Welcome to my weekly Author Spotlight. I’ve asked a bunch of my author friends to answer a set of interview questions, and to share their latest work.
Today, Sheryl R. Hayes – Sheryl can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with.
Thanks so much, Sheryl, for joining me!
J. Scott Coatsworth: When did you know you wanted to write, and when did you discover that you were good at it?
Sheryl R. Hayes: I’ve told myself stories for as long as I have remembered. I would combine characters from different television series and imagine their adventures, creating fan fiction before I knew what it was. When I discovered The X-Files, I began writing these stories down and posting them online.
I was drawn to writing original characters to interact with the cannon ones from the television shows. From there, I jumped to writing original short stories and fiction.
Now how good of a writer I am? That’s another discussion entirely…
JSC: What do you do if you get a brilliant idea at a bad time?
SRH: If I’m in the middle of another project, I will break long enough to write a brief synopsis. If it’s literally a bad time, like at my day job, I carry a notebook around just for that purpose. I’ll scribble down enough for me to remember or to spark another idea. If I can’t write, I’ll type out an email on my phone. If I can’t do either, I leave a voice memo. And if none of those are an option, I hope I can remember it until I get a chance to write it down.
JSC: Are you a plotter or a pantster?
SRH: I’m somewhere between the two. I will start with a broad outline of the story. I will know point A, point Z, and probably points B, E, R, and maybe X. I tend to end up pantsing my way through those areas in between.
JSC: Who did your cover for “Chaos Wolf,” and what was the design process like?
SRH: My cover was done by Fiona Jayde Media http://fionajaydemedia.com We discussed who the protagonist was, what genre it was, and had me show her several covers I liked of stories that were in the same genre. After we picked out some elements, she produced a cover that I fell in love with.
JSC: What inspired you to write this particular story?
SRH: I had read a lot of urban fantasy where the werewolves and vampires were assumed to be mortal enemies, but never went into the why. So I decided a big part of what I was going to do was explain why. I ended up doing research into various European vampire and werewolf myths to decide on what elements would go into my version of them.
Montgomery, Jordan, and Thorn were based on characters I played in three different roleplaying games. I knew for a while that I wanted to write a vampire and werewolf story, but didn’t know exactly what it was. Then I had an idea. What if Montgomery met Jordan? Then Thorn butted into the conversation.
The rest wrote itself.
JSC: Were you a voracious reader as a child?
SRH: Yes. As a kid, I was known for going through books may grade levels above my age in a day. Anything that was put in front of me I would read. The family joke is that the day the latest copy of Reader’s Digest arrived, there was always a fight between me and my dad about who got to read it first.
JSC: What pets are currently on your keyboard, and what are their names? Pictures?
SRH: My cats Julius, Sherbert, and Popsicle are my alpha readers. Often they are between me and the screen, so they get to read what I type before I do. Sherbert is currently sitting on my chest right now insisting I pet her instead of typing this.
JSC: What other artistic pursuits (it any) do you indulge in apart from writing?
SRH: I accidentally combined my love of knitting with a love of dressing up and my love of going to SFF conventions. I’m known locally for my yarn based costumes which I show off at the Masquerade of the convention. I’ve dressed up as a Klingon, Jedi, Cruella De Vil, Wonder Woman, and many others. Photos can be found at my website https://sherylrhayes.com/costumes/
JSC: Star Trek or Star Wars? Why?
SRH: Why do I have to choose? I don’t understand why people think enjoying one means that you can’t enjoy the other. Some days I revel the cool logic of a Vulcan. Other times I crave the raw emotion of Sith Lord.
JSC: What are you working on now?
SRH: I’m finishing the first draft of Chaos Hunt, the follow up book to Chaos Wolf. It will be out in October of 2020. You can join my email list at www.sherylrhayes.com/subscribe to be alerted when it’s ready for preorder. You will also receive two free short stories when you subscribe.
