One perk of being a published author is how many other authors I get to “meet.” We all hear about the big, flashy books by big-name authors, but there are a host of gems that may never cross our paths. (So many books… so little time!) I get to see some of those books these days as I help other authors, and I thought I’d use my little platform to feature some stories I’ve really enjoyed.
Today, I’m thrilled to introduce Sharon Peterson, author of The Do-Over: A totally laugh-out-loud, feel-good romantic comedy. I can’t wait for you get to know the passionate, funny woman I’ve come to know!
Let’s start by asking about you as a person. What should people know about you?
Let’s see. I grew up in Oregon but moved to Texas after college. I’ve been married for 21 years to my husband, who is an accountant-turned-hospital chaplain. I taught middle school for several years and now I’m a stay-at-home mom. I have four kiddos, three of whom are teenage boys. (Prayers appreciated for our grocery budget.) Two of my boys are autistic, one is profoundly autistic with an intellectual disability and very limited language who teaches me daily (er, hourly) to be patient and never leave anything breakable within his reach. Our youngest is The Girl (age 9). We also have two dogs who regularly get in trouble and a cat who has discovered his true purpose in life is catching all manner of small animals to bring to me as presents.
What I’m saying is that my house is never not chaotic. I would like to tell you I’m one of those moms who’s super organized and a fantastic housekeeper who makes homecooked meals every night and is always dressed in real clothes. But I am not. For example, we moved cross country eleven months ago and I STILL haven’t found our box of towels. Don’t worry though, we did find our fridge magnet of a calendar from 2009.
Despite always wanting to write, I never allowed myself to speak that out loud. Life had taught me to be ruthlessly practical and writing wasn’t practical. But with a lot of encouragement from friends, I began blogging, then secretly started working on a couple of books I never finished until finally, finally in 2016 I started writing and I didn’t stop until it was complete. Back then, I had my laptop sitting on the kitchen counter on top of an economy box of baby wipes and I would write in 10- or 15-minutes burst in between cleaning up spilt milk or yelling at a kid that no, they could not jump on the trampoline naked. It took me six years to get an agent, discover the pain of my first book not selling, writing a second book, and then trying to get it sold during a pandemic. But finally, my debut novel came out August 2022.
In my spare time (stop laughing), I like to read (of course), and… walk, and sit on the couch like a potato and not fix anyone dinner (a girl can dream). As a family, we also like to camp and since moving back to the Pacific Northwest this past year, we’ve enjoyed exploring all the outside things here.
I dream of liking camping, but it’s so high maintenance to get there, we never seem to get it done! Let’s turn to the book. There’s so much to love here. Tell me about Mimi’s quotes at the start of each chapter. They’re all hysterically funny. Are these real quotes from your family, or did you come up with them?
Mimi was such a fun character to write. I actually didn’t know any of my grandparents. So she is purely from my imagination and probably influenced heavily by my love of the Golden Girls. As I got to know Mimi more through writing, I realized just how funny and wise and awesome she was. The idea for the quotes came to me one day. I took common idioms or sayings and added a Mimi Twist to them. Now I find myself thinking in Mimi-ism. Here’s one I made up the other day: “If I wanted to talk to a smartass, I’d get a donkey who knew his name.”
Ha! Your sense of humor is so engaging to moms, I think. I first encountered it in your Facebook posts—you were sharing these absurd, horrible things that were happening in your life, and I was laughing and crying at the same time. That same author voice shines through in your fiction. Talk to me about humor in the hard times!
I think I learned that sense of humor from my mom. It had a chaotic childhood. My father was a drug addict and in and out of prison when I was growing up. She was basically a single mom who often worked two and sometimes three jobs. It was a struggle, but we always found a way to laugh at our situation because, really, the only other option is to cry.
Several years ago, I found this quote from Grapes of Wrath that I related to so much: “It was her habit to build up laughter out of inadequate materials.” I feel like I often have so much inadequate material to work with. The sad, messy things are always going to happen; that’s life. But I do think we’re given a sense of humor to help us get through these times. So, I use it. I use it a lot. It’s either that or I take up day drinking.
Speaking of humor and drama… I love the old Meg Ryan and Sandra Bullock rom-coms—and Return to Me!–but in recent years it seems like “romcom” skews a lot more… let’s say “racy.” This book feels more like those classic rom-coms. Can you talk about the choice to brand that way. Are we entering a new a golden era of feel-good, not-racy romcoms?
Wouldn’t that be amazing if we were? There is something so classic and appealing about those movies and they just make me happy when I watch them. Maybe because so many of them were remakes of movies from the 40s and 50s and so much of it is a slow burn of will they/won’t they? And when they do, it’s just… a kiss. Somehow, we are completely satisfied with that. It’s one of the reasons I believe there’s a huge market for gentle/closed door/sweet romance and romcoms with a little extra.
In The Do Over, readers seem to have really responded to the Perci and how relatable she is. As well as how each character, even the side characters, grow throughout the book. The Do Over started as women’s fiction and was revised to be put more rom in the romcom. In fact, when we were trying to find a home for it, we heard time and again, “This is too women’s fiction to be romcom,” or “This is too romcom to be women’s fiction.” But I honestly think I’ll always ride that line and I’m okay with that. I won’t be writing any “racy” scenes. There are so many authors out there that do that better than I ever could. Go to the experts, right?
So what is your “guiding principle” behind your writing? What is it you hope to accomplish?
The biggest compliment I can receive from a reader is that they felt hopeful at the end of the story. Hope is such a powerful, a promise of what is to come, and for me, it’s a guiding principle in my personal life. I hope that comes through in the stories I create. It’s probably why I love romance so much. It is, after all, ultimately about hope.
Aside from that, if I can make you laugh out loud a time or two and see yourself in a character I’ve created, I think I’ve done my job.
That’s a wrap for this edition of Five On A Friday. Go buy Sharon Peterson’s The Do-Over on Amazon or Bookshop!