10 QUESTIONS FOR…futuristic romance author Rowena Cherry


knightsforkAuthor interview with ROWENA CHERRYimm_les_poster1


Rowena Cherry (SPACE SNARK™)

Chess-inspired (“mating”) titles. Gods from outer space. Sexy SFR.

Poking fun, (pun intended). Shameless word-play.


Heroines get more hero than they bargain for….

Rowena Cherry has played chess with a Grand Master and former President of the World Chess Federation (hence the chess-pun titles of her alien romances). She has spent folly filled summers in a Spanish castle; dined on a sheikh’s yacht with royalty; been seranaded (on a birthday) by a rockstar and an English nobleman; ridden in a pace car at the 1993 Indy 500; received the gold level of the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award; and generally lived on the edge of the sort of life that inspires her romances about high-living alien gods.

Books so far:  (all chess-titles)

Forced Mate (e-book, January 2005)

Forced Mate (paperback, November 2004)

Mating Net (e-book, short, October 2005)

Insufficient Mating Material (paperback, February 2007, Kindle)

KNIGHT’S FORK (paperback, newly released on Amazon 2008)


Visit Rowena Cherry online at http://www.rowenacherry.com a Preditors-and-Editors award-winning “Author’s Site of Excellence.”

Rowena Cherry’s Mission statement

“My goal as an author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying HEA, something to think about when the book is finished, and possibly some useful information.”

1. Tell us about your latest book.


All my titles are taken from chess moves or chess positions. In chess, if your opponent’s Knight forks you, you have a tough decision to make, because he is simultaneously threatening two of your best “heavy pieces”, and you can only save one of them.

Knight’s Fork is about a Queen whose life depends upon giving her King an heir. (If you followed “The Tudors” you might think that Electra’s dilemma is very like that of Ann Boleyn.)

The problem is that Queen Electra is married to an alien King to cement a political alliance, and they are genetically incompatible. She cannot fake a pregnancy and adopt, because the King’s hairless subjects don’t wear clothes. (They change their skin color at will, a bit like body painting.)

The Queen needs a sperm donor! One who doesn’t advertise. One who is the soul of discretion. Only one green-eyed god-Prince has the right stuff, but –being virtuous, sworn to chastity, and politically savvy– he refuses to give it to her.

From ‘Rhett’s point of view, the last thing he wants is to become entangled in any sense of the word with an enemy King’s consort. ‘Rhett has no desire to play a latter day Prince Paris to Queen Electra’s Helen of Troy.

So, the chaste Knight sets off on an interstellar quest, unaware that he has a sexy royal stowaway and, a saboteur along for the ride.

‘Rhett knows why he is going to Earth. He has a lost Princess to find, a secret that might petrify his enemies to unearth, and a scandalous Queen (whose motto is “Carpe Scrotum”) to avoid. What is unclear is why his half brother in law, Prince Tarrant-Arragon is so eager to lend him an Imperial space destroyer, a young Prince in need of a mentor, and the dour fellowship of the human mercenary, Grievous.

I love writing novels of character which are also quest stories! Take Lord Of The Rings, which is a classic quest involving a dangerous journey where the hero is obliged to travel with a motley crew of companions, some of whom are natural enemies, and not all of whom are what they seem. The team has to visit various (also dangerous) other people to ask for help, which they either get, or don’t; and along the way, they are given magical –-or incomprehensibly high tech– artifacts, garments, ornaments, weapons.

As for where it’s available, if you might be interested in Knight’s Fork (or the previous books in the series) you can find them through any online retailer, and most bookstores can order them. There are lots of links on my website, http://www.rowenacherry.com including for Europe, South Africa, Australia, the UK, Canada, and the USA.

2. How did you get started as a writer?


I started writing the book of my heart, FORCED MATE, in 1993, but it took me ten years to sell it.


In 2003, I received what I considered to be the definitive rejection of Forced Mate from the New York print publisher that I’d pursued for six years… because I believed that that publisher was the right place for my sort of writing.


Meanwhile, through RWA contests which I’d won or in which I’d placed, I’d received offers from e-publishers (and also from a few predators), and more than a couple of contest judges had suggested NBI to me. (NBI went belly up within a month of publishing their version of Forced Mate.)


