Author Eileen Sharp is a writer of inspiring fantasy who gets to the heart of what makes magic so appealing–the idea that we are extraordinary in some way, waiting to be discovered. Please welcome her to No Wasted Ink.
A well-known psychology professor once said that creative people find their identities later than anyone else. Growing up I lived on both the east and west coasts so I developed a love for moving on and going to new places. It’s not escape exactly, maybe the cousin to escapism. I just really love the feeling that I’m opening a new chapter. After high school, I studied Journalism in college but decided to devote myself to my growing family after I got married. It was a good investment! My children are my best friends now and my grandchildren are these wonderous, funny beings that light my world.
After struggling so much to find my niche in the world I have grown fond of tarot cards, the magic 8-ball, fortune cookies and anything that will tell me my destiny–accuracy is not as important as being entertaining!
When and why did you begin writing?
I started writing when I was encouraged by my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Warner. If I finished my work early I was allowed to write short stories and she would give them back to me the next day to tell me how great they were. Who wouldn’t thrive after that kind of affirmation! I’d always loved reading, but after that, I loved writing.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
From the moment I wrote my first short story in middle school. After that, I paid attention to how stories are told and how many stories surround me every day. I’m a fiction writer but no matter how wild my imagination I’ve always found real life to be much more startling, engaging and unpredictable. If fiction manages to compete with real life then that is quite an accomplishment.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Cypher is in a science fiction setting but it’s really about a teenage boy with no memories of his past who doesn’t belong to anyone and has no home to call his own. A family with an only daughter adopts him and he becomes a part of their lives. Although he’s made peace with not having a past when his new family is threatened his ordinary identity begins to crack to reveal an extraordinary secret. It’s the story of a brother and sister and the power of loyalty.
What inspired you to write this book?
Just exploring loneliness, and what it would be like to not know you are and how love can change everything. No one is so strong that they don’t yearn for a place to belong.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I’m a concise writer but I also like to reveal honest emotions. I’ve always had a fascination for how different our emotions are in real life than how they are portrayed in most stories. There’s no soaring musical score in the background when your life crumbles or dramatic lighting when you meet your first love but it’s all still so powerful and overwhelming. Some of the most heart-wrenching moments in my life were experienced in complete silence. There were no words. Which isn’t to say I don’t think people talk to each other in those circumstances, but it’s usually not elegant at all. Few people spout poetry in their defining moments unless they’re Churchill or Maya Angelou. The rest of us just blurt things out but we really mean them–deeply. I like to capture the power of that authenticity when I can.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
It describes Joshua–not only his situation but his secret past.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I didn’t write with a message in mind but if there’s a theme it’s that we all need to feel like we belong, and we all feel something when we see loneliness in someone else.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
They weren’t based on real experiences but maybe similar emotions–hopefully universal ones that most people can relate to. Certainly family ties–that realization you have when you’ve been away from your family for a long time and when you reunite you suddenly realize how much more complete you are with them than you are with anyone else.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
The most influential writer for me has always been Lloyd Alexander and close behind him is Madeline L’Engle. Lloyd Alexander had such a sweet, gentle warmth in his books–they just radiated wisdom, love and the idea that everyone is extraordinary, no matter who you are. I remember as a thirteen-year-old finishing the last book in the High King series and just laying there on my bed looking up at the ceiling, absolutely dazzled. I still am. I love those books! Madeline L’Engle made me feel the same way. I loved her worlds and her characters and the message. I think really good writing doesn’t intimidate you as a writer it makes you want to join them. If there’s a club for people who can make the world brighter, make someone else feel heroic, then I want to be in it.
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
I think my fellow indie writers are all my mentors because they persevere, they succeed, they keep going. Julianne Whicker, in particular, is my hero. She shares her life and her work and her process and that has really inspired me. I hope to catch up to her someday!
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
I worked with my graphic designer daughter on this cover–she’s got a killer instinct for design and she’s an extraordinarily skilled photographer. It was a really fun collaboration.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Yeah, I don’t think I know enough to give anyone else advice but if anyone wants it I would say keep moving forward. The universe can’t open up for you if you don’t give it a try.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
I love my readers! Thank you for being on this journey with me and I’m so excited for what’s ahead!
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Cover Artist: Lindsay Larsen