Sherry Alexander is a woman of many passions—mother, blogger, child advocate, author, and friend, but she is quick to say that grandmother is the most rewarding. “Watching your child’s child move into the world with their wide-eyed innocence is inspiring. I love it, and it is what led me to writing for kids.”
Admittedly obsessed with American and Native American history, Sherry Alexander comes by it honestly. Her ancestors were 1800 pioneers who travelled West in hopes of making a new life, and she was fascinated by the stories of their lives on the frontier. “As a kid, I wanted to be a pioneer, so reading books was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I lead my siblings and cousins on great adventures into the forests of Scappoose, Oregon, hunted and fished with my brother, and dreamed of forging new trails to an unknown land.”
Sherry is also not one to take a dare lightly. She started writing on a dare, and her first book, published in 1987, was the result of that dare. Recently retired, Sherry now spends her days writing children’s articles and books. Her articles have appeared in Guardian Angel Kids, The Pink Chameleon, and Red Squirrel Magazine. Her books include The Great Camel Experiment of the Old West, Oliver’s Hunger Dragon, and Search for the Red Ghost (released in January by MuseitUp Publishing). When she’s not writing she is homeschooling her 11 year old granddaughter—a job she says is the best part about being a grandmother, sharing her new found love of books with her family and friends, and enjoying life with her husband on their ten forested acres in Southwest Washington and the occasional pack of wild coyotes.
Find Sherry online at:
Thank you for joining us today, Sherry. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I love writing. When my kids were young in the 1980s, parenting was my passion. I wrote hundreds of parenting articles, and had my first book, The Home Day Care Handbook, published. I dreamed of making freelance writing a career, but finances demanded a regular paycheck. I went back to school, got my Associates Degree in Criminal Justice, and went to work for 9-1-1. I thought my dream was gone forever. Then the grandkids started arriving and with them came a newfound love for children’s books. In 2012, I retired from 9-1-1. I wanted to write, but I had convinced myself that it was a hopeless dream. On a whim, I took a course in writing for children from the Institute of Children’s Literature. That course taught me two things important things about myself—I actually could write and it was up to me to make my dream come true. So . . . this is me making my dream come true some thirty years later.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
I was always a storyteller, and believe me I told some whoppers. But, unlike other authors who wrote hundreds of stories before they were ten, my love of writing happened in high school. An English teacher asked me to join the newspaper staff as a photographer when I was a freshman. I found that every picture I took had a story attached. It took a while to work up my courage, but near the end of the year, I asked if I could submit a story or two. She said yes, and I was hooked.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
My sixteen-year-old granddaughter is a lover of books. She devours them. However, when she was in fourth grade, she decided reading was boring and writing was out of the question. One day, I was encouraging her to start reading again, and she challenged me. “I’ll read if you read,” she said. So, I accepted. She read a book, then I read it, and then we would discuss it. That summer, we read a book every week. We continued our challenge until two years ago. That’s when she started reading a book in a day and writing her own novels. When I retired, I found that I had read so many children, tween, and young adult books with her that all I could think about was writing books for children and tweens.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
I think you have to understand your audience whether it is kids or adults. With a younger audience, though, you not only have to tap into the child inside you but you need to introduce him or her to kids today. Once you’ve done that, it is easier to write from a younger person’s perspective.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
My favorite part is putting myself in their shoes. I get to be young again, and enjoy running, being part of nature, feeling free, learning to use my skills to survive, and that it is alright to make mistakes.
Search for the Red Ghost is an action/adventure tween novel set in 1883 Arizona. An unknown animal kills a woman pulling water from the creek next to her ranch. Her thirteen-year-old son, Jake, discovers plate-size hoof tracks and strands of red hair where she died, and demands that his father hunt the animal down. Jake’s father, an army scout, refuses, so when his father is ordered back to Fort Apache to help track renegade Apache, Jake takes matters into his own hands
Feeling abandoned and betrayed by his father, Jake’s desire for revenge takes him on a dangerous journey into an inhospitable desert that not only tests his courage but his desire to survive. Wolves, snakes, grizzlies, renegade Apache, and the ever-present threat of death are waiting for him. The question is, “Will Jake find his Red Ghost? Or, will he succumb to the inherent dangers?”
What inspired you to write it?
When I was researching my non-fiction book, The Great Camel Experiment of the Old West, I came across the Legend of the Red Ghost. It was about one of the camels the government brought over from the Middle East in 1857 to serve as transportation in the southwest. After the Civil War, several camels were turned loose into the desert. The legend stated that one of the camels trampled a woman to death at a creek near her ranch. The only thing left behind was several strands of red hair and plate-size tracks. I started wondering what my brother or I would do if we were faced with the same circumstance in the same time-period. I knew right then and there that I had to write Jake’s story.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
What is up next for you?
I am presently working on two new tween novels. One set in 1856 tentatively called, Little Owl Woman, and one in present day, tentatively called, Firestarter. Both are action/adventure.
Do you have anything else to add?
Just thank you for hosting me. It was fun. I think I’m living proof that you’re never too old to make your dreams come true. Please visit my blog or my website.
I write a blog for and about kids where I cover topics that specifically relate to kids and the issues they face. I just finished a series on sadness and depression. It’s at http://www.rightsherry.blogspot.com/.
I also have a website at http://www.sherryalexanderwrites.com/. My books are highlighted and my blog details my writing journey, but I also include a weekly writer’s inspiration photograph.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Sherry. We wish you much success.