For many of us in the world of authors-marketing-ourselves, we know Sally Cronin as a treasure who selflessly promotes others, spotlighting their new books, re-showcasing their old ones, and offering endless encouragement and support to artists of all stripes.
But Sally is also an author, and a prolific one at that. Not only does she write blog posts that enlighten her readers on everything from the benefits of garlic to heart health to the weather in Ireland, but she also writes short stories and books, both fiction and nonfiction. And she’s here today to tell us about her latest work, What’s In a Name.
Thank you so much Amy for asking me over for an interview.. It is a real pleasure.
Tell me about your new book, What’s in a Name.
The short stories in this collection are about ordinary people who in some way bring their own unique spin on their names. Can Alexander, a small boy with a mother who is a fan of Richard Burton, be great? Can Clive conquer one of the most deadly predators in India? There is romance, ghostly events, serial killers and those who need revenge and hopefully something for everyone who enjoys an eclectic mix of genres.
What made you decide to write about that particular subject?
Names are fascinating things. They often identify the decade you were born in and in the cases of some celebrities where you were conceived. We might be named after a favourite aunt or uncle in tribute and to keep their memory alive. In my case I was given the second name Georgina after my maternal grandmother. If we are named after someone famous it can also be a huge challenge to live up to their exploits. Imagine being called Napoleon, Caesar or Einstein! The alphabet provided a great prompt for the stories and as there are stories for both male and females for each letter… There will be 52 tales by the time the second volume is finished.
How long did it take you to write it?
I spent about six months writing the stories and posting them on my blog. I wanted to get initial feedback before publishing and this was very useful. Also it was easier to fit in a story a week rather than sit down and write twenty all at once.
What was the hardest thing about writing the book?
Probably coming up with a different concept for each name. It helped when the name was previously owned by someone with exploits or historical connection as the story could be geared to something similar. Also I wanted to avoid offending anyone on and offline if depicting a less than reputable character! I still wanted friends at the end of the book.
Do you see aspects of yourself in the stories?
Certainly I have used locations that I know and have visited for example in France, Ireland and Sri Lanka where I spent some of my childhood. From that perspective it uses my experiences but with 52 stories over the two volumes, I am going to have to get creative.
Tell us about some of the other books you’ve written.
My books are a mixed bag. Non-fiction relating to health and media and then fiction in the form of novels and collections of short stories. I love the discipline of non-fiction where things have to be exact if the book is to be taken seriously. This is why I always have a fiction book of some description on the go at the same time for some light relief.
Do you write in a solitary environment or do you like to be around other people, noise, etc. when you write? I suppose what I’m asking is, do you write at home or in a coffee shop or another location?
I share an office with my husband who is a book designer and we tend to get on with our own work and confer from time to time on specific projects. I cannot write if there are distractions or lots of noise. I love music but keep that for the treadmill or when we are out walking.
Do you write every day? What does a typical day look like for you?
I do write every day in one format or another. The blog is important to me and so is maintaining my social media platforms that I use for the promotions that I do for other authors. I spend an hour or so going through the overnight traffic and also boosting the posts that have been scheduled from midnight. I may then do one of the daily blog posts before getting on with a chapter of my latest book or a short story to post during the week. I do take breaks for shopping, cooking and exercise, but it is fair to say that when it comes to writing… I need to get a life!
Do you have a favorite story in What’s in a Name?
I do have a favourite and it is the story of the toddler Clive in Sri Lanka who finds himself in a dangerous place. I was his age when we lived there and my first memories are of my amah pulling me away from danger. Touching any of the wildlife could be lethal as rabies was rampant even in the dogs and of course plenty of poisonous insects and predators. But I also remember the smell of curry, the warmth of the sun and swimming with my sisters.
Did you design the cover? If so, what’s in the background of the picture?
The photograph of the peacock was taken in the royal gardens of the king’s palace in Madrid when we took my mother and sisters there when they visited in 2000. We took a number of shots and so we can use a slightly different one for the second volume. My husband designs my covers and in the last few books I have used photographs that mean something to me.
Do you like to do readings, say at a bookstore or a library? Do you get many opportunities to read your work?
I did do some readings in the UK when I was living with my mother from 2008 to 2012 and had the opportunity. I loved it but we returned to Madrid after my mother died and of course the language was an issue. This is another reason to get some of my books translated into Spanish at some point. Since coming back to Ireland last year we have been focused on getting our new home finished but I am keeping an eye open for book festivals coming up in the summer.
What’s next on your writing horizon?
I have three books that are on their way to the final process. Two non-fiction, one on surviving modern life and some of my thoughts on why we find ourselves at odds with the world at times. The other is a people management manual for home and work… There are parallels including working with outside contractors, communicating with those in authority, and teenagers! I am nearly finished with volume two of What’s in a Name and then I must make a start with the sequel to Tales from the Garden which will be set in Ireland.
Where can readers find your books?
My books are all on Amazon, most in print and Ebooks.
My books are also available via my own publishing site, some at a reduced price.
And where can readers find you on social media?
It has been such a treat having you on Reade and Write, Sally. I hope you’ll come back again sometime!
Thank you again Amy for asking me over.
Until next week,