Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Author Interview: Sherry Monahan

Today's Author Interview is with Sherry Monahan. Her unique book, Taste of Tombstone, was originally published in 1998, and received two 1999 Glyph Awards from the Arizona Book Publisher’s Association. Featuring a new cover and updated information, Taste of Tombstone was just re-released by the University of New Mexico Press.

Sherry is a member of Women Writing the West, Western Writers of America, and the North Carolina Writer's Network. Her articles have appeared in True West Magazine and Arizona Highways. Her previous books include The Wicked West: Boozers, Cruisers, Gamblers, and More; and Pikes Peak: Adventurers, Communities and Lifestyles. She resides in North Carolina.

Welcome, Sherry! What made you start writing?
I visited Tombstone back in the 1990s and fell in love. We visited there a few times to look at buying land, and it happened on one of those trips. I love to write and love to cook, but had not done either professionally. I started wondering what they ate in Tombstone during its heyday…and that’s how it began.

How long have you been writing? When did you sell your first book?
I actually wrote for my high school newspaper, and had a job writing policy and procedure manuals before I wrote Taste of Tombstone. However, I didn’t begin researching and writing that until 1995. By sold, I assume you mean when a publisher first accepted my book. My first, being Taste of Tombstone, came in January 1998. However, the publisher’s letter of acceptance was issued September 16, 1996 (I still have the letter).

You have published several non-fiction works, as well as worked in television. Have you ever been tempted to write fiction?
You know, I have, and have been working on one.

How do you decide what topics to write about?
It started with Tombstone from my visit, but then I wanted to branch out. My next book, Pike Peaks: Adventurers, Communities and Lifestyles, is really a family book. One of my relatives lived in Colorado Springs in the early 1900s and they photographed the area. Many of the photos in the book were taken by them, and the woman on the cover is my Great great Aunt Ivah. Next came, The Wicked West: Boozers, Cruisers, Gamblers, and More, which is a super collection of stories from all over the west. Lastly is Tombstone’s Treasure: Silver Mines and Golden Saloons.

It’s kind of funny, but the last two books were actually one when I started. I hired a professional editor to go over the book before I sent it to a publisher. I wanted to attract more than Tombstone readers so I tossed in a few stories from all over the west. She thought it wasn’t focused and had me delete the non-Tombstone stories. Well, I couldn’t just let all that good research go to waste, so I created the Wicked West. Now I have two books instead of one.

From your blog and Taste of Tombstone, I've deduced that you enjoy good food and adult beverages. When you're writing, what food or snack keeps the words flowing?
Yes, you deduced well. I love food and enjoy a good bottle of wine. However, I don’t drink during the day because I like to stay focused and alert. I love to snack on salted almonds, buffalo jerky, and I try to drink a lot of water.

Do you write to music? If so, with lyrics or only instrumentals?
Sometimes I do. It’s usually the local radio station. Once in a while I will listen to a CD, but it’s mostly silent.

How do you research your topics?
Wow, that’s a tough one. It really depends upon my subject. Right now I am using old newspapers online. I also visit local archives and historical societies.

You have a day job. What type of writing schedule do you have?
Yes, I do. I work full-time as a marketing writer. The schedule can be crazy some days because our clients have deadlines.

How do you handle life interruptions?
As they come. I get stressed when I can't work on my books, but sometimes the distractions can be good. I always say that things happen for a reason.

What have you always dreamed of writing, but haven't yet?
A best-selling book!

What one thing do you like most about writing? Least?
I get to share some awesome historical stories with people. Trying to get my book(s) published.

Tell us about Taste of Tombstone.
It’s been out for 10 years. When I wrote that book I never thought it would be around for that long and still going strong. Well, that is, thanks to the University of New Mexico Press! The original publisher went out of business two years after it was published and the last copies were dwindling down.

It’s a book about Tombstone’s hospitality businesses – ice cream parlors, bakeries, hotels, restaurants, etc. It’s half history and half recipes. The recipes are based on the “Bills of fare” or menus that were printed in the 1880s Tombstone papers. I like to say that you can actually taste history and eat what Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday ate while they lived there.

What is your next project?
I have three going right now, but the one that is done and needing a publisher is a book about pioneer Anglo women who left their eastern and Midwestern homes and went west. Its focus is about the food they cooked along the trails. Yes, it includes recipes that would have been made by them.

What is your advice for other writers?
Persistence is key. You just can’t give up or it will never happen. Authors, especially first-timers, need to offer publishers more than a great book. They want someone who has a marketing plan, an internet presence, and something other than a book they can market. They have lots of great books, so ask yourself what makes you and yours so special?

Thank you for being my guest for today's interview, Sherry.

Sherry has published a Self-Guided Walking Tour of Tombstone, which is available at her website, www.wildwestinfo.com. She is also a contributing editor for True West Magazine; the 2007 & 2008 Vice President-Marketing for Women Writing the West; and the Historical Consultant for the movie "The Territory”. You can see her on the 2007 Lost Worlds episode called Sin City of the West on the History Channel; and she has appeared on the Wild West Tech series in the Gold Rush Tech and Gambling Tech shows. You can also catch her in the Investigating History series in the Wyatt Earp episode.
Read Sherry's blog, An Author's Journal, at http://www.sherrymonahan.blogspot.com/.

1 comment:

  1. Marsha,
    Interesting interview, thanks for doing it. It's always fun to hear how other writers think and what they're doing.


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