Thank you to Hannah and Diana from Loyalty Bookstore, to Tara O’Connor from Penguin RandomHouse, and to Jazzlet, Sarah Drew, Shari, Anonymous, and Aarya for questions!
My favorite parts:
49:50-50:20 – What we admire about Mrs. Watson
50:33-51:20 – What Mrs. Watson learns about herself in this book
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The music in this episode is from Purple-Planet.com, and this track is “Swaying Daisies.”
This episode was brought to you by Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney.
This holiday season, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency romance,— plus one or two dukes, an heiress, and a headstrong beauty — to a surprise snow storm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover’s kisses….
Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney combined their awesome talents into this not-to-miss-collection filled with their signature wit, dynamic heroines, and swoon-worthy heroes.
Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney is on sale wherever books are sold. For more information visit Kensington Books.com.
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Sarah Wendell: Hello there! Welcome to episode number 376 of Smart Podcast, Trashy Books. I’m Sarah Wendell. I’m here with one dog and one cat and one microphone to bring you the second of the live recordings I did two weeks ago. This week I am in conversation with Sherry Thomas, author of the Charlotte Holmes series. I recorded this on Friday, the 25th of October, at the Loyalty Bookstore in DC. As usual, I had questions from my nosy brain and from Zeb and from the Smart Bitches community, and in the middle we have crashing cups, a spontaneous reading from the author, and a special additional guest. Audiobook narrator Kate Reading came to the event, and the poor woman sat next to me, so I asked her a question too.
I want to thank Hannah and Diana from the Loyalty Bookstore, to Tara O’Connor from Penguin Random House – thank you for asking me to do this – and I want to thank Jazzlet, Sarah Drew, Shari, Anonymous, and Aarya for their questions.
This episode is brought to you by Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney. This holiday season, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency romance, plus one or two dukes, an heiress, and a headstrong beauty, to a surprise snowstorm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover’s kiss. Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney combined their awesome talents into this not-to-miss collection, filled with their signature wit, dynamic heroines, and swoon-worthy heroes. Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney is on sale now wherever books are sold. For more information, visit kensingtonbooks.com.
This episode and the transcript are brought to you by Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany. If you like Megan Hart and Liane Moriarty, you will love this seductive, nuanced novel with a strong, sex-positive female protagonist. You think you know your neighbors, but when it comes to Jake and Jessica Snyder, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. When they first discover an exciting but taboo sexual behavior, it reignites the spark in their marriage and deepens feelings of connection and trust – that is, until Jessica keeps a secret from Jake involving an intriguing man from her past. What happens after that will threaten to destroy their world and them. Caroline Kepnes says this book is a “sizzling, squirming, thought-provoking story of female growth,” and Jen Lancaster recommended it to her online book club. Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany is on sale now wherever books are sold. Find out more at amyhatvany.com.
I have a compliment in this episode. I love doing this.
To Mel J.: You are the human personification of everyone’s favorite character, mascot, and stuffed animal from when they were a child, because you make that many people happy.
If you would like a compliment of your very own, please have a look at our Patreon page. It’s patreon.com/SmartBitches. Monthly pledges start at one dollar a month, and each pledge is deeply appreciated, helps keep the show going, and makes every episode accessible. And I want to extend a very special and big thank-you to our Patreon community. Thank you for supporting the show each week.
I will have information at the end of the show – at the end of the episode; the show goes on – about what is coming up on Smart Bitches this week, where you can find Sherry Thomas and the Loyalty Bookstore; I will have links to all of the books that we discuss; and I will have an absolutely terrible, terrible joke that was emailed to me by one of you because you are all fabulous. This one is really bad; I love it a lot, of course.
So let’s not delay anymore. This is the live recording of my conversation with Sherry Thomas at Loyalty Bookstore in DC.
Diana Metzger: Hello! My name is Diana Metzger; I’m the programming coordinator here at Loyalty Bookstores. Thank you so much for coming out!
Diana: Especially I see my Nats fans. We’ll let you know the score after the talk?
Sarah: You can, you can interrupt us and just let us know.
Diana: Yeah. [Laughs] I’ll hold up my hands. But, but we are here tonight – even more exciting – to celebrate Sherry Thomas and her latest book –
Diana: – in the Lady Sherlock series are the best, and she’s in conversation tonight with Sarah Wendell of Smart Bitches, Trashy Books.
Diana: I was very excited to get to say the title.
Sarah: I really like calling the bank.
Diana: Your LLC?
Diana: So now is a great time to silence your cell phones. Pictures are allowed, but we ask that you do not use a flash and you tag us @Loyaltybooks. We are all over social media, and we love to share, so please do!
So how the event will work is, we’re going to have a bit of discussion and then time for Q & A with the audience, then we’re going to ask, if you wouldn’t mind, just helping us fold up our chairs, and we are going to do the signing a little differently. We’re going to do it back in our reading room so that we can commence quickly to cocktails –
Diana: – which are themed to the book, so it’s pretty exciting. So there’ll be plenty of time for signing and imbibing drinks. So a little bit about –
Hannah: There’s also mocktails if you are not –
Diana: Yes, and mocktails for our, our non-alcoholic imbibers.
A little bit about The Art of Theft before we get started: as Sherlock Holmes, consulting detective, Charlotte Holmes has solved murders and found missing individuals, but she has never stolen a priceless artwork, or, rather, made away with the secrets hidden behind a much-coveted canvas. But Mrs. Watson is desperate to help her old friend recover these secrets, and Charlotte finds herself involved in a fast-paced scheme to infiltrate a glamorous Yuletide ball where the painting is one handshake away from being sold and the secrets a bare breath from exposure. Her dear friend Lord Ingram, her sister Livia, Livia’s admirer Stephen Marbleton – everyone pitches in to help, and everyone has a grand time. But nothing about this adventure is what it seems, and disaster is biding time on the grounds of a glittering French chateau, waiting only for Charlotte to make a single mistake.
Very exciting. And a little bit about Sherry: USA Today bestseller Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed historical romance authors writing today and a two-time RITA award winner.
Diana: I’ll hand it over to you guys. Thank you so much!
Sarah: Hi, Sherry!
Sherry Thomas: Hi, Sarah!
Sarah: How you doing?
Sherry: I’m well!
Sarah: Okay! So I’m actually recording this for my podcast so that if you want to listen to this again you can, but that doesn’t mean we’re hooked up to a PA system. I’m naturally pretty loud; Sherry’s also pretty loud, but if you can’t hear us or if you’re, if we start to, you know, mumble – we get early cocktails or something – just let me know you can’t hear me.
Now, I want to thank Diana and Hannah, who are over here? Every bookstore –
Sarah: – is run by people who set up the chairs, and how many box cutters do you own?
Diana or Hannah: Twelve!
Diana or Hannah: Personally; the store has about nine.
Sarah: So whoever has box cutters and Sharpies pretty much rules the world, right.
Diana or Hannah: And sticky notes.
