Name: Sharleen Cooper Cohen
Contact: Penny Whitaker
(Originally published in my old website, Writester.net in 2005)
Q: Where are you originally from?
A: Los Angeles
Q: Can you tell us your latest book news?
A: Currently, I have been republishing my books through Trafford Books On Demand. Five out of seven titles are now available: Inocent Gestures; Lives of Value; Love, Sex and Money; Repeat Performance (formerly published as Regina’s Song); The Ladies of Beverly Hills. A sixth novel, The Day After Tomorrow, will be published later this year.
Q: How old were you when you first started writing?
A: I started writing in grammar school. I became a full-time writer in my early thirties.
Q: When did you first realize you had the potential to be a writer?
A: When my brother-in-law who was in college was writing and called himself a writer. I realized since I was writing a great deal of the time, I was a writer.
Q: What was your inspiration to write your first novel?
A: On a package tour to Spain, 1 week in Marbella, including air fare, hotel and 2 meals a day for $499.00 a person, I got a glimpse of how the jet set lived. It was teribly difficult to rub elbows with them if you paid the price of admission to the private beach. It fascinated me. And it became the subject of my first novel.
Q: Is there anyone or anything that inspired you to write?
A: Yes when my young husband, my high school sweetheart and my soulmate, was diagnosed with cancer at the age of 30, I began writing poetry to him because crying wasn’t enough. When he died 2 1/2 years later, writing became a crucial way of expressing grief.
When I began dating again, I was unable to speak truthfully from my heart to the strangers who sat across from me at the restaurants, and so I wrote capsule poems about the experience.
Q: How has your environment/upbringing colored your writing?
A: My books reflect the life I’ve lived and am still, thankfully, living. I’m not a regional writer, I am comfortable in all environments so I am unafraid to use the whole world as my backgrounds or create characters not limited to my own experiences. And I do extensive research to be as authentic as possible.
Q: Do you have a specific writing style?
A: My style is as good as I can make it. And the more one writes, the better one gets. But if I were to characterize my style, I’d say it’s emotional. I write from my emotional place. I have to feel a scene and I hope that my readers feel the emotions as I do.
Q: What genre are you most comfortable writing?
A: Main Stream Fiction
Q: How do you come up with the title(s) for your book(s)?
A: Titles are usually extremely difficult. I try to characterize the material I’ve chosen to write about by asking, “Does this title truly reflect what my story tells?” sometimes I make pages of titles before settling on one. Other times, the title pops out easily.
Q: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
A: I Have always chosen a subject to write about that interests me, a subject I feel I can live with and find new and fulfilling for years to come, because it takes years to write a book. But upon reflection, I have found an underlying theme. Given the will and determination, a woman can overcome any difficulty she encounters. No matter how horrendous the obstacles, if she can draw on her inner strength, she will not only survive, she will triumph.
Q: How much of the novel is realistic?
A: Since I don’t write fantasy or alternative fiction, my novels are as realistic as I can make them. If the details are fiction, the characters reactions and emotions are totally real.
Q: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your life?
A: Often the experiences of the characters are based on personal events. But other books are strictly created from scratch. But even then , I identify with my characters and hope that the reader will, too.
Q: What books have most influenced your life?
A: I have been a voracious reader all my life and was intimidated to consider myself a writer when there were so many giants in my field with whom to compare. But then I realize that each of us is unique and has our own message to impart, some less erudite than others perhaps, but nonetheless valuable.
Q: If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
A: I’ve never had a personal mentor. I’ve struggled on my own to eek out any success I’ve achieved. But I have mentored many other writers who have come to me for editorial advice and contacts in the book world. I’ve always been happy to help.
Q: What are you reading now?
A: Right now I’m reading for the third time, a first novel by a friend and associate.
Q: What new author has grasped your interest?
A: The following books I’ve read over the past few years and have enjoyed for a variety of reasons and couldn’t possibly name only one author.
Glen David Gold – Carter Beats The Devil
Furst – Dark Star
Michael Chabon – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay
Ann-Marie MacDonald – As The Crow Flies
Sarah Dunant – The Birth Of Venus
Bonnie Marson – Sleeping With Shubert
Marsha Mayer – The Last Of The Honkey Tonk Angels
Q: Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
A: I am grateful to you for your loyalty and your love of books, especially mine! I hope I have reached your hearts.