I love author interviews, but this month is extra special because Sharyn Kopf is a friend I’ve known for several years. She’s an amazing writing, having dabbled in many forms, including her debut novel Spinstered. Here’s what it’s like to chat with my friend Sharyn.
Tell us a little about yourself.
I am a happy broken heart. Which, I suppose, is good, as I write from the vulnerability of my broken heart, but the joy God brings through my relationships with Him & my friends & family keeps me sane.
My first novel, Spinstered, was written out of my deepest wound—when I moved into my forties, still single & childless & realized I had to face the possibility that it might never happen. So, what does a writer do when she’s grieving? She writes about it.
In other news, I’ve written for radio, newspaper, marketing, and magazines. I have a great church and good friends, but no money. Lately, I’ve tried to make ends meet by substitute teaching, which offers all kinds of story ideas.
I watch too much TV, love rainy days, make the best fudge around, reject the serial comma & have a pretty, gray cat named Neal Diamond. Though I live alone, other than Neal, I’m less than four miles from my family, including my dad, my sister & three of the people who hold my heart—my nieces and nephew.
Why did you start writing?
I’m not entirely sure there is a “why,” other than it just seemed the natural thing to do. When your head is full of stories, you have to do something with them. At least, I did. So, I either wrote them down or turned them into plays that I’d convince my friends to perform with me. (I still do that sometimes, actually.)
How did you start writing?
Actually, I always knew I wanted to be a writer. In fact, I wrote my first poem when I was five:
If you’re always happy, you’ll never cry.
If you never get wet, you’ll always stay dry.
How did you select your genre?
Did I select it? That’s a good question. I don’t think I did, because I always thought I’d write Christian historical romance. Instead, my work leans more toward women’s fiction. It’s definitely not as happily-ever-after as I thought it would be. Then again, neither is my life. 🙂
What is your writing day like?
Facebook. Facebook. Wonder what I’ll write about. Wander around the internet. Write a sentence. Drink a diet Mountain Dew. Eat some chocolate. See if there’s anything new on Facebook. Come up with a new idea and spend more time on that than on my work-in-progress. Edit my friends’ Facebook posts in my head & fight my Grammar Nazi tendencies. Realize at the end of the day that I’m still in my pajamas and it’s too late to make dinner. Eat cereal. Finally find my inspiration around midnight and stay up till 3 a.m. writing.
How do you organize your writing (outlines/note cards/post-its)?
None of the above. Disorganization is my comfort zone.
What’s the most surprising thing a character has “told you?”
I had already finished—or so I thought—my first book, Spinstered, when a character told me she’d had an abortion at the age of 17. I was shocked, to say the least, but, suddenly, a lot of things made sense. In fact, I only had to make a few minor changes to the first novel for it to fit.
Do you have a list of characters that you’re saving for future use? What kind of information do you keep on these characters?
Not so much characters as story ideas. Lately they’ve been popping up like daisies. The characters seem to appear at the same time. It’s like someone walks up to me and says, “I have a story. Wanna hear it?”
What does your work space/office look like?
My work space is my favorite blue chair, an ottoman, a lap desk & my papers, books, daytimer, etc., piled on the floor around me. I really need an end table. And an invisible cabinet where I can put everything so it’s still there but unnoticeable.
What is your go-to snack when writing?
Well, chocolate is always good. But if I want a snack that’s a bit more substantial, probably colby-jack cheese and crackers. Or fruit, specifically apples and grapes.
If you could only recommend one NOVEL, what would it be? Why?
Thorn In My Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs. I don’t remember ever being so entranced by a novel.
If you could only recommend one CRAFT book (writing, no crocheting), what would it be? Why?
Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. I read it in one afternoon and it changed my writing for the better forever.
This month, my first flash fiction piece, “Belladonna,” will appear in Splickety Love magazine. Pretty excited about that! And I have a story in last year’s Chicken Soup for the Soul: Merry Christmas! edition.
Also, I love connecting with people on Facebook. Find me there—either as Sharyn Kopf or at my book page Spinstered by Sharyn Kopf—and let’s chat!
You can learn more about Sharyn at her website here.