Thursday, March 27, 2014

7 Questions For: Author Sherrie Petersen

Here's Sherrie Petersen in her own words:

I was born in Ohio, grew up in Southern California and spent the first half of my married life in Arizona. My husband and I are currently planning our escape to North Carolina. I’ve visited most of the continental United States (only 9 states left to discover!) but I’m really looking forward to the day when I can visit the moon.
An avid reader since I memorized Hand, Hand, Fingers, Thumb by Dr. Seuss, I still enjoy reading and writing books like the ones I enjoyed as a child. My favorite authors are Suzanne Collins, Rick Riordan, J.K. Rowling, Jennifer Nielsen, Maggie Stiefvater, John Green, Eoin Colfer and Anthony Horowitz. When I grow up, I want to write just like them.

In addition to writing middle grade novels, I moonlight as a graphic designer, substitute teacher, freelance writer, school newspaper advisor, yearbook advisor and mother of two children. I spend my free time watching movies, driving kids around and baking cookies. Or eating them.

And now Sherrie Petersen faces the 7 Questions:

Question Seven: What are your top three favorite books?

It’s hard to narrow down my top three favorites, so I’m going to cheat a little and say that my favorite middle grade series will always be Harry Potter. Every time I read those books I discover more about the story. I also really love the original Percy Jackson series and The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen blew me away. As soon as I finished reading it I handed it to my son and told him he had to read it, and then my daughter had to as well. Such a good book!

Question Six: How much time do you spend each week writing? Reading?

I usually wake up at 5:30 and write for an hour. Sometimes I can sneak in another hour later in the evening. I try to binge on the weekend and write 3000-6000 words. When I’m not writing I can read almost a book a day, but when I’m working on my own novel it drops to about a book a week, sometimes less.

Question Five: What was the path that led you to publication?

WISH YOU WEREN’T is my second complete middle grade novel. (There was also a picture book that turned into a novel, but we’re going to ignore that one for now!) I wrote WYW in about four months but then spent a lot of time revising. Even after I signed with my agent, I ended up rewriting the book based on some excellent notes from an editor at Abrams. I finished the first draft back in September of 2009 so it’s taken five years of writing, rewriting and near misses with agents and editors to finally get to this point. I’ve written a lot more since then and I’m happy to say that it takes me far less time now to get a book to the point where it’s readable than it did when I started this one six years ago!

Question Four: Do you believe writers are born, taught or both? Which was true for you?

I don’t know how it is for other writers, but for me it was definitely a combination. I’ve always enjoyed writing, always felt confident in my ability as a writer. But the more I do this, the more I learn and the better I get. Looking back at some of my early writing, I’m glad it never saw the light of day! Blogging was extremely helpful to my education as a writer and going to conferences and workshops helped me improve even more. But I think reading is the best teacher. Studying what works in novels that you love will teach you a lot more than a class.

Question Three: What is your favorite thing about writing? What is your least favorite thing?

My favorite thing is when I get so caught up in my own make-believe world that I don’t want to stop. When the words are flowing, it’s a beautiful thing. 

My least favorite thing is being interrupted from my land of make-believe :)

Question Two: What one bit of wisdom would you impart to an aspiring writer? (feel free to include as many other bits of wisdom as you like)

Listen to critiques, even if they’re hard to hear. Every comment has some value and if you hear it from multiple people, then it’s probably a valid point. You can wait a few days or a few weeks, but don’t ignore an honest critique. It’s one of the things that will help you become a better writer. You don’t have to do everything a critique suggests, but don’t disregard a suggestion without thinking it through.

Question One: If you could have lunch with any writer, living or dead, who would it be? Why?

Judy Blume. Her characters were my friends. I loved her books as a tween and I’ve loved rediscovering them with my own kids. I hope to create stories that leave just as much of an impact on readers.


  1. I loved Judy Blume books, too. What an author legend.
    Great interview!

  2. Foster the flow! Great interview, appreciate the Sherrie insights, writing and otherwise.

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  4. Great interview! And wow, Sherrie, you're a fast reader!


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