Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Sherry Thomas Interview - A Study in Scarlet Women

Photo Credit: Jennifer Sparks Harriman at Sparks Studio.

Sherry Thomas is one of the most acclaimed romance authors working today. Her books regularly receive starred reviews from trade publications and are frequently found on best-of-the-year lists. She is also a two-time winner of Romance Writers of America's prestigious RITA® Award.

English is Sherry’s second language—she has come a long way from the days when she made her laborious way through Rosemary Roger's Sweet Savage Love with an English-Chinese dictionary. She enjoys digging down to the emotional core of stories. And when she is not writing, she thinks about the zen and zaniness of her profession, plays computer games with her sons, and reads as many fabulous books as she can find.


Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?
There wasn’t, if you mean youth as 18 or younger. My defining moment didn’t come until I was 23, but it absolutely was a defining moment. It was a most ordinary day and I was a young stay-at-home mom. I read a new book by an old favorite author. For some reason the book really hit me the wrong way. When my husband came home that night, I told him I was going to become a writer and produce a better book than that!

It should have been one of those urges that petered out to nothing, something for us to laugh about years later, like, hey, do you remember when you said wanted to be a writer out of the blue? I am always amazed, looking back, that this momentary urge turned into a career instead.

Why is storytelling so important for all of us?
I have a theory about genre fiction called the theory of accelerated karma.

Karma posits that the universe is fundamentally just—that we are the creator of our own fortune—or misfortune—by our own thoughts, words, and deeds, past and present. But karma plays out on a very long time scale, so the most awful person you know might go to their grave wealthy and respected and you won’t be there to see him turned into a pincushion in the next life, so to speak.

But in genre fiction, everything always works out by the end of 350 pages. In mystery the murderer is caught. In fantasy the quest is c0mpleted. And in romance they find their happily-ever-after. The best genre fiction writers put in enough trials and tribulation to make sure their characters have earned their rewards. And readers get a bit of a boost in their belief that it’s okay to be alive and part of this mysterious world.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre?
I tend not to have immediate answers to all-time-favorite questions—I’d be similarly stumped if you asked me about my all-time favorite food. I can tell you that I have read Lord of the Rings several times. My favorite genre that I don’t write would be wuxia, Chinese martial arts epics. And some of my favorite books are works of nonfiction like A Year in Provence that powerfully capture the magic of a certain place at a certain moment in time.

In your book; A Study in Scarlet Women, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?
I loved the BBC Sherlock. As soon as I got done with Season 1, the writer in me said, “What a great adaptation. Hmm, wonder how it would be if, instead of moving the story forward in time 125 years, they’d made Sherlock a woman instead.”

A STUDY IN SCARLET WOMEN, the result of that idea, is the first book in the Lady Sherlock series, which posits that the fictional character Sherlock Holmes had been inspired by the exploits of a real woman named Charlotte Holmes.

For those who are unfamiliar with Charlotte, how would you introduce her?
The thing with changing Holmes’s gender is that a woman with the mind, temperament, and background of a Sherlock Holmes is faced with the kind of constraints a man in the Victorian era never has to contend with. Charlotte Holmes can’t simply decide one day to set up a detective practice—her family would flip out. So book 1 is an origin story, essentially, about how Charlotte Holmes, a brilliant, eccentric, but still respectable young lady, runs afoul of Society’s restrictions, becomes ostracized, and has to figure out a way to use her remarkable powers of deduction to help herself and her family.

And she loves cake.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?
I am deep in the trenches for book 2 in the Lady Sherlock series. And I have signed on to do a fun anthology in which I will write a novella in a genre I haven’t done before.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why?
I have written a YA fantasy series (the Elemental Trilogy), which is partly set in Eton College of 1880s. Sometimes I have fun imagining introducing my young mages to Charlotte Holmes, and see what she can deduce. I’m pretty sure she would be able to tell that one of the Eton students is a girl disguised as a boy, but that the latter can command lightning might blow even a mind as composed and accepting of improbabilities as Charlotte’s.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating Charlotte?
Originally I’d modeled Charlotte Holmes’s appearance on Sherlock Holmes’s, i.e., someone tall, dark, slender, with aquiline features and rather ascetic manners. But as the book progressed, she changed, physically at least, to his polar opposite. She became blond, chubby, very, very girly in her attire, and very corporeal in her passions—I did mention that she loves her cake, didn’t I?

But she still has a mind as sharp as a guillotine and a temperament that would have been problematic even for a woman today, let alone one in the 19th century.

When asked, what’s the one question you always answer with a lie?
I was an inveterate liar when I was a child. The thing about lying is that it’s actually quite exhausting, keeping track of what lies you have created and which lies you have told to whom.

So my policy as a grown-up has always been honesty, as much for its own sake as for how much easier overall it is not to lie.

(And I am very fortunate to be in a situation where I don’t have to lie to defend myself from anyone.)

Tell me about your first kiss
It felt really strange. I like my latest kiss a lot better. :)

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?
That I love them.

When was the last time you cried?
I cry all the time. Commercials will reduce me to tears.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?
I really would like to see what it’s like to be a teenager now. I was bored a lot as a teenager in my own time, and I can’t help but wonder how I’d fare nowadays, with so much content available to consume.

What is your greatest adventure?
I haven’t adventured a lot. My husband has done a marathon, at least. Me, the thing I like best is taking a good book to a good lunch buffet a little past peak hour. J I did go to Greece this past summer with my mom, to celebrate her 70th birthday and enjoyed a wonderful solo hike along the volcanic caldera of Santorini.

I hope someday to hike the entire Southwest Coastal Path of England—600 hundred some miles of stunning scenic beauty and never more than a few miles away from a pub. If I could listen to a smashing audiobook as I walk, I think I might be in heaven.

USA Today bestselling author Sherry Thomas turns the story of the renowned Sherlock Holmes upside down…

With her inquisitive mind, Charlotte Holmes has never felt comfortable with the demureness expected of the fairer sex in upper class society. But even she never thought that she would become a social pariah, an outcast fending for herself on the mean streets of London.

When the city is struck by a trio of unexpected deaths and suspicion falls on her sister and her father, Charlotte is desperate to find the true culprits and clear the family name. She’ll have help from friends new and old—a kind-hearted widow, a police inspector, and a man who has long loved her. But in the end, it will be up to Charlotte, under the assumed name Sherlock Holmes, to challenge society’s expectations and match wits against an unseen mastermind.


“Sherry Thomas has done the impossible and crafted a fresh, exciting new version of Sherlock Holmes. From the carefully plotted twists to the elegant turns of phrase, A Study in Scarlet Women is a splendid addition to Holmes’s world. This book is everything I hoped it would be, and the next adventure cannot come too soon!”—New York Times bestselling author Deanna Raybourn

"Thomas weaves a lush, intricate fantasy world around a gorgeous romance that kept me riveted until the very last page. What a breathtaking journey." — Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of the Legend series

You can purchase A Study in Scarlet Women at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you SHERRY THOMAS for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of A Study in Scarlet Women (Lady Sherlock #1) by Sherry Thomas