Sharon Cramer is an aspiring time-traveler, overlord(ess), alien princess, and master painter of Halloween faces. In the meantime, she writes from a dank, dark cave, somewhere in Washington State. She's just released the first in an epic Sci-Fi fantasy series called THE CERULEAN STAR, and has a breakthrough novel, beloved by an amazingly loyal following, called THE EXECUTION. Movie release 2015!
When not painting monsters and planning historical ruin and perfectly crushed hearts, Sharon can be found on horseback, running through the woods of Eastern Washington. Driven by sleeplessness and a seemingly endless draw to the keyboard (and the more than occasional extra strong coffee) she is inspired by unorthodox friends and extreme weather. Mother to three sons, a nerd horse, a bad cat, and eleven fish (who all have names) she is married to a man who surely has won the Nobel Prize for Extreme Tolerance.
Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Sharon Cramer, author of THE EXECUTION.
Hi Sharon, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Hi, thanks so much! I feel lucky today too. The short of it is I was born in New York, have lived all over the United States, and now live and write in Spokane, Washington. I’m married and have three grown sons. I’m inspired by unlikely weather, fueled by caffeine and chocolate, and motivated by the prospect of a full night’s sleep.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Interestingly, writing is something I’ve done as long as I can remember. I have early memories (sadly) of trying to submit short stories to The National Enquirer before I was even ten years old! So, life is currently fairly satisfying, especially since I now write on a laptop instead plunk away on an old manual “Royal.” But if I were to categorize my ambitions (other than satisfying my daily personal need to write)
I’d have to say that it is, first, to entertain my audience and, second, to stay true to good literature. No trash—none allowed.
Which writers inspire you?
That’s an odd question to me because reading is such a guilty pleasure for me. I don’t read very often (should that embarrass me?) current day, anyway, because when I do I fall into an ugly trap of writing like whoever I’ve been reading. Then I have three chapters of mutant Stephen King and have to toss the whole thing out. But historically I am inspired by Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Rice (her earlier writings), Mary Shelley, Anna Sewell, Richard Bach, John Steinbeck, and the poetry of Robert Frost.
So, what have you written?
Well, excluding the 4th grade masterpiece poem of “How I became an alcoholic,” I have published four children’s picture books; I am the author as well as the illustrator of the three book series called THE COUGAR CUB TALES and a graphic picture book called MARLOW AND THE MONSTER. I’ve also written an historical, thriller, adventure, paranormal, dark romance (yes, it is all that) called THE EXECUTION. I’ve also released the first of a six book, soft science-fiction, series called THE CERULEAN STAR. I’m in the process of writing the sequel to THE EXECUTION and the second of THE CERULEAN STAR series.
Where can we buy or see them? (* include American, European and any other relevant links. Free, free promotions or prices can be included)
FOR SURE! My books are available on Amazon.com (European, Canadian, and American) and Barnes & Noble as well as Smashwords and my personal website, www.talkingbirdbooks.com. Here are specific links to the novels.
THE EXECUTION: Amazon.com (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), or iTunes (for use on Apple products).
THE CERULEAN STAR: LIBERTY: Amazon.com (Kindle), Barnes and Noble (Nook), or iTunes (for use on Apple products).
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Let’s focus on THE EXECUTION—That is the novel that is being screen-written for a movie. There are really two main characters in this book. They are brothers—twins—that have never known the other existed until the fated night where one of them, awaiting his execution, is visited by his brother, a priest who calls upon him in his cell to give him his last rites. The whole book is the one night the brothers spend together in the cell telling the stories of their lives to each other.
What are you working on at the minute?
The sequel to THE EXECUTION. It is called RISEN.
What’s it about?
There are some unresolved issues that must be addressed. Obviously, there appears to have been an execution in the first book. (smiles) That leaves some questions that are answered in the second book. Both books tend to carry the reader on a thrilling ride. THE EXECUTION has been wonderfully received!
What genre are your books?
I’m a cross genre kind of writer; I am as comfortable writing modern day sci-fi as I am a dark thriller of yesteryear as I am a tragic romance. I would have to say that a defining characteristic in my writing is flawed protagonists. I love for my heroes to be imperfect.
What draws you to this genre?
I think what I love about writing cross-genre it is the lateral movement that I can take at a moments notice. By not limiting myself I tend to surprise my readers (many of my reviews says something to the effect of how the book was like nothing they’ve ever read). That pleases me immensely!
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
Let’s pick Ravan and D’ata (the twin brothers). Uhm, perhaps Jared Leto? He can obviously act, and I think he could pull off the complex differences that the twin brothers have (acting both roles).
How much research do you do?
A lot; I mean REALLY a lot. Even so, I trip up. Writing a period novel pretty much guarantees you will be called out sooner or later. Did you know Eucalyptus leaves were not used in Europe for congestion in the 14th century? Yeah; neither did I, but a gracious reader helped me out with that one!
Have you written any other novels in collaboration with other writers?
No. I choose to spare them. I think I would drive other writers crazy.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I can’t remember ever making a conscious decision to become a writer. Writing is like breathing to me. I can’t imagine getting through a day without it, and have scads of really awful juvenile fiction, poems, letters, screenplays; etc., from my remote yesteryears to prove it.
Why do you write?
I have to be honest with you. I am also an identical twin. I also have other siblings, and I have on occasion tangled with those other siblings. But my twin and I have something special. To say to me, “Be nice to Vonnie,” would be akin to telling me, “Be nice to your arm or your leg.” That is how writing is to me. When someone asks, “Why do you write?” they might as well be asking me, “Why do you eat? Why do you sleep?” It’s so fundamentally necessary.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
I think we all have a story to tell. I was simply compelled to put it on paper. It is no more (or less) than anyone else’s story. I’m convinced of that. Perhaps everyone just needs someone to put it on paper for them.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Making the time. I need longer days, like hours and hours longer, and the stamina to back it up. What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book? Uhm...besides the time thing? I think I’m struggling a little bit with how overwhelmingly emotional the first novel, THE EXECUTION, was—is. Keeping the sequel as an original, standalone piece is something I acutely want to accomplish. I fear it becoming a cliche knockoff of the first book, and so I’m hugely cautious to prevent that. This slows me down somewhat.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
I’m not one of those writers that has a hard and fast outline. My novels take unexpected paths on a moment’s notice. When I begin a chapter, it rarely ends as I thought it might. It is thrilling watching that pour onto paper, and then I’m generally so pleasantly surprised by it. It’s fun!
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
That is extremely variable. THE EXECUTION, due to extenuating circumstances, took ten years.THE CERULEAN STAR: LIBERTY
took just a year. This
year it appears I will release two!
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
I get tired. Life get’s in the way, and the cobwebs can set in. It’s usually nothing that a good week’s sleep and some bad weather won’t fix!
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Scale back on the those things that trip you up. Turn off the phone for four hours a day, get off social media, unsubscribe to any emails that are not critically necessary, and get some noise canceling headphones. Then close your eyes and start thinking about anything that excites, terrifies, motivates you. I say this as one who’s had to do exactly these things. I’m not really one who needs candles, music, a sequestered cabin in the woods; I just need the moment to tune the world out.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Immensely. A book IS judged by its cover, and it better look good as a thumbnail too. People will scroll down through covers. I even have reviews where people say, “I bought this book ‘cuz of its cover…”
How are you publishing this book and why?
I am Indie all the way. When a traditional publisher asked me, “What are your sales like, and what can you do for us?” I thought to myself, “excuse me? What can I do for YOU? Let’s rephrase that what can YOU do for me?” But allow me to add, I surround myself with a great support group—cover artists, editors, consultants. I am not “trash” published. I do the work to make sure that it is done right.
Any amusing story about marketing books that happened to you?