Sarah: And sticky notes. That’s really all you need to run a bookstore, in addition to books. So thank you, guys, for bringing, bringing this evening together.
Diana or Hannah: Of course. We love it.
Audience member: Oh, they do.
Sarah: This is awesome. So, congratulations!
Sherry: Oh, thank you very much!
Sarah: Your, your book came out.
Sherry: I know!
Sarah: Does that ever –
Sarah: – does that ever get old?
Sherry: No, it really got old the first time.
Sherry: Yes, yes. I am one of those stone-cold individuals who has never gone to a bookstore to look at my book.
Sherry: In fact, the first, the first time I saw a physical copy of my new book I was rushing out somewhere, so I took a look at it, and I rushed out.
Sherry: And, and I have to say, it’s the – because it’s, actually, when you’re a newer writer –
Sherry: – it’s actually quite stressful, a book release, ‘cause you wonder how the book is going to do.
Sarah: Just a little, yeah.
Sherry: Yeah, and, and that’s connected to whether you’ll be able to write more books, whether the book does well. Nowadays, the stress is slightly less, because I feel, yes, I’ll probably get the chance to write more books, but still, book releases mostly mean to me a lot of unpaid work. [Laughs]
Sarah: You, you don’t say. Yeah.
Sherry: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, but it’s, it’s like –
Sarah: No, it’s true!
Sherry: Yeah, you, there’s a lot of publicity stuff and –
Sherry: – so nowadays – travel; I didn’t travel for the longest time with romances – so, so it’s, it’s just activities!
Sherry: Book releases are a lot of activities.
Sarah: It’s like, it’s like camp, but there’s no s’mores and less bug spray.
Sherry: Right, exactly, and you’re constantly worried about leaving luggage behind because your brain has been scrambled. [Laughs]
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Sherry: But I have to say, you guys make it worthwhile.
Sherry: Thank you very, very much, because I could be traveling and facing empty bookstores too.
Sherry: And I have done that.
Sarah: I have done that.
Sherry: I have done book tours, I have been on book tours where four authors show up, and maybe four readers show up, if we were lucky. Yeah, so –
Sarah: I, I’ve been there.
Sherry: – so this is, this is, this is a place of tremendous privilege, to actually have people come and see you, and my mind is still blown every time. I know I look normal, but inside I’m going – (freak out noise).
Sarah: Yeah, my inner thirteen-year-old does that regularly. And I’ve, I’ve done a book event where it was one person plus the librarian at the library, and it was pouring rain, and, you know, we had a good time, but it’s still like – [gasps] – people came! Oh my gosh!
Sherry: Yeah! And it’s a Friday night, and there are games going on, and there’s all kinds of stuff! You could be –
Sarah: You put on shoes and, like, real –
Sarah: – pants and stuff!
Sherry: Netflix is there!
Sarah: So yeah, thank you, guys, for coming to hang out with us!
So I solicited questions on my website, and I have nosy questions from my own nosy brain, but I actually wanted to start with something from someone that isn’t a question. This is from Jazzlet? She says, I don’t have a question, but if there is a suitable opportunity, could you please tell Sherry that she is among the very select group of writers who can take me out –
[Dropped silverware, laughter]
Sherry: No, no, it’s, it’s, it’s –
Sarah: Lollipops everywhere.
Sherry: – God warning me!
Sherry: Not to hate, you know, book releases.
Sarah: Yeah. Yeah, I heard what you said.
Sherry: It’s like, oh, you are not great enough. Our next drop is on your head!
Sarah: Yeah, right? – that she is among a very select group of writers who can take me out of myself well enough to forget my chronic pain when I am reading about Charlotte, and that I am deeply and incredibly grateful for your ability to do this, so thank you.
Sherry: That is actually incredibly humbling, because I write because I like writing?
Sherry: I also write because I enjoy having an income, and mostly my goal in writing is to do a good job and to entertain people, so when, when, occasionally, when people tell me that my books are actually useful in some way besides mere entertainment, I am always floored, and I am incredibly humbled and, you know, this is not even my thirteen-year-old going hee-hee-hee-hee inside. This is just my thirteen-year-old on the floor going, wow –
Sherry: – I can’t believe I’m, you know, actually of some use in this world besides to my own children.
Sarah: Oh no. Hello! No, you are, you are most, most definitely of, of great use. I know that when I read this series, and I’m sure this is true for many of you, you, you do that thing where you wake up, you come out of the book, and you’re like, oh, it’s been four hours!
Sarah: I didn’t make dinner. At one point I was waiting to pick up my son in a parking lot, and I was reading the third one, and he got in the car.
Sarah: And I, I didn’t even notice. I was just sitting there on my, you know, reading, and he’s like, are you, are we going to go home? And I’m like, oh my God!
Sarah: So with this book, do you have a, like, a favorite scene or moment? I promise no spoilers. I, I promise there’s not going to be any spoilers about this book, ‘cause I presume some of you haven’t read it yet. [Sings] It’s awesome – [normal voice] – if you haven’t, but anyway – do you have a favorite scene or moment? Because you incorporated so many wonderful elements: you have a ball, you have a chateau, you have a heist. You have, you know, steamy pining.
Sarah: Really lots and lots –
Sherry: Our specialty.
Sarah: – lots of pining. So much forest of pining. What, what, if you have one, were your favorite scene or scenes from this book?
Sherry: This, I don’t think it’s a plot spoiler in the sense that I don’t think anybody will be surprised that Charlotte Holmes is still alive at the end of this book, I hope.
Sarah: Yeah, I haven’t heard that cliffhanger yet, so yeah.
Sherry: Right, right!
Sherry: So, so at the end of the night, the night of the heist, when they’re ready to make their getaways and there are people coming to check the carriages to see, are these the people we’re looking for? And, and she’s in the carriage with a secondary character who’s actually the hero of My Beautiful Enemy –
Sherry: – and so when they threw open the door, Charlotte threw herself on this gentleman and basically, you know, was like, oh, don’t, oh, monsieur, you must not let, you know, my husband’s men find me, and so on and so forth and, and this and that, so the, the people looking for them, like, disperse, and so they separate, and, and then – would anybody mind if I actually found the page?
Sarah: Go for it!
Sherry: I hope –
The door was again yanked open – so this is after the first batch of goons were gone – her door was again yanked open. Her surprised squeal was genuine this time, as she threw herself across the carriage into Lieutenant Atwood’s arms.
“Please, monsieur! You must save me from my husband! He would lock me in the attic and tell the world I’ve died!”
“And here I thought you didn’t even like Jane Eyre,” said Lord Ingram, closing the door behind himself and taking a seat –
Sherry: – next to Lieutenant Atwood.
So that was –
Sarah: Literary flirting. Literary flirting is so good.
Sherry: Which –
Sarah: And I love that scene, my favorite scene is actually immediately afterward, where, where Charlotte declares the evening a success for a very specific reason – I promise no spoilers. I love that part.
Sherry: I actually can’t remember what you’re talking about, but –
Sarah: I’ll tell you later!
Sherry: – that’s okay.
Sarah: It’s the twist. It’s the other question from the twist. Okay.
Sarah: Sarah Drew wanted me to ask you, obviously the inspiration for Charlotte Holmes is Sherlock. Now that you’re four books into the series, how often do you go back to the original Conan Doyle series, or has Charlotte grown into her own person and her own life so that the originals are less relevant as you go forward?
Sherry: I have actually never gone a lot into the original canon, because although I like the original canon, I have always loved the pastiche more. I’ve always thought the best Sherlock Holmes was in the pastiche, like in the Laurie R. King books or in the BBC Sherlock. The adaptations have always been my favorite Sherlock Holmes. So I did read A Study in Scarlet before I wrote A Study in Scarlet Women, and I think after that, whenever it’s time to write a new book, I always go and see if there’s anything I can steal from the original.
Sherry: But after the first one, actually, no, I haven’t stolen wholesale from the original much. I’ve only, like, taken, like, bits and pieces, so even in the very beginning it wasn’t, like, very strictly, a very strict Sherlock Holmes take, so yeah, now, yeah, now it’s taken on a life of its own, and, and I think it’s okay! I think the life of its own with a bit of nodding to the original canon here and there is what people like, and it’s what I like, so.
Sarah: Oh yeah.
Sarah: Now, one of the themes of the book is the idea of what we will do to help people, whether they’re family or friends or someone we feel responsible for, and how far we’ll go to help people, even to our own detriment. So Charlotte has her sisters; Ingram has Lady Ingram; Mrs. Watson and one of the new characters in this book: you revolve around that theme a lot, and at one point it’s made very explicit in the text, which I really, really liked. Was that something you thought about as you wrote the novel, or is that sort of something like the, the gremlins showed up with later, and you were like, oh hey, that worked!?
Sherry: Uh –
Sarah: Yeah –
Sherry: Are you, are you –
Sarah: – we were looking for –
Sherry: Oh! Ladies and gentlemen, the great Kate Reading has arrived!
Sherry: And for, for your listeners who may not be aware, Kate Reading is the narrator of the Lady Sherlock books, and she has done an absolute bang-on job! I couldn’t believe that I get to meet her, so hi! Nice to meet you!
Sherry: So back to your question, which was about – I, it was, it was actually, I, if, if you know me very well, you would know that my brain is shut off most of the time. This is not something that’s very obvious to most people, because you don’t see me a lot – [laughs] – but my husband, I think my mother knows that most of the time I’m just there, and I am like your computer does a sleep. You have to, like, press, press me to wake me up. You know, I, I appear, I appear sentient, but really I’m somewhere else. Yet on this, I actually made a conscious decision, because I very much enjoyed the, the Inspector Armand Gamache mysteries set in –
Sarah: Oh, they’re so good.
Sherry: – set in French Quebec, and, and it’s set in a very small village. Of course, the downside to things like that is you start to think, have the people in the village gone nuts yet, after ten murders have happened in, like, a place with maybe a hundred twenty people? You know –
Sarah: Wouldn’t that death toll, like, make the news?
Sherry: Yeah, yeah! You, you, you would think, huh?
Sarah: A new murder every year?
Sherry: And, and, and yet, I really love that series, and I think the reason I love that series is because the community she’s built and how everybody cares for each other, and even the bitter, the, the cynical ones somehow, you know, stay in the community because they still want to be loved; they still want to love and be loved. So when I started the Lady Sherlock books, it was very much intentionally that I want to build a community. Not necessarily a community of women, but that’s a huge part of it, because, because once I made a decision that Watson was also going to be a woman – not just Sherlock, but Watson – then it instantly became a question of, a topic of women’s friendship, women’s community, and coming, having, coming up, basically having come of age in the romance writers community, I think I can say this, because other than the four month when I have worked as an intern at an accounting firm, I have not worked with men in twenty-some years, in all of my adult life.
Sarah: Nice job.
Sarah: It’s pretty great, isn’t it?
Sherry: Yeah, and, and nowadays, it’s like the only men I know are, I’m either married to them or gave, or given birth to them.
Sarah: Yeah! Yeah, can confirm.
Sherry: So, so, so I, I live, like, I live surrounded: my friends are women; my colleagues are women; my, my editor; my agent; all of them have been, are and have been women, and I enjoy it very, very much, and I love the community of women, so I wanted that love to come across. This, this, not necessarily unquestioning support, but definitely the support of women, and not, not support for support’s sake. You know, you’re, it’s just that it’s great! It’s a great place to be in, in the bosom of all these great women –
Sherry: – and so, so yes, that’s deliberately built in, and of course, if people matter to you, then you go to the mat for them.
Sherry: Especially since you could. If you’re, if you’re Sherlock Holmes and you have a brain like a surgical implement, why not do what you could? Yeah.
Sarah: I love that that’s the case, because that’s my, one of my favorite things about the series and the world, especially how Mrs. Watson and Charlotte take care of each other and the sort of hidden code of conduct that surrounds both of them. Like, Mrs. Watson will only speak to her neighbor outside on the street and won’t put her neighbor in the position of having to speak to her privately, because Mrs. Watson is of a different social status, and there’s all this hidden code and behavior of conduct.
Sherry: Mrs. Watson is extremely chivalrous.
Sarah: Oh, she really is.
Sarah: That’s such a good way to describe her, yeah. She’s absolutely chivalrous. Especially in this book.
Sherry: This, this, this is, this is totally off-topic, but –
Sarah: Don’t let that stop you.
Sherry: – but many years ago, I heard, I heard – I didn’t hear a speech; I think I read that speech in print, but Jodie Foster was being honored for something, and when she accepted the award and she says, you know, I have always, in this business, I’ve always tried to be a gentleman.
Audience member: Hmm!
Sherry: And that stuck with me so hard, because I was like, I instantly get what she means.
Sherry: Because lady is such a sexualized term.
Sarah: Oh yes.
Sherry: It’s bound up in so much sexual mores. Like, I would be looking at myself askance if I were to refer to myself as a lady, and yet I have no problem at all referring to myself as a gentleman. You immediately understand.
Sarah: And it’s not gender, it’s conduct.
Sherry: Yeah, exactly. So, like, I, I would love to, in my lifetime, to have such a term for women, you know.
Sherry: But, but Mrs. Watson is an absolute gentleman; that’s what she is.
Sarah: Oh, it’s such a good way to describe her, because she really is. You seem to have a lot of affection for her.
Sherry: I do, I do. I mean, I have affection for women in general!
Sherry: I like the men too, yeah, but –
Sarah: I mean, the ones that live in your house are fine.
Sherry: Right, they’re okay.
Sarah: Yeah, they’re, they’re okay. I mean, you’re responsible for them most of the time.
Sherry: Not for my husband, no.
Sherry: He’s got to take care of himself.
Sarah: Especially while you’re on book tour! [Laughs]
So what about Lord Remington? Amanda wanted to know if we would see Lord Remington again, and she also wants me to say specifically, thank you for this wonderful series.