And now for Sheryl’s new book: Chaos Wolf:
Literature major Jordan Abbey ordered a double mocha latte, but it wasn’t supposed to come with a side order bite by a love-sick werewolf. When a vampire comes to her rescue, gut instinct tells her he has questionable motives. But he’s the only one she can trust to help get in touch with her inner animal.
Within a week, her smart mouth lands her in trouble with the hostile alpha of the local pack and the stiff-necked vampire elder. She now has less than a moon cycle to master shape changing… or else. And the besotted werewolf who started this whole mess is stalking Jordan and killing her friends. He won’t take no for an answer.
In the Northern California town of Rancho Robles where the children of the Wolf and the Bat share an uneasy coexistence, one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.
Eminently readable, the story speeds along in easily digestible episodes which reveal curious hints about a larger world readers will enjoy imagining in greater detail. The unique take on the vampire/werewolf origin story alone kept my imagination whirring! –J.M. Frey, The Accidental Turn Series
He gestured toward the couch. “Would you like tea, coffee, or soda?”
“Soda, please.” Although she wasn’t thirsty, accepting what he offered seemed the polite thing to do. She sat down on the leather couch and rested her elbows on her knees. “Don’t you only drink… um—”
“Blood?” Montgomery finished the question for her. “No.” He stepped into the kitchenette. “I can and do drink and eat other things. It’s kind of like eating junk food. There’s no nutritional value. I enjoy the flavors and textures. I don’t like to do it too often, though.”
Jordan tilted her head to one side. “Why not?”
His lip curled into a half smile. “I can’t digest matter like when I was mortal,” he explained. “I have to purge it in a different way.”
She blinked, puzzling it out. Understanding dawned on her face. “Oh… Oh!”
One red-and-silver can in hand, Montgomery stepped out of the kitchenette. “When I last saw you, you were hightailing it out of here, never to return.” He gave her the soda and took a seat in the chair sitting at a right angle to the couch. “What happened?”
Jordan stared down at the soda and rubbed her thumb over the frosty top. “After I left, I went home. I didn’t tell anyone about you.” She gestured in Montgomery’s direction. “I went out to try to forget what happened. When I came back, I found out my roommate’s boyfriend had been mauled to death.”
Montgomery stiffened. “Did you see the werewolf?”
“No,” Jordan said. “I didn’t even think he was real until…” She paused and shivered, sloshing the soda in the can. “All I could think about was finding you.”
Montgomery’s lips moved to form a curse. “Did you come directly here?” He stood up and crossed the small space separating the chair and the couch. “Focus. It’s important. Do you think you were followed?”
“No. The police took me and Molly to the station. We’re not allowed to go back to our apartment until sometime tomorrow after the super gets someone in to…” Jordan’s voice broke. She swallowed. “Clean up. I spent two hours getting on and off buses to make sure I wasn’t followed.”
Montgomery sat down on the couch. “Good thinking. If the werewolf was following you by scent, that should have thrown him off your trail. If he was tracking you by sight, you would have spotted him. Or he would have broken in here by now. You’ve been lucky.”
“Lucky?” Jordan’s shoulders tightened and her fist clenched, denting the can inward. “I’m being stalked by something out of a horror film and you think I’m lucky?”
“Yes,” Montgomery countered. “If you had been there instead of your friend, the werewolf would have finished what he started.”
“Finished what he started?” Jordan put the soda on the table unopened. “You make it sound like he let me live.”
“He did,” Montgomery stated, as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
She stared at him with an open mouth. All the movies and books she had seen taught that a werewolf would rip out her throat as soon as look at her. The female victim never survived the attack. “But why?”
“You haven’t figured it out yet?” Montgomery appeared nonplussed by her reaction. “He wasn’t trying to make a meal out of you, Jordan. He was claiming you as his mate.”
Sheryl R. Hayes can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with. In addition to writing, she is a cosplayer focusing on knit and crochet costumes and works full time at a Bay Area water company. You can follow her blog at http://www.sherylrhayes.com, on Twitter at https://www.twitter.com/sherylrhayes, or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sherylreneehayes.