I wrestled with the formatting for an e-submission, and submitted to NBI.


Less than two weeks later, I got The Call from Penny, the owner of NBI. It was a very pleasant and flattering conversation. Penny told me that she loved Forced Mate, and that she had forwarded it to her top author, Linnea Sinclair for a second opinion. Apparently, Linnea had read it overnight, disturbed her husband with her laughter, and had advised Penny to publish everything I could write including my laundry list!

Linnea has been a friend ever since. (Linnea Sinclair has won at least one RITA for Gabriel’s Ghost, the Oscars of the Romance industry, at least one PEARL award –for Shades of Dark– and is a rising star of sfr with Bantam. http://www.linneasinclair.com)

A few months later, while the contract was still under negotiation, another friend, Susan Grant, RITA award winning author of Space Opera, now with Harlequin, but was at Dorchester at the time (http://www.susangrant.com) told me that I would be an idiot if I didn’t enter the 2003/2004 Dorchester and Romantic Times New Voice In Paranormal Romance contest. This contest later became American Title.

With publisher Penny’s blessing I entered. To my astonishment (because I hadn’t yet met a Dorchester editor who liked my writing!), Forced Mate was one of the three finalists, and I was offered a contract for publication.

Since I already had an electronic and POD contract, we all agreed that I would split the rights so I could honor both contracts. Dorchester wasn’t doing e-publishing in any case. I worked with two NBI editors on the electronic version, and with the brilliant Alicia Condon of Dorchester on the print version. That was very, very interesting…. to work with different editors on different versions of the same story!

I had my own cover photo for Forced Mate. That’s another story. NBI agreed to use it. (Dorchester didn’t) When NBI went out of business, the cover was still mine, and I couldn’t bear to let it sink from view, so I made some changes to the cover and to the text, bought the package of ISBNs, and self published FORCED MATE as an e-book.

It’s available exclusively through ebookisle.net and links from my website.

Forced Mate, the paperback, is still in print with Dorchester.

3. What does a typical day look like for you?

No day is typical. I may get up at three in the morning… or five.

I’ll make sure my email hasn’t been clogged by a surged of forged mails from me, to me, inviting me to buy products to cure poor performance by  or the laughable appearance of a body part I don’t own.

After doing Triage on my mail, I’ll try to micro-blog on Facebook and Twitter. Twitter is optional. Then, I’ll write, as I have time, until I hear my husband’s alarm clock, at which point, I’ll get breakfast and fix packed lunches.

Around nine am, if I have the house to myself, I shall return to writing, and in the background, I listen to CNBC, unless it is the first Tuesday of the month, in which case, I do a radio show from ten to noon. Just before three, I collect my child from school. Around four, my child does homework. I return to my projects. We work until it is time to prepare supper (which can take two hours).

4. Describe your desk/workspace.

I write in my home office. It’s a lovely, spacious room with desks along two walls, and plenty of storage space for my research materials and chapters of my works in progress, and a view of a woodland lake. The sex lives of ducks and swans is quite inspiring. Very few things are in their proper places.

5. Favorite books (especially for writers)

“Find It Fast”   ISBN 0-06-273747-3  Robert J Berkman (How to Uncover Expert Information on Any Subject Online or in Print)

“How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy.” Orson Scott Card. Cincinnati, OH: Writer’s Digest Books, 1990

“The Physics of Star Trek”  L. Krauss

“Conceiving the Heavens”– M. Scott

“The Science of Star Wars”– J. Cavelos

“World Building” – Stephen L. Gillett

“Aliens and Alien Societies” – Stanley Schmidt

Writers Guide to Creating a Science Fiction Universe–George Ochoa and Jeffrey Osier

Emily Hendrickson’s “Regency Reference Book” Contact her at http://www.emilyhendrickson.com/referencebook.html. 

