Inspiration comes in many forms for local author
One of the most famous quotes on creativity goes like this: “Inspiration can come from anywhere, at any time.”
For Chris Sherwood, much of the inspiration for his first novel, “In Times of Trouble,” came while walking his dog in the Town of Baldwin, where he grew up and still lives.
“I love post-apocalyptic fiction and while walking our dog I’d often think, ‘What would happen to us here in our town if the world as we know it ended?’,” said Sherwood, an Elmira Free Academy graduate and former paramedic and medical professional who now drives a school bus. “I began to think what I would do in such a situation, and over time the idea formed. Funny enough, the very first scenario I ever thought up hasn’t been used ...yet.”
The more Sherwood, who had freelance writing experience prior to trying his hand at fiction, thought of characters and ideas, the more it felt to him like there was a book there.
“A couple friends, both writers themselves, encouraged me to start jotting things down, see what happened,” he said. “Eventually, I found myself immersed in this world filled with fictional characters that are very real in my mind. Sometimes the book just seemed to write itself.”
The result is a book that deals with the aftermath of a horrific event and how residents of the fictional small town of Hammond’s Corners – modeled after Baldwin, Sherwood says – survive.
Sherwood self-published about a year ago to excellent reviews on
Amazon (4.9 out of 5 stars on 55 ratings) and is about halfway done with a sequel.
“It’s taking me longer than I’d like,” he said, “but considering the first book took four years from start to finish, I can’t complain.”
Author Chris Sherwood his artistic creativity isn’t limited to writing. Sherwood is also the back up singer and guitarist for the Celtic rock group Kilrush. When asked how his music influences his writing, Sherwood mentioned that it helped him be a little more fearless and a little less worried about making mistakes.
“I’m less afraid to take creative chances than before,” he said. “And when something doesn’t work, its helped me learn to say, ‘eh,’ and move on, not let it bother me too much for the most part.”
That fearlessness also led Sherwood to the decision to self-publish, for a couple of reasons. “First off,” he said, “I’d read that publishing companies were cutting back what they released. Not good if you’re a complete unknown.
“More importantly, some of my favorite authors in the genre started out self-publishing. A couple of them landed contracts with well-known publishing houses, only to go back to self-publishing once their contracts were up, interestingly enough.”
The decision turned out to be the right one for Sherwood.
“I think it gave me more freedom,” he said. “For example, the town of Hammond’s Corners is based on the town where I grew up and live today. I was able to include a picture of it on the cover, thanks to Juan Padron, the cover artist.
“Self-publishing has been a lot of work, especially when it comes to promoting the book. But it’s been very rewarding.”
Another key in any creative endeavor is imagination, which has been largely inspired by Sherwood’s love of all things Star Wars.
“Think about Star Wars and what it’s become over 40 years after the movie first premiered,” he said. “That fictional universe all started with a ‘big bang’ of its own, in one guy’s imagination. That’s both amazing and inspiring to me on so many levels.”
Writing has been part of Sherwood’s life for many years, but it’s not something he expected to be doing.
“I think it was something that just happened.” he said. “I always enjoyed English and literature type classes in high school, particularly when it came to the creative writing aspect. In my twenties I did some freelance stuff for a couple magazines and newspapers.
“When the internet and blogging become more popular, I started writing and sharing online. Some of it was God-awful, but some of it really seemed to resonate with the people who read it. All ten of them.
“Then in 2010 I took a chance and asked Karen Frick, then the editor of Broader View Weekly if she was looking for writers. She brought me on and gave me a regular column. I think that’s when things really took off.” It also helped with the fiction writing as well.
“Perhaps what I got out of writing the newspaper column was I learned to see the story hidden in otherwise mundane things,” he added. “I also think it’s where I learned to open up and let it all out. I think if you want to write something that connects with people, you can’t hold back.”
Where to find In Times Of Trouble Chris Sherwood’s novel can be found online in paperback and e-book exclusively at Amazon. com. “I do occasionally get requests for signed copies, and anyone wanting one can e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org,” he said.