Sharon and I are members of Black Rose Writing publishing company. Our genres are different. While I am more thriller-crime-mystery, Sharon writes time travel romances. She has been and is a lawyer by profession, and became a writer, author, which is now her bliss. I would describe her as witty, intelligent, and creative. She produces podcasts mostly of her reading from her work, and has her own Facebook Group, titled, Beyond Reading Group.
How did you become an author?
I am an attorney. I write custody evaluations and adoption studies for various courts. One judge said I should write novels. He meant it as an insult (he thought my studies were too long), but I took it as a challenge.
What genre do you write, and why that particular genre?
I write time travel romances. It’s what I love to read. Write what you love, right?
If you were to name one or two books that you deem unforgettable and that had a major impact on you, what would they be? How did they impact you?
Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series has had an enormous impact on me. First, I love the genre, time travel romance. I love people having the ability to travel back and forth through time. I love her in-depth study of the history of the times about which she writes. I love her use of first person for Claire and third person for everyone else. She may have been the first author I noticed writing in the first person. She made me want to write my own stories. I may never grow up (writing-wise) to be the next Diana Gabaldon, but by damn, I’ll try!
What authors do you read regularly? Why?
Diana Gabaldon, for all the reasons stated above. Plus, she weaves a magical tale. Heather Graham Possessere, who writes some time travel, some ghosts, some vampires, mostly contemporary fiction.
What would be a reason you don’t finish reading a book?
If I get bored. If it becomes too violent. If it becomes too scary. I don’t like horror.
What is your writing routine? When you write, are you a planner/outliner or are you a “pantser”?
Something of a combination. I usually have an outline, but it is not very detailed. I have a writer’s group, and members in it often make suggestions for my works in progress. In fact, that was how the idea came about that Liz (from her current work) would be transported back to ancient Egypt. They help me select clothing, jewelry, hairstyles, physical pictures of who we think best look like my people, and so forth. The idea for this book has been forming for months before I started writing.
Is there something you set out to do, but somehow, it didn’t work out for you? (in terms of writing, or something else you felt was important to you at the time)
I loved lawyering for years. In the past few years, it has become a chore. It was no longer my bliss. I started writing, and I found my bliss anew.
What tips do you give to new or even experienced writers?
Just do it! Sit down and write what is in your heart. Write what you want to read. Don’t worry about what the experts say is selling. No one thought time travel romance would sell before Diana Gabaldon.
Is there a type of writing/genre that you find difficult to write? Why?
Horror. I don’t enjoy reading it. My books may have some horror elements in them (especially The McCarron’s Daughter), but none are exclusively horror.
Tell us about your book?
The fifth book in the series is Path of the Guiding Light. We met Shadow Wolf in Beyond McCarron’s Corner. Some of my readers loved him and wanted him to find his happy-ever-after when Ginny died.
It took a while to get there. Sorry, Wolf, but I think Baylie is worth the wait.
In Diary of the Reluctant Duchess, we met Baylie Smith, a Cherokee attorney with the Bureau of Indian Affairs working in the area of the Eastern Band of Cherokees in North Carolina. Baylie has grown dissatisfied with her career when she meets Lily and Fancy. As she realizes they have traveled forward in time, she realizes she might be able to travel back in time to help her people move westward before the Trail of Tears. After all, her Cherokee name is Guiding Light, and the Guiding Light led the Cohutta Cherokees westward in 1803.
Once there, she falls in love with Shadow Wolf. She becomes a warrior woman and helps her tribe win an important battle against another group of Cherokees who have killed one of their tribe in retaliation for what they believe was a murder of one of their tribe. After their victorious battle, Shadow Wolf tells Baylie, now called Guider by the Cherokees, she may claim as many captives as she chooses since her insights helped them win the battle. As she selects the captives she will claim, she realizes Kirk O’Malley is in the group, and she claims Kirk.
Kirk survived the hurricane, but it took him more than a year to ever make his way to McCarron’s Corner. By then, Fancy and the family were all gone forward in time. The Cohutta Cherokees would not say where she was. They would simply say, “she is gone.”
Baylie thinks that was cruel and brings him back with the intent of telling him she has gone on with her life, she has married Richard Winslow; you need to go away and find a new life. Yet, the council does not want her to do that. They fear the repercussions, and continually refer to Kirk as the Tsula Kalu, the white devil. However, she finally slips up and tells him. He promptly runs out to try to go find Fancy and goes through the hole in time.
The Cherokees are upset. Wolf is upset. She has disrupted the powers that be by telling Kirk how to go forward in time. She is sent to fetch him back.
Kirk finds Fancy and realizes she is happily married to Rick. He has to adjust, but he comes to realize she is happier with Rick than she ever was with him. And then he meets Melanie Hanson, and they fall in love. She brings out all the best in Kirk. With Mellie, there is no horrible Kirk. All his best qualities are shining out.
But, 40-year-old Baylie is pregnant. Wolf is in the past. Her baby may have Down Syndrome. Her body may be her own, but she refuses to terminate the pregnancy. Who is she to say who can live or die? She may be carrying this baby in her body, but it would be the baby who would die, not Baylie.
Will she be reunited with Wolf? Will he be accepting of her ‘differently abled’ child? (of course, they will be reunited and he will accept the baby. I write romance. Happy-ever-after endings, remember?)
Path of the Guiding Light was inspired by a friend’s granddaughter, Baylie Smith, who is a Cherokee girl. Baylie was about to start college and wanted to become an attorney. She told me she wanted to be a heroine in one of my books. I told her she might not like where the story took her. She didn’t care. She wanted to be one of my time traveling heroines. As I researched Cherokee history in Northern Georgia, I learned a group of the Cohutta Cherokees moved westward very early, in about 1803 or so. They first settled in Arkansas, and in about 1810, they moved across the Arkansas River into what is today Oklahoma. They are known as the Old Settlers.
They followed the Path of the Guiding Light. In fact, Cherokee Artist Donald Vann painted a wonderful painting he titled, Path of the Guiding Light. In it, the Cherokees are following a light leading them westward. I made the Guiding Light be a person who knew the route westward from the future. She is the one who will be able to safely lead her people to safety in a future book.
From your book, who is your favorite character?
It depends on the book. Usually, my favorite character is the heroine in my current work. However, overall? Fancy. I love her strength and determination. Or maybe Sassy, who is very much like me.
Who is your least favorite character?
When I first wrote The McCarron’s Daughter, I was very angry at my eldest son. His name is Kirk. Kirk O’Malley was named after him. However, with time and subsequent books, I became quite fond of Kirk O’Malley, and readers love him.
Why did I soften towards him?
Well, Moms are supposed to love out kids, right? When I wrote Home to McCarron’s Corner, I truly hated Jay Fitz Simmons. I wrote him to be the ultimate bad actor. However – and this is a spoiler! – Jay has morphed into the nefarious pirate, Captain Jolly Johnny English. Johnny saves Kirk after the Dreadful Hurricane in Diary of the Reluctant Duchess. I have not quite decided on his reasons yet. Jay, now known as Johnny, is mentioned in The McCarron’s Destiny, but he will come into his own in Elizabeth’s Story. You see, he is the ghost in her bar who will try to keep her from passing through the portal in time to the past. He can’t go there to save her, nor can Ari.
You can keep up with Sharon using these contacts:
Sharon Kirklin Middleton on Facebook
Sharon K. Middleton, Author – on Facebook
Beyond Reading Group – on Facebook – where my readers and I brainstorm my book ideas.
CucillinSkyes – on Twitter
middleton2668 on Instagram
@sharonmiddleton on TikTok
If you like strong female characters, intrigue, and romance with a touch of fantasy, I suggest you dial up one of Sharon’s books and discover what others have been reading and talking about. I am proud to call Sharon a friend.