An Interview with Rowena
Cherry by Sue Waldeck
Recently I had a chat with Rowena Cherry, a new author on the Sci-Fi Romance
scene. Her book, FORCED MATE was released by NovelBooks, Inc in April of this
year, and come November it’s going to released by Love Spell in a slightly
longer format. I had the pleasure of reading FORCED MATE this summer, and judging
by the online comments, many others have too.
Sue Waldeck – Rowena, welcome!
Rowena Cherry – Thank you, and thank you for your kind introduction.
SW – Ok to start off, tell us about yourself. Where does the ‘Sci-Fi mind’
come from? I mean, not everyone can build an entire other world, blend it
with our world and come up with something that works. How did that come about?
Who is Rowena Cherry that it did come about?
RC – I have been an “alien” all my life. Of course, I was not explicitly
called an alien until I married an American and came to the attention of the IRS
and the INS. Other nationalities called me a “mainlander”, a “furriner”, a
“grockle” (though that is usually a term for a tourist) or an “auslander”.
My family moved from Royal Leamington Spa in the British Midlands to insular
little Guernsey when I was about twelve. One has to live in Guernsey for at
least 15 years to be accepted as “local”, so I was an outsider from the
I was also one of the tallest girls in the all-girls private school. So, I
got to play Ferrovius in ANDROCLES AND THE LION, and other male leads in school
plays. If we had waltzing lessons, I had to dance like a man. At discos, if
I bopped, I had a male’s nose on a level with my cleavage. Guernseymen are
There is a local myth to explain that. Something to do with horny male
In the 1980s my husband was reassigned to Germany, and I experienced life as
a corporate International Specialized Personnel wife. In the 80’s I don’t
believe we worried much about Al Qaeda. The terrorists of the time in Germany
were the Baader Meinhof group.
We lived in a German spa town. Their mud baths were not muddy at all, and
were called Moor Bader. A Moor Bad was the inspiration for Tarrant-Arragon’s
Other “near-alien” qualities of mine include stopping clocks, being able to
dowse, knowing things I had no reason to know, reading minds, having
abnormally sharp hearing.
All right, so none of this is truly alien, but it all helps me empathise with
my characters who have shark-like senses.
SW – Now let’s talk about FORCED MATE. Where did Tarrant-Arragon come from?
He’s rather strong-minded, and really, Djinni is too. Did you have any
problem getting these two to see eye to eye? Did they fight you or go willingly
where you wanted them to go?
RC – Tarrant-Arragon is a composite of a lot of males I’ve known: the
Olympic oarsman I went out with at Cambridge; a couple of litigators I’ve spent time
with; my brother the fast bowler who achieved local fame and popularity in
Guernsey for breaking an opponent’s jaw with a cricket ball during a critical
match. That’s not everyone who went into him, but it is a start.
I wanted Tarrant-Arragon to be the ultimate hero. He is a god and an
Emperor's heir, a lawyer, and a warrior, and an Intergalactic Chess Grand Master.
Yes, he is over worked, and he knows it, and he admits it. He has trouble
You might wonder why I made him a lawyer. What I like about lawyers is the
ruthless cut and thrust of their wit, their deadly precision with language,
their deductive reasoning, the verbal traps they set, the way you can never take
what they say quite at face value.
My next hero isn’t an interstellar lawyer, but the one after that may be.
I am hard pressed to say which scene of his is a favorite, I love so many of
them... especially the ones where he learns something unflattering about
himself. There’s the scene after the heroine nearly breaks his nose, where the
Imperial gynecologist examines his deviated septum with a gynecological
flashlight and informs him that the royal bedside manner is questionable. There is
also the scene where he learns that sex is really very funny.
You ask whether I had any trouble getting Tarrant-Arragon and Djinni to see
You would think so, given that she is his sworn enemy, has powerful
protectors, and is engaged to his best friend (who really is NOT his best friend)
and she has been brought up with modern day Anglo-American values, so is not
about to embrace a civilization where galaxy-going Fleets set their watches by
the Empress’s menstrual cycles.
But, she has no idea who he is for two thirds of the book, and by the time
she finds out, they have some history and some interests in common. Although,
even at the end of the book I am not sure they see eye to eye about everything.
As my character Grievous says, “A man only changes as far as he wants to…”
SW – FORCED MATE is getting amazing reviews – 5 roses, 5 blue ribbons, 5
roses. Those are pretty amazing grades for a first book. Is that intimidating?
RC – Yes and FIVE STARS from Harriet Klausner, and FIVE ANGELS from Jean of
Fallen Angel Reviews for the NBI version FORCED MATE and FIVE ANGELS from Izzy
also of Fallen Angel Reviews for the Love Spell version). And last time I
checked, kind readers like Jo Thomson and Detra Fitch had given me stars on the
Barnes and Noble site too.
The grades are flattering, exciting. They make my day every time I think
about it. I am grateful.
SW – Ok, I have to ask. Why did HRH Prince Phillip call you a cow?
RC – Let me start by saying that I am a huge fan of HRH Prince Phillip. How
could I dine out for the rest of my life (metaphorically speaking) if His
Royal Highness had politely complimented me on my pink hat?!!!