Sherry: Oh! Thank you, Amanda. I don’t see why not! Frankly, I haven’t thought of Lord Remington since, since book three wrapped, but that’s common, because the other thing I suddenly thought: oh! What about Charlotte’s brother? You know, and I haven’t thought about him also since book three, but I thought of him just then, and I was like, eh! Yeah.
Sarah: So your brain works with you sometimes.
Sherry: After it’s been off for a long time it will turn on and go ding!
Sarah: Makes sense! So we might see, we might see more of Remington in the future –
Sherry: Oh yeah, why not?
Sarah: – maybe. Sure why not?
Sherry: He’s a brother, yeah.
Sarah: Okay. If we’re placing orders, I would nominate more Remington. Just, you know. If we’re, if we’re, if we’re making suggestions.
Shari says, I just finished The Art of Theft. I have two questions: do you know how many more Charlotte Holmes books you are planning, and if not many more, do you know what your next project will be?
Sherry: From the very beginning I have thought that I could write ten good books in this series. I have one more book under contract, and my agent has just started the process to get two more books under contract, and –
Sarah: Who do we call?
Sarah: Do you have a number? ‘Cause I’ll call, I’m calling Macmillan already. I can just make a list.
Sherry: Yeah, you can call, you can call Penguin Random House, I’m with them, so –
Sarah: All right, yep.
Sherry: Yeah, I, I, I don’t think, I don’t think –
Sarah: Mr. Penguin or Mr. Random?
Sherry: – I don’t think – it’s, it’s Penguin, it’s Penguin. Yeah –
Audience member: – the Penguin side –
Sherry: Yeah. I was with the Random side earlier, so I’ve both been Penguin and Random. Yeah.
Sherry: And, no, I don’t, I don’t think it’ll be a huge problem to, to continue the series at this point.
Sarah: For the record, Sherry, Sherry’s audiobook narrator just went, YES! And we all agree with you on that sentiment.
Sherry: And, and, and since, since I sort of thought it would be ten books and, and now you already know that my brain’s off most of the time, so I actually don’t know what’s going to happen. The reasons these books are so tightly knit together is because whenever a new book comes I’m always like, don’t know what to do! Let’s see what happened in the previous book!
Sarah: Previously in Charlotte Holmes –
Sherry: Yeah, yeah, exactly! So, so actually, people are like, why do these books have cliffhangers? I was like, cliffhanger is actually to point me to the right direction for, for where to go in the next book, because it has happened. I think in the second book I threw in a cliffhanger just for the heck of it, and because – and then in the third book I went off in a totally different direction and wrote ten thousand words set in Scotland featuring a lot of séances going, no, this is really not where it should go at all! And then, so then I have to go back and, and look at, and when I saw that, when I saw that cliffhanger, so-called cliffhanger, and I was like, oh yeah! I actually should pick up right afterwards! Why didn’t I think of that? So yeah, so that’s what I did, and then, and then that kind of got the third book onto the right track after a while, so, so the cliffhanger that’s in this book is actually just to tell me, don’t forget, that’s what you’re supposed to do next time. Yeah.
Sarah: So your writing process is a lot of Present Sherry going back to Past Sherry and saying, thank you! Thank you for that!
Sherry: I know! Yeah, Past Sherry actually isn’t bad when it comes to, like –
Sarah: Past Sherry’s getting it done!
Sherry: – it, when it comes to, Past Sherry is, has been awful in the past about things like, you know, stuff that needs doing around the house.
Sarah: Oh, that’s optional.
Sherry: But yeah, in terms of work, she hasn’t been too bad.
Sarah: Oh, Past Sar-, Past Sherry is getting it done. Do not worry. Absolutely.
Now, Anonymous also loved The Art of Theft. Please ask if Charlotte will be meeting Catherine Blade from My Beautiful Enemy in a future sequel. Could that happen, pretty please with sugar on top? I second this motion; all in favor? All right, the motion is carried. Past Sherry, we are waiting.
Sherry: The, the only problem with that is, I did not intend to be so, and yet these books have been packed so tightly together, timeframe-wise. I, I, I’m sorry, I’ve forgotten to put the, the, the time to timestamp these books at the beginning – I will do that with the next book – but it started in the summer of 1886 –
Sherry: – and we’re just in November, I mean December of 1886, so it’s five books, and only six months have passed. And –
Sherry: I know, I know. And Catherine, Catherine Blade does not come to England for another five or six years in the future.
Sarah: So that’s like forty-two books from now.
Sherry: You are exactly right, so, so, so –
Sarah: You can do it! It’s fine!
Sherry: – so I’ve been thinking: I have actually, you know, been thinking to myself vaguely, as I’m lying on the couch, like, I’ve really got to skip, like, three years in, in one of those, you know, in between one of those two books or something, something. Yeah.
Sarah: Now I’m picturing Charlotte with her maximum permi-, permittable chins up in that short of, of a, of a, of a timeframe. I really want to know her pastry preferences. Up and down, up and down. Wow!
Sherry: Yeah, it’s, it’s, it’s, she’s like us, right?
Sarah: Yeah, oh yeah.
Sherry: So she, she loves her food, but she also has her vanity, and she, and they didn’t have synthetic materials back then –
Sherry: – so she has to fit back into the same clothes that she probably made to be vain –
Sherry: – you know, to be laced tightly and all that.
Sherry: I think, I think at one point I wrote this in the book, but it may not have made it into the final point, which is like, think somebody was asking her why she doesn’t do rational dressing, because rational dressing existed at the time. It’s, like, corset-less and, like, much more loose, flowing, and she said, I would look like a sausage in rational dressing, which is not true, but we women always will say things like that. So yeah, so Charlotte, for Charlotte it’s a struggle between her vanity and her appetite, and sometimes her appetite wins, and sometimes her appetite has to be, you know, bow to greater forces. [Laughs]
Sarah: I also love that, especially in the previous book there was, this was more explicit, that she is also balancing a third item, which is that her physical body provides insulation to too much stimulation –
Sherry: Yes, yes.
Sarah: – for her, and that in this book she talks about how her manner of dress is actually soothing. It is a self-soothing mechanism for her. It’s a deliberate choice. So she’s, she’s balancing a lot of awareness of herself while just really wanting cake, which I relate to deeply.
Sherry: Yeah. I, I used to have, I used to have a whole cake, like, and not a piddly cake. I’m talking about a full-size –
Sarah: Like Costco cake?
Sherry: No, no, not Costco cake. I am not –
Sherry: Oh no, sometimes, sometimes –
Sarah: ‘Cause I could go swimming in a Costco cake.
Sherry: Sometimes if they’re in, there are bar-size cakes, but they’re –
Sherry: – no, they’re full graduation-size cakes.
Sherry: I’ve had the Costco bar-size cake all by myself. I, I have had, gone to the –
Sarah: I’m so proud!
