Sharon Healy-Yang interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 27, 2017, 4:09 PM by David Alan Binder

Sharon Healy-Yang interview with David Alan Binder

 Bio from her website shortened: I’m a huge fan of films and books created during the 1930s-50s, with their blend of sharp wit, humor, and dark suspense. That passion inspired me to write, Bait and Switch, a mystery/romance set in 1943 that will be coming out through Touchpoint Press this year. My novel features a sharp, witty, imaginative female lead who’s ripe for a little romance, even if it is mixed in with espionage, deception, and murder. Along the way, she’s helped as well as hindered by her sharp-tongued sister, an acerbic brother-in-in-law, her seemingly steady boyfriend, her wise-guy cat, and a mysterious stranger from England. If you enjoy the strong female characters, humor, ingenious and tense plotting, romance, and vivid recreation of eras past in Susan Elia MacNeal’s WWII suspense novels, Kathryn Miller Haines’s Rosie Winter homefront mysteries, and Rhys Bowen’s Georgiana Rannoch series, I think this novel should be your cup of tea. Now I’m excited that the sequel to Bait and Switch, Letter from a Dead Man, has been accepted by Touchpoint Press. I’ll let you know more as production proceeds.

 

I also have a day job, teacher in the English Department at Worcester State University. My favorite courses, some of which I developed, are: Romantic and Victorian Gothic; Shakespeare; Witchcraft in Medieval and Renaissance Literature; Screen and Page: Film and Literature; Shakespeare and Film; and Pastoral Literature of the 16th and 17th Century. I love exposing students to ideas (on the page or the screen) that they’ve never thought of before, as well as helping them see themselves in the work of artists new to them. Just as important, not only do I try to get them to think critically and with open minds, but I work to help them find a voice that accurately, eloquently, and honestly expresses that thinking.

 WordPress Link: https://sharonhealyyang.com/

 WordPress blog link: https://sharonhealyyang.com/blog/

 WordPress page with interview links: https://sharonhealyyang.com/sharon-yang-interviews-and-stories/

 Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28225981-bait-and-switch?from_search=true

 Amazon Link: www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_2_17?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=bait+and+switch+by+sharon&sprefix=%22Bait+and+Switch%22%2Caps%2C159" target="_blank">Amazon

 Touchpoint Press Link: paperback: https://touchpointpress.ecwid.com/#!/Bait-and-Switch/p/58081113/category=8269700

 Kindle: https://touchpointpress.ecwid.com/#!/Bait-and-Switch/p/58081114/category=8269700

 LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharon-yang-a9a29526/

 Facebook: This is more a personal site than a professional one, but if you google sharon healy-yang, it will come up

 

1.     . Technically, the name “Yang” should be pronounced with a broad, British “a.” However, I’ll still answer to the Americanized version of it.

 

2.      I live in Massachusetts

 

3.     My quirk? Maybe that I’m inspired by aural and visual stimulation. I love listening to classical music that is eerie, romantic, lively, all-around evocative. I have to create a movie in my head about characters and their experiences that embodies the music I hear. Last night, at the Boston Symphony, I found myself closing my eyes and creating a movie of the mind to Debussy’s Nocturnes. I think it would star Merle Oberon, Laurence Olivier, and Richard Basehart. As a buff of old movies, I find that the mood and performances also inspire me. I love to create my own films on the page, and one form of visual inspiration is to look at stills from old films and create stories that go with the scenes. Later, I coordinate those vignettes into a longer story. Does this sound constrictive? Well, read Wordsworth’s “Scorn not the Sonnet” sonnet. Sometimes the greatest creativity comes from creating your own deep space surrounded by what only seem like walls.

 

4.     I haven’t self-published but have used a publisher. This choice works better for me because, to tell the truth, people who might carry or buy or advertise your book treat you with more respect that way. Though I am a pretty rigorous critic of my own work and I have friends who critique my writing with the same high standards, I find it valuable to have professionals give me an extra level of criticism that you get with a publisher.

 

I also like working with a small, independent publisher because they are more willing to take a chance and encourage creativity and individuality than corporations that tend to cookie-cutter products rather than let you find your own voice.

 

5.      My publisher is Touchpoint Press and they are located in Arkansas.

 

6.      Secret tips for getting published?

First, I’d say, do your research on publishers and agents. Find out who is interested in the type of material that you write and who is most likely to give a new writer a shot. The Writers Guides to Publishing and to Agents were a great help to me in that department, with their details on what genre each publisher or agent was interested in (or was definitely not), what materials they wanted for submission, what were the odds they might take a look at your submission, and how and where to submit. I also urge double-checking on-line to see if the Guide is out of date. Another tip I have is to be persistent. It took me years to get published, but all the while I kept writing and honing my talents, as well as how to craft a good synopsis and cover letter. I also learned from helpful comments from even those who rejected me. Finally, my persistence worked in terms of market. When I first started writing, no one was interested in 40s-style mystery/romance, but eventually that market opened up and I was waiting and ready. So don’t get discouraged. Keep working and find that market sweet spot!

