Our guest today is Cherry Adair, an award-winning and best-selling romantic fiction writer. Cherry is from South-Africa, but now lives in the Seattle where she has built her dream home and office.
I met Cherry Adair at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney, 2014. She is an inspirational speaker and it is my pleasure to have her appear on the blog today to tell us more about herself and her writing.
Helen R 🙂
Welcome to our blog, Cherry. Can you tell us a bit about your journey to becoming an author.
Long before I could read (or physically write, for that matter) I’d get pencil and paper and pretend to write a story. Then I’d ‘read’ the hieroglyphs to my mother. She was a very appreciative audience. I eventually learned how to write – although my handwriting still looks like hieroglyphics – and never looked back.
I sold my first book – The Mercenary to Harlequin Temptation in 1994. I’d written 17 full manuscripts before I sold, all of which I shredded the day my contract from Harlequin arrived. It was up for a RITA (It didn’t win but it was an awesome experience nevertheless) and I thought that was the start to a long and illustrious career. Instead it took me another five years to sell book two – a Single Title -Kiss and Tell. I now teach classes on how to write a Career Plan when you don’t have a Career! lol
Over the last decade-ish J I’ve carved a niche for myself with my sexy, sassy, fast-paced, action adventure novels which have appeared on numerous bestsellers lists, won dozens of awards and garnered praise from reviewers and fans alike. When people ask me- “What’s the book (any of my books. Lol) about?” My response is – “Running-chasing-attraction-shooting–wild-money-sex-running-shooting-more-wild-monkey-sex-running-chasing-shooting-happily-ever-after”.
I loathe writing first drafts. To me it’s like wading through wet cement, and it take me forever because there’s always something I’d rather be doing . Which is why I stopped writing the seat of my pants very early in my career and came up with my plotting by color method. Now the map of my story is easy to follow and relatively painless. Once that first draft is done, it’s another story. I can’t be torn away from my computer. I go back and layer and texture, polish, tweak, and fluff!
I’ve just completed book #42.
You write Romantic Suspense…what made you choose this genre?
I think most readers – male as well as female- are the main protagonists in the books they read. We like to put ourselves into the skin of these characters so that we’re smart, sassy, and quick with the smart come-backs and one liners. We want to be the one having awesome wild monkey sex. Action-adventure romances are exciting and larger than life. I love putting my characters into situations fraught with danger, and let them wriggle out of it just in time to have awesome sex. LOL (I always know where they can take a shower beforehand – no matter where they are!) I enjoy writing exotic locales, and unusual places, so that they, too, become characters. I write what I love to read, with characters I’d enjoy knowing in real life.
I write T-FLAC, my counterterrorist organization because the safety of the world is a relevant topic in today’s climate. I’m fascinated by military personnel and what it requires for these true-life heroes to go out every day to make the world a safer place for the rest of us.
Do you have a personal favorite out of all the books / series you’ve written?
That’s like asking a mother which of her children is her favorite. Lol I don’t have a favorite book, but I do have favorite scenes from each of my books, and favorite characters. But if I had to pick my favorite book, it would be the one where I just typed The End.
Does your own life weave its way into your stories?
I have had some hair-raising experiences in my life so far, so some of them end up in my books, But I don’t like getting my hair wet, or wearing bad shoes, or not wearing make-up or hiking through a tropical rain forest. I don’t want people shooting at me (although I do have a bullet wound in my knee from a robbery gone bad. No, I wasn’t the robber!) I don’t do scaling mountains, or treasure hunting. I have traveled to many of the exotic locals in my books, but not all of them. I don’t like creepy-crawlies or not being anywhere near a shower or a flushing toilet! (And observant readers will notice that my heroines don’t like the same things! ) But I LOVE reading and writing character who not only do all those things, they thrive doing them.
From research and first drafts, to edits and polishes, what’s your favourite part of the writing process and what’s your least favourite?
Least favorite is the first draft. I plot the book well, and I try to get that first draft written as quickly as possible. (that is to say, a little faster than a full stop! Lol) I go at a snail’s pace, and it’s agonizing. Once the first draft is done, however, I love to layer and texture, adding all the things that make the character’s three dimensional, I love going in an refining the dialogue, adding descriptions, layering in more sexual tension, adding all the little bits of business that make my books my books.
What do you think the appeal is of books written in a series?
Readers connect with the world the author has built. Even if the same characters don’t move through all the books in a series, the reader knows that Universe.
I was lucky enough to meet you at the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Sydney 2014. Do you enjoy speaking at events and motivating other writers / aspiring writers?
I LOVED that conference, and everyone I met there!! So, so much fun. I wish I could attend every year. I must start begging for an invitation again soon!
I love, love love teaching everything I’ve learned about writing over the years to other authors. It give me such a kick to see the OMG! look in someone’s eyes a second before their head goes down, and their fingers fly as they write or type at lightning speed. I know that whatever I just said resonated, and she’s no longer even in the same room, but off applying it to her own story, oblivious to everyone around her. I know what that feels like, and I want the writers/students in my classes, to have that ah-ha moment every time a teach the craft of writing.
Tell us about your online motivational group on Facebook: BICC.
