Interview with Young Adult Author Sherrie Giddens
Author Sherrie Giddens has written a variety of books including children's books, teen books and adult books. Today she talks about Colleen, which is part of the Rose Estate series.
About Your Book
My latest book is actually the second book in The Rose Estate Series. The first book, Savannah, follows the journey of young girl who has lost everything and is just trying to survive in a world that makes less sense to her than she would like to admit.
While following Savannah’s story in the first book, we are introduced to Colleen. She dresses in all black, to the point of wearing long black gloves and a black head scarf that wraps around her face, exposing only her eyes. She lives in the shadows of a large mansion, moving quietly and quickly through its halls. She lives in darkness, dealing with the world around her on her own terms. In the second book of this series, Colleen, we follow her journey as she moves from the darkness of her world into the light around her. It isn’t an easy transition and she faces several internal struggles.
Tell us about the cover.
I love the cover. It focuses attention on a bouquet of yellow roses. Colleen is the second book in a trilogy. I am working on the third book now. All of the covers will focus attention on roses of one type or another. I searched for just the right photo to use in the cover creator program, and think it came out great!
Who is your main character and what problem does she face?
Colleen lost her parents in a fire when she was just a little girl. Due to her scars, she withdrew from the world around her. She is fighting her way back, while fighting the memories of her loss as well.
What might draw someone to your character?
We have all experienced loss. It doesn’t have to be death. Loss comes in many forms. It can be a loss of trust, self-confidence, a friendship, anything that would have an impact on our heart can be considered a loss. We don’t always turn to God in the beginning. Some people don’t even know to turn to Him. And, like many people, Colleen tries to solve her problems on her own. She forgets that inside is a person who is loved not only by those around her but by God as well. We all forget that at times.
What prompted you to write this book?
I have had this story rolling around in my head for quite some time. I knew it had to be a trilogy because each of the young ladies needed a book of their own. Don’t we all wish we had a book of our own?
What did you bring to the book from your own life?
I brought all of the insecurities of a young life, along with the understanding that people are not always what they seem to be at first, to a place of every young girl’s dream, The Rose Estate.
What makes your book stand out from other books like it?
I think you will find that Colleen is the kind of book that draws you into the hearts and minds of the characters in a way that makes them real. I have had people say that they don’t want to stop reading it but when they have to, they will spend hours thinking about the characters, until they can pick it back up again. Other readers have told me that they have dreamed about the characters. Everyone seems to agree on one thing, the stories can be an emotional roller coaster, causing the reader to laugh and cry.
What is one thing you learned from writing this book?
I learned that, at times, I still judge others by the way they look or act, rather than trying to understand what is in their heart. I am still working on living by what my heart knows and not what my eyes see.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to write. I always wanted to write. When I was in college I turned in a paper. I had poured everything I had into that paper. My instructor informed me that it wasn’t good and although he tried to soften the blow, he let me know that he thought I had no talent. I was young, impressionable, and thought that he must know what he was talking about. I dropped out of college and gave up on my dream. My dream didn’t give up on me and God moved me into places that continued to breathe life into that dream. Several years ago, after I had raised my family and most would consider it too late in life to begin again, I took a class. It was a writing class. After the third class, the instructor talked to me alone. She asked me what I was doing in her class and why I had not been published yet. She believed in my skills and told me to get out there and live that dream. So, I did. And, I haven’t looked back sense. Don’t give up on your dreams!
What’s the most times you’ve read a book and why?
I would say it would have to be Charlotte’s Web. I read it over and over not only because of the story but because of the way it was written. It was the first time I could actually picture myself as part of the story. My favorite phrase in the whole book was what the goose said, “Probably-obably.” It was a made up word and it showed me that a talented author could write anything and make it seem possible to the reader.
What are three unusual things about you your readers might not know?