“The Joy Of Writing Sex” Elizabeth Benedict

6. Tell us 3 interesting/crazy things about you


I believe in cooking from scratch and in recycling food. I prepare kedgeree every weekend for breakfast… and I’ve started adding wheat bran to make it go further. I boil up chewed artichoke leaves (as long as only my immediate family members did the chewing) to make artichoke leaf tea, which is very good for my imagination. I make ginger root tea from real, gnarly ginger roots to clear my head and chest and to ward off colds and flu.


I once made a bonfire of a boyfriend’s magazines (the sort that are sold in shrink wrap, and NOT in the supermarket check out aisles) without considering the strength of the prevailing wind. I sent flaming paper penises flying over London.

None of the above (but idiosyncratic)

My favorite punctuation marks are: parentheses or dashes if my editor won’t permit brackets in prose passages, the Oxford/Cambridge or Harvard comma, ellipses (with a punctuation mark attached as appropriate), semi colons.

7. Favorite quote

Favorite quote by someone else: Voltaire “If you would converse with me, you must first define your terms”

Favorite quote by one of my characters: ‘Rhett “If you’ve made up your mind to impale someone, do it with conviction.”

8. Best and worst part of being a writer


At various times –when asked about the hard and bad parts of Romance writing– I’ve discussed the challenge of sex scenes, bemoaned my burgeoning middle sections and also my tendency to stray off topic and amuse myself.

Promoting and marketing are always challenging. I’d rather have a mammogram that write my own press release! (Which is something I’ve been putting off doing for the last two weeks. I find it hard to believe that anyone in the print media is likely to be impressed that my latest novel, Knight’s Fork, won the December “Authors’ Choice” award at amazonclicks.com.)

Writing can be a solitary passion. You might be surprised how many of us are shy, private, modest, and even slightly insecure people. It’s no wonder, then, that some of us are distinctly uncomfortable when we are expected to give a speech, or a public reading, or sit at a table in a bookstore waiting for someone to buy one of our books.

What is easiest? you ask. For me, it’s snark. Humorous, sarcastic dialogue. I have the most fun when I am writing scenes involving my secondary character Grievous, the Englishman. His proper name is Gregory Bodley Harmon. The acronym GBH stands for “Grievous Bodily Harm” which translates as “Great Bodily Harm” in American legal circles.

He is a sidekick, and the futuristic equivalent of a Greek chorus. He comments on what is going on, usually by “checking” that he has understood his part in his employer’s dastardly and convoluted plot. He verbally cuts the heroes down to size, but gets away with it. When I’m in Grievous’s point of view, even instruction manuals and government forms become a riot to fill out.

9. Advice for other writers

My advice to authors on the threshold of a career as a published author is:

When writing: Respect your reader. Whether you write Regency, Erotic Historical, Scottish Historical –Men in Kilts!!!—Western Historical, Werewolves, Vampires, Shapeshifters, Futuristics, or sexy science fiction romance, you must seduce your reader into suspending disbelief. 

Readers generally like to be seduced, and to feel that their integrity and sensibilities are safe in their seducer’s skilled hands.

If you do your research into the things that can be researched (and the things a well-read reader might know), your readers will happily accept the things you make up.

Professionally: Register your own name for a domain before you become famous. Design your website to be helpful to your visitors… not just as a catalogue about your work. 

Network. Be polite and pleasant in public, always. That includes any reviews you write, and in your responses to any reviews you receive. Never forget, no matter the temptations, that most people do not react well to an aggressive, fly-by sales pitch from a stranger. 

Remember that if you cannot hook the right agent, you can always retain an intellectual property attorney to make sure you don’t sign a bad contract. 

Select a group of authors whom you admire. Follow them on Twitter, Technorati, Blogspot, become a fan of their Facebook “Celebrity or Public Figure Pages” etc. Comment constructively on their blogs and inteviews, notice where they link, what they follow. Emulate.

10. Tell us a story about your writing experience. 

I may have mentioned that I am very keen on research for my books. Sometimes, my research is unexpectedly dangerous.

Take “Insufficient Mating Material” (the title refers to a game that looks impossible to win, no matter how good your own moves, or how bad a player your opponent is). The hero has a tattoo in a delicate area. It’s bioluminescent, which means that it glows in the dark under certain circumstances. There comes a point in the story where the hero (Djetth, pronounced Jeth) needs to find out if the heroine has ever seen a tattoo like it. So, he goes into the sea, and pretends that he has been bitten by a fish… there, and asks the heroine to see if the (non-existent) fish broke his skin.

