It is always interesting to talk with fellow authors and find out what makes them tick… I interviewed Sheri S. Levy who writes Young Adult fiction and wrote the novel ‘Seven Days to Goodbye’. Here are her answers!
1. I see from your website that you are involved with dogs quite a bit. Could you tell us about that?
Our first dog, a rescued German shepherd, made my husband and I dog lovers. We had both grown up with a dog, but hadn’t planned on having a dog at that time. When she died, we had a major hole in our lives and needed another dog. We chose our first puppy, a White German shepherd. Since her death we’ve grown fond of Australian shepherds. When we adopted our first Aussie pup, four months later a Black Lab blew into our yard. We are now enjoying our third and fourth Aussie, the latest one being a very difficult rescue.
2. What kind of books do you write?
After I started writing, I realized my story needed to be about having a pet. I began with my memories of our first Australian shepherd, Sydney. Being involved with special needs, I had heard a lot about service dogs. I called around the U.S. doing research and accidentally found PAALS.org. Since they are close to where I live, I have become involved and learned a lot from their organization. They are 100% non-profit and have a waiting list for more trained dogs. Every book I sell, proceeds go to them.
3. What is your basic writing process? Are you a planner or do you write as it comes?
When I first started writing, I had no idea how to develop a story. After years of reworking my first story, I put it in a drawer and started writing Seven Days to Goodbye. The ideas flowed from memories of every trip we took to Edisto Beach. It was easy to be a pantser, (writing without a plan) knowing Sydney was going to be a service dog, and I knew how to end the story. It has turned into a series, and Starting Over is due in July. I am now writing the third book, For Keeps.
4. What are the most important things in your life?
My family is number one in my life, and next would be my dogs. I am fortunate to have my family behind me, encouraging me to write. I try to keep my life balanced, but sometimes I have no choice but to be in my office all day. My dogs get walked and then they sit behind my chair or under my desk. I still enjoy tutoring students in reading or writing and take of couple hours once a week to help out in a special classroom.
5. What motivates you to write for young people?
I taught students who struggled with learning. It became my routine to read out loud first thing in the morning. During the time period I taught, breakfast was not offered at school. My students knew if they were hungry, they would have breakfast in my room. Hungry students can’t learn. These students leaned forward over their desks, listening to every word I read. They became my inspiration to write stories.
6. What would you most like to achieve?
My strongest desire is to enjoy each day that I have ahead. I love helping others and find satisfaction in doing so. My life has been blessed with happiness, and if I can offer my help, I feel like I’m sharing some of my encouragement and optimism.
7. You are a parent and a grandparent, how does this affect your writing?
Having children and grandchildren certainly helps me relate to other children. My stories are about growing up, friendship, going through changes, and encouraging young adults to think ahead. When I do school visits, I have fun talking about goal setting, and dreaming big. I share all of the things I wanted to be when I grew up. Nowhere on that list would you find, writing books. Surprise! I had a new goal.
8. Who has been most influential in your life?
The most influential people in my life have been my parents, my husband, and my own children. My parents, especially my mother, pushed me to be the best I could be. She grew up with nothing and wanted the world for me. I tried many activities before I excelled in baton twirling. This skill gave me the confidence to try new things. After I married, my husband became my encourager. He helped with child care as I returned to college and received two more teaching credentials. My children showed me that what we did as parents helped them thrive by becoming happy adults and going after their goals.
9. What would you say to a young writer just starting out?
I have enjoyed teaching writing workshops to many young writers. The most important thing I try to instill in them is to read. Read every type of genre, learn which types of stories you love and then figure out why. And then write those. I encourage students to keep a journal or a diary. You may want to use your memories one day as you create your stories
10. What values do you most want to convey through your work?
After analyzing my stories, I see my characters caring about others. It is my way of encouraging young people to think about helping people no matter their race, their mental ability, their age, or their background. We all hurt the same way and need support from others.
Find out more about Sheri here