I have a passion for mentoring other writers, particularly fledgling writers at every stage from rank beginners, to author’s with several books under their belts. So many people say they want to write a book, but they never sit their butts in the chair and actually write. Or they write the same three chapters over and over again, tweaking and polishing and changing a word here and there (sure, lady – that’s the EASY part! Lol) . Many of them enter every contest, get fabulous feedback on the same three chapters, year after year, after year…. but never finish the book. I gently, with great love, and very little sympathy (sure it’s hard, cupcake. But if you want it badly enough you’ll stop talking about it, and buckle down and put in the work.) I motivate them to sit their as- butts in the chair and write, and finish the book! Lol I have an active motivational group on Facebook called Butt In Chair Challenge https://www.facebook.com/groups/ButtInChair/) for anyone who needs a weekly nudge.
They have to report in once a week with their anticipated word or page count, then come back the following week to let me know if they met their goal. (threats and bribes are involved!) Sometimes all I need to do is show them a picture of a great high heel – I can motivate with graphics.)
I’ve kicked a LOT of butts over the years, and have dozens and dozens of published books filling the shelves in my office from people I’ve mentored. Proving that sitting one’s butt down and finishing the damn book pays off!
I don’t delude myself, I know I have very little, if anything, to do with their success. I think of myself as the magic feather Dumbo was given to help him to fly. J Everyone needs to be seen. We all want to be acknowledged. No one sits behind us as we type, saying “WOW! That sentence is amazing!” I don’t read my mentees (is that a word??! Lol) work. But I am always right there beside them mentally, encouraging them to keep going, urging them to finish this book, and start the next, propping them up when they get that rejection letter, encouraging them to keep submitting, keep writing, keep learning. I want to see them publish. I want their success. There’s plenty of room for all of us. I can’t wait to buy their book the second they tell me it’s available. Their success gives me enormous satisfaction and joy.
I bought your Writer’s Bible after you recommended it at the conference and I’ve found it irreplaceable when planning my next novel…what made you put the Writer’s Bible together?
I had no intention of sharing that with anyone! I have a 3-ring binder for each of my books. In them I have all my research, and my character profiles etc. It’s massive – usually a 6-10″ binder. Over the years I formed what I called my Bible for each book. In it I fill in the same questionnaire, asked the same questions, in the same order, and note details about each character with images to go along with their descriptions. This is my Master Document, and one I fill in for every single book. Sometimes it’s a pain in the butt to take the time to do this, but for me, it pays off a hundred fold. (this is another of my left brain- analytical- tools for myself, a right brain writer) My Writers’ Bible is my lifeline to everything about my characters, plus some things I keep tend to forgetting to do, or ask myself in every book! If I know something, and forget to do it, I need something to jog my memory.
Every time I do a writers workshop I would show people the Bible for whichever book I was working on as an example of whatever the subject is for that particular class.
Everyone wanted it.
Oddly I was reluctant to share this with everyone. After all I’d taken 25 years to put this together, adding things over the years, refining it etc. For myself. Then I realized how selfish that was. If I say so myself 🙂 this is a fabulous tool, a great resource for fellow authors. I knew how well it worked for me (I can’t write a book without it) so it’s now for sale. This is not a book book. (although if someone must, it can be bought as such.) This is a template. Download it, save it as a template, then open and save into your current WIP before starting the new book.
Your books often feature a very sexy hero on the front cover…do you ever get to go on photo shoots and choose the best ‘fit’ for your book?
Occasionally I’ve attended one of the photo shoots. But more often than not the publisher and I discuss what I’d like to see on the cover, and they send me a contact sheet to choose the image I like best.
When writers start out they often have a makeshift workspace/study. I was no exception…my last writing area was in our walk-in-wardrobe! We’d love to hear about the amazing house you’ve built in Seattle and the study that you work in each day.
My office is right near the front door with a view of my front garden. I like to look at a blank wall when I write. No distractions. My walls are lined with bookshelves. I have thousands of my keepers filling the ceiling to floor, wall to wall shelves. I have a fireplace, and two comfortable easy chairs (one for each dog so they can keep watch outside in case a squirrel shows up.) My desk is L-shaped and I have my framed covers on the wall in front of me. Usually I don’t see anything around me while I write. It all disappears in a blur. lol
And finally, can you share anything with us about your work in progress?
I’m putting the finishing touches on PLOTTING BY COLOR (May 2015)A left brain tool for right brain writers. I’ve incorporated my love of color ( I used to be an Interior Designer) with what I’ve learned about plotting. This book will work well for plotters and those writers who like to write by the seat of their pants. It’s a map, a guide, to doing the left brain, analytical work up front so that when you’re ready to write the book you don’t have to stop to figure out your plot. It’s a way to keep each thread intact, from beginning to end, and not miss any pertinent information. It’s all there, and you can just be creative. I’m very proud of this book, and think it’ll help many, many writers to write faster, more tightly, and keep track of all the details.
My next releases will be GIDEON in March (a follow up to HUSH – See? He didn’t die! Lol) BLUSH, a Single title out in April, and PLOTTING BY COLOR in May. At the end of the year I’ll have three new Cutter Cay books out.
This was fun! Thanks for having me. 🙂
Thank you for visiting our blog, Cherry! I hope to bump into you at another conference some day…