Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
Cheryl Kaye Tardif Interview
9/27/2010 6:58:28 PM
Read this interview with best selling author and enter for a chance to win a Kobo reader!
LTS: Today, I’m thrilled to feature my Twitter pal, Canadian best selling suspense author Cheryl Kaye Tardif, aka romance author Cherish D'Angelo. From thrillers and mysteries to tales of the paranormal, Cheryl has the talent and skill to write in numerous genres whether it is short stories or full-length novels. Born in Vancouver, BC, but now residing in Edmonton, Alberta, what else would you like to share about yourself and your life with our readers, Cheryl?
CKT: I think I'm an open book (pun intended), Lorna. I've been a writer ever since I can remember. You could say I lived in a fantasy world in my head when I was a child, though every now and then I still like to go back for a visit. Storytelling is so ingrained in my nature that I often have more than one plot idea fighting to be heard in my mind.
LTS: As a teenager, you were a journalist writing a weekly newspaper column so obviously, writing has been a big part of your life for quite some time. When did you seriously begin creating fiction and was becoming a published author a life long dream?
CKT: When I was sixteen, I decided to pursue fiction and started writing a novel. It was a horror novel, inspired by my author idols, Stephen King and Dean R. Koontz. From the moment I started writing my horror novel, I dreamed of life as a published author.
LTS: I understand your debut novel, ‘Whale Song’ is now available in its third edition, this time as an ebook. What was the inspiration behind this story and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Sarah Richardson?
CKT: Whale Song was inspired by a native legend I had heard while growing up on the Queen Charlotte Islands, just north of Vancouver Island in BC. Legend says that if you see a killer whale close to shore, it's a reincarnated spirit coming to say goodbye to his or her family. I used to walk the beaches and stare out over the ocean, just waiting and hoping to see a killer whale. I fell in love with the majestic beauty and strength of the orca while visiting the Vancouver Aquarium and watching Skana, BCs most famous killer whale.
Sarah Richardson is a pre-teen when she moves from the US to Bamfield, an isolated town on Vancouver Island, Canada. In Bamfield, she's introduced to a native culture that is far stronger than she's ever experienced in the past, and it comes with a downside - racism. In a few short years, Sarah experiences the pangs of first love, along with the terror of bullying and the death of a family member. Some pain is just too much to bear.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal what’s in store for the reader when they crack open ‘Whale Song’?
CKT: Whale Song is a story about family, friendship, love, loss and forgiveness. It is always timely, always relevant, and makes an important read for anyone, any age. Pre-teens and teens will find a friend in Sarah and hope in a brighter future. They may also find solutions to issues in their own lives. Adults who read Whale Song will be swept away to the past, to relive or re-experience the challenges of growing up.
The adventure for every reader will be bittersweet yet hopeful, and ultimately inspiring. I KNOW this is what's in store for a reader because of the emails I've received from people, men and women, boys and girls, who have been touched by the story and the messages. Like the wolf in Whale Song, I am but a messenger.
LTS: Your latest full-length novel, ‘Lancelot’s Lady’ has received great praise. Can you tell the readers about the main characters, Rhianna and Jonathan.
CKT: Rhianna McLeod is a palliative nurse who has done her best to forget the past and shut herself off from any kind of meaningful future. She'd rather hide with the dying than take a chance on living. She stubborn, sensitive and sometimes not too bright. Sometimes she jumps to conclusions, and that can only lead to trouble.
Jonathan Tyler is a man of mystery. He doesn't make a good first impression with Rhianna. Then again, neither does she. But Jonathan isn't quite what he appears to be. No, he's not a vampire. Stubborn, reclusive, not much fun, he's a man with a past that he'd rather forget. He has that in common with Rhianna. The only problem is that their pasts are about to collide, and when they do, nothing will be the same.
Lancelot's Lady is a contemporary romantic suspense set in Florida and the Bahamas.
