Monday, July 27, 2015

Author Interview: Cheryl Harrington

Cheryl Harrington
author, Sparks Fly

Give us a bit of your background (where are you from, your family, traveling adventures.)

I’m a second generation Toronto native, an only child unless we count Cookie the dog. (We probably should count Cookie the dog – she was definitely one of the family!) Growing up, home was a few short blocks from Lake Ontario. All the best adventures of my childhood (not to mention the best lifeguard watching) took place on the half mile of beach and boardwalk between Woodbine and the Balmy Beach Canoe Club. I sometimes think lake water must run in my veins, because I can’t seem to stay away. Whenever I need to escape from the busy-ness of life or resolve a stubborn plot hole, I head to the shore for a walk. Nowadays, getting there means a trek through city traffic, but it’s worth every minute of the drive. The rhythm of waves against the sand, the call of gulls wheeling overhead, and the cool, lake-freshened breeze calm frazzled nerves and clear my mind.

The lake was very much a part of my parents’ lives, too. Mom and Dad met and married at a church near the beach and for as long as they were able, one of their favorite things was a walk along the boardwalk, holding hands. Those two held hands every day of their lives. I guess romance must run in my veins, too!

My travels have taken me across Canada to both Atlantic and Pacific coasts, and south through the States as far as Louisiana and Florida. Most memorable of all was a vacation on Vancouver Island where I had the chance to go whale watching on a small boat out of Telegraph Cove. The thrill of seeing a pod of Orcas at play in the water mere feet from our tiny vessel was unforgettable; the awesome, resonant splash-whoosh of their breach and blow …indescribable. I’d better figure out a good description soon, though, because my current work-in-progress is set near Telegraph Cove. Here there be whales!

Say your publisher has offered to fly you anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?

Oh, this is an easy one – Cornwall, England.

As a child, I had a pen-pal relationship with my Dad’s Great Aunt Win. I remember how carefully I’d print her address on a flimsy blue airmail envelope: Myrtle Cottage, Trevail, Cuthbert, near Newquay, Cornwall, England. In my little girl imagination, Myrtle Cottage was tiny and white with a thatched roof and wild English garden, roses rampant around the front door. My fondest wish was to visit that magical place. Years later, when another relative unearthed an old photo and written description of Myrtle Cottage, it was nothing at all as I’d imagined – an ungainly former mill with no central heating, unreliable cold-water plumbing, and only a narrow road outside the front door. Still, in my imagination, there will always be thatch and roses.

I never had the chance to meet Aunt Win in person but I will visit her beloved Cornwall someday and I know I’ll find inspiration there for a new book. It will be dedicated to Win’s memory.

What is one silly fact about you?

I am absolutely not to be trusted in a pet store. Proof: I stopped at PetSmart on my way home from work one afternoon. My plan was to pick up some birdseed. It would take five minutes, tops – dash in, dash out. More than an hour later, I was loading up the car with a cartload of supplies and one very annoyed cat who repeated, “Sssss-aaaaa-mmmmmm” at the top of his voice all the way home (true story). He’s never made that astonishing sound since, so I figure he was letting me know his name was Sam. Check out the “menagerie” page at my web site if you’d like to see photos of Sam and his friend, Jazz the Lineolated Parakeet, who did eventually get his birdseed.

What got you started on your writing journey?

I thank pen-pal Aunt Win for my love of books and writing. She sent me a book for every birthday and Christmas, leather-bound classics starting with Black Beauty and moving on to Dickens, Bronte, and Austen. Win encouraged me to share stories in my letters and wrote tales of the Cornish life and landscape in return. Most important, she made me believe in myself as a writer.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?

The absolute wonder of bringing people and places to life on the page is the very best kind of reward. And when characters take control and begin telling me what they’re going to do …magic!

How many books have you written, and how many of those have been published?