I once created a totally fabricated social media personna just so I could rant for a day. I went for it—no sacred cows—and am happy to report that I accumulated a substantial audience of pissed-off people in a matter of a few hours! Ordinarily I am very cautious that my personal life and views don’t drift over into my professional life. So, for those few hours, I just went for it! Just to be obnoxious! When it was over I think I was deeply embarrassed and deleted that evil mini-me, never to resurrect her again. Like I said, I love imperfect protagonists!
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
It’s necessary…and exhausting. The public deserves a glimpse of who you are and to have you care about them as much as you’d have them care about you. But there is a good way and a bad way to do it. Fundamentally, you should be truly interested in your followers or you become a shallow puppet. Finally, post everything as though the world will read it forever because…they will.
What is your favourite book and why?
I don’t have a favorite book although I have probably read Jonathan Livingston Seagull more often that any other book, by far. I think that is because Richard Bach broke the essence of humanity down into something that ANYONE can understand without insulting anyone, and he did it believably, and used a bird to do it. Did I mention that I love birds? My back yard is a sanctuary, although when the sweet little sparrows sling that really expensive cracked sunflower like they are in a birdbath (look how rich we are! We can wast this really expensive food!) my husband calls them “fat little cows.”
What is your favourite quote?
“I am the master of my fate. I am the captain of my soul.” It is actually the last two lines of the poem Invictus by English poet William Ernest Henley. It’s exquisite.
What is your favourite film and why?
I don’t have a favorite film. I have favorite films in genres. For example, my favorite sci-fi is Terminator 2 Judgement Day (Although old, it is timeless, poetic, and believable, doing what sci-fi does best—it questions our humanity.) My favorite Romantic Comedy is Moonstruck (Cher is absolutely brilliant; no explanation needed), and my favorite animated film is Shrek (because all of the characters are so charmingly flawed. Who doesn’t love a flatulent donkey?) Oh, but wait, I love anything super hero Superman, Batman, Captain America. Ironman is quite my favorite. I love hot villains too. Loki, oh yeah.
Where can you see yourself in 5 years time?
Doing exactly this but with the books on the big screen. Did I mention THE EXECUTION is being screen-written for a movie?
What is your favourite movie and why?
Would that be my favorite film? Hmmm...Let’s go back two answers :D
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Get a great editor. If you are compelled to write, it will be meaningful, to you if nobody else. That is all that really matters. BUT…if you intend to put it out there the best money you spend will be on a good editor. If you do not, you will be called taken down, and once you have a bad first impression it becomes difficult to get past that. Do it right the first time.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
INDIE. Traditional publishing is having their belief systems challenged by Amazon. If they do not evolve, they will collapse. To quote the brilliant (Indie) author Massimo Marino, “Traditional Publishers have lost their grip on reality. They believe they still live in the 1900s when they were the gatekeepers of good literature. NOT! They desperately need to revisit THEIR business plan or they’ll soon become ‘hasbeen’
and useless. It’ll be good to see them disappear because those who remain will behave in line with the times.”
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
My favorite color is orange…seriously. (grins) Oh, and If you are a reader, THANK you; I absolutely adore you because you give energy to my existence. If you are an author, write for an audience of one—yourself. Only then will you be truly happy, and then perhaps a lovely reader will read it and you will rejoice watching it take wings.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
D’ata, a young priest, is a dark angel amid the death and despair of the medieval prison. As he enters the cell of the condemned man—the mercenary, the evil one—D’ata is immediately transfixed by the killer’s eyes. He is shocked to discover that the face of the murderer is his own—a mirror image of himself.
The twins, unknown to each other until now, reveal the life events that brought them to this fetid dungeon, creating an unbreakable bond sealed with their darkest secrets. But with only hours until the execution, D’ata begins to question which man should truly be condemned. Should it be Ravan, the ruthless killer—a boy from an orphanage who suffered the unimaginable? Or should it be himself, the man of God whose own tormented desires ended in tragedy for the only woman he ever loved…and in the inescapable darkness of his own soul?
As the sun rises, D’ata knows what he must do. Only one man would die…but two men would be free.