Tricia: Hi, Sheryl. It's wonderful to have you here. Can you please tell us a little about yourself?
Sheryl: I live in Worcestershire but grew up in Birmingham, UK. I’m a mother, a partner in my own business and a foster parent to disabled dogs. I can’t help myself. If a hoppity three-legged dog in need of care comes along… Well, do you blame me?
I decided to become a literary superstar when… Lol! I am now published – thank you Safkhet Publishing – but I’m not sure many writers become literary superstars in today’s tough publishing climate. We keep writing though, (passionate souls that we are), lovely reader feedback so often giving us the impetus we need to keep at it.
Tricia: When did you begin writing?
Sheryl: When I took leave of my senses. Ignore me. I love writing. I simply wouldn’t know how to be without it! I’m artistic by nature therefore I’ve always had a creative imagination. Reading, anything and everything, and making up stories in my head was a kind of escapism for me. And, believe me, when you come from a large family, escapism is as necessary as food for survival sometimes. I suppose then I’ve had a passion for writing since childhood. I’m an avid reader. I love anything that explores life and relationships and how people cope with and grow through certain life events. Looking back, my first attempts at novel writing were possibly a catharsis to loss in my own life. Without going into too much detail, I’d taken compassionate leave from work to nurse my mum through early onset Alzheimer’s. Losing my mum in my twenties 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). Out of necessity, I’d worked since leaving school and being a young single mum when my mum got ill giving up work to write wasn’t an option. I started jotting things down in my spare time, though, and from little acorns…
Tricia: Can you tell us about Somebody to Love?
Sheryl: Simply, In Somebody to Love, my protagonist, Mark, has a special needs son, ergo a lot riding on any relationship he might enter into.
Tricia: How did you get the idea for the book?
Sheryl: I do have experience of special needs myself, but that wasn’t the catalyst for writing this book. I write to try to connect emotionally with people. I strive to convey that, even in what appears to be the most complex or traumatic of situations, there is often an underlying humour that keeps us sane. I hope that when my characters stumble over the obstacles life throws at them, my readers will laugh with them, because they empathise, because they’ve been there. Sometimes a single life-event can often fire a writer’s imagination enough to write a whole story around it. My story was actually inspired by ‘a lost little boy’, an autistic little boy, who wasn’t lost at all, it turned out, but on a mission to throw his shoes over his neighbour’s garden fence in order to facilitate a meeting with her three-legged dog.
It’s never easy to talk about your own book without wanting to say, I believe that it’s good, I believe you will enjoy it (please read it!!). You do believe it’s as good as it can be, of course. Authors work hard to make sure their books are. The ‘written in blood’ adage really does apply sometimes. Truly passionate about what you do, you pour your whole heart and soul into your stories, working hard on research, determined to get the detail right and never to trivialise emotive issues that some people might live and struggle with on a daily basis. My writing, though romantic comedy, has been described as funny but thoughtful. Thoughtful because I feel drawn to look at the relationships of people whose lives may be little more complicated than most and therefore their emotions a little more tangled.
Tricia: How much research did you do in regards to autism and assistance animals?
Sheryl: As mentioned, I do have experience of special needs, but still I worried about that all-important detail, particularly as I was incorporating the little boy’s Autism Assistance Dog (ADD) into the story. A tremendous amount of research was called for therefore, both hands-on and online. I could go on, but I think a snippet from the book’s first review – from a reviewer who has a special needs child and which actually rendered me speechless, so overcome was I when I saw it – has dispelled those worries:
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.
Thank you, Jontybabe JB Johnston. You succeeded where no one ever has in rendering me silent.
Tricia: The characters in your novel undergo a significant amount of growth. Which character undergoes the most change, and how is it important to the eventual outcome in the romantic relationship?
Sheryl: Through learning to cope with some of the little, day-to-day activities that most of us take for granted, and to interact with Starbuck more, thus becoming more perceptive of the dog’s needs and transferring those accomplishments to humans, little Karl grows undoubtedly. His father’s growth, though, in learning to trust people with Karl, trust someone in particular enough to let her into their lives – and into his heart - is fundamental to the outcome of the relationship.
Tricia: What projects are you currently working on?
Sheryl: I have two WIPs (you knew I’d be awkward, didn’t you?). I’m currently working on Learning to Love, which is very much a working title, but reflects the theme of the story, which, again, looks at love and trust issues. If I had to sum it up in a one sentence, it would be: Separation, arson, attempted murder; bereavement – can two broken hearts overcome such trauma and learn how to love again?
Tricia: Thanks again, Sheryl, for joining us. I'm looking forward to reading and reviewing your other novels. Readers, please check back soon for more reviews of Sheryl's work. Please read on for a sampling of Somebody to Love. Please visit the following links to purchase novels or to find out more about Sheryl Browne:
Romantic Novelists’ Association
Sheryl is a loveahappyending featured Author and Editor.
Excerpt of Somebody to Love:
Mark snatched up the telephone. ‘Hello,’ he answered shortly. ‘Mark Ev… Karl, slow down!’
Mark sighed, despairing, as Karl backed around the coffee table for the umpteenth time, the tug-of-war with Starbuck in full swing. ‘Karl. Starbuck, Stop and… Sit and stay, Starbu… Jesus! Hold on.’
Mark dropped the phone and almost leapt the coffee table. Dammit, he knew this would happen. He winced as Karl lurched backwards, his head hitting the TV table with a sickening crack.
‘Okay, Karl. Okay.’ Mark dropped to his knees, gathering Karl to him, who, stunned for a second, started in on a tantrum that would probably be the mother of all tantrums.
Mark locked his arm around Karl’s upper torso, trying to assess the damage to the back of his head, which was nigh on impossible with Karl as rigid as a board, his had slamming backwards into Mark’s chest.
‘Hold still, Karl,’ Mark dropped his own head to his son’s. Please hold still, he prayed, seeing blood on his shirt and feeling the kind of panic only a parent can.
Karl bellowed. Of course he would. Mark knew he would, but when he did Mark’s heart hammered like a train. It wasn’t the raucous roar, the endless screaming that seemed to go on until Karl had got things out of his system.
He called for Starbuck.
Starbuck was there. Sitting right next to them, his tongue hanging out and a paw placed on Karl’s leg.
‘Starbuck.’ Karl cried, but whether from fright or pain, Mark couldn’t be sure. Sensory sensitivity meant Karl just didn’t feel pain the same way other people did.
‘Starbuck,’ Karl repeated. ‘Best friend.’ He held out a hand, Starbuck nuzzled it, and that’s when Mark knew — there had been a major breakthrough. He’d wondered whether Karl might be benefiting from the tactile stimulation offered by the dog. Now, he was sure.
His son was gaining comfort from the dog. Expressing emotion.
‘Best friend.’ Mark swallowed back his own overwhelming emotion and agreed wholeheartedly. ‘Come on, Starbuck,’ he said, easing Karl into his arms. ‘Let’s sit on the sofa where it’s more comfy, shall we?’
‘Yes,’ said Karl in a small voice.
Mark hadn’t thought it possible to love his son more.
But he did, right then.