Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sharisse Coulter - Rock My World - Author Interview

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Genre – Contemporary Women’s Fiction
Rating – PG13
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Tell us a bit about your family.
I’m originally from Lake Tahoe but went to grad school in Australia, where I met my husband (a musician). We’ve been married for eight years now and have a four-year old son.

What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? 
It’s a proverb: “This too shall pass.” My grandmother used to say it all the time and I like that it applies to every situation, good or bad. It’s a great reminder that nothing bad lasts forever and that everything good deserves to be appreciated in the moment.

What is your favorite color?

What is your favorite food?
My husband’s coconut curry. It’s amazing.

What’s your favorite place in the entire world? 
Ooh, that’s a tough one. My favorite writing place is the Encinitas public library. It has a view of the ocean, a coffee cart outside, and the perfect cozy chairs for writing. My favorite city is definitely New York, though.

How has your upbringing influenced your writing? 
I grew up in the mountains and spent a great deal of time outside, playing sports. I learned a lot about pushing through the difficult times in order to achieve something I was working for and I think that mentality is what got me through my first draft.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve loved stories and reading since I was two years old. I can’t remember a time I wasn’t interested in writing, but for a long time I was intimidated by all the wonderful writers I admired, worried I could never be good enough to compare.

When and why did you begin writing?
I really started writing in college, particularly grad school. I’d just been through a really traumatic experience—my boyfriend at the time committed suicide—and I needed a way to work through my grief and find a way to come to terms with it. Writing saved me.

How long have you been writing? 
In some form or other, since elementary school. Writing novels? About two years.

When did you first know you could be a writer?
I don’t think there was a deciding moment. It’s been something niggling me for many years, but I only started seriously writing when I stopped thinking about myself and started thinking about my story as its own entity.

What inspires you to write and why? 
Life. People. Traveling. Being frustrated and wishing I could control the world around me. When I reach my limit, it’s time to create a fictional world that I can bend to my will. It’s possible I have control issues.

What genre are you most comfortable writing?
Contemporary women’s fiction. I discovered my natural writing voice suits the genre and, as an added bonus, I am my own demographic. I find it easier to explore because I know what I wish I could be reading, and if I can’t find it, I write it.

What inspired you to write your first book?
ROCK MY WORLD is my first book, and it started with the idea of Jenna and Alex, two of my main characters. They rattled around in my imagination for a couple years aimlessly, until finally, a year after having my son, I was struck by sudden inspiration and knew their story.

Who or what influenced your writing once you began?
The story is based in the music industry and, having spent the last 9 years touring and managing my husband’s music career, I certainly have my fair share of anecdotes. We were going through a particularly difficult period—professionally—when I wrote ROCK MY WORLD and it served as a kind of therapy for me. Mostly though, I have to admit that every day I sat down to write, the characters told me where they needed to go. Hmm, maybe that makes me sounds crazy. Although I guess living in a fictional world is likely to have that effect.

What made you want to be a writer?
I have always loved stories. It’s a magical thing to create a world and be able to share it with others. I just wanted to be part of something I love.

What do you consider the most challenging about writing a novel, or about writing in general?
Making the time to do it. It’s so easy to put everything else first, especially when it’s not earning money yet. It’s so simple, and yet it takes incredible discipline to just sit down and write—to write when it’s fun, when it’s hard, to write through the parts you’re sure are terrible—all to get to the good stuff.

Did writing this book teach you anything and what was it?
Absolutely! The biggest lesson I learned was that there is nothing separating me from my biggest influences other than my own self-belief and determination. They, just like me, had to sit down and do the work in order to learn their stories, characters, and find their voice. It’s a decision one makes—to be a writer. Not a predetermined fate.

Do you intend to make writing a career?
When I sat down to write, I wasn’t thinking along those lines, but now, yes, I do. I’ve started my next two novels and am currently on A Novel Music Tour: a 5-month 55-city music/book tour, with my husband and son, promoting our respective creative works.

Have you developed a specific writing style? 
I’m not sure I’m the best judge of that. I like to think I’ve found my writing voice and I hope it stands apart, but I’m far more critical than objective when it comes to my writing.

What is your greatest strength as a writer? 
Probably my organization. I’m very logical and straight-forward so figuring out character arcs and timelines comes naturally. It helps to free up space in my brain to work on my weaknesses, like dialogue.

Have you ever had writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I don’t know if writer’s block is the same for everyone, but my version is usually less about a lack of creativity and more about procrastinating. If I’m already working on something and I find myself not wanting to write, it usually means I need to deal with an underlying character or plot issue. I give myself a short break to work on something else and then force myself to write through that section even if everything I’m writing is awful. It’s easier for me to go back during editing to find the solution than it is in a blocked moment.

How did you come up with the title? 
Actually, my husband came up with the title. Titles are hard for me. If they don’t come to me immediately I have a terrible time thinking of one I like. I knew the basic components of what I needed in my title, but I couldn’t get there on my own. Thanks, husband.

Can you tell us about your main character?
Sure! Jenna Jax-Anders is the daughter of the legendary rocker, Shawn Jax. She grew up in Los Angeles amongst an elite crowd, of which she reigned as queen bee until she got knocked up her senior year of high school. Stripped of her burgeoning modeling career and social status, she made it through with a little help from her best friend, Airika, and baby daddy, Alex. She married Alex and they had a baby girl, Felicity. From the outside, it looked like she had it all: hot husband, beautiful baby, cute house, trust fund. But cutting her adolescence short meant she never had to make it on her own. She never learned who she was or how to define herself except through her role to others: wife, daughter, mother, best friend. At thirty-four, she has to do what most of us do at eighteen: figure out who she is and what she wants in life.

How did you develop your plot and characters?
I first thought about my main characters, so I started off sketching them out in my mind. I asked myself what they would look like, what music they’d listen to, where they’d shop, what their houses would look like. Some of that was based in procrastination, but mostly it was a good way to learn how to think like them. Once I could think like them, I knew how they’d react to different circumstances and just tried to write their actions and reactions as honestly as I could.

Who designed the cover?
I did.

Why did you choose to write this particular book?
It was the story that came to me. I heard the characters in my head and they weren’t going to stop bugging me until I wrote their story.

What was the hardest part about writing this book? 
Honesty. Even in a work of fiction, there are themes that ring true to me, not as an author, but as a person. There were some parts that I struggled through because I had to set my own issues and hang-ups aside in order to be true to my characters.

How do you promote this book?
I am touring the country with my musician husband and our toddler son, doing signings and house concerts all across the country. We’re calling it A Novel Music Tour and anyone interested can check out our website ( for appearances, videos, blogs, photos, and probably some tips on life on an RV, as we learn our lessons, hopefully in an entertaining way.

Will you write others in this same genre?
Yes. My next two novels are also based in the music industry. One is more comedic and the other is an emotional love story. I’m really excited about both stories so I’m not sure which one will come out first.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? 
If my readers could walk away with one message I would hope that it would be to make the effort to find out who you are. No matter your upbringing or circumstances, in order to be happy, we all have to answer that question, if only for ourselves.

How much of the book is realistic? 
I think anyone in the music industry will find some familiar anecdotes in that part of the story. And there are probably some who will assume the book is pretty autobiographical, but that would be a mistake. I like to take things from my own life experiences and then warp them to suit my story’s needs.

How important do you think villains are in a story? 
Villains are wonderfully integral to any story. As much as a protagonist should be likeable, the villain needs to be unlikeable. They are the foil, the heart blood of the story that circulates to make the reader care about the protagonist’s plight. Plus, they’re fun to write.

Do you have any upcoming appearances that you would like to share with us? 
Yes! I’m touring the country with my husband and our son. We’re calling it A Novel Music Tour ( and we’ll be doing shows featuring original acoustic music from my husband, Lee Coulter (the SiriusXM’s The Coffee House “Discovery of 2011”) and I’ll be signing books and answering questions.

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