Sherry: – the, I’ve gone to my local bakery and had, like, you know, of those, like, plate-size –
Sherry: – four-layer, fully frosted cake. That’ll be like, you know, I’ll put it in the back of the fridge, and I’ll have two slices a day, and it’ll be gone within the week, so that’ll be my deadline week, and that’ll be my deadline cake. Yeah.
Sarah: Did you guys know there was deadline cake?!
Audience member: I did!
Sarah: You did?
Sherry: Yeah, yeah, so I haven’t, I haven’t been able to do as much of that in recent years, because, because I seem to have, I seem to have more deadlines, because I write bad drafts, so I keep writ-, so every draft has a deadline, and then I cannot, you know, if I have four or five draft deadlines a year I can’t, I really cannot do four or five whole cakes a year. It, it has to be cut back a bit, but –
Sarah: [Laughs] I’m sorry.
Sherry: It’s very sad, I know.
Sarah: I was at Costco today, and they’re stocking up for Thanksgiving and the holidays, and they have those pumpkin pies that are the size of, like, a truck hubcap?
Audience member: Oh boy.
Sarah: Like, you could take a nap in that pie? So I’m thinking, like, your next deadline, you might just want to –
Sherry: I have, I have done that with their apple pies!
Sherry: Oh, the, the hub-sized, hub-sized, yeah.
Sarah: They’re like a cushion.
Sherry: Yeah, yeah, I have, I have –
Sarah: And you can put it on a couch.
Sherry: – I have gone through, like, most of one myself.
Sarah: Oh yeah. I, yeah! I, that’s not a problem!
So Aarya wanted to know – and this is very funny because you actually had to ask her, what are you talking about? – how evil was your laugh when you plotted the twist of The Hollow of Fear? Was it more of a cackle? Was it like a low chuckle? Was it a slight grin?
Sherry: Yeah, I actually had to DM Aarya and ask, which, which twist are we talking about? I thought, I thought it was one about the relationship, the romantic relationship, and it, it did turn out to be that, she confirmed that, and I have to say, there are multiple twists in the book. Some of them, when I thought of them I went like, oh my God, yes! And some of them when I thought, I’m going like, holy smoke, that’s clichéd!
Sherry: I hope, I hope I can get away with it. And, and, and this one, I actually did not even think of as a twist.
Sarah: No kidding!
Sherry: No kidding! I, I always assumed that, you know, that to, that to be the case, and, and my, my, actually, I wrote it out more, more explicitly that, that what you thought of as a romantic progression was actually not quite that, because my critique partner was like, well, now you don’t have any, now you don’t have any romantic obstacles. I was like, what do you mean? And then I re-, oh! It was so implicit I didn’t see it, so then I made it explicit, in, in the sense that – but I, I, I faced this question actually yesterday at, at Love’s Sweet Arrow in Chicago, about the, the romantic progression, about the slow burn and –
Sherry: – and whatnot, and my answer is actually, this, when I originally imagined how this book would be set up, what happened in book two wasn’t supposed to happen till book five. Not that I knew what was going to happen between book one and book five, but I thought that was going to happen in book five, and then because I didn’t know what to do, I took the plot from book five and –
Sherry: – and, and did book two with it. And then, again, I thought something else was going to happen. So, so what happened in book three was what I was going to replace book five with. So again, I had to – so in the, what happened is that the, the romantic progression actually happened much faster than I thought it would, so –
Sarah: We’re coming up on book five now.
Sherry: – but if you call, if you call this a slow burn –
Sherry: – what I had originally envisioned would be like, you know, a, a, a bare spark of an ember, you know, buried deep in coal dust. Yeah, so.
Sarah: So we’re coming up on book five now.
Sherry: I know, I know! And I actually know what to do! I was shocked!
Sherry: Yeah, because when I did that for book two and three I go, oh my God, when I come to book five, book five is going to, like, kick me so hard! Yeah, but, but my critique partner gave me an idea, and so, so I had a heist idea, and I had her idea of doing something with, with Inspector Treadles. I presented them both to my editor, and she said, we’ll do the heist first and the other one later. I was like, cool. We are all sorted until book five.
Sarah: Nice! Past Sherry is getting it done! That is nice!
Now, I like to ask, what do you do to care for your creative self? Because writing, kind of hard. When you’re not swimming in a pie –
Sherry: [Laughs] It is hard, even when you are swimming in a pie.
Sherry: Yeah. That’s why the pie is necessary in the first place.
Sherry: Easy jobs do not call for cake.
Sherry: Though I actually haven’t – this will be the fourth time I’m, I’m mentioning this, that my brain is shut off most of the time. That’s how I later realized it’s like my body’s nat-, natural mechanism against burnout, I guess, because, because it’s actually not being used. It’s, I am just there kind of like Vegetable Sherry. I can cook and clean and, and all that, but, but I really don’t do a whole lot. The thing is, writing, the hard part of writing is, it requires so many, you to make so many decisions.
Sherry: And especially at the beginning of a book, every decision you make has repercussions throughout the rest of the book.
Sherry: So it’s really, so it’s, like, very, it’s sort of like at a certain stress level, making those decisions, knowing that you’re going to have to live with them, and, and so in the rest of my life I’ve, I’ve kind of simplified my life as much as I could of all decisions. I mean, good thing it’s like I don’t, I work at home so I don’t have to wake up and wonder what to wear. I don’t have to, you know, wonder when I should go to work, and now that I’m empty-nesting I don’t even have to wonder about, you know, what I’m going to do with my kids. So it’s, it’s kind of like, so I am very minimalist in the rest of my life.
Sherry: And also, I was, I was recently introduced into another writers group; not my local romance writers, but another writers group in Austin, and they introduced me as a prolific author, and I looked at that word and I blinked a few times.
Sherry: And, and I was like, prolific? By whose standard? And then I realized, I think in this day and age of, of independent publishing, with the market being what it is and with a lot of authors forced to come out with four or six books a year, my, my concept of prolific probably got skewed, that I, I think if you’re not writing ten books a year you cannot be called prolific, but I guess compared to people in the rest of the genres, if you consistently release one, one and a half books a year for, like, you know, twelve, thirteen years and have, say, nineteen, twenty books under your belt, yeah, I guess that could be called prolific, because it is a constant output. But really, by romance standard, I am not doing that much. I am doing one book a year plus an occasional, another book a year, and, and I think, I think I am built temperamentally and constitutionally to withstand that much work, even though, even though cake is necessary to get me through it.
Sarah: Oh, I mean, when is cake not necessary? Now, I always ask, do you have books that you want to tell people about?
Sherry: Yeah, yeah! I always do, because I, I do read a lot. Let’s see, I recently, if you like historical mysteries, recently I have loved Bella Ellis’s The Vanished Bride, which is the first book in her Brontë Sisters Mysteries. We recently interviewed each other because we both work with literary icons. Mine’s fictional and hers were real life. She – and the thing was, I mean, you heard me making fun of Jane Eyre just in this book, and that’s probably not the first time I’ve made fun of Mr. Rochester; I feel like I did it in The Hollow of Fear too. So I approached her book with a certain trepidation –
Sherry: – given that I have not been, like, a huge fan of the Brontës’ work, and she just won me over. I love the Brontë sisters as she portrayed them, and I think it’s probably how they, very close to how they were in real life. They were just such fierce women! And such iconoclasts that I was, like, completely won over and, and I, I actually don’t like Gothic, but her Gothic was so well done, and I was like, ooh, sucked in! So –
Sarah: When someone told me about that book and said, well, the Brontë sisters solve crime, I was like, I didn’t know I needed those words in that order, but I do?
Sarah: I did not know that that was what I needed –
Sherry: Yeah, so –
Sarah: – but it was exactly what I wanted.
Sherry: – so it’s very well done, and I think – right now I’m also listening, I just got into the Vorkosigan Saga by – I always mix up her name.
Sarah: Lois McMaster Bujold?
Sherry: Lois McMaster Bujold: I never know which one’s her middle name, which one’s her last. And also, if we go a little wider, I, I read science fiction, and, and I actually really love science fiction by women, so the, The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemisin is, is, like, yeah, it was mindblowingly good. I mean, she’s been mindblowingly good since she first debuted at –
Sherry: – what is it called, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms?
Sarah: The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, yeah.
Sherry: Yeah, and, and Kameron Hurley, another woman science fiction writer, wrote The Stars Are Legion, and –
Sherry: – I kid you not, it’s the most hardcore book I’ve ever listened to. At one point, at one point I was cooking, and I stopped cooking because it was so stomach-turning, and, and I usually eat when I read, so I was like, I don’t know whether I can carry on, but the whole narrative was just like, there’s such a driving force to the narrative that I, I did carry on, and I was very glad that I did, and, and it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s another mindblowing book. Women are doing terrific work these days.
Sarah: Isn’t it the truth?
Sarah: Now, I am really excited that Kate Reading is sitting to my left, and I wanted to ask you a question? You seem to have really enjoyed these series and, and narrating them, and your narration is exquisite. Like, before you got here, we were all like, is she here? Is she here?
Sarah: Has she come yet? We want to meet her. So can I ask you how much you’ve enjoyed narrating these books?
Kate Reading: Oh my God.
Kate: The first book that I got, when I started read it, I was like, who is this writer? How does she know this world? I grew up in that world! I grew up in England without a television –
Sarah: You don’t say!
Kate: – so I was desperate, and all I did was read, and I grew up among these eccentric rural English people, and I’m looking at the characters in this book and I’m going, I know all of these people; I grew up with them! They all behaved like Victorians.
Kate: It was, you know, it was the 1960s, but it might as well have been 1860. What’s a hundred years, you know?
Sarah: In England, not much!
Kate: So I just fell in love, and I loved Charlotte. I loved her kind of radical, liberated mindset. You know, she was so free to do these things that she needed to do, and she was so canny about how she would overcome the obstacles that society placed in front of her that I thought, well, this is, this is inspiring for anyone who feels locked in place, anyone who feels stuck. You know, just, like, what would Charlotte do? Like, that should be your mantra.
Kate: And, yeah, I have, and then I found Sherry on Twitter, and I send her messages. Very exciting! And I’m so thrilled to hear how many more books you have!
Sarah: She’s going to, you’re going to be in your booth like, come on! Let’s go!
All right, who has questions for Sherry? I open it to the floor. I’ve got more, but I like to yield to the floor and, and invite people to ask questions. Yes, sir!
Audience member: From this point forward, how do we teach our children the behavior, the gentleman versus the lady behavior? Gender aside.
Sherry: I’ve always felt like a virtue is a virtue. I don’t think virtues are gendered, and I’ve, I’ve felt that there are a lot of traditionally, virtues traditionally considered feminine that it would be great if more men would choose to see them as universal virtues –
Sherry: – such as, you know, compassion, understanding, the, the, the love of community, and I have also felt that there’s a lot of virtues traditionally considered masculine that we should not keep women away from, such as independence, audacity, and –
Sherry: And I feel that, you know, if we are to praise men for something, let’s also praise women for the same. And if we’re going to denigrate, if we’re going to scorn women for something, let’s scorn the same in men. Basically, we’re not asking for special anything. All we ask is equality. Is, is, is fairness across the board. So that’s – and fairness! Fairness is a great virtue to teach everybody.
Sarah: I like you.
Sarah: Who has questions? Hi!
Audience member: Hi!
Sarah: What’s your question?
Audience member: So there’s been, like, a little bit of a, a tsunami about historical accuracy in books recently on the internet. I was wondering, what’s your research process like? How do you study? How do you make sure things are buttoned up? What is like for you?
Sherry: When you speak of historic accuracy, currently you’re speaking of representational accuracy, correct? And not just, like, say, what they wore and what they ate and that sort of accuracy. So if –
Audience member: – in general.
Sherry: – if you’re talking about general historical accuracy, I work in a very fortunate era in the sense that, that it is just outside of whatchamacallit, copyright laws, so –
Sherry: – so on Google Books there’s an unbelievable number of primary sources. You can actually find out exactly how, how much a passage from, like, Liverpool to Bombay would cost back in the day and how long the passage would take and how many ships will go there, you know, in terms of, like, oh, a mail ship might go the other direction from America and take fifty days to get to Australia versus you going the other direction, and so all that, for me, has been like, ever since Google Books came along, it’s changed my life, ‘cause before that I had to drag a suitcase, I had to get a General Public membership at the library at University of Austin so I could drag a suitcase to it and take a suitcase full of books back home to, like, sift through it, but now I can basically get on Google Books and, like, find really granular details as to exactly what people were eating and what they were wearing and, and how long it takes to get to place to place. Like, like there were, there were instances when in my historical romance I needed a train journey, and I could find, oh, this, this tunnel in Italy was built right before this time so that they could make it from this place to that place in twenty hours! Phew! You know. Like, I love writing in that era, not, not only because I could find out things, but because, but because it was, it was like, things were fast! You didn’t have to, like, you know, like eighty days, around the world in eighty days was done in that, in that era, and it was, they had the Victorian internet, which was the tele-, telegraph, and so, so things were happening fast.
And as for, you didn’t specifically ask about it, but I have actually thought about this a lot in the sense of the representational accuracy, and I can, I, I was probably one of the least woke individual you could meet. Like, you know, the brain thing that’s shut off?
Sherry: And also because, from a personal background, I was not born and brought up here, but in China, which is a lot more monoculture than the US is, so there’s not even that awareness of the majorities and the minorities and you need representation. Everybody was, well, it, there are minorities in China, but not in my part of China. Like, occasionally you hear, oh, someone may be of the Korean nationality, but it got, wow! You know, and that would be, like, one person in the whole city or something. So even after I came here, I continued to be pretty blithe about it. Like, I did not need to see myself represented in books because, heck, my whole life, every book I’d read up until that point, they were all Chinese, all Chinese! So I was like, I didn’t have that personal need, and so I, when I was reading historical romance and it was, like, all white people, I was just like, sure! Yeah.
