one more to wrap the series up. “Wings of Destiny.” Honestly, I’m not looking forward to writing that one. I think it will be sad to say goodbye to those characters, but you never know. Spin-offs happen!
I’ve also been kicking around an idea for a new series about a girl named Winter. I can’t give up the details on this one yet, but I think I’m going to go with demons this time…
Tell us about some of the books you’ve read and loved. How do they inspire you?
I spent several years when I was younger only reading Greek mythology. Mainly because I was a pretentious little kid, but also because I just loved the stories. I think it’s natural some of the mythology should leak into my writing. I really didn’t start out with the intention of borrowing from a certain culture’s myths, but it seems to have worked out for the best.
I like the books that surprise you, even if it’s just with something kind of random. I don’t want you to be able to guess 200 pages ahead what any given character is going to do.
As a self-published author, do you find that readers who are not involved in the industry treat you and your work with less respect than traditionally published authors? Do you think we, as a society, will ever overcome the disparity between the two?
I really don’t think the average reader really pays a lot of attention to who is behind the curtain. A good book is a good book. When I was just a reader and not a writer I never once stopped to check to see if there was a big publishing house backing the books I picked up or downloaded. I didn’t care. The cover draws me in, then I read the description, and if it sounds like something I’d enjoy I’ll download the free sample from Amazon. They give you 10% of a book to base a decision on. Which is plenty to see if a writer can grab your attention.
I’ve read a lot of traditionally published books which were so badly written I couldn’t get through them. Then I’ve read some independently published books that were so incredibly awesome I wondered when the film would be coming out. It really goes back to an individual’s tastes.
Having said all that, it goes back to presentation being everything. My best advice to Indies is to get a great cover, edit till your eyes bleed, and if you can’t afford an editor, send it to a handful of trusted beta readers for honest feedback.
If you could go on a date with any immortal being, who/what would it be and where would you go?
I wouldn’t! I’m the most boring person in real life. I’m happy to let my imagination run wild, but I like my routine. I have my little zoo of rescued animals to care for and I married someone who was perfect for me. He actually gave me noise-cancelling headphones when I wrote the first book because he knew I couldn’t work with distractions. There’s nothing sexier than a guy who tells you he’s making dinner so you can go work on your book.
Sorry, I couldn’t persuade Sherri to show you the way to heaven, but here’s a link to her Amazon page, where you can buy her books – and that’s near enough the same thing! Here’s her Facebook, Twitter, and Website too.
A massive thanks to Sherri for taking part! I’ll stop distracting you now so you can get on with the next book ;o)