LTS: You are so well known as an author of so many genres, I’m just curious as why you chose to publish ‘Lancelot’s Lady’ under the pen name of Cherish D’Angelo?
CKT: I do mainly write suspense and YA as Cheryl Kaye Tardif, but my audience is a mix of young and old. Lancelot's Lady is for a mature audience. It contains sensuality and sexuality. I wouldn't want my YA readers to be automatically reading it thinking it was similar to my other novels. While there is romance in my other novels, the scenes are much milder. This is the main reason why I chose to write romance under a pen name. Plus the genre is different and I thought I should bring out my romantic side with a new persona and Cherish D'Angelo was born.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. Was it difficult for you to land an agent? Do you have any advice you’d like to share with the author struggling to find representation?
CKT: Yes, it was difficult to land an agent. Just as it's very difficult to find a publisher willing to take a chance on you, an agent is risking their time and energy when they sign up a new author. But persistence can pay off. Persistence and belief in your ability to produce saleable works and market them. I know I have this.
Writers looking for an agent in today's book industry climate need to be willing to take some chances. Anything worth having is worth a little risk. So don't be bogged down by all the "rules" of querying. Hook the agent like you would your reader. Keep your initial query letter very short. It's bait! Don't tell him/her everything. You want the agent to ask for more. If you write a gripping query, they'll reply with a question or a request to know more or see more.
And don't give up. It's a number's game. So is trying to get a publisher. Send out enough queries and eventually someone will bite. You have to get through the Nos to get to the Yes. So play the numbers. Persistence and belief!
LTS: Becoming a published author is truly a difficult road to travel, so we’re always pleased when a fellow writer is plucked from relative obscurity to land a book deal. Can you share that moment when your agent, Jack Scovil told you he sold your first novel?
CKT: Jack didn't actually sell my first novel. I was without an agent when I first sold Whale Song to traditional publisher Kunati Books, which went under last year. I had an entertainment lawyer look over the contract. I can tell you that the moment Kunati first picked up Whale Song was one of the most exciting moments in my life. Finally someone realized that I was a talented writer who deserved to be published. I'll never forget that day, or how I danced around in my office when I got the email.
I had the same reaction when I later signed with Jack Scovil, from Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency in New York. His agency has dealt with some big name authors, so I was extremely honored. I still am. He has been a great supporter and is genuinely interested in my career. At this time, Jack is pitching two thrillers (Children of the Fog and Divine Justice) and Lancelot's Lady (print rights) to publishers. We also came very close to securing a movie deal. It could still happen.
Having an agent means you have someone on your team who supports you as a writer and creator. Jack not only believes in my abilities, he loves my work and believes in me, and that means so much to me. Belief sells. It's only a matter of time. (It's a numbers' game, remember?)
LTS: I’m curious about your writing style. Are you one of those disciplined writers who must dedicate a certain time each day to producing so many words, or are you more relaxed and tend to write when it strikes your fancy?
CKT: Every day I have specific goals I strive to meet, but it isn't always related to what I'm writing. Sometimes my goals are to write blog posts, not work on my novel. Sometimes my goals are marketing related, like right now when my main objective is to accomplish a successful 108+ blog stop tour in 15 days. But when my objective is to work on a novel, I do have a word count goal. Usually it's anywhere from 1500-2500 words, plus some editing.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? The readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
CKT: I'm a "plotser". I have a basic plot outlined in my head, but I write the story as it plays out. I know how a novel will open and end, and I know some of the major scenes and turning points or conflict scenes before I even start making notes. Then I'll make a few notes, which I may add to along the way. I'll start writing a novel right away though. As I proceed, the story flows for me, unraveling like a movie, scene by scene, reel by reel.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
CKT: Besides warning my family not to disturb me unless the house is burning down around me, for the most part my rituals consist of a good drink, either flavored coffee or chai tea, iced or hot depending on the weather. And music. Most of the time I listen to instrumental only while writing. I don't like the distraction of other people's words. I select music that reflects the novel to some extent, or the scenes I may be working on. I call it "mood music".
