An Interview with Sheryl Browne, author of A Little Bit of Madness

Huge smiles and welcomes this week to Sheryl Browne who is joining me on the Thursday Throng and letting us get a glimpse into the life of an author and her accompanying book. Sheryl describes herself as a mum, business partner, school critique partner and a disabled dog fosterer … it’s amazing that she found the time to write her four novels so far, but I guess that’s what busy people do isn’t it?

a little bit of madnessThe Review

Imagine your mother was about to be evicted from her home; imagine too that this deed will be done by someone close to you who you’d assume could never do such a thing. Add into the mix the fact that this someone may not necessarily have your best interests at heart either. Drop in a little unexpected opportunity, a dash of kindness and compassion from the people who love you, and you’ll have a heady mix that is just waiting to bubble over into delicious and hilarious confrontation. Sheryl has created an entirely believable set of characters for her readers to enjoy. My only disappointment was that the book came to an end.

sheryl browneThe Sheryl Browne Interview

What is one thing that no-one would usually know about you?

I’m rubbish at titles!

What did the best review you ever had say about you and your work?

The best review I ever had – in terms of being both totally thrilling and also very humbling – just has to be my first for Somebody to Love, a story which has a single father and his autistic little boy at its heart. Obviously, like most writers, I draw from personal experience when I write and then go on to do a great deal of research, determined to get the facts correct and never to trivialise emotive issues. I do have personal experience of caring for someone with special needs, but still, I was nervous about getting that all-important detail right.

I was quite overcome therefore when the book was reviewed so fabulously by JB Johnston of Brook Cottage Books, who is the parent of an autistic child herself. I’ve popped a snippet below, but you can find the full review on Female First magazine, along with one from Kim Nash (All Things Books).  Female First were so impressed with those reviews, they’ve invited me to feature in an interview, which just goes to show how important reviewer/reader feedback is. Reviews really are tremendously appreciated by authors and I think most of those authors will take criticism on board and try to use it positively. This is how we grow as writers, after all.

Snippet: This fabulous book is a Rom Com with a difference. It’s funny, its heart-breaking, and it will either make you sigh with contentment or scream with frustration. At times it made me weep. The special needs thread running through this book will tug at your heartstrings and give you a greater understanding of what it’s like trying to find love when your life is full of complications. Through this book, Sheryl Browne has captured the essence of love, life, family and the fear of giving away your heart. She has also perfectly captured the highs and lows of parenting a special needs child.

How did you choose a title for your book?

One thing I’ve learned over the years (yes, I have been writing for quite a few!), is not to be too precious about your work. If an editor/publisher or agent suggests changes, it’s usually to improve the work or take into account current trends. I always tell myself I have the power to make those changes and help my baby grow. Similarly, I try not to be too precious about my titles.  Even though my baby might have been christened by a different name, I’m always ready to rename it, particularly if the new title is going to help my ‘masterpiece’ stand out from the crowd. The title Somebody to Love was actually chosen by the agent who worked with me on it and I do have to admit it’s a good one.  My publisher chose the title Warrant for Love.  Again I was good with that as it’s a natural lead on from the previous book.

My new book, just completed, is currently entitled, Learning to Love. We seem to have a bit of a theme going here, so I think that one may stay! A Little Bit of Madness I chose and everyone seemed to think it was a good fit for that book, which features a White Knight in Blue, a feisty heroine and a cast of eccentric elderly independents. Recipes for Disaster, the book Safkhet commissioned me to write, I think named itself!  That’s how Kim and I referred to it in the writing and it kind of just stuck.  Well, the tagline is: Sexilicious Romantic Comedy combined with Fab, Fun Recipes, so I reckon that title fits aptly, too.

Are there any occupational hazards to being an author?

Hmm? Does sleep deprivation count as an occupational hazard? I don’t think there are many authors who don’t have amazing light-bulb moments which insist on popping into your head in the dark dead of night.  Many writers I know keep a trusty notepad and pencil bedside. I’ve even woken up in the wee hours with the blinding realisation, I haven’t got a pad and pencil bedside! Such times, I have been known to scrawl something down to remind myself my flash of brilliance with anything to hand. Have you ever tried reading something written on the back of a tissue box in the dark with a lipstick?  Warning to prospective spouses of writers: Ask yourself, do you really want to sleep with this person?

