Through the Binoculars: Author, Sherrill Joseph

“If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.”
~Stephen King, author of The Shining

My childhood was filled with books. The local library would not allow nine-year-old me to check out more than the legal limit of five. I, therefore, saved my allowance and trotted up to the bookstore once a month and bought my own. Nancy Drew mysteries topped the list. I still have all sixty-four volumes, saved for my granddaughter. I even made shoebox dioramas of favorite scenes of Nancy in one predicament after another. Skimming random volumes today, I see vocabulary lists I wrote in pencil, now smudged, of “big” words I found that I wanted to plant in my head for my own writing.

Books went to and from school with me. They motivated me to finish my work early and well to earn “free reading time.” I read and journaled. Oh, that clanging recess bell! I preferred my book friends.

As a teacher for thirty-five years, I taught my fourth and fifth graders the important connection between reading and writing. We submerged ourselves in words so our own words would surface. Read, read, read. I read thousands of books to and with my students over the decades. Write, write, write. We did fiction and nonfiction writing projects. Guess what? It worked—for them and for me.

In 2013, I retired so I could write the book that was banging around inside my head—a mystery, of course. And, voilà! The Botanic Hill detectives and the Botanic Hill detectives series were born. I still hear the banging, so, apparently, more mysteries are beckoning to me to tell their sinister tales.

Would you believe I share some traits with my detective characters? I am a fraternal twin as are the two main characters. I am also a lexical-gustatory synesthete like one of the girls. I love pineapple but dislike snakes like one of the boys. I relish adventures in old houses like all four detectives. And I am blessed to write where I have always lived, in San Diego, California, the inspiration for Las Palmitas.

Nowadays, I have to set my cell phone alarm to remind myself to leave Botanic Hill in order to have lunch, or to walk my poodle-terrier mix, Jimmy Lambchop. Sometimes, words wake me up at 2 a.m. I rejoice because I have found my passion. Please submerge in my books. Then, write some, too.

Happy reading and writing! Sherrill Joseph

“You must write every single day of your life . . . . You must lurk in libraries and climb stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfume and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads . . . .”
~Ray Bradbury, author of The Martin Chronicles

Photography by Roxyanne Young