March 27, 2009
Interview with Cheryl Renee Herbsman
Cheryl Renee Herbsman is a member of the Class of 2k9 and 2009 Debs. Her novel BREATHING will be out this April. You can find out more on her blog and MySpace. She's read SCRAMBLED EGGS AT MIDNIGHT, which makes me happy since I like that book and can't find anyone else who's heard of it. (And for those that like to cook, her Class of 2k9 page has a recipe for seven layer bars. I love those.)
1. BREATHING is your first novel. What about the road to publication did you least expect?
I think the most unexpected part was how long it all takes! It's a very lengthy process.
2. How did your personal experiences affect the novel? Do you have any experience with asthma?
My personal experiences affected the story in a number of ways. The most obvious is that I fell in love with an older boy when I was a teenager and our relationship was long distance at times. (I ended up marrying him. Our 20th wedding anniversary is coming up in June.)
My husband and daughter both have mild asthma, luckily not nearly as bad as Savannah's. But my husband is a pediatrician and has done some special work with asthma, so he was a great resource. Also, when I was in college I worked in Pediatric Play Therapy / Child Life at the hospital and worked with kids who suffered from asthma.
3. I love the cover of BREATHING! It's very summery and romantic without being cliche. How did you react when you first saw it?
I just love the cover! The first time I saw it, there were some things that were different than they are now that bothered me. For example, instead of the sandy beach in the distance it was rocky cliffs, which made no sense since the story takes place on the Carolina coast. Once the little details that were off were fixed, I was totally in love!
4. For that matter, how did you react when you got the call that you were going to be a published author?
You know, it's funny, it wasn't one specific call. First, I got the call from the agent saying she wanted to represent me. That felt huge. I was literally jumping around and screaming (after I hung up, of course :D). She submitted the book about a week later and we got two offers. So I spoke with editors at both publishing houses and then got to decide which way I wanted to go. So, in the end, I was the one making the call. But the whole period of time from when the agent first contacted me until I chose a publisher was an incredibly exciting time.
5. You're a member of the 2009 Debs and The Class of 2k9. What do you like best about these groups? Which of your fellow debut authors' books are you most excited about?
I really love the camaraderie. It's so nice to be connected with other people who are going through this for the first time. There's so much to learn and it helps so much to share information. But it's also just amazing to have people to talk to who are experiencing similar things.
I'm excited about so many of these books, I can't imagine choosing. I've read a handful of them so far and well, you know, I'm just such a sucker for romantic stories. So I particularly loved 20 Boy Summer and Fairy Tale. But there are so many good ones!
7. In your bio, it says you have a Masters in psychology. What do you like best about your education? If you could study anything else, what would it be?
I think what I love best about my education is having a deeper understanding of why we all act the way we do, how much our families and our pasts affect us.
I kind of wish I'd studied literature more :)
8. What do you like to do besides write? What do you not like to do, but do anyway?
I love to spend time with my husband and kids, just hanging out, talking, laughing, watching movies, traveling. I also love the beach and walking in nature.
I seriously hate housework -- all kinds. But some stuff just has to get done, you know?
9. You're still launching your first novel, but any plans for a second?
I just finished the first draft of a new novel and am revising it now. Hopefully it will be off to my agent soon!
10. Finally: How would you convince people to read BREATHING without quoting from the blurb?
I like to say that it's a romantic YA about following your dreams. But here's a quote from my main character, Savannah, that I just put onto some bookmarks:
"I know it's only dreaming. But I reckon if you go on and act like something is real, sometimes it just believes you."
Like the bookmark quote? You could own one, because I'm giving away two packets of bookmarks away, which will include a BREATHING bookmark among others. Just follow the rules.
I envy that Cheryl's already read TWENTY BOY SUMMER and FAIRY TALE! (By the way, Cyn Balog is holding a contest to win FAIRY TALE.