Today we're finding out more about author Cheryl Hollon, who writes the Webb's Glass Shop Mysteries. She's still pretty new to the game, with the first book in this series published last Fall. Busy as she is, the third book is now out!
Cheryl writes full time after she left an engineering career designing and building military flight simulators in amazing countries such as England, Wales, Australia, Singapore, Taiwan and India. Fulfilling the dream of a lifetime, she combines her love of writing with a passion for creating glass art. In the small glass studio behind the house, Cheryl and her husband George design, create, and produce fused glass, stained glass and painted glass artworks.
Q. So how did this novel come to be? As third in the series, tell us a bit about where it stands in relation to the others.
A. The timeline for Cracked to Death is about three months from the last book – straight into the heat of the Florida summer. It’s also a relatively quiet time for retail shops as most of the seasonal visitors have gone.
Q. Did you start with the germ of an idea and start writing to see where it went, or did you map a good deal out in your head (or even outline) before crafting?
A. Because I’m under contract for the books in the series, I submit an eight-page synopsis of the book to my editor at Kensington. For me, this grows into a detailed outline that I usually follow pretty closely. I always start with an unusual location, the teaching focus for Webb’s Glass Shop and then some local events to flesh out the setting.
Q. What do you feel is the main theme(s)?
A. As is the case for most cozy mysteries, justice is served and order is restored to the community after a crime has unsettled everything in the normal world of the characters.
Q. Why do you feel this is important, and what would you want a reader to take away from reading this book?
A. I would like for readers to get to know and love the eclectic vibe of St. Petersburg, Florida. It has changed from a sleepy senior health sojourn to a food-centric, art-focused, museum-packed, fun-loving town. Last week, the owner of Grand Central Stained Glass told me that three customers had visited her shop because they had read the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries. I’m happy.
Q. What makes a good book or engaging story?
A. I love a book that takes me away into a complete world of action, emotion and sensory detail. I want to care about the characters and be afraid of what might happen to them.
Q. Are there writers with similar themes to yours? Who are your influences (can be writers, or even artists, musicians, or others) and what is it about their work that attracts you?
A. My favorite modern series right now is the Inspector Gamache series located in Three Pines village near Montreal written by Louise Penny. When I open one of her amazing books, I feel like I’m coming home to visit with great friends. Another series I revere is the Lord Peter Wimsey mysteries by Dorothy Sayers. Her characters are charming, clever and witty and her plots are dark and twisty. The strength of their writing attracts me to those books – it is straightforward but beautiful as well.
Q. Is storytelling mostly entertainment, or does it serve other functions? Do you have particular goals other than telling a good story?
A. I strive to entertain by taking the reader on a journey that will puzzle, educate and elicit the occasional smile. Bottom line, I want to tell a cracking good story.
Q. Any other goals you've set for yourself, professionally or personally?
A. I have a few ideas for another series, but based in Clifton Village, Bristol, England. I lived there for about three years during my time as an engineer. Fingers crossed for finding a publisher.
Q. Some writers write fast and claim not to rewrite much. Do you do this, or painstakingly revise? When you send the book off to the publisher, are you happy with it, or just tired of it?
A. I write fairly fast then revise extensively for many, many passes through the manuscript. I hate to let go of the book, but at some point – I cover my eyes and press SEND.
Q. Do you have good editors, and if so, how do they help you? Do they look for particular things? Do you have different people for different editing levels?
A. Bless the cotton socks of good editors. I’m delighted with the collaborative process that takes my beginning story and ramps it into a much better story that I knew I was going to tell. It’s wonderful.
Q. If a writer came to you for advice, how would you help?
A. I would point them to the organizations that work hard to teach new writers the craft of producing great stories. In particular, I recommend the on-line chapter of the Sisters in Crime. It is called the Guppy Chapter as in ‘The Great Unpublished.’ I’ve learned more from that group than any others because when a Guppy gets published, they stay around to help the others. It’s a warm and friendly group.
Q. Stories can be told by using a different medium. Can you see your book as a film, audio, etc.? How would that alter the telling?
A. I can definitely see my books as a television series. Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries are based in a business district of St. Petersburg, FL. It’s interesting
Q. How has your world changed since publishing your first book? What has been the best things about that?
A. I’m surprised at the vast difference there is between ‘soon-to-be-published’ and ‘published.’ This is no endeavor to endure alone. In fact, I have met so many wonderful writers that are generous with their time and wisdom. But even better, I have met wonderful readers who love the world around Webb’s Glass Shop as much as I do.
Q. What's the next step in your writing world?
A. I am looking forward to the release of the third book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries, CRACKED TO DEATH. It releases June 28, 2016 and is available for pre-order now. This has been a fast year for me and I look forward to spending many hours with Savannah Webb and her posse of crime-solving friends.
Q. Tell us a fun fact about yourself.
A. I was a Boy Scout Leader. When my sons were small and wanted to go into scouting, I volunteered to be a Den Mother and then Committee Chair. But when the camping opportunities arrived, my husband, who is allergic to planet Earth, couldn’t take them, so I stepped in. Some of the best leadership training I’ve ever experienced was taught by the Boy Scouts of America. I was also privileged to serve on the committee that trained Boy Scout leaders in the Tampa Bay area.
Q. Any other information you'd like to impart?
A. You need to sign up for a creative art class of any type. Check your local business listings or search the Internet for a glass or craft shop near you. It’s fun!
You can read more about Savannah in Cracked to Death, the third book in the Webb’s Glass Shop Mysteries, published by Kensington Books. Available at your favorite book vendor on June 28, 2016.
About Cracked to Death:
When a treasure hunt leads to deadly plunder, it’s up to glass shop owner Savannah Webb and her trusty investigative posse to map out the true motives of a killer . . .
It's the dog days of summer in St. Petersburg, Florida, and Webb's Glass Shop proprietor Savannah Webb has an eco-friendly plan to help locals escape the heat--a recyclable bottle-crafting workshop taught by reticent store manager Amanda Blake. Turns out, the class is a bigger smash than expected, thanks in part to a pair of staggeringly old bottles brought in by snorkeler Martin Lane . . .
Linked to a storied pirate shipwreck, the relics definitely pique Savannah's interest. But intrigue turns to shock when Martin's lifeless body washes ashore the next morning, another glass artifact tucked in his dive bag. With cell phone records connecting Amanda to the drowning, Savannah must voyage through uncharted territory to exonerate her colleague and capture the twisted criminal behind Martin's death . . .
Visit Cheryl and her books at: