Life below sea level
Cheryl Mathis was born in New Orleans and grew up in its suburbs. While her neighborhood was typical suburbia, with houses and ball parks, schools and churches, it’s surrounded on three sides by water and is largely made of wetlands – bayous and swamps and canals. The entire area is below sea level. Famous for its jazz and its food, its unique setting is also a rich, fertile (and sometimes creepy) setting for stories of all kinds.
The Reading Life
Cheryl’s earliest memory is sneaking into her parents’ room while they were asleep, standing on a chair next to a tall chest, and grabbing the Santa Claus book read to her the night before. She then crawled into her baby sister’s crib with it. She always wanted to share stories. But writing them for children and young adults began after she had kiddos of her own. From the time her sons were born, she read to them, leading them into the life of books. As they grew older and read on their own, she would read their books too. That’s when she rediscovered her own love for middle grade and young adult novels. The more she read, the more she itched to write. She then realized being a reader and a dreamer and an imaginer was a sign. She’s been writing ever since.
The Writing Life
In her writing life Cheryl spends a lot of time … reading! And hours at her desk pounding the keyboard, or sometimes writing in coffee houses. Creating and revising. Then revising again and again. If it wasn’t for the writing community, that could be lonely. But she found her community.
The Society of Children’s Book Writers has given Cheryl opportunities to connect with fellow writers. She has participated in critique groups and attended workshops and conferences to learn more about the craft of writing. She’s traveled to SCBWI conferences in New York, Los Angeles, Houston, Birmingham and even to an island in Lake Michigan. She volunteered and eventually became the Regional Advisor for the Louisiana and Mississippi Chapter, meeting and interviewing some of the giants in the kidlit world.
Cheryl continues to attend book and literary festivals and conferences, whether it’s the American Library Association, Highlights Foundation, SCBWI conferences, the Faye Kaigler Children’s Book Festival, the Louisiana Book Festival, the New Orleans Book Festival—well, you get the picture. If children’s books are involved, she’s eager to be there.
The mountains are calling.
As much as Cheryl loves the wetlands of Louisiana, the mountains are calling. After many years of visiting Colorado and its peaks and parks and hiking trails, she is relocating to the Rockies. From life below sea level in Louisiana to the majestic mountains of Colorado. No telling what stories will come next!