Thursday, 4 February 2016

INTERVIEW: Sheryn MacMunn

Flurries Unlimited (FU) was able to catch up with breakout novelist Sheryn MacMunn (SM) for a short chat about her work and future plans. This is what we discussed:

FU: Your debut novel won many awards and honorable mentions as well as achieved impressive rankings. To what do you attribute your phenomenal success?

SM: The best advice I received about writing was this: it’s work. So I literally put a lot of work into writing Finding Out. I researched many articles online and in print about Germany, both before and during World War 2, and attended lectures given by survivors of the Holocaust so the story rang true. I also attended writing classes and seminars to learn the craft of writing. After finishing the manuscript and receiving feedback from beta readers, I then hired a professional editor. In the end, I made sure that the book was something that I would enjoy reading.

FU:    What inspired you to write Finding Out?

SM:  The inspiration for Finding Out came from missing my grandmothers and a good friend who was like a third grandmother to me, who was named Ruth. Their advice had carried me through so much. When they passed away within a few years of each other, I missed them terribly. I also realized that there weren’t any books that spoke to a single woman in her thirties who had to deal with life on her own. Most fiction at the time focused on younger women just figuring out the balance between relationships and career with her friends. However, my friends and I wanted to read stories about women at that middle point of a career and relationships when major decisions need to be made that can truly affect the rest of your life. So I created a story that focused on a woman who is trying to navigate today’s world by learning about the past. It sort of brought my grandmother’s back to life.

FU:    They say that every character has some of the author in him/her. Which of your characters is most like you? In what way?

SM: That’s a tough one. I’d have to say my life is closer to Sheila’s in that I was single in New York and worked in advertising but Sheila isn’t as outspoken as I am. However, like Sheila, I enjoy being around older people and listening to stories which is what I used to do with my grandmothers and Ruth. There is so much wisdom to be learned from a person who has lived a long life and been through so much, especially those who lived through World War 2. It was such a scary time in our history. It’s sad that the elderly are overlooked.

FU:    How do you balance the demands of family with being such a successful writer?

SM: Balancing family and writing is not easy, especially when combined with a full time job. To maintain balance, I hired a coach who keeps me on track with my writing. My days are jam packed with meetings, then making sure my kids get to their activities, do homework and eat. Finding time for myself can be a challenge. My coach works with me to: be disciplined with my schedule, be realistic about what I can accomplish with my time, and stay positive when things veer off track, which they tend to do with a full house. Sometimes, I also have to put writing on the back burner, which isn’t very fun for a writer. The characters in my head want to be heard as much as my family does.

FU:    So what is on the horizon? What are your new projects? When is your next new release?

SM: My very next project is a sequel to Finding Out, titled Moving On. So many people have written asking to know more about Ruth’s life and wanting answers to some of the mysteries in the novel. The release date is April 2016. I also wrote a screenplay this summer about a woman who is suddenly widowed and must move on to support her family. My stories have a similar theme where a female protagonist is thrown a curve ball in life then finds help from her female friends. It’s a theme that resonates with women. After I finish Moving On, I have four outlines ready to be turned into novels.

FU:  We can't wait to see them.  Thank you so much for chatting with us.


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