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writer’s block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
CKT: I've never had "writer's block", so I have no idea what I'll do if I ever have it. I'm not sure I even believe in "writer's block", to be honest. I believe it's more a case of the writer having other priorities at the time or not being in the mood to write. No one says we have to write 24/7 on demand. If I'm in the mood to write, I write. If I'm in the mood to take a break and go shopping, I'll do that. Then I might come back and write some more.
So far I haven't had to stop writing because I'm stumped or don't know where to go. I haven't backed my characters into a corner or if I have it's because she's pinned up against the wall by a very sexy man and she's not really resisting.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
CKT: Stephen King. He has always been my #1 author idol. I prefer his older works to the ones from the past 5 or so years. He always has a way of creating mood, tension, fear, horror, often with the simplest things. He explores our deepest fears and bares them to the world. That's my goal. King takes complete strangers and throws them together to face insurmountable odds. That's another thing I like to do. He also uses humor and shows the "realness" of many of his characters. He is the master of all masters of suspense.
LTS: What is the most profound discovery you’ve made in terms of your writing and how it has touched the lives of others?
CKT: I discovered just how powerful my words can be, mainly with Whale Song. Even now when I think of the emails I've received, it sends a shiver of thankfulness and awe down my spine. If ever there was a novel I was meant to write, Whale Song is it. I've had emails from strangers worldwide telling me that Whale Song has affected their lives, changed their lives, healed wounded relationships, made them look at their parents differently, made them value their friends more, or helped them deal with the death of a loved one. One reader even said that Whale Song saved her life.
There is power in words. Power to hurt. And power to heal.
LTS: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned on the road to publication?
CKT: That persistence and belief will pay off.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
CKT: I've just started reading The Thiessen Affair by Mozelle Richardson. Her publisher gave me an ARC (advanced reading copy) to read for possible review.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from the genres you currently write to tackle something completely different?
CKT: In the next five years, I see a larger library of ebooks by Cheryl Kaye Tardif (suspense and YA) and Cherish D'Angelo (romance) available, along with some print editions. I also see Whale Song on the big screen.
As for tackling a different genre, I do have two unpublished children's books with illustrations completed. I don't have any plans for them yet, but who knows? I also have a non-fiction project I'm working on. It's a book that will help parents who are struggling to cope with the death of a child. It'll help them come to terms with that loss and find ways to remember, while restoring peace within their hearts. When the time is right, I'll pursue that. It's about 75% completed.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to share in your novels as well as your wealth of experience as an author, Cheryl!
CKT: Thank you so much, Lorna, for hosting me during my Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour. J There's some contest info below for your visitors, with great prizes.
Lancelot's Lady ~ A Bahamas holiday from dying billionaire JT Lance, a man with a dark secret, leads palliative nurse Rhianna McLeod to Jonathan, a man with his own troubled past, and Rhianna finds herself drawn to the handsome recluse, while unbeknownst to her, someone with a horrific plan is hunting her down.
Lancelot's Lady is available in ebook edition at KoboBooks, Amazon's Kindle Store, Smashwords and other ebook retailers. Help me celebrate by picking up a copy today and "Cherish the romance..."
You can learn more about Lancelot's Lady and Cherish D'Angelo (aka Cheryl Kaye Tardif) at http://www.cherishdangelo.com and http://www.cherylktardif.blogspot.com.
Follow Cheryl on Twitter: .cherylktardif
Follow Cherish from September 27 to October 10 on her Cherish the Romance Virtual Book Tour and win prizes.
What do you like or dislike about reading romance novels?
Leave a comment here http://www.cheryltardif.blogspot.com, with email address, to be entered into the prize draws. You're guaranteed to receive at least 1 free ebook just for doing so. Plus you'll be entered to win a Kobo ereader. Winners will be announced after October 10th.
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