Interview with an Author: Sherry Harris, ad writer turned mystery author

51eqctkkoalSherry Harris, a former director of marketing for a financial planning company, decided writing fiction couldn’t be that different than writing ads. She couldn’t have been more wrong, but eventually because of a series of fortunate events and a great many people helping her along the way, Kensington published the Agatha nominated Tagged For Death, the first in the Sarah Winston Garage Sale mysteries. Other titles include: The Longest Yard Sale, All Murders Final. AGood Day To Buy comes out in April 2017.

Sherry honed her bartering skills as she moved around the country, while her husband served in the Air Force. Sherry uses her love of garage sales, her life as a military spouse, and her time living in Massachusetts as inspiration for the series. Sherry is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters In Crime, the New England Chapter of Sisters in Crime, and the Chesapeake Chapter of Sisters In Crime, where she serves as President.

Judy: Tell us a bit about your most recent novel, All Murders Final.

ALL MURDERS FINAL mech.inddSherry: All Murders Final is the third book of the Sarah Winston Garage Sale series. It’s winter in Ellington, Massachusetts, and Sarah has to come up with a plan for her garage sale business. She starts a virtual garage sale thinking that online she can avoid cranky customers but soon she’s getting death threats. When Sarah finds a client is murdered, one she had an argument with the night before, she doesn’t know who to trust online or off.

Judy: What or who inspired you to become a writer?

Sherry: I’ve wanted to write every since I read the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace. From a young age Betsy wants to be a writer. She loves to write in a tree behind her house and a cigar box holds her pencils and notebooks. I even went as far as to try writing in a tree when I was young. Balancing on a limb while writing, wasn’t nearly as much fun as it sounded in the book! But it was those books that sparked my interest in writing.

Judy: Describe a typical day in your life.

51z8lzdbvhlSherry: I’m lucky enough to have a home office to write in. I like it quiet but can tune out the noise of my family. My desk faces a window that looks out over a wooded area. Sometimes I think I should turn my desk to the wall because it’s easy to get distracted by a bird or neighbor going by. I don’t keep set writing hours. It depends on the day and what’s going on. My three best times of day are around 10:00 am, 4:00 pm and 8:00 pm. I find setting a word count works better for me than keeping hours. I usually try to write between 1000 to 1500 words a day. Sometimes I take the weekends off but the closer I get to a deadline the less likely that is.

Judy: What’s the best writing advice you have ever read or been given?

Sherry: The best writing advice I ever got was from author John Dufresne. It’s two bits actually. The first being: sit your butt in the chair. You aren’t ever going to write if you don’t and reading about writing or researching don’t count as writing. Second was his advice on what to do if you get stuck. John recommended looking around, write down everything your protagonist can see, hear, and feel. It’s gotten me unstuck every time. Most of that writing gets tossed out but it’s the process of moving on that’s important.



Find out more about Sherry Harris on her website.

10 responses to “Interview with an Author: Sherry Harris, ad writer turned mystery author

  1. Ellen! I love that you did that too! They are such wonderful books!

  2. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks Ellen — I didn’t know you were writing as a kid. That’s so interesting. You were born to be a storyteller.

  3. Sherry, you just answered a question that’s been haunting me!!! When I was about ten, I climbed to a low branch on a tree in our backyard and nailed a cigar box to it. I’d go up to the tree to write, and store it in the box. For years I’ve been wondering where I got this idea. I knew it was from a book, but I couldn’t remember which one. And now I know – the Betsy-Tacy books! Great post. And I’ll try your trick for getting unstuck. Thanks, S and J!

  4. Thank you for having me, Judy!

  5. I’m happy to share it eightpawswriting! I hope it works for you!

  6. Thanks, Grace! It has been a fun series to write!

  7. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks for reading, Grace. I loved Sherry’s post so glad it is resonating with others.

  8. Judy Penz Sheluk

    Thanks for stopping by, Sheri. I love hearing about author’s past lives!

  9. Grace Topping

    Great advice, Sherry. Your series is terrific and should appeal to readers who like cozies and traditional mysteries. You have a good mix of both. I look forward to reading the next in your series.

  10. eightpawswriting

    A fun post to read! Thanks for sharing your way of getting unstuck. I will try that!

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