 

7.      I don’t have an agent, though I would recommend having one to get the best deal. The funny thing is that when I was querying Bait and Switch at an agency, the agent turned out to have started her own publishing company, so that’s how I got in on the ground floor with Touchpoint Press. At this point, since I don’t really make a huge amount of money, but I am getting published at the decent place, an agent isn’t quite making a lot of sense. I’d be giving up part of an already small sum of income. Perhaps an agent could place other work at a place that pays more or might be able to make a deal concerning filming the work. Or maybe I’m still too small potatoes to merit the effort. I don’t know. That’s a Catch-22. Still, I’m pretty happy where I am.

 

8.      Advice to young writers? First, consider what I said in #6. However, advice for creating your masterpiece? The best advice I can give is keep writing and improving your capabilities. You can emulate writers that you admire to some degree, but still find your own voice or style and keep perfecting it. Keep an ear open for valid or helpful criticism, but learn to distinguish what will actually improve your writing from what is someone else’s preference or style.

 

9.      Most surprising? Sometimes my characters take me places I hadn’t quite expected. They never radically rewrite where I intended to end up, but they get me there via routes I hadn’t planned on - and they are always right. I’m also always amazed that even the worst plot or character conundrums seem to work themselves out as I write, usually in ways that make the book so much more exciting and believable for me as well as for readers.

 

10.                         How many books have I written. That’s a multipart answer.

 

-One book of literary criticism: Goddess, Mages and Wise Women: The Female Pastoral Guide in Sixteenth- and Seventeenth-Century English Drama

- I’ve edited one collection of essays: The X-Files and Literature: Unweaving the Story, Unraveling the Lies to Find the Truth

-I’ve co-edited another collection (and included an article of my own): Gothic Landscapes: Changing Eras, Changing Cultures, Changing Anxieties.

-I’ve published one mystery/romance: Bait and Switch
-I have the sequel under contract at TPP: Letter from a Dead Man

- I have written an additional sequel: Always Play the Dark Horse

I have also written two other unrelated novels that need revision:

Surprise! (mystery/romance)

Redeeming Time (a Lovecraft pastiche with a noir flavor)

 

I also have several other novels in various “pre-writing” stages of development

 

11.                         Suggestions for a good plot twist? I like to think about what the conventions are and tweak or twist or bend them in a direction people don’t tend to go. However, you should never jerk around your readers or go against logic or believability.

 

12.                         What makes my book stand out from the crowd? Many people tell me they love the snappy, clever dialogue. They also find the characters believable, human, people about whom they can care. I’ve also been told that my prose is evocative and highly visual, like experiencing a 1940s film noir. People have told me they like my writing because it’s not abstruse, but still makes them think - and enjoy doing it!

 

13. Promotion:

- Readings and signings: I go out and contact independent bookstores and some franchises of chain stores to arrange readings and signings where I can sell my books. I’ve found the proprietors extremely supportive, on the whole.

 

- I joined Sisters in Crime and Sisters in Crime New England. I and my novel are listed on their web site. Also, SinC NE has a speakers’ bureau to which I belong that has given me numerous opportunities to be a part of a panel or be a speaker where I can talk about writing and sell my books.  I cannot recommend joining SinC [Sisters in Crime] and SinC -NE enough to mystery/thriller/horror writers. They also have memberships for “readers” and “guppies” (aspiring writers).

 

-I ask permission to put up flyers or leave bookmarks, postcards, and/or business cards in various businesses, ranging from cafes and tearooms to the bulletin board in the locker room of the “Y.”

 

- I have a listserv for interested individuals where I keep them informed on “What’s New” in my writing, reading, and other activities. My web page and my LinkedIn and Face Book pages are also places where I keep people informed of what I’m up to and try to pique their interest in my writing. There’s probably more, but these are what come to mind.

 

14. I don’t think I’d do anything differently. I’m sure there’s something I should have thought of, though!

 

15.  I don’t know if I have a mantra as a writer, but I do tell myself to make the characters act as much like real people as possible and to make them characters with whom my readers will involve themselves, whether they like the characters or not.

 

16. Anything else to say? Writers, you’ve got to love what you’re doing. You’ve got to keep writing even if you don’t know if you’ll ever get published. Listen to legitimate criticism but be true to your own voice and write what you want to say. Stay true to your intent.

Comments