Yes. There is quite a bit of bathroom humor.

It’s a bit ironic. While doing some eleventh hour research for the cover scene, I was attacked by a fish! I went away for my summer holiday, thinking that I could relax secure in the knowledge that Insufficient Mating Material was all ready to go to the printers. Then, my editor sent me the cover art. Have you seen it? Almost everyone who sees it thinks of the Burt Lancaster movie “From Here To Eternity.”

The problem was, there was nothing at all in the book involving a couple frolicking in the surf. Nothing! There is now. One of my passionate beliefs is that cover art should illustrate something in the book.

I had a couple of months, one of which was my summer holiday, to tear apart the book and write in that scene. That is a story and a half in itself! At least I was at the seaside, but it was a cold sea, and I couldn’t persuade my husband to immerse himself in the interests of scientific research. The best he would offer was to stand ankle deep on the shore at low tide, while I lay at his feet and did what I had to do.

Trust my bad luck, there were weaver fish buried in the sand, and I stepped on one… not heavily, but I felt the spine and the sharp injection of venom. I was lucky on two counts. First, we knew what to do and home wasn’t far away, so I spent the rest of that day with my foot in a bath of Epsom salts and water so hot that it felt cold for an instant when more hot water was added to keep up the temperature. Second, I go barefoot a lot. You may extrapolate what that means. The spine probably broke.

I suppose I should thank my luck stars I didn’t sit on one!

And then, there’s the story that begins with a quote:

“…the fish skin couldn’t be used as a condom but the intestines of the rabbits could…”

Mission statement

“My goal as an author is to give good value. I expect to provide my readers with six to eight hours of amusement, a couple of really good laughs, a romantic frisson or two from the sensual scenes, a thoroughly satisfying Happy Ever After, something to think about when the book is finished, and possibly some useful information.”

I’ve had a lot of fun creating lists of Ten Reasons Not To Read…. for each of my books. The reasons reflect my mission statement, but in a more entertaining way.

Ten Reasons Not To Read FORCED MATE

10. I’m told that it’s not a bodice ripper, but it sounds like one.

9. PS. I like bodice rippers.

8. It’s going to take about eight hours to read.

7. The hero is an alpha male. I don’t like books that give male chauvinist pigs a happy ending.

6. I don’t identify with beautiful, spirited, young, virginal heroines who have some funny ideas about sex.

5. I can’t get my tongue around the Dj- names. I know that I simply pronouce them as if the D isn’t there, but all the Ds bother me.

4. I’ve heard that if I read Forced Mate in bed, my giggles and guffaws will annoy my significant other.

3. The alien hero uses alien swear words. Moreover, his command of English grammar isn’t perfect. He says unsense instead of nonsense. I hate that!

2. The spirited heroine uses her wits and her tongue. I can never have enough of heroines who kick the heroes in the goolies.

1. I don’t like fantasy books set in England. Or in outer space.

 Where can people buy your books?

Books so far:  (all chess-titles)

Forced Mate (e-book, January 2005)

Forced Mate (paperback, November 2004)

Mating Net (e-book, short, October 2005)

Insufficient Mating Material (paperback, February 2007, Kindle)

KNIGHT’S FORK (paperback, newly released on Amazon 2008)

Visit Rowena Cherry online at http://www.rowenacherry.com a Preditors-and-Editors award-winning “Author’s Site of Excellence.”

Join Rowena Cherry on Facebook








3 responses »

  1. Good morning, Wendy!

    Thank you so much for your hospitality. It was great fun answering your questions.

    I hope your visitors like my poster!

  2. I wonder whether I may ask a question?

    Insufficient Mating Material was (accidentally) uploaded as a Kindle. I hear that there is a Read Aloud function. I’d be fascinated to hear what kind of a mess the robot voice of any kind of read aloud device makes of my Djinn names.

    The d- is silent. Djinn is pronounced like jinn or gin.

    All the best,
    Rowena Cherry

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