This week’s guest to the Debutante Ball is Katherine Sherbrooke, the author of the novel, FILL THE SKY (SixOneSeven Books) and a family memoir, Finding Home. She is also the proud owner of the Hemingway House writing retreat in SouthEastern MA. She lives outside Boston with her husband, two sons and black lab. Her novel, FILL THE SKY is about three dear friends, one whose cancer has exhausted the reaches of modern medicine, travel to Ecuador hoping local shamans might offer a miracle. During a tumultuous week that includes strange, ancient ceremonies and a betrayal that strains their bond, each woman discovers her own deep need for healing, even the skeptic among them. Called “deeply moving” by Anita Shreve, FILL THE SKY is about the complexity of friendship, the power of the spirit, and the quest to not simply fight death, but to shape an authentic life. We’re excited to have Katherine join us today!
But first, If you haven’t already, pick up a copy of FILL the SKY. Or try your chance at our GIVEAWAY: RETWEET on Twitter, and/or SHARE on Facebook by noon (EST) Friday, November 4th to win a copy of FILL the SKY (US only). We’ll select and contact the winner on Friday. Good luck!
And now for the interview:
Who is one of your favorite (fictional or non-fictional) characters?
I hope it isn’t completely blasphemous to pick a TV character, but I adore CJ Cregg of “The West Wing” (played by Allison Janney). She is a kick-ass professional, whip smart, funny, tough, vulnerable, loyal, and kind—in other words, real. (Not to mention all that incredible dialogue scripted by Aaron Sorkin). As I was writing Fill the Sky I re-watched the entire series (my friends know I’m a bit of a “West Wing” fanatic) and CJ provided quite a bit of inspiration for me for my main character. She helped remind me how powerful it is to be vulnerable and strong at the same time. These aren’t contradictory states of being, but what makes women of integrity truly disarming.
Which talent do you wish you had?
Being a singer-songwriter. I have chosen long-form fiction for a reason I suppose—brevity is not my strong suit, and singing is definitely out. But I would love to have that talent because[tweet_box design=”default” float=”right” width=”50%”] music is like a magical mood potion that works every time I take a dose[/tweet_box]. One song has the ability to kick up my adrenaline, while another will send me into a melancholy swoon, and yet another will transport me immediately into the center of a powerful memory. And I am more than a little bit envious at that a songwriter’s work can be fully digested in one 3-5 minute gulp, sung aloud in the car with friends, put on repeat for die-hard fans. Imagine having your words sung in unison in a stadium? That would be something!
What’s your secret or not-so-secret superpower?
I have the verifiable ability to entice my friends to stay up later with me and drink more wine with me than they swear they “ever do” normally. I thought I was just your run-of-the-mill alchemist mixing wine and a great friend or two to create endless conversation, but it turns out that my enthusiasm for the activity has allowed me to tap into that rare gift of being able to open another bottle while still talking. Unfortunately, my superpower (like so many) dissipates at dawn, leaving me powerless to fight any lingering effects, but such are the dangers of tapping into extra-human capabilities.
Have you ever met someone you idolized? What was it like?
I had a summer job while in college at Poole’s Fish Market on Martha’s Vineyard, and had it on good authority that James Taylor occasionally stopped in. I grew up on James Taylor (see question above re: singer-songwriters) and couldn’t wait to thank him for the amazing concert I had been to the year before and tell him how his music had been foundational for me. I had thought so much about my perfectly crafted statement, that I began to get a little annoyed that day after day would pass, and no James Taylor. And then one afternoon, there he was, standing just beyond the stainless steel scale, ordering haddock. And all I could manage to say was something really inspiring like, “for how many people?” I was so flustered that I’m not sure I actually got through the entire transaction without help from one of my fellow fishmongers. It all happened so quickly, I even question sometimes if happened at all. Since then, I’ve had a few opportunities to meet other idols of mine. Let’s just say that I have yet to put together a memorable sentence. But I’m not giving up. There’s still time…
Has anyone ever thought a character you wrote was based on them?
This is particularly relevant as the inspiration for my novel was a trip I took to Ecuador with a group of friends. The premise is fictional—none of us were visiting shamans because of a particular physical illness—but almost all the rituals in the book are things we experienced together. So naturally, they read the book quite a bit differently than anyone else. I told them explicitly that while all of them are in each of my three key characters in some way, none of the characters is any of them. They’re still trying to figure out who’s who.
You can find Katherine at: