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Sitting on Top of the World with Cheryl King

1) What is your Author name; use your Pen name if you have one.

Cheryl King

2) What is your genre and what drew you to it?

I write for young teens, in that sweet spot between middle grade and YA. After many years of teaching middle school language arts and reading tons of young adult books, I feel like the publishing industry is really missing out on an opportunity to reach readers who are 11 to 16 years old. So-called middle-grade books are generally too juvenile for that age group, but young-adult books are too mature in many cases. So when I wrote my debut (and as I think about my current and future projects), one of my goals was to keep it clean enough for classroom shelves yet powerful enough to draw in those readers.

3) Which character of yours was the most challenging to write and why?

I would say I had the most difficult time writing my main character’s dad. I wanted him to be strong yet flawed, but I didn’t want him to be stereotypical. I also wanted to develop him enough so that he wasn’t flat, yet keep him very much a secondary character (since kids don’t usually want to read about parents).

4) What is the hardest challenge in being a writer?

The most challenging thing about being an author for me is marketing my book. The most challenging thing about being a writer is making time to write.

5) What is the most important bit of information you would want to tell a person interested in publishing a book?

Be careful and diligent in your research! When I finished my book, I aimed for traditional publishing. I queried literary agents and small publishers. When a brand-new indie press showed interest in my manuscript, I was so giddy and blinded by the idea that my dreams were coming true, that I missed some major red flags. I signed with this publisher, and three weeks after my book released, the publisher closed and ghosted his authors without paying us the royalties we’d earned. I was left in the position of having to republish my book on my own. It was hard, trying, frustrating work. If I had it to do all over again, I would have been more patient, and I would not have signed with a start-up indie publisher.

6) Pick five books that are must-reads in your mind.

This is such a difficult task because I have so many favorites! But here are five, in no particular order:

· The Nightingale, Kristin Hannah

· The Scythe trilogy, Neal Shusterman (this may be cheating, but I’m counting all three books as one!)

· The Walk, Richard Paul Evans

· A Gentleman in Moscow

· The Five People You Meet in Heaven, Mitch Albom

7) What book protagonist would you love to talk to if he/she/they were real?

Cussy, in The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

8) What is you preferred method of reading a book? (Audio, paperback, hardcover, or eBook)

I prefer both paperback and hardcover

9) If you had to write in any other genre, what would that be and why?

I participate in flash fiction contests regularly, and because of those, I’ve written in many genres, from crime caper to romantic comedy to thriller to ghost story. My published book (as well as the sequel I’m writing) is teen historical fiction, but I have a dystopian brewing for later.

10) Name one of your favorite authors.

For the longest time, it was Barbara Kingsolver, but it seems to me her books have gotten more political than I like in my fiction. Now I’d have to say Kristin Hannah. I’d also say that with self-publishing breaking open the publishing world, there are sooo many to choose from, making this type of question even more difficult to answer!

11) Do you own any interesting ‘bookish’ memorabilia or clothes? If so, what?

There is a small room off of our garage that I am turning into my very own library/writing retreat. It will take a while to get it to where I want it, but I’m dreaming up something fabulous.

12) What is your best book memory?

Despite the disaster with my crooked publisher, I’d have to say that my book launch party is my best book memory. I absolutely loved that day! I sold out of all the books I had on-hand, I had some book cover cookies made, I had so many friends come to the party, and my brother and his wife surprised me by coming into town for it. It was the most perfect day.

13) What is the name of your book/series? Tell me a little bit about them.

Sitting on Top of the World follows the trials and triumphs of a family trying to get by on their rural Tennessee farm during the Great Depression. The main character, June, finds herself having to help take care of her injured dad and sick mom, and when the money runs out, she goes train-hopping to find work. Her journey introduces her to the hobo culture, to forbidden love, and to undying friendship.

14) Do you have a website? If so, what is it?

15) Where can we find and follow you? (Name your social media platforms.)

Twitter: @CKing_Author

TikTok: Cherylking_author

Facebook: Cheryl King Writes Things

16) Is there anything important that you would want my readers to know about you?

Sitting on Top of the world had the great honor of being named the 2022 Eric Hoffer Book Awards winner in the YA category, a First Horizon Winner, and a Grand Prize finalist.


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