E-Author Spotlight: Sheri McGathy
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In light of postage going up once again this month, in the year Sheri McGathy was born, postage went from three cents to four centsóonly one penny in twenty-six years! Dr. Zhivago is published in the United States, but banned in Russia. The Pulitzer Prize is awarded to James Agee for his book Death in the Family, and the Jolly Green Giant appears, scaring children until they lightened him up by adding the "Ho, ho ho" and the "Good things from the Garden" song.

Frank Carney opens the first Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas; Friskees introduces the first dry cat food; Cocoa Krispies and Cocoa Puffs are introduced, containing almost 50% sugar, and Rice-a-Roni, The San Francisco Treat, is launched. Must have been the year for food. Anyone else hungry?

Sheri McGathyís experience with something new was a carwash her mother took her to when she was twelve. She imagined a robot like the one from Lost in Space (Danger, Will Robinson!) rolling around the car on big tank-like feet, a built-in hose in each hand, waving mechanical arms about, blasting away the dirt from her momís car. So, when confronted with the reality of a concrete stall and a metal pipe hooked to a gizmo that spun in circles around the car and sprayed water, then soap, then more water, came into view, she couldnít help but laugh. They called that a robot?

Some of her favorite things are her family, her dogs, hamburgers, chocolate (Cadbury eggs!), folklore, legends, myths, fairy tales, books, history, a gentle rain outside her window lulling her to sleep at night, the feel of a cool breeze on a humid day, trees, and the wonder in a childís eye that reaffirms, at least to her, that magic still lingers in the world.

On Writing in Sheri McGathyís Own Words

What or who inspires you to write?

I personally feel that inspiration comes to us in many forms and strikes in many different ways. Old legends, ancient puzzles, a word or words overheard in a crowded placeóall these things can serve to inspire a story. Each story Iíve written has had different sparks of inspiration. Within the Shadow of Stone began with a legend concerning the Kingís stone, Thief of Dreams was born from a line in an old ballad. Where Lies Beauty began with a rose and a single tear while the Gold books grew from a poem. The Ancient One developed both from my love of trees and from a very simple question: How does one become a god? The Birth of Spring was born from my love of the fairy tale charm of three. I just never know what is going to spark a story idea.

Why did you begin writing?

I think maybe the need to tell a story is what created or uncovered the writer/author/storyteller within me. Iíve always had this need, though it has taken many forms through the years. Before I wrote my stories down, I spoke them to my dogs, my rabbit, and my friendsóanyone who would listen. When I did start to write them down, the stories came to me in the form of epic poems. I never thought to turn to actual novel writing until a friend of mine convinced me I should try.

What author inspires you?

I can say without hesitation that my favorite author is Terry Brooks, but I have many, many authors I enjoy. Recently, Iíve become an Orson Scott Card fan. I also enjoy Robert Jordan, Terry Goodkind, Deborah Chester, Kate Elliott, Tolkien, just to name a few.

I credit Marian Cockrell, the author of the childrenís book, Shadow Castle, for having the biggest impact on me, simply because the book introduced me to non fairy tale type elves, while opening a door to the wonderful world of fantasy. Overall, everyone Iíve read, or will ever read, has or will in some way, influence and inspire me.

What do you find most rewarding about writing?

Itís very rewarding to create a story from little more than a notion or a thought and experience that fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants freedom crafting allows me. I love shaping the world, giving life to my characters, placing them within that world, and then discovering how it all plays out. There are times when even I donít know what the characters might do or how the story is going to evolve. Itís always an adventure.

Have you experienced writerís block? And if so, how did you cure it?

Oh yes, all the time. Sometimes simply walking away from the project or starting a different one helps. Sometimes reading a book will allow me to stop stressing over not being able to write or come up with something to write about. Many times, freestyle writing helps me break my blocks. If I just let it go, write whatever comes into my head, and then ask of each notion, character, or idea I jot down what happens next, a story will usually start to develop.

There are times I simply donít feel like writing, for whatever reason. When I feel like this, I donít write. When I grant myself permission to not feel guilty because Iím not writing, it seems to bust the block and I am flooded with possibilities.

Ms. McGathy brings us an enchanting fairy tale in her novella, The Birth of Spring. The Winter King has stopped the wheel from turning and seasons arenít changing, throwing nature out of balance. The Summer Queen has declared war on the Winter King, and itís up to Astara, the Summer Queenís daughter, to travel north and convince the Winter King to let the wheel turn.

I absolutely loved this charming tale with its vivid language and descriptions, bringing to mind fairy tales of old like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Months after reading it, I can still feel the cold of winter as Astara travels to the Winter King. If the Grimm brothers ever decided to put together another collection, I would highly recommend The Birth of Spring be included, and I canít wait to read more of her work in the future.

To find out whatís new with Sheri McGathy, please visit her Web site at: www.sherilmcgathy.com/

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