Jen: Today we welcome Sharon Sala back to Romancing the Book. Sharon, will you share a short bio with us?
Sharon: Beloved by her brethren of fans, Sharon Sala, who also writes under the name Dinah McCall, has 99 books in print, is published in four genres: romance, young adult, western, and women’s fiction, and has sold more than 1.5 million books. Her books have appeared on USA Today, New York Times, and Publishers Weekly bestseller lists 47 times, and have been published in many different languages. Sala was the 2011 recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award.
Jen: Please tell us about your newest release.
Sharon: In The Curl Up & Dye (February 2014) no piece of gossip can get past the sassy women who run the Curl Up & Dye salon. As patron LilyAnne Bronte declares she’s finally ready to move on 11 years after the death of her fiancé to the war in Iraq, the women of the salon take matters into their own hands. Sala explores the hopelessness within LilyAnne that’s all too relatable, and reveals with honest humor and cutting emotions the realities young American women must face when they lose a partner and try to move on. It’s Sala’s soulful writing that will make readers want to befriend LilyAnne and join the ladies of the Curl Up & Dye in in helping her find love again.
Jen: What age did you discover writing? Tell us your call story.
Sharon: I began writing as an adult because of a job I hated. I wrote two books that were awful, put them under the bed and didn’t write again until a few years later when my father and sister died within 2 months of each other. After that I joined writing clubs, learned how to put on paper what I already saw in my head, and wrote a third book. The first place I sent it, bought it. It was called Sara’s Angel. The day the phone rang I was baking a pie. I answered the phone with flour on my hands and heard a woman asked to speak to Sharon Sala. I said, this is Sharon, and she said, this is Kate Duffy from Meteor Publishing, and we want to buy your book. I remember wanting to scream, but all that came out was a mouse squeak. She laughed, and the rest is history. I’m close to book 100 and looking forward to that day. I wish Kate Duffy was still alive to rejoice with me, because she’s the editor who helped me realize my dream.
Jen: Describe your writing in 3 words.
Sharon: Dark, suspenseful, romantic
Jen: How do you remember ideas that come to you at odd times?
Sharon: I dream my stories, so they’re like a movie I’ve already seen. All I have to do is remember seeing that movie and the story is there. Isn’t that cool? It’s a gift I do not take lightly.
Jen: Is there a genre you’d like to write? Is there one you’ll probably stay away from? Why?
Sharon: I’ve written and published in every genre I want to except children’s books. I still haven’t cracked that code. I won’t ever write demon/witch/stories because I don’t like darkness in my life, and I won’t write erotica because it’s honest to god boring to read. But that’s just me.
Jen: What kind of research did you do for this book?
Sharon: Of all the books I’ve ever written, this book needed no research. I’ve spent my life in and out of beauty shops. I could probably run one. As for the story about the hero and heroine in the book, no research needed about young love and lost loves. We’ve all been there.
Jen: Who has influenced you as a writer?
Sharon: This is an odd question for me to answer because I never once in my whole life thought about writing until I sat down one night and began a book. I was always a day dreamer. I had stories going in my head from daylight to dark, and then I dreamed all night long. Many many of my stories were dreams first. But there were writers who wrote about the kind of men I wanted to know. One was Zane Gray. I read him from the time I could read. He wrote about cowboys and cowboys were always my heroes. They were strong, silent types who rode for the brand (their boss) and were willing to die for the woman they loved. I still put those kinds of men into my books. Men who would die for the woman they love. So I guess Zane Gray was my first REAL influence in writing.
Jen: If this book was made into a movie, who do you see playing the main characters?
Sharon: Somebody like Jennifer Lawrence and Channing Tatum because they both have the ability to be self-deprecating, which is necessary for these two characters.
Jen: If you were able to travel in time, where would you go and what 3 things would you take with you?
Sharon: I would go back to 2004, when my fiancé was still alive, and I would take him, our plane tickets and the Elvis preacher back to Las Vegas and get married like we planned instead of him getting cancer and dying.
Jen: Who are some of your favorite authors? What are you reading now?
Sharon: Writers don’t have a lot of reading time, at least I don’t, but I have two huge favorites. Robert Crais (mystery/suspense) and John Hart (fiction). They are my favorite writers.
Jen: How do you come up with characters names?
Sharon: Well, that’s a good question. Actually, I think and think about the character’s looks and personality until they finally tell ME their names. And yes that sounds strange, but it’s the truth.
Jen: Do you have a favorite character or one you most identify with?
Sharon: My most favorite character to have written is a little girl named Ellie Wayne, from a book called The Boarding House. It’s a dark book about child molestation, but the way Ellie survives and then manages to ‘rescue’ herself from the situation is nothing short of heroic.
Jen: What’s the most interesting comment you’ve received about your books?
Sharon: That they have helped people heal from events in their past… and I wouldn’t call that interesting, but uplifting to me.
Jen: What’s been the highlight of you career to this point?
Sharon: I suppose being the 2011 recipient of the Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award, given by Romance Writers of America for my body of work and to the genre.
Jen: What did you do to celebrate your first book? Do you do anything to celebrate a sale, new contract or release?
Sharon: When I sold my first book, I opened my own personal checking account, separate from anything else. It was a very empowering moment. Now, when I make a new sale, there’s not much celebrating to be had until the signing money arrives, which could be anywhere from 2 to 4 months. LOL Yes, these are the joys and realities of publishing.