Sherryl Clark – Q&A

Dead and Gone by Sherryl Clark was published by Verve Books in ebook on 25 June 2020 and is out in paperback on 27 August 2020.

Sherryl kindly answered a few of my questions.

1. Tell us a little about Dead and Gone.

Judi Westerholme is working at the local pub in Candlebark when a body is found that turns out to be the pub owner. Homicide detectives arrive from Melbourne to investigate, but odd clues that Judi finds are ignored and the police focus on the local illegal tobacco trade as a motive. As Judi gets closer to the truth, her life is in danger but, as usual, she’s too obstinate to give up! 

2. What inspired the book?

I wanted it to be centred around the pub and little town where Judi lives, and when I wrote the first chapter, I knew there was a body in the dumpster out the back. I just needed to work out who it was, and then why and how, and the rest unfolded from there. We have some great historic pubs in Victoria from the goldrush era, and they make the perfect setting. The illegal tobacco trade idea came from research – always a handy plot thickener for me. 

3. Are you a plan, plan, plan writer or do you sit down and see where the words take you?

I do plan a fair bit, but I do it with diagrams and cards pinned to a board, and I use the three-act structure as a touchpoint for dramatic scenes and tension. I have found that if I have the basics sorted, then just write, all kinds of extra, more interesting ideas pop up, often from research, and they will add lot of layers and depth to the story. I am absolutely no good at writing a big outline! 

4. Is there anything about the process of publishing a book that still surprises you?

Not really. I love working with great editors because they see things I don’t or can’t, and help me to make the book better. Probably the one thing that does surprise me is cover design – people far more artistic than me come up with such wonderful covers. I love the pub on the cover of Dead and Gone – no idea where they found the image but it’s just how I imagine Candlebark pub to be, except with a carpark!

5. What do you do when you aren’t writing? What do you do to relax and get away from it all?

Mainly I read – we go to a place in the Australian bush most weekends when we can, and I save up great books, and I lie on the couch and read until my eyes pop out. I also like walking in the bush and taking lots of photos of stuff – at the moment that means fungi because of the weather. I also love meeting friends for coffee and having a good chat. 

6. If you could only read one book for the rest of your life which book would it be?

I don’t like re-reading a book until it’s been long enough that I have forgotten the ending! So my choice for this one would be the Norton’s Anthology of Poetry because it has 1600 pages and hundreds of poems so I doubt I’d get sick of it. 

7. I like to end my Q&As with the same question so here we go. During all the Q&As and interviews you’ve done what question have you not been asked that you wish had been asked – and what’s the answer?

Why do you love poetry?Because it cuts to the heart, but at the same time it leaves room for you to enter the poem and make it your own. I wish more people would read and love poetry – there are so many amazing poems and poets that I am sure there is something for everyone out there. They just have to want to find it. I’m a big believer in teaching writing and reading poetry in schools, from the early years right up. And teaching in a way that inspires, not in a way that destroys! 

About the Book

There’s nothing more dangerous than revenge.

Judi Westerholme has been through it. Brave and strong-willed, she’s just about coping in her new role as foster parent to her orphaned niece, taking a job at the local pub to help make ends meet. Then the pub’s landlord and Judi’s friend, army veteran Pete ‘Macca’ Maccasfield, is murdered, and her world is suddenly turned upside down.

Despite warnings from the city police to keep out of it, Judi can’t help but get involved in the search for Macca’s killer. But she soon becomes deeply entangled with some ruthlessly dangerous men. She must act fast and think smart to work out what they want – before anyone else gets hurt…

About the Author

Sherryl Clark has had 40 children’s and YA books published in Australia, and several in the US and UK, plus collections of poetry and four verse novels. She has taught writing at Holmesglen TAFE and Victoria University. She recently completed a Master of Fine Arts program at Hamline University, Minnesota, and is now studying for a PhD in creative writing.

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