Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Guest Blog and Giveaway with Sherry King

Today please welcome Michigan author Sherry King!






Michigan, Land of Contrasts

Michigan is a land of contrasts and extremes. You could even call it the bipolar state. It freezes in the winter and sizzles in the summer. On the shores of the Great Lakes, the summer sand burns your feet and the icy water turns them numb with cold.

Since it’s Michigan month, I’ve been thinking about the effect my home state has on me as a writer and a person.

My answer lies in the distant past and Michigan’s up-and-down economy.

Starting in the mid 1600s, fur trade flourished and sexy French voyageurs’ canoe express delivered the goods along the Great Huron Trade Circle. (They had highly developed chest and arm muscles from rowing 15 hours or more each day.) The fur boom ended in mid the 1800s with scarcity of furs, loss of Indian trappers and fickle fashion’s switch from fur hats to silk.

Lumber took the place of furs in Michigan’s economy. The age of the Lumber Baron’s (1870-1890) ended when the supply of valuable lumber ran thin.

The old house I grew up in was never finished because of this catastrophe. My grandparents owned a lumber camp and started adding on to the house during the boom. They were doing well and couldn't imagine the change that would occur when the bottom fell out of that market. Their spirit of expansion left them with a bare boards second floor, a subsistence level farm and a lot of endurance.

Later still, Michigan’s booming automobile era was followed by extreme unemployment as foreign markets took the lead in car sales.

I see a grim personal lesson in this historical pattern as I struggle to develop a sustainable work style; if I'm not careful to pace myself, my personal productivity follows a boom and bust pattern. At times I am full of energy and focus, able to work fast. I start planning my life around the new pace I've set and tell myself that writing a novel every four months should be a piece of cake--if I just push myself a little harder. No surprise to anyone but me, after a while, I need to slow down and renew my personal resources.

Lucky for me, unlike fur and lumber, creativity and focus usually come back after a brief rest.

Most of my paranormal stories take place in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and are very regional in tone. My characters reflect what I think of as Michigan attitudes about life, money and risk.

Michigan people remember the past and look to the future. They are often ready to live on next to nothing in order to run that family farm or business, holding on in order to be ready for the next turn of fortune’s wheel.


Chanah, the psychic lead in my paranormal romantic suspense novel, “The Stray” is very much that sort of person. Plucky, making do with just enough to live on, but also willing to take chances in life and love, she’s happy enough to be just getting by as long as she’s doing work that matters to her. When an enemy from her past burns her store to the ground, she doesn’t give up. Her determination is part of what attracts Nick the wealthy werewolf who wants to play Prince Charming to her Cinderella despite Chanah’s need to stand on her own two feet.

I realize that these attitudes are not unique to Michigan, but I also believe that we are influenced by the past—not just our personal pasts, but the long ago pasts of the places we’ve lived.


What do you think? Is our individuality shaped by local history and the places we’ve known?

Or would we be the same people no matter where we were born and lived? How does your home shape you?

Would you like to win a signed copy of The Stray?

Leave a comment on this post answering Sherry's questions above

And Be Sure to Visit Sherry at http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

The Stray can be found at Amazon.com

33 comments:

SandyG265 said...

I definitely think that where you grow up shapes you. A person who grows up in a rural area has different experiences then someone who grows up in a big city.

Virginia C said...

Hi, Sherry! Congratulations on "The Stray"! I am a Southerner, through and through. I live in a small railroad town in the beautiful mountains of Southwest VA. I was born and raised here, and this is most likely where I will end my days. My great-grandmother, grandmother, and mother were three very distinctive Southern Divas. Southern women wield a mean skillet and rolling pin : ) I do view life with a Southern slant. Sweet iced tea with lemon is the nectar of the gods! One of the best meals ever is a sweet, juicy slice of ripe, homegrown tomato on a piping hot, homemade biscuit loaded with real butter. The word "Hey", when used as a greeting, conveys a world of meaning in one short, three-letter sentence. Just about everybody here has an "Aunt Bea" : ) All of those things are part of my psyche, and they all contribute to my persona. I live within an hour's driving distance from just about anything I really want or need. There is a variety of experiences to treasure within that sixty-mile or so range, including two internationally known resorts! However, in my heart, there is no mistaking that the essence of who I am comes from my immediate family and my upbringing. I was raised to be a thoughtful, respectful, caring person, and I try my best to life up to that legacy. No matter where I had been born or raised, the basic values that were instilled in my childhood would be the same.

I love history, and that is one of the reasons that I have been a lifelong avid reader, especially of historical romance. I know that some readers state that they want a romance, not a history lesson, but I think the two go hand-in-hand. The setting of the book, the era, culture, social mores, religious beliefs, fashion, art and literature of the times all affect the way the characters would develop as people. Therefore, they are very important elements of the story line details. I appreciate the amount of research and love of subject an author invests into a well-written contemporary or historical romance. I love to drink coffee while I read, and for me, the added historical and cultural details are the cream and sugar in my coffee : )

Please enter my name in the drawing. US Resident, GFC Follower, Subscriber.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Beverly said...