Have you ever wished that you could be or do anything else instead of writing, and if so what?

A Little Bit of Madness features a feisty, sometimes vulnerable, heroine, who is an art therapist. I would be lying if I didn’t say we share a few similar traits.  My background is in Art and design, so obviously I love to paint and sculpt and had decided Art Therapy was something I wanted to do with my life. I didn’t want to teach in the traditional sense. I wanted to share art in a more hands-on way.  Personally, I found art (sculpting, in particular) hugely therapeutic and I could see how it would benefit people with learning/physical difficulties, also people with dementia. Unfortunately, the post-grad course was postponed due to my own mother’s early onset Alzheimer’s. Looking back, my first attempts at novel writing were possibly a catharsis to that loss in my own life. Losing my mum so young was devastating, of course, but I found my way of coping was to remember the hysterically funny moments we had (and we did, much to the bemusement of my father, who just didn’t get women’s quirky SOH).  I think the seeds were sown for A Little Bit of Madness back then.

Have you ever written naked?

Yes, but only in my bedroom with a lipstick.

Are you jealous of other writers?

Again, I’d be lying if said I wasn’t. Not of their success, I hasten to add. I don’t know of many writers who haven’t worked extremely hard to get their work ‘out there’ and who continue to do so, especially in today’s demanding publishing climate. I am jealous of their wonderful, seemingly natural, inspiring talent, though. Grrrrr. Why can’t I write like that?

Have you had to learn new skills and tricks or attempted impossible feats in order to get a book finished?

Did I mention that as well as being feisty and sometimes vulnerable our heroine in A Little Bit of Madness is also … a little bit mad? She decided it would be a good idea to attract media attention to the plight of her old people’s threatened home closure by abseiling from a church steeple. As I did mention above, I try to be very thorough in my research and hands-on if I can. So, I threw myself from… Seriously! I did! I learned to abseil. Suspecting the town council might not be overly impressed finding me dangling from the local church, I threw myself down a rock-face instead.  I loved it – and, actually, there are sponsored abseils from buildings in aid of various charities, so…

If you could commit the perfect murder where would you hide the body?

Under the bed.  The amount of housework that gets done around here lately, they’d possibly never find it.

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Where can you find out more about Sheryl and buy her book?

A Little Bit of Madness is available in Kindle format from Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk.

You can also meet Sheryl online in various locations including:

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Why ‘The Thursday Throng’?

These posts are called The Thursday Throng in honour of the throng that waits eagerly outside the book store when a new author is doing a book signing event or appearance. On this website it takes the form of a ‘Meet the Author‘ online event with some information about our author’s latest book and an interview. If you would like to take part in the Thursday Throng then why not visit Thursday Throng Author Interview Guidelines to find out more.

If you would like to see all the Authors who have been featured on The Thursday Throng you can click here: womanontheedgeofreality.com/2012/06/17/the-thursday-throng/

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4 thoughts on “An Interview with Sheryl Browne, author of A Little Bit of Madness

  1. Sheryl Browne says:

    Hi Linda! I just saw your lovely review! Thank you so very much, it has totally made my day. I needed something to cheer me up. We are just setting off from the marina in our boat – in the rain, as per. Holidaying in the UK – why do we do it?. Ah, well, there’s hope yet. I think I spy the sun poking back out through the clouds. Here’s hoping. 🙂 Thank you so much for my lovely interview, too. Reading it through reminds me of how much I loved writing A Little Bit of Madness. The book recently made the Guardian Not the Booker Prize long list – totally thrilled about that, too. It just goes to show you have to keep at it and keep trying. I’ll be back later, when we have found a safe harbour. Keep safe everyone! A huge thank you to those people who voted for a A Little Bit of Madness, despite the horrendous voting system. Ooops! I just gave myself a five star rating! Well, why not? 🙂

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