I am quite certain that I shall have an alien Emperor who is delightfully
insulting to his subjects, and they will love him for it.
HRH called me a cow because I had come from Guernsey, and Guernsey is famous
for its beautiful cows.
Guernsey, Jersey and Alderney all have (or had) their own unique cows, which
are “golden” and famous for their exceptionally yellow, creamy butter. There
was a cow-napping book written—Operation Venus, I think it was called—about
an attempt to save an Alderney cow from Hitler during the Second World War.
The reason I was at Buckingham Palace was to be awarded my Gold Level of the
Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, along with dozens of other Gold Duke of
Edinburgh’s Award achievers. In the 60s the Bronze, Silver and Gold levels of the Duke
of Edinburgh’s Award was a wholesome King Of The Jungle type project (except
that no one got eliminated by a civil service equivalent of Nasty Nigel),
requiring a minimum of eighteen months of dedication, perseverance, athleticism,
endurance, adventure, and all-round excellence as well as some “good works”.
SW – So what’s next? Building a new world, or perhaps revisiting this one?
RC – Revisiting. To my amazement and delight, different reviewers have asked
for the rest of the story for most of the secondary characters in FORCED MATE.
SW – Ok, some personal questions. Who do you read? And why – what makes an
author a must-read for you? And how about television shows? Which ones
would you set the VCR for? What do you think of reality TV?
RC – I think I’ll take that out of order.
Reality TV. As you may have gathered, I enjoyed the original King of the
Jungle. This is partly because I enjoy watching the Discovery Channel and Animal
Planet, therefore, for my taste, the contest was packed with celebrity judges
and hosts. I especially liked “Nasty” Nigel and the fellow judges who did
not necessarily agree with him on camera, and also the resident lion tamer.
I also liked the fact that the contestants were highly qualified, that they
were competing—fairly—for something of value to them, and that their tasks
bore some—though sometimes tenuous—relationship to their goal of being a
wildlife show host.
I appreciated the fact that they had a goal other than being on the show,
though their prize was a show of their own… and that final show was rather well
done, as it happens.
I like a show where the contestants respect themselves and are treated with
respect. Otherwise, I feel that not only are the contestants exploited, but
the audience is, too.
My dear husband likes Overhauling. It is quite an entertaining car-makeover
show. I am not sure how much “reality” is actually involved, though.
As for other shows, I am riveted by CNBC’s Squawk Box. Also, I’ve already
said that I like Discovery, Animal Planet. I also like National Geographic,
the Science Channel, the History Channel. Those are channels, not shows. But,
I’ll set my VCR for anything that takes my fancy on those channels, especially
if it involves unusual sex, fighting, or tyrants.
The Planet’s Most Extreme… comes to mind. History Unsolved. Not
necessarily everything on the Jeff Corwin Experience, but I did enjoy the sight of Jeff
up to his knees in guano, holding up a toad that has spikes where a body
builder would have nipples. Sex with crampons.
I used to video West Wing.
As for authors, I reread Georgette Heyer. I buy anything by Jo Beverley.
SW – If you could travel anywhere on earth, in any time period, where and
when would you go and why? What would you take with you? And would you come
RC – That’s a tough one to answer off the top of my head. Forgive me if I ramble. What would I take? I’d want to take my husband and my daughter, and that would cramp my style a lot, because I’d have to think about their health and well being.
Presumably the usual sci-fi rules would apply, and I would not be able to go back in time to change history, prevent a tragedy, nip an atrocity in the bud, or make myself a fortune?
Nevertheless, I’d take lots of money, and a tome of herbal remedies. If I were going anywhere in the past, I’d want to be sure I was in the orders-giving class. I do not like being asked to follow orders.
There’d be no point at all in going back to Regency times—for instance—if one were poor. As for those Knights in shining
I can’t help thinking about their woodlouse-like armored feet, which
must have smelled dreadful.
As for Tudor
crotches…. Well, let’s not go there. Besides which, women had a terrible
time in those days. I’ve read that Thomas Seymour rid himself of
Katherine Parr by the simple expedient of NOT sending for help for her
during a difficult childbirth. If that was true, Queen Elizabeth the
First was wise never to marry!
I’d be reluctant to
give up my modern comforts. I do so love Air conditioning. That is
probably why my musings seem to center on England.
My husband thinks he’d like to see “The Future”. I’m concerned that the
future might be terribly polluted. Already there’s hardly anything that
is truly safe to eat.
So? All things considered, I think I’d like to skip to the end of next Ice Age. The world would be clean and new, the climate would not be too hot…. And if I didn’t like it, I’d come back.
SW – Rowena, thanks for taking the time to talk today. I wish you all the best with FORCED MATE and all the books that are sure to follow it.
RC – Thank you. Before we go, I would like to announce that from November through until December 31st I am
running a worldwide contest of skill and creativity. Full details are on
my website www.rowenacherry.com
Basically, one talented reader is going to suggest what exactly is shown on
my sequel’s hero’s tattoo (which tattoo is bioluminescent and which is on his