Mary and I met online and I’ve learned a lot about her. Her book sounds interesting and I can’t wait to read it.
Mary Helen Sheriff is the author of the award-winning coming-of-age novel Boop and Eve’s Road Trip. She spent fourteen years in classrooms teaching elementary school, middle school, college, and professionals. During that time, she also had the pleasure of
dabbling in writing for children, teenagers, and adults in a variety of forms including fiction, poetry, blogs, and nonfiction. She spent several summers immersed in an MFA program in children’s literature at Hollins University. Currently, she lives and writes in Richmond, Virginia, with her two kids, two cats, and husband.
Tell us about yourself.
I loved my job as a teacher for many years, but all along I nursed the dream of becoming a published novelist. A year ago, I resigned from teaching to dedicate myself full-time to this dream. I’m so excited to have my first novel finally out!
When did you know you wanted to be an author?
Even as a kid I played with creative writing. Serious aspirations came along 21 years ago when I was in graduate school for teaching. In my Teaching Middle School Social Studies class, the professor suggested a geography project for our students and asked us to complete the project so we’d have a sample to show our students when we assigned it. Somehow my sample became a novella. The professor loved it and suggested I get it published and a dream was born. Twenty one years…it’s been a long road.
What genres do you like to read? Are these the same genres you write in?
I read a little of everything, except westerns, comic books, and graphic novels.
Boop and Eve’s Road Trip is women’s fiction. I’ve written three other unpublished novels that are middle grade and YA. I have an interest in writing science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction, so you may see those in the future.
Is your book for adults, young adults or children?
Boop and Eve’s Road Trip is for adults.
What is your current release or project?
Boop and Eve’s Road Trip
Tell us about the key characters.
Eighty year old Boop lives alone in a condo near her granddaughter Eve’s college in Florida. Boop’s southern charm and quirky sense of humor hide that she’s lonely. She wishes her relationship with her daughter was better and feels responsible for her daughter’s dysfunctional parenting of Eve. Boop doesn’t allow herself to think of it often, but she still has unresolved feeling of guilt and shame around a secret she’s kept for decades.
Eve has always been shy and a loner. Her mother dominates her life and for the most part Eve goes along with her mother’s plans. When Eve goes away to college, she’s on her own for the first time and has little experience or resilience to deal with even the small issues that arise. As the school year goes on she spirals into a depression.
What is your blurb or synopsis of the book?
Eve Prince is done with college, with her mom, with guys, and with her dream of fashion design. But when her best friend goes MIA, Eve must gather the broken threads of her life to search for her.
Desperate to visit her sister, Boop, a retiree dripping with Southern charm, hijacks her granddaughter Eve’s road trip.
Along the way, Boop hopes to alleviate Eve’s growing depression—which, she knows from experience, will require more than flirting lessons
and a Garlic Festival makeover. Nevertheless, she is frustrated when her feeble efforts yield the same failures that the sulfur-laced sip from the Fountain of Youth wrought on her age.
The one thing that might help is a secret that’s haunted Boop for sixty years. But in revealing it, Boop would risk losing her family and her own hard-won happiness.
Their journey through the heart of Dixie is an unforgettable love story between a grandmother and her granddaughter.
Share an excerpt
“Then the telephone rang. It was only seven in the morning. No one rang with good news at that time of day.
Boop dodged around towers of boxes to answer the phone. She was worried the call had something to do with Eve. Girl hadn’t seemed at all right yesterday.
“Betty . . . how are you?” Only one person called her Betty. Boop’s good day was shot to hell in a handbasket.
“In the feather, Vicky. In the feather.” Boop’s sister fancied herself a lady and insisted that she be addressed as Victoria by her intimates and Mrs. Victoria to the rest of the world. Boop was of the opinion that her sister was too big for her crisp linen britches and reminded her of this by persistently calling her Vicky.
“Mmhmm . . . yes,” Vicky said.
Boop could practically hear her biting her tongue. Was she a terrible person for wishing she’d draw blood?
Vicky continued, “I haven’t seen you and your sweet granddaughter in a month of Sundays. I’d hoped that Eve might drive you up to Savannah to visit me occasionally.”
“Those college kids are busier than mustard trying to ketchup.”
“I suppose. However, the semester is ending, and my guest bedrooms are aching for some company. Might y’all come for a spell soon?” Boop took a deep breath, attempting to inhale calm but really just inhaling the aroma of her coffee. She massaged the handle of her red coffee cup.
“I don’t reckon so. Thank you kindly.” The grits were getting
cold, so Boop took a bite, making sure to smack her lips. Listening to her eat was sure to drive Vicky batty, but that was just a bonus. Boop was hungry, or at least that was what she told herself.
“Now then, what’s more important than family?”
“Really, Vicky—” Boop felt a headache coming on, so she yanked the plastic rollers from her hair, hoping to relieve the pressure a bit. Only their absence didn’t do anything to quell Vicky’s nagging voice. Her dulcet tone was like an electric drill grinding in Boop’s ear.
“Really, nothing. We aren’t getting any younger,” Vicky said.
Boop glared at her knobby hands with their protruding blue veins, liver spots, and wrinkles. Oh, the wrinkles! Boop sometimes imagined she even smelled of decay, or maybe it wasn’t her imagination. She wasn’t sure she wanted to know. “Maybe you ain’t, but I’m right spritely.” Spritely like swamp mud.
“Mmhmm. I’m not sure your shoulder would agree.”
“Aw, now.” Boop stuck her tongue out at the phone.
Do you have a favorite scene?
I have a favorite moment. It’s toward the end of the book. I’ll have to be a bit vague to avoid spoilers. Eve’s father sends her a gift that’s loaded an unspoken message. I’m a sucker for grand gestures. They always make me cry.
What advice would you give a beginner?
Connect with the writing community. By their very nature, writers tend to be smart and generous. No matter the stage of your journey, the support of other writers will be invaluable. It can be especially helpful to connect with writers in the same genre.
Social media links:
Blog link https://maryhelensheriff.com/blog/