Thanks for hosting!

I believe that we are shaped by where we live. The opportunities that are available to us change depending upon where we grow up. The chances of a person born and raised in MN becoming a professional surfer are not as good as if that same person was born in a coastal state. I realize that there are always people who change their destinies, but I think we are all drastically influenced by where we are born and raised. Our value system is developed when we are small and reinforced as we grow - said value systems vary greatly in different areas. I think that local history and the places that you know can impact a person, but not as much.

bevsharp@desch.org

Sherry King said...

Dear Sandy,

Thanks for commenting on my post! That rural vs city thing can be interesting sometimes. My NYC raised husband likes to have wide open spaces and fresh air when he goes on vacation. I look for cities with museums and restaurants. I guess we see novelty in different things.

Sherry

Bethie said...

I believe that we are influenced by our surroundings, but we are basically shaped by who we are. I don't think that you environment can alter you all that much.

lizzi0915 at aol dot com

Sherry King said...

Thanks Virginia,

What a lovely and beautifully written post. A world doesn't have to be geographically broad to hold everything you need. (Ask anyone who lives in Manhattan--a totally different environment that can be oddly insular and provincial with people spending their whole lives in a two block radius. "The cream and sugar in your coffee.." You make me want to write a historical novel!

I've only written one historical, a GBLT novella set in the crusades. I did some research and I loved nailing some details, such as the type of soap used in England at the time vs that used in the holy land. I also enjoyed studying up on clothing, weapons and transportation methods as well as the geography of my setting.

You write beautifully about your home. Thanks for sharing this with us.

Sherry King


Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Beverly,

You are right in saying that where we live shapes our opportunities. That's why the idea of a Jamaican bobsled team always makes me smile. Where I grew up, the top careers were different than they might have been for a less economically depressed area.

You're also right in saying that a determined person can overcome limitations of place. I'm thinking that a character in a book who goes against the local tide would be interesting. There's a built in conflict to that and a tension.

I'm not sure about the influence of specific places (this morning I'm thinking of haunted forests and mystic lakes), but history is for me the hidden kick in the pants for this kind of thing. That is, i think we may not always know how the local history affects us, but it does.

Thanks for the insightful comment!



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Stories
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Bethie,

Your comment makes me see you as a true individualist. It's all in what we choose to emphasize, I suppose. For sure, who we are inside is more important than just about anything else. Do you believe in fate or predestination?

Thanks for commenting!



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Stories
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Heather B. said...

I agree, where a person grows up definitely shapes them. It is part of who they are, their heritage. Someone that grows up in the north is totally different than someone that grows up in the south.

Sherry said...

I think that where you grow up does shape you. I also believe how you are treated and talked to by people shape you too.

sstrode@scrtc.com

Sherry King said...

Dear Heather,

Thanks for commenting! I agree that the differences between north and south are profound. At the same time, other factors like rural vs city are also important in establishing common ground. As human beings we are able to appreciate tiny differences in each other, but also able to empathize with people from a historical or fictional setting. I think that's one of the neatest things we have going for us!


Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Stories
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Sherry,

What a powerful point you make. I don't care if you grew up in paradise itself, if you are abused, scorned or treated poorly, you can't wait to leave. Likewise, a really lousy outside environment is made bearable by a loving family!

Thanks for the comment!


Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Stories
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

debbie said...

I believe we are shaped by where you grow up. I grew up in Michigan,too. I remember my history teacher, when I was little, wrote a history book about the area I grew up in. I learned to appreciate the area from my family. It is interesting to grow up in a very small town, and have a large extended family.
twoofakind12@yahoo.com

Kailia Sage said...

I think that where you grow up shapes you. That place gives you opportunities that no other place can give you. But I also believe we are shaped more by who we are and not where we live. I just think our own influences on ours lives is greater than our surroundings.

Wenona said...

I think a little bit of everything shapes who we are but where we grow up defnitely plays a big part in who we become.

I grew up in a semi rural area I love being connected to nature- can't stand cities the moise, the crowds the concrete jungle. I love the sound of crickets and frogs in the spring and summer.

So where I grew up has really played a big part in deciding what I like and don't like.

Alicia0605 said...

I think where you grow up shapes who you are. I grew up in the south and I have lived in big cities. I think that I would have been a completely diff person had I grown up in the city. Your surrounding influence everything about you.

aliciahall0605(AT)yahoo(DOT)com

Meredith said...

I definitely think that our individuality is shaped by local history and places we've visited and lived. I can see the differences between my upbringing that was in a small country town and my children who have been raised as city kids. I have interests in things that are relative to museums and places I visited as a child. When I moved south from Ohio, there were names for things up north that are different here in the south. I don't think I'd be the same person if I grew up in the city, nor would I have been the same person if I stayed in that itty bitty town.

meredithfl at gmail dot com

Sherry King said...

