Sherrard, Valerie (Anne) 1957-
SHERRARD, Valerie (Anne) 1957-
PERSONAL: Born May 16, 1957, in Moosejaw, Saskatchewan, Canada; daughter of Robert Allan (an air force mechanic) and Pauline May (a homemaker; maiden name, Hill) Russell; married Brent Ronald Sherrard (a carpenter), June 26, 1999; children: Anthony Philip Vucenovic, Rebecca Leah Bullock (deceased), Pamela Sarah Bullock. Ethnicity: "Anglo-Saxon." Education: Attended high school. Politics: "Vote person, not party." Religion: Christian.
CAREER: Glenelg Youth Alliance (group home for adolescents), Miramichi, New Brunswick, Canada, executive director, 1984—. Foster parent to more than seventy teenagers, between 1986 and 1999.
MEMBER: Writers' Union of Canada, New Brunswick Foster Families Association (past president).
Out of the Ashes (young adult novel), Dundurn Press (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2002.
WORK IN PROGRESS: Two young adult novels featuring Shelby Belgarden, the heroine of Out of the Ashes; Kate, a young adult novel; Sarah's Legacy, a juvenile novel.
SIDELIGHTS: Valerie Sherrard told CA: "Back in February of 1991 I had an unusual experience. I'd been working on a novel, but it wasn't me, and it was going nowhere (as generally happens when we attempt to write something that doesn't come naturally). Each session began with a warmup exercise, in the hope that things would start to flow. One morning, I realized I had just typed the words 'Chapter Two.' Going back, I saw that my warmup (normally a paragraph or two about anything at all) had become a full chapter. When I read it, it seemed worth saving. From that day, I woke early every morning and wrote. Chapter after chapter poured out until, at the end of a month, I found myself with a completed two-hundred-page manuscript.
"This experience taught me something, although it was a number of years before I fully understood the lesson. In order to produce anything remotely worthy of print, I had to step aside and allow a story to grow and develop on its own. Every attempt to wrestle control from the characters has resulted in flat, lifeless words on paper. Once I saw that, for me, this was how it worked, I found it relatively easy to let a story have its own voice.
"I am still an early morning writer, finding that the words flow easiest at that time. I rarely write more than a chapter (1,200-1,600 words) a day, although I did once write fourteen chapters over a ten-day period. When a story wants to 'rest'—I let it. Sometimes this will be for a few days, other times it may be months. It doesn't matter. When it is ready, it will continue to tell itself.
"I would not say that I have been particularly influenced by any specific writers, although I have great respect for many. I am especially fond of those who are able to infuse a book with life and to keep the voice and rhythm steady.
"I write for young people because they are dear to my heart, because I like and respect them. It is my hope that any influence my work may have on teens will be to help them look more deeply inside themselves, and more carefully at the world around them."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daily Gleaner: Weekend Books, June 1, 2002, Ingrid Mueller, review of Out of the Ashes, p. B7.
Quill & Quire, August, 2002, Wendy A. Lewis, review of Out of the Ashes, p. 32.