An Interview with Sharon Sala
Sharon Sala is a name I’m sure most people have heard at one time or another, and if you haven’t, it’s not too late. Best-selling author of over 125 books and novellas in six different genres – Romance, Young Adult, Western, Fiction, and Women’s Fiction and Non-Fiction. Sala is an eight-time RITA finalist, winner of the Janet Dailey Award, five-time Career Achievement winner from RT Magazine, five-time winner of the National Reader’s Choice Award, five-time winner of the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence, winner of the Heart of Excellence Award, as well as winner of the Booksellers Best Award. First published in 1991 she has received the Romance Writers of America’s Nora Roberts Lifetime Achievement Award and was presented with the Centennial Award for recognition of her 100th published novel in 2017.
Sharon Sala is an example many hope to follow, her best advice: “I believe everything you put out into the world will come back to you a thousand-fold. I believe everything in life has to come full circle before you are able to move forward.”
Wolfpack: You have books in a variety different genres, what is your favorite genre to write in?
Sharon Sala: My favorite genre will always be anything with suspense/action/adventure and a little romance thrown in.
WP: What’s your favorite genre to read?
SS: Mystery/suspense stories are my favorite reads.
WP: You have quite a few awards and best-sellers under your belt, which I’m sure you’re proud of, but which accomplishment are you most proud of?
SS: Receiving a RITA (the romance version of an OSCAR) for Lifetime Achievement from Romance Writers of America.
WP: Going to the latest re-release, The Whippoorwill Trilogy, how did the character Leticia Murphy come to be?
SS: All my characters are just ‘in my head'. One day they just appear, pushing me to tell their stories, and as soon as I know their names, then off we go. I saw Leticia from the start as a young version of actress Holly Hunter.
WP: How do you write the western genre so well? Do you have any personal ties to that lifestyle?
SS: By the time I was ten, I was reading every Zane Grey book I could get my hands on, and then I went from all of those to Louis L'amour…I've read every one of those, as well. My heroes have always been cowboys…even when I didn't write in the genre, I still held my heroes to that standard of an ordinary man who exhibited extraordinary bravery in the face of need.
My first love, was a little Indian boy named Bobby. We lost touch in life until later years. He was also my last love…we raised thoroughbred Quarter horses together until his death in 2005. So, I mostly know what I'm talking about when I write in that genre.
WP: Which book or series has been your biggest labor of love?
SS: Oh, that's like asking me to pick a favorite child. I love the Whippoorwill series. My first self-pubbed book was called A Field of Poppies and turned out to be a success. My first straight fiction was a book called The Boarding House. It was the hardest book I ever wrote, because it dealt with child abuse/molestation, but it was also one of the most important books I ever wrote. I just finished a 4-book series called the Jigsaw Files, about the most unique couple I've ever written. A P.I. named Charlie Dodge, and his partner, a woman called Wyrick, who was genetically modified before she was born. She's brilliant beyond genius, rich as Midas, flies choppers, and regularly rescues her boss's ass. I will miss writing about them.
WP: How did you get into writing?
SS: My stories are dreams. Like you go to the movies and see the story, so I dream the story, then wake up and write it. For years, I thought everyone could do this. I had a job I hated, and a marriage in freefall, and came home from work one night at 10:00 p.m. dragged an old typewriter out of the closet and started writing the story that was in my head. Took me a year to finish it. And it was awful. I didn't know how to tell what I saw in my head. So I wrote another one, which was no better, put both of them under the bed, and let it slide. Then in May of 1985, my Dad died, and two months later, my only sibling, my younger sister, died. There was no one left but my mother and me. All of their dreams, and their next weeks, and their plans…were gone…over. I thought of those books under the bed, and joined a writer's group, and learned what POV meant, and pacing, and dialogue, and plotting meant, and then wrote another book, and the first place I sent it to, bought it. I haven't looked back.
WP: What keeps you going?
SS: Sadly, the need to support myself. In 2005, my mother's dementia got to the point that she could no longer live alone. Bobby had died. Mother's sister had died. So I moved and took her with me. I took care of her by myself for ten years, until I could no longer keep her safe, and had to put her in a memory care facility. They're expensive. We soon used up her savings, and then we started on mine. I lost everything…my house…my life savings…all of it, just to keep her safe. She was there 4 years. She died in November of 2018 just shy of 99 years old. I love to tell stories, but the NEED to write has taken away some of the joy.
WP: Do you ever get writer’s block? If so how do you handle it?
SS: I got writer's block the year Bobby died. I had to grieve him before I could find myself again.
WP: If you weren’t a successful author what would you be doing?
SS: If I had my best wish granted…I would be living in a simple little cottage without a care in the world…just growing old on my memories…but that's not gonna happen.
WP: Leave us with your words of wisdom and best advice.
SS: I believe everything you put out into the world will come back to you a thousand-fold. I believe everything in life has to come full circle before you are able to move forward.
I had two Native American great-grandmothers, both on my daddy's side of the family. One was part Cree. One was Cherokee. I have ancestors who walked The Trail of Tears. My people are survivors. And on my mother's side, I had her and my maternal grandmother as examples of how strong women move through life. I have my soul memories, and the blood of my ancestors running in my veins, and I cannot bring shame upon my people by living any less than my best life.