Sherry: I’m sure that must have been the case! All white people!
Sherry: Like, I did not ask questions. I didn’t know any better, and I did not ask questions, so it was, what had happened in the past few years was that, like, like, I became somewhat less ignorant, and then I was also going, oh! Oh! I, I did not know that! So now I am also making sure that my books are slightly more representational. I think in, in the, in The Art of Theft we had an Indian woman –
Sherry: – and in The Art of Theft you found out that – I don’t think this is a huge, huge spoiler – that Mrs. Watson is queer! I mean, Mrs. Watson loves people.
Sherry: I think today she’d probably be called pansexual. Yeah, mm-hmm. And –
Sarah: Also awesome? I would just call her awesome.
Sherry: Yes, yes, exactly! Yeah.
Sarah: Like, unquestionably exquisite. Life goals. You know.
Sherry: And, and I think in my next book, I plan to introduce a character who is biracial, and so, you know, because they also existed!
Sarah: And questions of identity and awareness show up in this book as well, because Mrs. Watson has to confront her past self and the ignorance of her past self as part of the development of this story.
Sherry: Yeah, exactly, and her, her, her ignorance was not so much about her own sexuality – I think that she always knew pretty well – but it was about what kind of constraints there were on her, on her Indian, Indian friend, being a colonial. Like, a colonial, you know, spending time in the heart of the empire, how she has to conduct herself, where she can and could not stay, especially given they had met not too long after the great Indian Mutiny. Yeah.
Sarah: Their conversations are some of my favorite in this book. They have such a lovely friendship, with a really nice undercurrent of extra? I love that.
Sherry: I mean, it’s your good axis. Yeah.
Sarah: Yeah. Who has questions? Ma’am.
Audience member: This is more of a compliment than a question. I was really struck in the first book by how much time and trouble you took to describe Charlotte’s family and her childhood. But I’m curious about her, her family, besides the mystery brother, if they’re going to play any role, or you probably don’t know yet.
Sherry: You’re exactly right. I have no idea until something, when something would suddenly drop into my head, such as, hey, what about so-and-so? Yeah, but thank you for that, because sometimes people have said, well, book one is, reads slightly slower, and I’m like, yeah, I’m sorry, because book one is an origin story in addition to a mystery, so origin stories suck for that reason, because you have to shove in –
Sherry: – you have to shove in an origin in addition to trying to do everything else that –
Sarah: You’re so right.
Sherry: – that particular genre demanded. Yeah.
Audience member: Well, I’m a huge Sherlock Holmes fan for my whole life, and I’ve read all of them many times, and I was really impressed by some of the traits that you kind of sneaked in that really relate to the real Sherlock, which I guess you’ve picked up in the pastiches rather than the original!
Sherry: No, I, I, I read the original too, yeah.
Audience member: She had all these traits, even as a child, and now she’s grown up and figured out a way to put them to good use. It’s perfect!
Sherry: Thank you, thank you very much.
Sarah: I also love that in this book we see more of Livia? That Livia gets her voice. Like, in multiple ways, she gets her voice and she’s learning agency, and it’s, it’s not as if – it’s Bernadette, right? Bernadette?
Sherry: Bernadette is the –
Sarah: Bernadette, yeah her sister with –
Sherry: – yeah, is the sister with severe autism, yeah.
Sarah: Right. She’s not going to have agency, but she is going to have safety, and Livia is going to have safety and agency, because Charlotte is determined to have agency and safety and give that to other people? That is such an incredible relationship.
Sherry: Oh, thank you!
Sarah: It’s such a gift!
Sherry: Thank you! I, I always get really happy when people say they like the relationship between sisters, because I am only child.
Sherry: But, you know, I have, like I said, I’ve been in the community of women for so long, and I feel like I could realistically portray –
Sherry: – you know, love between women. Yeah.
Sarah: Yep! Ma’am.
Audience member: I have comment. I, I follow you on Twitter, but my son and I, we’ve read the Elemental Trilogy, and so I told him I was coming to see you tonight, and I said, do you have anything you want to say to her? And he said, just tell her that they’re the best, best, best books ever!
Sherry: Oh my God!
Audience member: He loved them so much! He does, he thinks they’re better than Harry Potter.
Sherry: Oh, thank you so much!
Audience member: – not read the Elemental Trilogy, I strongly urge you to do so. It’s amazing, and also has a lot of gender-bending stuff, so. But the comment that I wanted to make also is that in the first book, the thing that struck me so much is Charlotte is so, she’s so smart, she’s so possessed, and the first thing we see her do is such a spectacular miscalculation. I really thought that that was such a nice way to set up, because she is so smart, she is so controlled, but there was this, for a long period time I was reading, like, oh my God! You know, what’s going to happen next? Is she going to survive? And so I really enjoyed that.
Sherry: Thank you very much. I, it’s always been my mantra that the smarter people are, the bigger the mistakes they make, because they think they are smart, and, and so if you, if you, like, require a colossal mistake, you go to a genius. Yeah.
Sherry: Because, and because, you know, they, they, they would tend to go for the big schemes –
Audience member: Right.
Sherry: – and when they fail, they’ll fail spectacularly. And also because Charlotte, in her way, she was not worldly. Right, because she has also been living a very constricted life, so there’s no way that she can succeed at everything she sets out to do, and this is also one of the reasons why I made Mrs. Watson a woman who has lived and who has had experience, so she is, in a way, Charlotte’s mentor in life. Like, Charlotte can deduce like nobody’s business, but in a lot of things, like, it’s Mrs. Watson who’ll shepherd her along.
Sarah: Mm-hmm. Especially in the, in the social stratus that she’s in now. She has to have Mr., Mrs. Watson to, to help her set up.
Sherry: Right, right, exactly.
Sarah: And that, that’s also made explicit in this book, that, that Charlotte says, I can never repay the debt that I have to you. I can never do enough to help you.
Sherry: Right, right. I mean, I don’t think that’s necessarily true. I think –
Sherry: – debts can be repaid, but, you know, she feels that way, and she should feel that way.
Sarah: Yeah, she’s aware.
Sherry: Yeah. Mm-hmm.
Sarah: She’s aware of that.
Sarah: All right, Margaret?
Margaret: Yeah, I just wanted to ask, well, you’ve talked about having ten books of the Charlotte series, but to follow up on, on what she just said, like, your Elemental Trilogy is so fantastic; Mulan was so fantastic. Like, if you get an idea for another YA book, if you’d, like, try to cram it in, or how do you decide what you’re going to write and –
Sherry: Well, the thing is, I, I am an idea-poor writer, and that’s been the case since the very beginning. I don’t have a dozen ideas running around; I barely have one or two, and sometimes I have none and have to, like, really, like, as I look at previous books to see what I can do in the next one. So, so it’s not as if I’m, like, being hounded by ideas, and there have been very few books that I’ve, since, since I sold my first book, I think there have been only like two books I wrote voluntarily, were not under contract –
Sherry: – because I, you know, ‘cause most of the time you do have an idea, but then you need to put time into the idea; you need to put effort, and books are hard to write, and you can only eat this much cake, and –
Sherry: – and so The Burning Sky was one. I, I just, I just wanted to write that book, my, it’s my Young Adult gender-bending, like, take on Harry Potter, which is young mages living in, in Muggle school, trying to take down the Dark Lord, and so that book required six drafts before my editor, my, my agent would take it out to shop, so it was – and the other one was, was, was actually my contemporary, which I gestated for eight years, and finally I just wanted to write it.
