About Cheri Vause:
Chéri Vausé spent more than twenty-five years teaching theology and volunteering to help women in crisis. She decided late in life to change careers and begin writing novels. Writing mysteries just seemed to be a natural fit. She also likes to include a little mysticism in each story, in keeping with her theology background. With all her children grown, she turned her dining room table into a desk and research center, and now she serves up murder on an icy noir platter rather than meals.
Chéri lives on a small ranch in Central Texas with her husband and two dogs, Scully and Mulder. Scully is a Coydog (half-beagle and half coyote). Mulder is a Great Pyrénées. A Pekin duck showed up in her yard one day, and now Samantha has found a comfortable home to lay her eggs. They provided her with two friends, Krycek and Fowley, and the three amigos spend their days lazing in a kiddie pool in her backyard.
What inspires you to write?
Everything is inspirational. I may hear or see a word, a sentence, or a metaphor, and it will give birth to a character or a thread of a plot point. A song, a news article, or even sitting quietly under a tree has been known to inspire a plot for me. Stories are a part of every culture. I think it’s because we have a rich interior life as children, and that doesn’t go away when we grow into adulthood. Those stories become more focused, moral tales, centering on our emotions, a natural progression from the fairy story. Humans create communities, and within those communities a wide variety of tales emerge. For this reason, there is never time for me to be blocked. If my mind becomes fatigued, all I have to do is listen to someone talk, and there is a new character.
Tell us about your writing process.
I have notebooks strewn about the house, and when I get an idea, I jot it down. Getting that first sentence on paper drives me toward who the hero is and the villain might be. I think of a precipitating event, and what the end will be, what will the hero capture or protect or obtain. The hardest part is figuring out the middle. How do you get from the beginning to the end? In a sense, it’s much like the process of military tactics. A commanding officer must plot out the pathway to taking a hill, a valley, or a city, and onward toward victory. They have to drive weapons and men, and find the fuel to keep moving. The details are everything in order to insure a victory. But for me, all those lines and pathways may alter dramatically along the way.
So, I just begin writing, having only mapped out, in greater detail, the characters. I can hear their voice in my head, see how they move in my mind, but sometimes, I’ll be writing and I’ll realize that a character doesn’t work in the story. They either change or are excised. It’s the plot that unwinds before me driving any changes, additions, or cuts. I go over the first hundred pages dozens of times, refining the plot and the characters, laying the groundwork. I like to see where they lead me, if they surprise me, or if they are disappointing. After I’ve written a book, it’s kind of interesting to go back and see if I fulfilled that original idea, or if it led me to somewhere completely different. It’s surprising, and quite telling about my particular process. I’ve done everything from outlining to whiteboard, 3 X 5 cards, to posters on the wall. By the third book, I guess I prefer the germ of an idea, a character sketch, and dive in.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Every good writer talks to their characters. And you have to listen, because you might be wrong about them. I always think about that Dickens quote when he says that every person is a secret world. Even our characters can be a secret to us. We have to speak to them to draw them out, find their prejudices, their quirks and qualms. I don’t know of any writer who doesn’t.
What advice would you give other writers?
Learn the craft. The only possible way you can do that is to read, and read, and read. Then write and read some more. And bear in mind that just because you want to write doesn’t mean you’re any good at it. A telling exercise is to write a 200 word story. If you can do that, and make it interesting, you might be a writer. Then write 500 word stories, and then, up it to 1,000, and so on. When you write a short story you have to refine, excise, and use great words. But mostly, you have to have a compelling plot. If you can’t do that, then you should look for other employment. Studies have shown that a BFA and MFA might help you learn the craft, but it won’t make you a good story teller. That’s why part of learning to write must include reading. The other part is having ideas that resonate with the reading public. There are lots of writers, but few good story tellers.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
My first book gathered a little interest from a few agents, but wasn’t picked up. I kept thinking about the writing process and so I began to learn more. As I began to hone my skills, I went back to that book, rewrote it, and self-published. I learned so much from my mistakes, that I wrote three other books. A new small publishing house was starting up and calling for submissions, so I sent in a book I’d written and they accepted it. Several books later, I’m still with that small press, but I’m thinking of branching out, looking for other opportunities. A small press has little money to market their writers, and most of my success has been with my own efforts.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Because of the boom in the self-publishing industry, I believe that most traditional publishers are beginning to rethink their paradigm. A publishing house must help its authors with marketing. The E-book is waning in popularity, and the hardbound book is finding its feet because of that. Book stores are now offering more than just selling books. Some small presses are taking on a few good authors and giving them better deals. It seems crazy right now, but I think that we’ll all look back at the hack self-publishing craze and realize it was a means to help good authors get a greater share of their intellectual property’s dollar by forcing publishers to be a partner, rather than keep the author as an indentured servant.
What do you use?: Professional Editor
What genres do you write?: Noir mystery, thriller, suspense, romance, action/adventure
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
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All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit to allow you the reader to hear the author in their own voice.
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