Cheryl, what drew you to write in the genres you do?
CHERYL ST. JOHN: I grew up watching the old television westerns, like Bonanza, Maverick and The Big Valley, also reading Little House on the Prairie, so those good-vs-evil and the-good-guy-wins stories appealed to me early on.
I read extensively as a young adult, devouring Louis L’Amour and many other genres. The first two romances I read were by Lisa Gregory and LaVyrle Spencer—westerns with true romance! I was hooked.
I wrote Americana and westerns for Harlequin Historical for years, branching out into contemporaries for diversity and fun. I still write sweet westerns and contemporaries, and have most recently focused on the multi-author series Aspen Gold with my critique group. We’ve had great fun and have many more books planned.
Out of all your published works (books and short stories), which ones are your favourite?
CHERYL: I’ve written well over fifty novels and novellas for Harlequin and as an Indie author. My bestselling book of all time, published in a dozen languages and reissued until I eventually independently published it is Land of Dreams, set in my home state of Nebraska. It was my third published book, and it stands the test of time.
I also love Saint or Sinner, a book about a soldier who has a life-after-death experience at the end of the Civil War and comes back to his hometown a changed man—but no one believes the change is sincere.
Joe’s Wife has a special place in my heart as the story of an underdog who marries a widow to help her save her farm, but who lives in the shadow of her much-loved husband. There are meddling in-laws, a secret baby, and a love worth waiting for. It’s yet another story of second chances and redemption, which have become my trademarks.
I also have a new sweet western, Tanner, a post-Civil War story with a feisty Southern belle and a Yankee livery owner who becomes the caregiver of a newborn. I just loved writing that story.
Now what about your least favourite... and why?
CHERYL: I don’t like saying I have least favorites, but I do. They’re the stories I wrote to the specifications of editorial teams for lines that have strict limitations. I did my best work, but I didn’t have free rein on character or story development, so those were my least favorite books to write. I took a year and a half hiatus from contracts and promised myself I would only write books I love and have control over for the rest of my career.
Tell us about "Whisper My Name". What inspired this story? What was it like researching for it?
CHERYL: Whisper My Name is part of the Aspen Gold Series, a multi-author series. Each book is stand-alone, yet they’re all set in the same community. I’d had this story idea for a long time. I wanted to write a story about a child victim who grew up in foster care, changed her name and had her court records sealed. She wants to live life as a normal person, but she doesn’t even understand what that entails. She’s been working through her social anxiety issues and working the steps with her therapist when she’s locked in a newspaper morgue with the intimidating local sheriff.
I researched behavior modification therapy (creatively made up steps), child advocates, and learned that research shows how surprisingly resilient child victims are after incidents like kidnapping. I also researched all the duties of a county sheriff, plus many more facts. For every book I write, I end up with a three-ring binder of plans, notes and research. They’ve been called The Binders of Wonder by my writer friends.
Whisper My Name by Cheryl St. John
Ripped from the headlines…
Laurel Whitaker has spent her entire life burying her infamous past and becoming a normal person.
Joe Cavanaugh suspects she’s in trouble. His job demands honesty, and it’s his nature is to protect.
Will Laurel’s truth be her undoing…or his?
Genre: Sweet contemporary romance
Available in print or digital
Release date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Aspen Gold Books
About Cheryl St. John
Cheryl St.John is the author of over fifty novels, both historical and contemporary, print and indie published. Her stories have earned numerous RITA nominations, Romantic Times awards and are published in over a dozen languages. One thing all reviewers and readers agree on regarding Cheryl’s work is the degree of emotion and believability. Words like ‘heart-warming, emotional depth, touches your soul, tugs your heart, endearing characters and on my keeper shelf’ are commonly used to describe her work.
In describing Cheryl’s stories of second chances and redemption, readers and reviewers use words like, “emotional punch, hometown feel, core values, believable characters and real-life situations.” Amazon and Goodreads reviews show her popularity with readers.