Chery Renne Herbsman is the author of the newly released Breathing ( you can check out my review here).
I first met Savannah during a writing group exercise. On that particular night, a woman came to the group who had never been there before. I immediately recognized her strong Southern accent as Carolinian. You might think all Southern accents sound the same, but they’re actually quite different. I grew up in North Carolina, but hadn’t been back in a while, and the way this woman spoke just sounded like home. Somehow, that opened a window in my mind for Savannah to jump in. She appeared full-blown and began telling me her story.
When I write, I don’t use outlines. I just put pen to paper or fingers to keyboard and see where it leads. Whenever I sat down to write, Savannah kept showing up, kept telling me what was going on with her. I could hear her voice more clearly than I’d ever heard a character’s voice before, which is why I wrote the dialect. I wanted to stay true to the person she presented herself as. I really like Savannah. She was a fun character to spend time with.
Even though she seems so real and separate, I know that she had to have come from within me. So, of course, there are parts of me that inspired who she is. Like Savannah, I fell in love with an older boy when I was a teenager and our relationship was long-distance at times. We hung in there with it and the challenges we faced strengthened what we shared. He and I got married the summer before my senior year in college. This June we will be celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary. So I really do believe in true love and the possibility of finding it when you’re young.
I was always a dreamer and a hopeless romantic (Savannah prefers to call it a hopeful romantic). I still am. So there’s definitely some of me in Savannah. And there’s even some of my husband in Jackson, although they are also very different. I think characters are inspired by parts of us, then take on lives of their own.
This book was great fun to write. I love Savannah’s spunk and all her funny little sayings and her absolute refusal to be talked out of her dreamer/romantic tendencies. I hope readers will enjoy her story as much as I did.
Thanks so much, Lauren, for having me!