I’ve completed five full-length novels, with two more in progress. Four have been published. My first exists only as a manuscript in a box on a shelf, and that’s where it belongs. I worked on that book for several years and took it through many re-writes until, finally, I worked up my nerve and queried. One lovely editor at St. Martin’s Press asked for a partial and I chewed my fingernails to stubs waiting for a decision. Of course, it wasn’t suitable – I still had much to learn. But that editor took time to write a personal rejection and I will be forever grateful for her insight and thoughtful encouragement.

Books two and three were co-authored with my friend, Anne Norman. We had more fun working on those two books than I would have thought possible. Our first, ROCK SOLID, is the story of a landscape architect who is challenged to save her small town’s much-loved Quarry Lake from developers, only to find herself falling in love with the man behind the development plans. Our second, FAST FOCUS, is a romantic caper set in New York City and featuring a young photographer, her big, goofy dog, an eccentric aunt, and an FBI agent on a mission to protect them all. Both books are clean romances, available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover formats from Amazon under their Montlake Romance imprint.

Book four, ONE FOR SORROW, TWO FOR JOY, is a romantic suspense about a young chef on the run and a reporter determined to uncover her secrets. It was published in a large print paperback edition by Ulverscroft Press (London) as part of their Linford Romance Library. The book is now out of print but I’ve got the rights back and I’m polishing it up with plans to give indy publishing a try.

I’ll share more about book five, SPARKS FLY, in the next answer.

Please share about your book.

SPARKS FLY by Cheryl Cooke Harrington is a Clean Read romance with a dash of adventure. The overall theme is one of family ties and homecoming, played out in a wilderness setting with forest fires and float planes to keep our heroine on her toes.

From the book flap:

What happens when a thoroughly modern woman, who longs to return to her roots, meets an old-fashioned hero on her first day home?  Sparks Fly.  And it doesn't take a forest fire, smoldering in the distance, to turn up the heat between high school science teacher, Logan Paris, and bush pilot, Mitchell Walker.

Logan's dream of a bright future for her grandfather's lodge at remote Thembi Lake hits an unexpected snag when Gramps introduces the handsome pilot as his new partner.  It seems Mitch has plans of his own for Casey Lodge, and Logan is certain they don't include partnership with a 'city girl'.  Determined to prove herself and protect her heritage, Logan sets out to unravel the many mysteries of Mitch Walker.

Where did he come from?  Why is Gramps so willing to trust him with their future?  And most disturbing of all …what's she going to do about the undeniable attraction she feels whenever he's around?

Purchase Link:

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be? 

1. independent
2. loving
3. curious
4. determined
5. brave

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?

“Author Cheryl Cooke Harrington puts the reader right in the passenger seat alongside the spunky heroine ... and this is just the beginning of a wonderfully entertaining romantic tale. I highly recommend this story to anyone who loves a sweet romantic story filled with loveable family members, adventures in the sky and on the ground, and that age old feeling of falling in love.” – Amazon review

I enjoyed the interview, Jennifer. Thanks for having me at Clean Romance Reviews!
Cheryl Cooke Harrington (

Come find me on social media - I love connecting with readers!


  1. Thank you SO much for writing clean romances! Nothing is more disturbing for me than to read a book where the 'relations' are more important than the story. Going right now to put this series on my TBR at GoodReads!

    1. Thank YOU so much, LuAnn. I hope you'll enjoy the books - would love to know what you think of them. Cheers! Cheryl

  2. Cheryl, thanks for sharing your inspiring journey. Sparks Fly sounds delicious.

    1. Thanks, Joanne. It was delicious fun to write!

  3. Excellent interview, Cheryl. I sincerely hope you can get to Cornwall soon.

    1. So do I, Jillian. It's been a lifelong dream. Wouldn't it be lovely to find a publisher ready to send me there for research! I'm such a dreamer.

  4. Your descriptions always pull me right into your stories, Cheryl. Doesn't matter if it's one of your books or your blog posts, I love reading whatever you write!



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