Mulan was something else altogether. Mulan, they came to me and asked, hey, are you interested in writing an adaptation of Mulan? And I foolishly said, why not? And six drafts later – [laughs]
So I, so I actually don’t have that many pressing things, so it’s always been honor the contract first, and if you still have brain space left and the idea and, you know, then you write something else. I, I am sort of working on a Young Adult, like, maybe Chinese-influenced fantasy, but I am not sure, because the, the weakness to my writing or to me as a commercial writer is that I suck really hard at writing proposals, and if you know what a proposal is, it’s, it’s that first three chapters plus a synopsis that you send to publishing houses, especially to YA houses, to say, hey, would you like to buy this? I have never sold a book on a proposal, because I write terrible beginnings, and I write terrible first drafts, and they require me to, like, basically, sometimes write all the way to the end before I can go back and fix. So, so you know, you, you going back out not with your best work –
Sherry: – and you don’t get picked up. It happened in The Magnolia Sword. Till we finally managed a full draft with The Magnolia Sword, my editor said to me, I love the back half! What the heck does that mean?
Sherry: So I asked her outright, so the first half, where do you put it as, you know, on a scale of one to ten? She’s like, it’s at a four, and I was like, bleep! Because if it’s at a seven, you can massage a seven into an eight, maybe even eight and a half. A four –
Sherry: – there’s nothing you can do with a four. You chuck, you chuck the front half of your book and you restart, and you see how you can get it to match the back half. Yeah, so, which was like, yeah. So what was your question?
Sherry: Like, how do I, how would I choose to go do other projects? Yeah, no, I won’t be doing too many projects.
Sarah: Okay! Diana? Are we going to sign and then drink, or are we going to drink –
Diana: We want to drink and sign!
Sarah: I love this a lot!
Sarah: This is a great plan! I’m thrilled to be a part of it!
Sherry: They, they actually asked me, and I was like, let’s not impede people from their cocktails. Yes.
Sarah: You make good choices. Thank you guys so much for coming out.
Sherry: And thank you so much for coming! Thank you all!
Sarah: All right.
Sarah: And that brings us to the end of this week’s episode. I will have links in the show notes about where you can find Loyalty Books, because it’s important to support your romance-friendly indies, and they are definitely one, and I will have links to where you can find Sherry Thomas and Kate Reading as well!
This podcast was brought to you by Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney. This holiday season, steal away with the reigning queens of Regency romance, plus one or two dukes, an heiress, and a headstrong beauty, to a surprise snowstorm, the comfort of a blazing fire, and the heat of a lover’s kiss. Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney combined their awesome talents into this not-to-miss collection, filled with their signature wit, dynamic heroines, and swoon-worthy heroes. Seduction on a Snowy Night by Madeline Hunter, Sabrina Jeffries, and Mary Jo Putney is on sale wherever books are sold. For more information, visit kensingtonbooks.com.
This week’s podcast and the transcript are being brought to you by Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany. If you like Megan Hart and Liane Moriarty, you will love this seductive, nuanced novel with a strong, sex-positive female protagonist. You think you know your neighbors, but when it comes to Jake and Jessica Snyder, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. When they first discover an exciting but taboo sexual behavior, it reignites the spark in their marriage and deepens feelings of connection and trust – that is, until Jessica keeps a secret from Jake involving an intriguing man from her past. What happens after that will threaten to destroy their world and them. Caroline Kepnes says this book is a “sizzling, squirming, thought-provoking story of female growth,” and Jen Lancaster recommended it to her online book club. Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany is on sale now wherever books are sold, and you can find out more at amyhatvany.com.
Thank you to our Patreon audience and community who support the show each week. If you would like to join the Patreon community, have a look at patreon.com/SmartBitches. Every pledge is deeply appreciated, and pledges start at one dollar a month. There are different pledge levels; some of them include compliments, which are really fun, so I invite you to have a look. Thank you again to our Patreon community for keeping the show going. You are all marvelous!
Coming up on Smart Bitches this week: Oh, hot diggety. We have a Kickass Women in History and the first of our two threads each month about what are you reading? Well, technically, Whatcha Reading? I’m having trouble finding a book to read at the moment, so I am really curious to hear what books are rocking your world. I hope you can give me some recommendations. We also have a new knitting column from Elyse about knitting advent calendars, plus we have new reviews, Cover Snark, another Holiday Gift Guide, Help a Bitch Out, and Books on Sale. I hope you will come and hang out with us at smartbitchestrashybooks.com.
I will have links in the show notes at smartbitchestrashybooks.com/podcast to all of the books we talked about, and links to where you can find Sherry and the bookstore if you want to go shopping.
But as always, I will end with a terrible joke, because it’s delightful, and I love how many of you listen to the very end. This was emailed to me by Evo (FLAG spelling? 1:04:39). You can email me your very worst jokes at Sarah with an H – S-A-R-A-H – at smartbitchestrashybooks.com [Sarah@smartbitchestrashybooks.com]. I absolutely delight in the terrible jokes that you send me, and this one is amazing! I’m so excited! [Clears throat] Okay. Serious podcaster voice:
What do you call a two-hundred-year-old buffalo?
[Laughs] What do you call a two-hundred-year-old buffalo?
It’s so dumb! [Laughs] I love it so much! Thank you, Evo! Please send me your bad jokes. It is my most favorite thing!
I will be back next with another episode, and on behalf of everyone here, including my dog, who really would like to leave my office, and I shut the door so he cannot, and Wilbur, who doesn’t care, and myself and everyone here, we wish you the very best of reading. Have a wonderful weekend. We’ll see you here next week.
This podcast transcript was handcrafted with meticulous skill by Garlic Knitter. Many thanks.
Today’s episode and transcript are sponsored by Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany.
If you like Megan Hart and Liane Moriarty, you’ll love this seductive, nuanced novel with a strong, sex positive female protagonist.
You think you know your neighbors. But when it comes to Jake and Jessica Snyder, you have no idea what goes on behind closed doors. When they first discover an exciting, but taboo sexual behavior, it reignites the spark in their marriage and deepens feelings of connection and trust. That is, until Jessica keeps a secret from Jake involving an intriguing man from her past. What happens after that will threaten to destroy their world—and them.
Caroline Kepnes says this book is a “Sizzling, squirming, thought-provoking story of female growth,” and Jen Lancaster recommended it to her online book club.
Tell Me Everything by Amy Hatvany is on sale now wherever books are sold. Find out more at AmyHatvany.com.