Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Ideaphoria and a Fiat? Interview with Author Cheryl Cowell

Lisa Richards is caught in an abusive relationship and devises a clandestine plan to build her dream and escape. In league with the secretive Montebelli Corporation, she grasps her one chance to gain financial freedom and fulfill her dream to bring new life to the town her ancestors helped settle in the Pacific Northwest.
As a stranger to town, Steven Taylor distrusts Lisa's surreptitious behavior and sets out to expose her. Instead, he discovers the truth and becomes one of her few allies.
With attacks coming from many directions, they set out on a gripping course, working against time and the traps set in motion to break her.

Imminent threats, at work to crush her efforts, thrust her to the edge of destruction.

Passionately interested in all things creative—writing, gardening, art, friendships—I thrive in the inspiring countryside surrounding Ashland, Oregon.

Under the theme, Stunning Suspense, I enjoy crafting stories set in stunning locations and filled with heart-stunning suspense, mystery, and romance. In my stories, ordinary people, stretched beyond their limits, find supernatural help when plunged into insurmountable circumstances.
For more information about Cowell and her novels, visit her website at

View her book trailer for "The Secret of the Montebellis" here.
Ten Questions for Cheryl Cowell
What should readers know about your latest release? Does it differ from your past books, offer a new perspective on a familiar topic, or shed light on a unique situation?
People say your first novel is a reflection of your life. Though I see evidence of that, my first 117,000-word draft was much too tame, so I had to spice it up. I had fun stretching the characters to their most devious sides, thus adding significantly more drama than my real life.
The town in the novel is set in the area where I live. Ashland and Talent are where my ancestors actually grew up. When I moved to Southern Oregon in 1980, I had no idea of this, so I loved adding that piece to the setting.
What was the main inspiration for the new book? Had the idea been on your mind for a while or just popped into it one day?
I’d never thought of writing, but while at a restaurant in Mt. Shasta, California, where my husband was on a bike ride, a seed took place for a story. Since I also enjoyed biking, I felt it added another dimension to the story.
In addition, the town of Talent was undergoing plans for a major transformation. I didn’t have the cash to participate, but thought it would be fun to build it into the story where all my investments would succeed!
Why do you feel compelled to write—in your genre or at all?
We can be born with about 18 major aptitudes. One of them is “high ideaphoria,” which is a constant flow of ideas. Up until I began to write, those ideas were taking shape in new gardens, new hobbies, in more ways than I had time to care for. However, with writing, I get to use this gift to create all the arbors and villas my heart could ever desire! My husband is SO happy!
That was the beginning. I never imagined God had this plan for me all along. He turned a fun hobby into an activity for His use—and transformed me at the same time.
Like my character, Lisa, I hid a lot of myself, becoming who I thought I was supposed to be. As I began to expose her secrets, it shed light on my own. Not only did this process develop courage, I saw that I was hiding for no reason. I’ve become much more authentic and integrated, not the chameleon I once was.
How has travel been involved in your writing and/or research? What’s been your most memorable research experience?
My husband and I flew to Tuscany for our 25th anniversary. He was part of a bicycle tour and I rented a Fiat to drive to each new location. It stretched me to overcome my worst fears: being left (while others go on together); getting lost (which I did every day, but came out of it alive anyway), ordering food in a foreign country, in a language I don’t speak, and eating by myself (and not feeling self-conscious), you get the idea.
Cheryl with the Fiat in Italy
Not only did God never leave me, I had a GRAND time. I’d go by myself again in a heartbeat. I am using the details in the photos and information I discovered in my next novel.
Who has inspired you the most on your writing journey—a loved one, fellow author, favorite teacher?
My daughter, Brittany, was the first one in the family to express an interest in writing. When I started attending writing conferences, she came with me and we learned and shared together. She is very talented, reads a lot, and has a great eye for improving my stories. My husband enjoys letting me read aloud and does a great job encouraging me.
What surprised you the most about the writer’s journey—publication, representation, platform building, the writing itself?
That I enjoy every part of the process: learning how to write, rewriting, editing, the solitude, the conferences and meeting other authors, and the enthusiasm in my readers.
If you could rewind time to when you began your pursuit of publication, what would you tell yourself?
I think it happened perfectly. Nothing tells you your work is NOT ready faster than an agent or publisher smiling their encouragement and suggesting you take more writing classes. It pushed me onward and upward until I knew where the bar was. Experience and feedback are the best teachers.
Now to have some fun with travel…
What’s your favorite place you have visited?
Radda, Italy. After traveling by myself for two weeks, I was finally in the groove. I entered the Chianti region of rolling vineyards and thought I’d found paradise. Radda sits on top of a knoll and offered exquisite views over a short rock wall from a shaded bench. With huge trees, well-kept old buildings, a central park, and not being as much a tourist town as some of the others I visited, it is my perfect Tuscany place.
Radda, Italy
If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be? Or would you return to somewhere you’ve already been?
There is only one thing on my bucket list at this time: to spend a year in Italy, learn the language and study archeology. My next novel should be finished before Christmas and is based on an amazing discovery I made in Tuscany. I hope you’ll invite me back to talk about it. At this time, I’ll just say the history there is an author’s dream!

And now a fun tidbit—if there was one special travel destination just for writers and you were the founder of it, what would the name be and would it be located?
Writers need solitude, but limit their creativity in a vacuum. If I had the resources, I think I’d invite them to my property outside of Ashland, Oregon, where I’d build individual cabins with comfortable writing desks. We could choose places under the willows and arbors to write, but have lunches and dinners together to discuss our projects and new ideas. I love hanging out with other writers and the enthusiasm it generates.
Thanks so much. I hope you had as much fun answering these questions as I had writing them! J
Great questions and they brought up things I hadn’t before articulated. Thank you.

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