“Getting recognized as a writer is hard enough but getting recognized as a children’s writer is even harder.” – Sharon C. Willams
Interviewed by Tarak GhoshWatch on You Tube : Interview with Sharon C. Williams
Sharon C. Williams is a native of New England raised in Northern Maine. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and son. She is also owned by a flock of six birds. Sharon has a B. S. degree in Chemistry. She loves to read, sketch, take pictures, walk, exercise, go to the movies, and listen to music. She is a budding bird watcher, and knits on the side. She is a huge sports fan of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. She is also a shutterbug and is always looking for the next big shot.
Two of her short stories were published in the anthology, Cassandra’s Roadhouse, and two in the Dragons in the Attic anthology, which was written by her writing group, The Wonder Chicks. Her children’s chapter book, Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure, and Jasper: Amazon Friends and Family, was released by Fountain Blue Publishing in 2013 and 2015. Her comedy novel about her war with her backyard squirrels, Squirrel Mafia, was also released in the spring of 2015. Her latest book, “Everyday Musings” which is a collection of short stories and poems will be released Sept. 30th, 2016
You are a chemist and a writer; citizen of the two different worlds – fantasy and the real. How do you manage?What a great question. So far I have not been using my background into my writings yet when it comes to chemistry. But the two do blend and has worked for me. Where I have used it is in how I approach any book. I am a firm believer in research and facts when it comes to any book let alone a children’s book. This is our chance to share and teach young minds. As a chemist I learned how to be methodical in how I did the experiments, how the labs were run and how I made the solutions for the various classes. That takes time, focus and a head to the details so you don’t get it wrong and end up hurting yourself. That is how I do my research for any book. I make sure or do my best to fact check at least two times, if not three, each fact I have placed in my books even my children series. I look at it like an experiment what is my objective, what is my theory and how do I go about doing it to get the final conclusion. It is not chemistry that people might think but my frame of mind and how I was taught and have worked helps me I believe a better writer.
What do you think easier? Writing for the adult readers or child readers?Yes, that is a good point. Even though I have a comedy and an anthology of short stories that are 18+ people refer to me as Jasper’s mom and the series I have written for children. I think I could write a trilogy drama and people would still think of me as the writer of the Jasper series. I do like that. It shows people are paying attention and connect me in one portion of my writing career. I like that. It is nice to be known for something that has definitely been positive for me. I definitely believe writing for children is harder. You have to write in a way that does not go over their hand or make them feel like you are talking to a baby. Kids, unlike adults, will read a page and if you don’t grab them will toss it to the ground for another book. Adults tend to give books more of a shot I believe. Sadly, I have had other writers basically tell me it is very easy to write a kids book. In fact one author said to me that he could write a book in one day and it would do well. I feel he can’t be alone in this thinking. Getting recognized as a write is hard enough but getting recognized as a children’s writer is even harder. When I was finished my first book, “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure”, I had a bunch of children from a daycare read it for their advice. Let me tell you they were tough and told me exactly what was wrong with it. They were harder than some adult writers who I have shared my writings with. I guess it all depends on who you ask. I have searched online and have found credible people agreeing with me while other havedisagreed. I know when I write my fiction for YA and adult i I approach it differently since kids I have to be so specific and exact I feel in compared to the other. They are smarter than some people might give them credit.
Did you write ever for the adults? If yes, please mention the books? If not, why?I have an anthology of short stories, “Everyday Musings” and a comedy “Squirrel Mafia” both rated 18+. At the moment I am working on three manuscripts two of which are for adults. I write what is in my head and what I see and that isn’t restricted to just one genre. It is a change of pace to write for adult and I am able to go into areas that I might not be able to with a children book so in a way there is that extra freedom I can now explore
Tell us some about your literary worksAt the moment I have two children’s books that are part of a series. They are “Jasper, Amazon Parrot: A Rainforest Adventure” and “Jasper, Rainforest: Friends and Family” while I work on book three. I have a comedy called “Squirrel Mafia” and an anthology of short stories that is called “Everyday Musings” which has a variety of genres inside. I have six short stories that are in three anthologies.
Have you ever written a character vaguely based off a real life acquaintance and they found out when they weren’t meant to? If yes, then please tell us.I can’t say that I have. I do have a few manuscripts where I am wondering if people will notice it is them but those are a long way from being finished.
How often do you aim to send a specific message through your book and get 100% success?A specific message? My aim for my Jasper series was to educate children and get them wanting to read. Those were my goals. I been fortunate that people who have purchased my books have reached out to me so I can happily say that was accomplished. The first time was a grandfather in Oklahoma who bought the first volume for his grandson. He said he started reading the book, ended up putting down his electric device done and sat and read the book from beginning to end. That alone made my heart sings. It felt so good to hear that. A grandmother purchased volume one and two of my Jasper series and said that her grandson finished reading the first book and how he now wants to meet Jasper. She continued to say at the last page he cried out, “It ended!” She assured him there was another volume. It just so rewarding to see children read and enjoy my book.
Have you ever incorporated something that happened to you in real life into your novels?Yes I have. Some have been bits and pieces some have been the entire novel such as “Squirrel Mafia” which is a light comedy about myself and squirrels in my back yard. One of my manuscripts that I am working on was an experience of mine when I turned 18.
Over the years, what would you say has improved significantly in your writing?I like to believe my show that improved over my tell. As a new writer years ago I was literally the one who told every action until I learned that craft. I believe I have improved with my plotting and leading up to the scene. My dialogue has definitely improved and I can thank that to my first few books which were for children where I feel strongly that you have to get it absolutely right for that age group. What I been told by my fellow writer that my development of a story is very good. How I question things that no one questions, how I find the loopholes, the mistakes, the things that make a story out of sync. I am sure in the beginning this was not me. I been able to add that to my business and now offer developmental editing to authors.
Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that?That is an interesting question. In the mid 90ties when the internet was just forming into what it is now my online handle was Muse and it is what I have used ever since in every avenue I can and even into my author’s platform. I think my mind is my Muse in the sense it is always coming at me talking to me about new ideas for a new book or short stories. It is rarely quiet. I have always been a dreamer as a young child and that has continued into adulthood. My mind is always pondering and I think between the two it has helped me come up with ideas to write down. The problem is if I don’t write them down my brain won’t let me forget it and hounds me. The people I am around who are writers vary in their inspiration and motivation or Muse. Some see it in their lives, some in what they see around them while others their brain just goes in overload. I tend to do all three. I like that for it makes my creativity active and my space that I use to write more broad.
People say books die every time they are turned into a movie; what do you think?I believe in a sense they do especially if they only use a small, and in some cases a very small portion, part of the book to work with or especially if they change the ending. It is great that people are turning to books for ideas for us to learn about and to maybe pick up the book before or after the movie. It is great conversation piece. But if people don’t read the amazing book the movie came from in a sense it died or perhaps never really lived especially if it is shortchanged in how it was represented.
In case one or any of your books honor the big screen, which book would you like it to be?It would have to be one that I am working on now which is called, “Lost Faith” which I am hopefully can get back to work on. The pitch is: A place in time where religion is no longer allowed. This story is based on true events that are very dear to me and people of my faith. A story that I think needs to be told. If I had to choose one that has already been published it would have to be my Jasper series simply because that is based on my parrot Jasper who we rescued and adopted in 1995 at the age of five. His personality is how I wrote it in the book, if you read the book than you get inkling into our world with this amazing animal who honestly thinks he is human and is my husband’s bonded mate. Perhaps people would get a better understanding of these amazing animals and where they are from. How their land should be protected.
If you had the opportunity to live anywhere in the world for a year while writing a book that took place in that same setting, where would you choose?The Brazilian rainforest for sure. I have done a lot of research in this area for my Jasper series and to view it and live there and learn more about my bird’s homeland would be thrilling to me. It really would.
Does a bad review affect your writing?I released my first book in 2013. I received a bad review two days after. But they wrote that they had purchased a hard copy and even with Amazon’s delivery system there was no way they could have actually gotten a hard copy. The review was cruel, mean and to be honest the work of a troll. I talked to Amazon about it and after reviewing it they removed it. The person kept putting it up and Amazon kept removing it. If it is a troll there is not much we can do about that. Their motives are their own why they do this. I read somewhere that review is a review regardless if it is negative for it brings attention to one’s books and it might make others take a look at it. I am on the fence about how I feel about this. Another bad review I received was because someone was not happy with how I gave her constructive critiques on her book. Again while it smarted there was nothing I could do about that. Look, not everyone is going to love my books. I wish they did LOL but that is not the world we live in. When I was a new writer it did bother me but now if I do get them I just move on. I don’t dwell on it like I use to in the beginning. Does it affect my writing? No. It never has. I never let it get to me to the point I stop writing. My brain won’t let me stop putting down the stories it keeps yelling at me to do.
Writers are often associated with loner tendencies; is there any truth to that?That is an excellent point for I do hear and see that occur. I don’t mind writing in a group setting it helps if we get stuck and we can shout out something along the lines like, “Does this make sense?”, I need a word to describe this” or a host of other things. Plus as a solitary profession, a term I use a lot, it helps to be around others who think and feel like you when it comes to writing. But I do prefer to write alone. I freestyle when I write, I don’t edit as I go, but just find a comfortable place and write. I am old school in the sense I prefer to write by hand. I really do. With that can go anywhere, you can get comfortable and I mean really comfortable in a bean chair, floor and so one and just go for it. But is it a loner professional? It do not have to be.. I think it use to be but now with the internet, libraries, coffee shops and writer groups growing in droves it is different now. Times have changed There is more options now for us as writers to not be alone. Unless, of course that is your preference which is mine.
. you read and reply to the reviews and comments of your readers?I have replied I believe to one or two comments from my reviews. The first time was that review I mentioned about, the troll. I than deleted it for I knew I had to be professional and could not come across as negative even though my comment was coming across as upset or angry. I had to remind myself these things will happen and I can’t change it so I moved on. I have had some lovely reviews over the years and I am just grateful people take the time to review in addition to buying my books.
What is that dream goal you want to achieve before you die?I have so many. Being a dreamer doesn’t lessen my long list of things I want to do or try before I go. I’ve already mentioned this but if I had to pick one it would be to travel to where my parrot is from which is the Brazilian rainforest. Heck I would take any rainforest. I have done so much research on it and have seen so many documentaries as well so to be able to visit and take that all in and see of myself would be a dream come true. If that is not a possibility than for one of my books to be made into a movie, that would really be so cool. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1628680059/ https://www.amazon.com/Sharon-C.-Williams/e/B00CSAFL8Q https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K3JL376/