Unusual? I guess the first thing would be that I understand my readers more than they might realize. I didn’t walk an easy path as a young person. I was troubled, and dropped out of high-school at 15 ½. I really thought that I could get a job and go about my life without graduating. It didn’t take long for me to realize that the rest of the world valued an education and I needed to get with the program. I studied hard, and took my GED test, scoring fairly high on it. It seems to surprise people when I tell them that I dropped out of school. I might have dropped out but I never quit learning, and if I could go back and do it all over again, I not only would stay, but I would be getting a lot better grades. I was brought up in a religious home. I knew right from wrong, but when you are young you don’t always understand the reasoning behind it all. By the time I was 19, I was pregnant and unmarried. I know, you are probably shaking your head as you read this. A drop out, unwed mother, what was she thinking? The fact is, I don’t know what I was thinking. I just know that I was lost in a world that didn’t always make sense to me. But, I know God had not given up on me or my baby. It was that little baby in my life that God used to cause me to see where I needed to grow up. He reached down and began to change me from the inside out. I never see my son as a mistake, because He was a precious gift, and God used him in my life. A lot of people told me that I had ruined my life. I would never have a future. No one would ever want me. They were all wrong. I made a mistake and God kept His promise by never forsaking me. He took my mistake and made it into a beautiful little life that changed me like nothing else could have. Now, if you are reading this, don’t think it was easy for me. I am not advocating getting pregnant while you are young and unmarried. It is a hard and difficult life and you will give up everything that you enjoy doing right now. You will spend your days trying to better yourself and your nights rocking a crying baby back to sleep. You will have no free time and your friends who have no babies will have no time for you. Your life will never be the same. But, I will say that if you find yourself in that situation, remember that life is beautiful and God can use anyone, including that little life growing inside of you. My son was a gift that I will forever cherish. Three things? That was two. I guess the third thing would be that I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. It is an autoimmune disease. My immune system is attacking my body. One of the first signs is the attack of joints, but while that is going on the immune system can be active attacking other areas as well. Writing is a blessing that I cannot even begin to describe. After writing Savannah, Colleen was supposed to be finished within 6 months and ready to go out to readers. I was unable to write for almost a year and a half. In fact, I was beginning to think I would never be able to write again and Colleen would never make it to readers. My RA had settled into my hands and wrists, causing so much pain on a daily basis that I had difficulty just getting dressed, or brushing my hair and my teeth. Writing was out of the question. I had several reactions to various medications and never knew when or how I would react to a new one. It took some time but we found one that works and I have been taking it for a year. I am now writing again and feel as if I have been given a second chance. Don’t take the little things for granted. I know I did. I never appreciated how much it meant to brush my own hair, or put on my own clothes. I never understood the blessing of being able to walk my dog, or use a can opener. Now, I do. There isn’t a day that goes by that I am not thankful for all of those little things.
What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done? My husband had a goal of seeing all 50 states. We finished up his 50 last year with a trip to the West Coast. I still have four states and Washington DC to go, and then I will have seen them all. He got a head start on me before we were married. Here are two photos from our trip to Alaska.
Do you have life philosophy? Favorite verse?
This is probably my favorite verse because it speaks to my life in general. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your own understanding.
What advice would you give a teen who wants to be a writer?
Write from the heart. Don’t copy anyone’s style because no one else has your heart. Write from where you are, and allow your emotions to become a part of it all. Pray before you write and ask God to use your words to reach out to others.
Don’t let anyone steal your love for writing. Take any criticism for what it might be worth. It might be true and it might not be, use what you can and discard the rest. Never, ever, ever, give up because someone thinks you don’t have what it takes.
Don’t sell your soul to the Devil. There are a lot of writers out there who make a lot of money. They write about things that do not honor God and they do so in a way that that puts God out of the picture. They might make money but what are they losing in the process? You don’t need to curse in your writing. In Colleen there is a violent scene. It is the kind of scene that a bad character might actually curse in, if it was real life. I never use curse words. Why? They aren’t needed. You can show the kind of person your character is through body language, actions, and emotion. The curse words are not truly needed to convey what is going on and how bad your character really is. I know, I know. The “real authors” say that if your character would curse in real life, then you should have them curse in your book. Really? Test yourself. Give yourself enough credit as a writer to know that you can do it without the cursing. I did. Ask God for help. He will. You will see that writing is an art form that you can use like a double edged sword. When you learn to write without worldly language and sex scenes, while still conveying that we live in a real world with real evil, you will find that you value your writing much more. At least I do. Just for fun: How many states have you been to? You can find out by using this link. It will ask you to click on the names of the states, and then it'll generate a map of the states you've visited. Share in the comments section how many states you've visited. Try it HERE