Dear Debbie,

It's great to hear from another Michigan native. The benefits of an extended family can really make a difference. It makes you feel like you have a place in the world. Also, for me there was a feeling of acceptance. Family was family, no matter how much money they made or what they looked like.

I grew up without my mother and had no siblings so the extended family really made a difference in my childhood.

Thanks for your comment.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Kailia,

Thanks for commenting on my Michigan post! I agree with you that both environment and individual attributes are important. I'm inclined to believe that individuality is at the heart of who we are--but those larger forces can really change the direction of our lives sometimes. Or the generation we're born into. Like soldiers in WWII or maybe those communities where almost everyone goes to work at the local factory or mine.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Wenona,

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment! I can see those regional influences on the foods I like. People from other places don't seem to want UP pasties or baked ham the same way I do. They don't know about a Yooper mud slide sundae or Baumeister's root beer either. Some of them even call their soft drinks soda or tonic instead of pop. Freaky, eh?


Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Alicia,

As someone who grew up in the sticks and went to washington DC as a young woman, I can attest to the culture shock! My first time trying to ride the subway was a hoot. I felt sort of disapproving of all these rude shoving people. I stood bakc and waited my turn. Naturally, the doors shut in my face. Next train, I was one of those rude shoving people.

It was OK to shove someone (getting on the train anyway), but eye contact, a staple of my rural manners made people very uncomfortable. I learned not to do it after a stranger moved across the street to get away from me after I gave a polite hello and made eye contact.

Thanks for the comment the difference in growing up rural.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Meridith,

Thanks for commenting! You make a really good point. It's not just where we start but also where we go that shapes us as people.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

JenM said...

I grew up in New Jersey and I know that shaped me into the person I am today. The stereotype is that people from the Tri-State area tend to be aggressive and in your face and I'd have to agree with that. I've toned it down quite a bit, but whenever I go back there, I find myself slipping right back into those behavioral patterns.

stacey said...

some is where wear from some what we went true some is are genes and how thay shape us.

sasluvbooks(at)yahoo.com

EVA SB said...

Is our individuality shaped by local history and the places we’ve known?

I love the history of the places where I was brought up but I had to move 3,000kms to find somewhere that felt like home so I'm not sure of the answer.

eva.s.black[@]gmail[.]com

*yadkny* said...

Hi Sherry,
In response to your question... I know for a fact that where I was born and raised has shaped the person that I am today. I live in a rural area and up until 10 years ago there really wasn't much to see or do around here. Because of that I stayed out of trouble and I am very close to my family. On the flip side of this I know my life has lacked that much needed adventure piece and I would love to travel more in order to expose myself to as much culture as possible. I think if I had lived in a bigger city I wouldn't hesitate on taking risks and going on more adventures. As it is right now I am just too darn responsible and a little too practical:)

*yadkny* said...

Sorry forgot my email...

yadkny@hotmail.com

Sherry King said...

Dear Jen,

My husband is from NYC and I have to say his public persona is very much the stereotypical New Yorker. And I start to talk like the people in my hometown the minute I go back even though I don't usually (So I've been told!). I'm also a bit of a chameleon. Here in New Mexico, I worked with a bunch of new Mexicans and unconsciously picked up a Spanish accent. This was pretty funny, especially since I know about 5 words of Spanish.

When I left the job I lost the accent. It would be nice to be able to do that on purpose.

Thanks for your comment.

Sherry

Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Stacey,

Thanks for your poetic response to my post. Genes are the map of who we are physically, and they are very portable as people move from country to country.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear Eva,

I think sometimes we have a heart home that may be different from our birthplace or the home of early childhood. I love the city where I went to college (also in Michigan) in a different way than my hometown. where I like to visit the hometown but wouldn't want to live there again.

Thanks for commenting.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

Sherry King said...

Dear "yadkny",

I grew up in a rural area too, and I understand about not getting into much trouble--but I'm pretty sure you would have been responsible anyway, and that's a good thing. I think that it's great to travel and soak up culture, but adventures come to you no matter where you are--in fact, I bet you've had experiences that any city dweller would consider very adventurous! (Driving a tractor or bringing in a crop comes to mind--or even stepping in a cow pie or planting a garden!)

Thanks for the comment! I wish you lots of great adventures.



Sherry King's Paranormal Romance Books
Heroes and Lovers. Madmen and Monsters.
We're all a bit of each deep down.
http://sherryking-paranormalromance-books.com/

mbreakfield said...

I think our home shapes us a great deal. I know that I would be different, if I were born in a big Northern city as opposed to the small Southern town, where I was raised. Maybe not totally different, because I think genetics affects a lot of a person's makeup, but environment also comes into play.
marlenebreakfield(at)yahoo(dot)com

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

I think that our country/home and family shape us. We wouldn't be the same as if we were born elsewhere. The circumstances, traditions, expectations and opportunities would be different. Our cultural environment shapes us definitely.

Please enter me too in the giveaway, I'm an old follower.

stella.exlibris (at) gmail (dot) com

 
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