Sweet Magnolias author Interview with Sherryl Woods.

Hands up if you've been binge-watching shows on Netflix during this time? We have to admit we've been fortunate enough to sit down to watch a few shows during lockdown and there are some brilliant ones out there. One in particular, we saw advertised on twitter and it sounded right up our street; small town vibes, Margarita nights, romance and beautiful friendships - 'Sweet Magnolias,' we said a big yes to you!!

Sweet Magnolias is a ten episode series based on the books by Sherryl Woods, who is also the lady behind Chesapeake Shores. We watched all ten episodes in two days and absolutely loved it. Now, we're holding our breaths till season two! We are delighted to be able to bring to you today an interview with the lady herself. Find out all about how it feels to find out your book is going to be a TV show and where she gets her inspiration... 

1. Firstly, thank you for joining us and congratulations on Sweet Magnolias. We absolutely adored the show and watched it in the space of two days. We know this isn't the first time your books have been adapted to screen, but it's such an incredible achievement that it must be very exciting. How did you feel getting that initial phone call about Sweet Magnolias? 
You have no idea, Lucy and Kelly! Even though I’ve written nearly 150 books, it has always been exciting — and a little scary — when a new one comes out. It’s even more exciting and scary when it’s your books turned into a TV series. Fortunately I’ve worked with executive producer Dan Paulson on both Chesapeake Shores for Hallmark Channel and on Sweet Magnolias. I trust not only his vision, but his masterful ability to assemble a team of writers, directors and actors who can bring that vision to life.

2. Apart from the excitement you must feel upon finding out that your books are going to be adapted on screen, are there a few nerves and flutters of anxiety over how they are going to be changed/adapted or do you welcome those changes with open arms?
Maybe not always with open arms, but certainly with the pragmatic understanding of why changes are necessary. I spent my early professional career as a television critic, so I spent a lot of time analyzing why some shows worked and others didn’t. I totally understand, for example, why I can put a huge cast of characters in the pages of an entire series of books, but that cast has to be narrowed down to an affordable core of key characters who can capture the essence of the world I created. I think we achieved  that with this trio of Sweet Magnolias and with the O’Briens in Chesapeake Shores.

3. This being your second series to make it to TV, do you find yourself writing your stories now with that in mind or does that not even cross your mind when writing?
 Though a part of me always wanted to write for television and bring my career full-circle, I can honestly say it never entered my mind as I created a whole slew of friends, families, couples and communities in my books. I was just telling stories.

4. There are so many wonderful characters in Sweet Magnolias. We loved that each one gets their moment to shine. Do you have a soft spot for any character/s in particular?
I have a few heroes who are modeled on some men in my life, so I definitely have a soft spot for them. And there are probably aspects of me in a lot of my heroines. Writers are supposed to write what they know, right? But I’m not naming names. Ever!

5. Casting wise, how does it feel to see characters, that were once upon a time just in your head, played by some fantastic actors on screen? Did you have a say in who you envisioned playing those roles?
As my editors would tell you, they’ve long since given up on getting my to physically describe my characters in any detail. My editors think I’m creatively lazy, but I want readers to see themselves in the stories, so I envision personalities, rather than appearance. That said, the casting directors on both shows have hit the mark with the talented actors and actresses in each role. Now I couldn’t picture anyone else. 

6. You've lived in quite a few different places: Ohio, Virginia, Florida. All places we happen to have connections with too! (Just a side note!) Do you get elements of your stories from a mixture of all of these places or do specific places give you specific elements to a story? For example, maybe Virginia gives you small town community inspiration. 
I’m laughing as I read this. Years ago a friend told me I was the only person he knew who could write a book someplace after passing through the airport. And I truly have been known to choose a setting just because I wanted to write off a vacation trip on my taxes.

Seriously, though, different settings inspire different stories. Many of my small towns, no matter where I’ve put them, have been inspired by Colonial Beach, Virginia, the tiny town where I spent summers as a kid and where I still live part of each year. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel a fair amount and to live in a wide variety of places. As with characters, I pick up details that might work in a given story. And, as a former journalist, I can do research with the best of them, even on places where I haven’t spent much time. It certainly helps to lend authenticity, though, if you can capture the feel of a place, the scent of the air and make sure you don’t put cliffs in Miami!

7. Having written over 100 books, how do you keep the inspiration coming? Do you write fairly quickly now and have the same process for each book or does it completely depend on the story you are telling?
 I’ve always been a very disciplined writer with a specific page count for each day that may change as the book progresses, for example fewer pages early on, more as the book and characters take shape. As for inspiration, it’s all around. Every person, every setting, every incident I witness has the potential to trigger a fresh new story.

8. What are your must haves for when you are in the middle of writing? Any favourite snacks or drinks?
 If I’d been snacking during all these years of sedentary writing, I’d been in deep trouble!

9. Apart from the Sweet Magnolia series, that we are certain many people are going to be flocking to now, us included, which book from your impressive and extensive catalogue would you recommend for first time readers of yourself? Any one that has a special place in your heart?
Apart from this series and the Chesapeake Shores books, I’d probably suggest Flamingo Diner, though it deals with the very difficult subject of suicide. It was one of the most difficult books I ever wrote because it followed the loss of two of my dear friends to suicide. For those who might find that too dark a topic, Amazing Gracie was a far lighter romance, again set in the South, with some fun characters.

10. Lastly, was there a specific scene from your Sweet Magnolias books that made it into the TV series that you were especially looking forward to seeing on screen? 
Not so much a scene, as the relationship among the generations. There’s nothing I like to write more than multi-generational stories. Not only are the Sweet Magnolias themselves highly relatable for many women, but the teens in the series are fantastic and the women I like to describe as my “senior Magnolias” — Maddie’s mom and Miss Frances — are exactly the feisty examples of a life well-lived that I dreamed they would be!

We hope you enjoyed this interview as much as we did. We can't thank Sherryl enough for taking time out to answer our questions.

Have you seen the series yet? Have you read the Sweet Magnolias books or any other books by Sherryl? Let us know in the comments below!

You can find Sherryl and Sweet Magnolias on Twitter and Sherryl also has a website, for her latest news and books.

Happy watching and reading!

No comments :

Post a Comment