C.L Shore - Love, Loss and Honoring the Past While Embracing the Future.
C.L. Shore began reading mysteries in the second grade, and has been a fan of the genre ever since. Maiden Murders, (2018), a prequel to A Murder in May (2017), is her most recent mystery release. Her short stories have appeared in Sisters in Crime anthologies, Kings River Life Magazine, and Mysterical-E. Cherry Blossom Temple (2020) is her first women’s fiction novel. Shore has been a member of Sisters in Crime for over a decade, serving as a local board member for several years. A nurse practitioner and researcher, she’s published numerous articles on family coping with epilepsy as Cheryl P. Shore. Shore enjoys travel and entertains a fantasy of living in Ireland for a year. As our author of the day she tells us all about Cherry Blossom Temple.
Please give us a short introduction to what Cherry Blossom Temple is about.
Marissa Shively’s return to Japan is bittersweet. She’s honoring her husband’s dying wish by visiting the site of their Kyoto honeymoon fifteen years ago. Leaving Brent’s wedding ring in a pool within a specific temple’s grounds during cherry blossom season is her mission. Marissa is unsure of the official temple name, but she’s confident her heart will lead her to the spot. However, she finds the number of temples in Kyoto daunting and the cherry blossoms aren’t blooming on cue. Extending her trip is not an option, she must return to the United States in time to take part in her best friend’s wedding. Three new friends assist her on her quest for the location; a handsome Japanese businessman, an empathetic widow, and a young boy who has experienced cancer. Through them, Marissa experiences a culture that honors the past while embracing the future. The key, the businessman tells her, is to focus on the present. Marissa’s search affirms that honoring her past doesn’t stop her future from unfolding.
What inspired you to write this story?
Honestly, it was all due to a scholarship I applied for as a member of Sisters in Crime (an international organization that promotes women crime writers) . The award was for a romance writing class, even though I’m primarily a mystery writer. I didn’t know if I could write a traditional romance, so I came up with the general idea for Cherry Blossom. The instructor gave me the green light and the very rough beginnings for Cherry Blossom Temple took shape within the class assignments. After the class concluded, I decided to keep going and finished the story.
Tell us more about Marissa. What makes her tick?
Marissa is a college professor who loves her job. She’s always willing to learn new things. Brent, her husband, was the love of her life who affirmed her in multiple ways. But, during her Cherry Blossom Temple journey, she discovers that there are still unexplored parts of herself.
What, would you say, is so special about cherry blossom season in Japan?
Besides being a season of great beauty, the cherry blossom season symbolizes the fleeting nature of life in the Japanese culture.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Hmmm. I don’t know if I have any secret skills. I think I’m a fairly intuitive person, which has come in handy in my work as a nurse and teacher. My nursing background was useful in describing the effects of Brent’s illness and Marissa’s reactions to it. I enjoy cooking, (and eating), traveling, and reading. Doing research for my short stories and novels always leads me along paths of wonder, I'm always amazed by what I can find out by delving into history, science and learning about other cultures.
This is your first women's fiction novel. What has the experience been like so far?
It has been a rewarding experience. The process of writing women’s fiction was very different when compared to writing mystery. With a mystery, I usually start at the beginning and work my way to the end. I wrote Cherry Blossom Temple scene by scene, sometimes out of order. Also, Cherry Blossom Temple was told entirely from the protagonist’s point of view, but my mysteries include two or more points of view.
Readers say that they found it easy to relate to Marissa. How did you pull it off?
I found that reader comment to be very encouraging. I am not a widow, but my nursing experience has offered me the privilege of accompanying people on their difficult journeys surrounding health, illness and other challenging experiences. These experiences benefit me as a writer.
Tell us more about the cover and how it came about?
The cover is the work of Frauke Spanuth. I gave her some basic information about the story line and she created three amazing designs, but the one I selected was my clear favorite.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
Sometimes I’m amazed what shows up in my writing, including characters that resemble people I haven’t thought about for years! I can say there have been some insights about myself throughout the writing process. When I have a specific idea…that is what gets me to the computer. Sometimes it comes within myself and sometimes it is an external prompt – like the guidelines for the short story I’m currently writing.
Have you always known you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always known I wanted to write, but until I completed graduate school, I never could write fiction in any credible way. I think my academic writing helped me, because I had to do it, and what I wrote had to have a beginning, middle, and end. Once I was through with formal education, I was able to write fiction – I think I got used to the discipline of writing and enjoyed the freedom to write about anything I chose.
What is your favorite line from this book?
The last line! Sorry, I won't give it away.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a mystery short story for the next Speed City Chapter Sisters in Crime anthology. The theme is Halloween, and the anthology will be released next year. My story involves a 12-year-old protagonist, a kidnapping, and a case of mistaken identity.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
The best way to interact with me is through my Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/CLShoremystery