Back in June, when Inside Voices was published, I liked to check my rankings and reviews. Okay, I still do. About halfway down the page, there was a heading, "Customers who bought this item also bought." The Vegetarian Bat by Juliet Davis and Widows Gone Wild by Sunny Wells popped up.
Now, I know why The Vegetarian Bat showed. Juliet is my daughter, after all, and most family members would purchase both of our books. Sunny Wells and Widows Gone Wild? I had no idea why that one presented. So, I did what every other normal human being would do...I posted to Facebook. Turns out that Sunny and I shared a hometown connection. What??
Not long after my post, Sunny sent me a message, and we chatted. What a delight to meet and learn more about this wonderful woman! I've now added another line on my bucket list…meet her in person.
Until that time, she agreed to an interview. So, without further ado, I give you, Sunny Wells.
Yay, Sunny! So glad to visit with you again. What is the first story you remember telling (not necessarily writing)?
When I was in 4th, maybe 3rd grade, we had to write a story with a surprise ending. I came up with a little story about a frightening Halloween night written in first person that my teacher thought was marvelous. Ever since that, I liked to write. I did a lot of journaling but never attempted a book before 2019. A favorite English teacher in high school used to say, "You write like a boy," and she meant it as a compliment. I didn't really ever figure out what she meant by that, but I think it was that I didn't use a lot of flowery, emotional language in my writing. That hampers me, though, as I always admire how a lot of authors are able to describe in such detail.
Your writing drew me in and made me feel emotions that I've tried to lock away. It was breathtaking and gut-wrenching, and I loved every moment.
What was your favorite game to play as a child?
I grew up with lots of cousins in the small town where I was raised. We had an idyllic childhood playing the classics like Red Light, Green Light, and Red Rover. Paper dolls were also a big hit with my friends.
I played those games, too, when I was a kid. Now, as an adult, I sometimes play Pink Light, Green Light.
Star Trek or Star Wars?
Well, I have seen a lot of the Star Wars movies, but I can't say that I have been a big fan of either Star Trek or Star Wars. I guess that doesn't make me much of a fantasy writer.
*Gasp* Well, I love them both. And I only care that the movies keep coming! On the topic of sequels, what movie sequel would you erase from history and why?
I'm not big on sequels. I remember being disappointed in Godfather II.
Is it sacrilegious to admit I haven't seen the first one? Because if it is, then I'll keep my mouth shut.
Do you have any writing quirks?
I don't know if it could be called a quirk, but I like to write early in the morning, with headphones on to keep from being distracted, and I usually wear the same thing for each writing session, leggings and a tee-shirt!
Nice and comfy! Sounds like my routine.
What is your favorite color? Least favorite?
I like pink and purple. Also, most of the blue family. Olive green is my least favorite.
If you were to be gifted a superpower that you had to use continuously for 8 hours every day, what would it be?
I'd love to be able to read people's thoughts.
Hmm, that is an interesting choice. I've been told that all you have to do is watch my face to see what I'm thinking!
What are your hobbies (besides reading and writing)?
I love spending time with my grandchildren when I can see them. It's been hard during the pandemic. When I am in Florida, I send my grandkids a card every few weeks, with a little money enclosed, because that's what grandmas do. I also clip comic strips out of the paper to send the ones that make me think of them. Yes, I still read the real newspaper every day.
I also love to walk. Travel is a big love of mine. We usually go on one major trip a year. Of course, the pandemic is affecting that too.
Coffee...cream or sugar, both or neither?
Coffee with half and half, no sugar ever. I am a "coffee purist," so no flavors either!
I like mine black these days but have tried a few flavors. Hazelnut is my favorite.
In Inside Voices, I strategically placed a favored cupcake, French Toast. Yum! What's your favorite cupcake flavor? (I've cupcakes on the brain.)
White cupcakes with chocolate frosting (boy, do I sound boring!).
Not boring at all! I consider any cake flavor to be delicious, except if it has coconut-yuck!
What is one food you could never bring yourself to eat and why?
There are not many foods that I don't eat, but I think I will always draw the line at Rocky Mountain Oysters!
Whelp, I have eaten them. I survived. They didn't make me gag. Much.
Let's talk about something else, shall we?
How about a typical "ask the author" question? What is your favorite author/book?
I love the writing of Elizabeth Berg. If I ever write a novel, she will be my inspiration. Another favorite author of mine is Pat Conroy. I was sad when we lost him a few years ago. His book Beach Music is an absolute favorite of mine. The first book I ever read by myself was Heidi at the age of 5 or 6. I loved that book, and I still like to read children's literature when I am in need of a boost. I go back to Laura Ingalls Wilder and Roald Dahl.
So if you could have written any novel, which one would you choose?
Wish I had written just about any Elizabeth Berg novel…... Or Les Miserables by Victor Hugo!
You've heard of writer's block. Have you ever gotten "reader's block?"
Yes, a couple of years ago, I was experiencing a condition called normal pressure hydrocephalus, and one of the symptoms was difficulty concentrating. It was a very frustrating time, as I would start a book and not be able to concentrate on it, even though I have always been a voracious reader. After being treated for the condition, I am able to read regularly again. I am of the belief that it is okay to abandon a book that you have started and don't really like. Life is too short to read something that doesn't interest you! But I always give a book a chance. I read all of yours, Sarah! 😀
I'm honored to hear that.
How long did it take you to write your book?
It took me about a year and a half to write my memoir. I had a great editor, and she taught me ways to keep going and move forward. One of her best pieces of advice to me was to just write and not go back and read or correct anything. Just keep writing and letting the ideas flow. The corrections and additions come later.
Great piece of advice. Editing is, I find, very challenging. What was the most challenging part of writing for you?
My book is a memoir, not a novel, but the hardest parts to write were when I revisited the memories of my husband's diagnosis at age 52 and the day he died. On the days that I would write those scenes, I would spend the rest of the day immersed in melancholy and sad memories. But I would emerge from those periods stronger and surer that this was the story I wanted to share to help others going through the same experience. Resilience was a theme in my moving forward.
Your writing is so heartfelt and touching. It opened a floodgate of many wonderful and difficult memories with my grandpa: attending doctor appointments to discuss treatments, convincing him to go to the emergency room after one nasty therapy, walking with him and his dog, Guy, through the pasture to check the horses, and driving in the '76 GMC with the windows down with Hank Williams Jr. on the radio. He told me, "You'll always be my little girl," not long before he took his last breath. Grandpa liked to sing "do do do do" and chew Big Red and let me drink as many Dr. Peppers as my stomach could handle. I am so fortunate to have those memories and was so lucky to have had the time with him but find it difficult to not be angry I can't just call him, even after all these years.
My memoir WIDOWS GONE WILD: OUR JOURNEY FROM LOSS TO RESILIENCE was written out of the experience of losing my husband to pancreatic cancer and my subsequent involvement in a hospice support group. There I met the 7 women who joined me in our quest to move forward. I wrote the book intending to help others who have had the same loss and people who are trying to help someone through a loss.
Thank you so much for chatting with me. I thank the Amazon bots for their role in connecting us.
Shine on, Sunny!