A big welcome to Sherry Parnell author of Let the Willows Weep. Captivated by books at an early age, Sherry Parnell began creating worlds of her own into which she could escape, dream, and live for a moment outside of her own life. Now this passion has become her profession with the release of her first novel, “Let the Willows Weep”.
In addition to her love for both reading and writing, she enjoys spending time with her family, traveling, running, and talking with those who share her passion. Sherry also loves new experiences because she feels that each is an opportunity for inspiration to create a new story.
An alumnus of Dickinson College and West Chester University, Sherry lives with her husband and two sons in Glenmoore, Pennsylvania, where she is a full-time writer working on her second novel.
~ Author Interview ~
1. Looking back, do you recall when your serious interest in writing originated? And what were you doing at that time in your life?
I don’t believe there was ever one particular defining moment in my life when I realized that I wanted to write. Instead, the desire and need to write has always been an integral part of me. There hasn’t been a time in my life when I didn’t write, want to write, or think about writing.
I think that my desire to write was born from my passion and love for words, which I discovered at a very young age quickly becoming a voracious reader. I relished in a writer’s ability to transport me anywhere from the Moors of eighteenth century England to the pioneer life of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Consequently, I realized my desire and dream to bestow that gift on other readers.
2. Have you ever had doubts in your writing career? In other words have you ever struggled with wanting to do something else besides writing?
Regarding the consideration of other careers, I have always only wanted to write. After all, when one writes she can be anything or anyone. But, yes, I have had many doubts along the way. I have never questioned my love or passion for writing but I have had uncertainties regarding the practicality of writing as a profession since it’s not a clearly marked career path. But during these times of doubt, I am always comforted by Ralph Waldo Emerson’s words, “Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” And with a keyboard and occasionally a pen in hand, I am trying to forge that trail.
3. Are you an Introvert or Extrovert? And what characteristics that you see in yourself confirm that?
I think that this question actually highlights a significant dichotomy in me, which is that I tend to be both introverted and extroverted depending on the situation and, at times, the day. But if I were to place myself on the scale of introversion and extroversion, I believe that I am introverted with extroverted tendencies.
I am introverted in that I spend much of my time inside my mind, reflecting on my thoughts and ideas. I suppose most artists be they painters, writers, or composers are instrospective by nature. However, I am also inclined towards extroversion since I have a need to be around people. I find people interesting and good conversation stimulating both of which are conducive to my creativity. I enjoy hearing about other’s experiences. I believe that an appreciation of people and their stories help writers to create characters who seem real.
4. What do you do with your free time when not writing?
When I am not writing, I love to spend time with my husband and two little boys; they are my source of happiness and comfort. Other activities I enjoy include training at the gym. Just as I like to push my creative limits, I also like to push my physical limits. Understanding one’s own boundaries can actually provide a wonderful sense of freedom.
And although it may be an obvious answer, I do love to read. I sneak these quiet moments to escape into another’s life whenever I can.
5. What’s your favorite season?
Not to appear indecisive but I can’t pick one season; it is why I chose to live in a geographic area where all four occur. The seasons, to me, are like life. The experience of each one makes me appreciate the others.
Winter is dark and cold, causing quiet and isolation. Spring is warm and new, bringing hope and light. Summer is hot and bright, giving us repose. Fall is crisp and colorful, reminding us of change.
I am more grateful for the warmth of spring because I have felt the coldness of winter just as in life one values happiness for having experienced sadness. Without one, we couldn’t so keenly discern and treasure the others.
6. Are the experiences in your book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
None of the characters or experiences in my book are based on one specific person or event in my life. Rather the texture and composition of the characters is drawn from many people and various experiences. A certain smile, a manner of speech or a distinguishing feature of a character is actually an amalgamation of many people.
Many mathematicians attribute their appreciation of math to its universality. I think that emotions function in the same collective. We each live unique lives with different experiences and different people yet we all know what it is to feel sorrow, joy, pain and pleasure.
And if a writer can understand, appreciate and write emotions empathetically then the characters will seem as though they truly exist.
7. How did the design of your book cover come about?
The title of my book is “Let the Willows Weep” because the willow tree and its metaphorical representation are a significant theme in the story. The willow is a tree, which although delicate and slender in its design, is strong. It bends with the winds so that its yielding nature allows it to thrive rather than cracking and falling. The tree’s survival is dependent on its ability to work with the forces of nature instead of fighting them; it is a wisdom that some of my characters need to learn to gain redemption. So I chose the picture of a willow so that there would be a visual image to complement the established emotional one in the story.
8. How did you come up with the name of the main character of your book?
I didn’t give the main character of my book a proper name. Instead, she is called by her nickname, Birddog. Her older brother gives her the pet name because as she tells it, “I looked as fragile as a tiny bird but could be as strong as a big dog, so he thought that putting the words together described me just right”. It is sometimes easier to identify with another’s traits, such as fragile or strong, than to a specific name. So I purposely didn’t provide a Christian name for my character so that she, in the readers’ minds, could be anyone.
9. Do you have any other books or future projects in the works?
I am currently working on my second book but I have ideas and outlines sketched for a third, fourth and fifth. As a writer, I draw inspiration from life, which is fluid. People, interactions and experiences are always changing and transforming, continually nourishing my creativity. So as long as I am a part of life, I have a wealth of ideas for stories.
10. Please tell us why we should read your book? And is there a lesson in your book for the reader?
I strive to create work which incites readers to talk about subjects which may be difficult or sensitive to discuss in order to understand and respect another person’s perspective. I am not trying to change my audience’s opinions or beliefs but rather show them another point of view so that they can recognize and understand their own prejudices and biases. I believe it is only through the open and supportive sharing of ideas, opinions, and feelings that we each can join in a shared humanity.
The lesson I would want someone to learn from reading my book is to consider an alternative point of view, to try to understand another’s circumstances and in doing so gain a new perspective of as well as sympathy for the human condition. And if one can learn these lessons from reading my book then that is the reason why one should read it.
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Where is the line between destruction and redemption? What happens when one doesn’t know—do they fall or do they find their way?
When the tenuous ties of her family break, Birddog Harlin is forced to choose a path which leads her away from those she loves, threatening to completely destroy her before she ultimately seeks her salvation.
Birddog is a willful and bitter woman whose husband, after years of suffering her emotional abuse, leaves suddenly one morning. She is left with her precocious and introverted young daughter who is devastated and angry, further deteriorating their already strained relationship. But during a seemingly insignificant moment with her daughter, Birddog privately recollects her own adolescence and the tragic events which drove her to make the choices that threaten to destroy not only her own life but also that of her daughter. Memories of loss, love, and unbearable hurt flood her mind. But as each moment recedes once more, Birddog realizes that although life is partially fated, it is her own choices that determine her true destiny.
Publisher: Booklocker.com, Inc.
Publication Date: 2/10/10
No compensation was received for this post. A thank you goes out to Sherry Parnell for taking the time to share herself with my blog readers.