Cherish D. Smith is a talented poet and budding historical YA novelist. Her beautiful and diverse characters will have you rooting and blushing for them in equal measures. You can find her on Twitter @icherishwriting.
What characters and themes do you like to write about and what inspires them?
I tend to write the quiet characters. I love a quiet character with giant dreams that almost make you go, “This? You want to do what? I mean I guess. If you like it, I love it.” And I am a bit of a romantic, so I love a good “love trumps all.” Is it vain to say that I’m inspired by myself? I have a somewhat quiet personality and ambitious dreams and I am quite easy to make blush. Lol.
What made you decide to be a writer?
This question is always so hard for me to answer, because I don’t remember a particular moment where I lifted my writing utensil and declared to the heavens that I’d be a writer. I do however like to credit Sharon M. Draper’s COPPER SUN (I was obsessed!). Because shortly after reading that book is when I began scribbling the first of what I thought was a novel. And I remember I showed it to my eighth grade teacher and it was only maybe a page but she looked at me and was like, “This is really good.” While I was flattered, that story really never made it to more than a few handwritten pages, but I think something was born. And you know, now that I’m thinking about it, I always had a penchant for creative writing. Even in elementary school when we were learning to form essays. And we all learned this archaic, boxy (pun intended) four square method of four sentences and four paragraphs, I worked really hard to give my words a rhythm and flow.
What are some of the obstacles you’ve faced while writing and publishing your work?
Me! Honestly, I’m my own worst enemy. I don’t have family or a significant other reminding me that adding to my word count is useless and that my wanting to be a published author is equivalent to my wanting a unicorn. I don’t want a unicorn, but you get what I mean, right? I have supportive family and friends who in fact are very eager that I one day will have a book on shelves. I currently have a short story out on submission. I thought the publications I sent to would snatch up and instead I’m getting painfully slow rejections. At the back of my mind there’s always hmm, maybe they don’t like the Black love? And I could go to their pages and read the works they have and see the lack of Black romance to back up my theory, but I don’t have to go there. No, really though. I’m my biggest obstacle.
What’s your writing process like?
My sister was writing something the other day and she was like, “I did the Cherish method. I wrote something, hated it, and then I deleted it all. Then I wrote something else.” It was too true for me to be offended. That’s my writing process in a nutshell. I don’t plot a thing. I get an idea, (and I’m using “idea” very loosely, sometimes the idea is just a name that I like) and I just start writing. I spend a shockingly long amount of time on my opening sentence and as the words pile up, sometimes I put little nuggets of plot into a memo. Lately I do a mixture of writing on my phone and in a notebook and somehow it makes it to my computer. My goodness, I’ve realized my writing process is like scientists trying to learn more about Great White Sharks breeding. Everyone knows it happens, but no one really knows how. Somehow they still keep finding Great Whites to tag and study. Somehow I manage to add to my word count. On occasions I even manage to complete something.
What do you hope people will feel or think when reading your work?
My effort! Ha. I don’t know, my work tends to be infused with romance at different stages. I’d love for them to blush, or clutch their pearls or whisper KISS KISS KISS. That’s the silly answer. The serious answer is, I’d like my character’s humanity to be acknowledged.
Any advice you’d give to your past self?
My past self and my current self are both making the same mistakes. But I’d say, “Stop approaching your writing as if it’s the last draft all the time! Give yourself space to make mistakes.”
What are some books and authors that inspire you?
I’ve been loving all things Elizabeth Acevedo lately. Especially The Poet X and Clap When You Land, her books in verse. I think it takes a special person to visualize a novel in verse. And her words are *Chef kiss*.
I was a little late to her party, but I’ve been reading Bernice L. McFadden. She writes adult fiction, but what that woman can do with a story. I first read Gathering of Waters by her and when I tell you I’m not sure how she weaved Emmett Till to Hurricane Katrina, but my mind was blown. I love how she takes Black characters and these eras where we weren’t historically doing great yet it goes beyond that. Not to mention her characters are wonderfully layered.
I grew up on Sharon M. Draper. She’s goals!
I think there’s too many to name so I’ll stop here. 🙂
What advice would you give to someone who wants to include more diversity in their writing?
It really, really helps to have sensitivity readers. Diversity while taking up a lot of discourse is not a trend. It shouldn’t just be tacked on or sprinkled about just because. I think the best thing someone who aims for more diversity in their writing is to reach out to those in the marginalizations they’re including. They should listen. They should learn when to not and bow out. Oh and to be open to criticism.
Any plans/hopes/dreams for 2021?
Finish a novel! See a Broadway show. Go to the movies again. An effective vaccine.
Where/when can we read any of your work?
I believe we share a publication. 🙂 Last year one of my short stories (told in verse!) “Oren” was published in the Seven Deadly Sins: Lust Anthology alongside you. You can find it on Amazon. My first ever publication “Tabitha’s Babies” was published by Quarterday. And my little lovebirds in “The Trees Won’t Tell” found a home across the pond with The New Welsh Review.
I also do a little blogging. Well, I did do a little blogging. It’s nothing spectacular, but I have some “behind the scenes” looks at my WIP, I announce my publications and I even posted a short story there. You can visit my blog here.
Bio: Cherish D. Smith is a 27year-old Brooklyn born, Queens dwelling writer (who lives with her twin sister!). She craves all things Broadway/theater related and enjoys Masterpiece programming on TV. She loves to write romantic YA fiction set back in time and still can’t believe she’s repped by Elizabeth Bewley of Sterling Lord Literistic. She also really wants people to wear their mask, wash their hands, and be smart about this pandemic so she can safely get back to her regular theater going shenanigans. And finally see SIX the musical of course!