Sherry Smith Gray
Bewildering Stories biography
Who am I? Wow, tough question. Not one a person has to answer very often. I’ll give it my best shot. Online, I am known almost everywhere as sherisaid.
Right, well, to get to the basics: my love of SF goes back as far as I can remember, but I became hopelessly addicted in early adolescence... probably just about the day I found my way across town on my bike to the big, old-fashioned public library.
Those worn stone steps changed my life in so many ways. My first love was Bradbury, but I reveled in Asimov, Clarke, H.G. Wells... I read like a demon, consuming everything appropriate in the stacks before moving on to A Clockwork Orange, Helter Skelter and other books deemed “too adult” for such a sweet young thing.
I was 11, and I fought that librarian tooth and nail. Then I called in the big guns... Mom. She backed me up, as I knew she would. She told the librarian that if I had the brains to want to read those books, then I certainly had the brains to understand them. And so I did, and my interest in reading, and in SF, continued to grow.
Growing up, I did a lot of writing, but never really thought of it as a potential career... No, I wanted to be a scientist; specifically, marine biology research. I grew up in Key West, Florida, and the opportunity to turn over rocks in tide pools held an irresistible fascination. Even after boys became visible as more than annoying afterthoughts and my social calendar began to fill, the sea continued to pull me. Today, some 30 years later, I still dream of the sea, and the sound of the waves can calm me like nothing else.
I’m 45 now, and the mother of 2 fiercely independent teenagers. They drive me nuts, but only because I know what they’re doing. Oh, for sweet, sweet parental cluessness. But no... since I did it all, I know it all, and it terrifies me. So I must pretend to believe them when they lie to me, and choose not to see... and to go on loving and supporting them anyway.
I began writing a few years ago. The company I worked for went under in the dot-com crash, and I decided to stay at home with the kids. It took me a full year to discover the difference between talented amateur and professional writer. I look back at my early stuff... and wonder: how I could think it was good? So many mistakes! Plot holes! Clichés! and worse... the putrid black hole of tv-style contrivance (sneers). Eventually, I got it all cleaned up and began submitting. I’ve been published many times in my life, but mostly local stuff, edited and contributed to a few newsletters, and one one notable occasion, was ridiculed by Don Imus (Seattle shock jock) for an article I wrote for our local Mensa newsletter. I was young... and I believe I opined that “average” people have an IQ comparable to a carrot. Fortunately, I did outgrow that youthful arrogance.
In some respects, I am quite proud of my SF writing career to date. No, I haven’t sold anything. Yet. But I chose to submit to Asimov’s and Analog, To SF & F, Interzone and Scifi.com. And that’s it. Oh, and once to Andromeda Spaceways (I think). If I were to be published, I wanted it to be at the top of the game. And while I was certainly not the stunning literary success I dreamed of being, I have collected real signatures from a few very well-known editors, and in some cases, even handwritten notes. So I can proudly say that I have never, ever gotten a number one rejection letter, and rarely does one come back without an inked sig.
I haven’t had time to write lately. I’m back to work full time, and spend most of the rest of my time worrying about my kids and playing Project Rockstar.
One day, though, the muse will return, and I will burst on the SF scene, leaving a trail as wide and interesting as Ben Bova (and she rides off into fantasyland once again, webmaster cape flowing in the wind).
Copyright © 2004 by Sherry Smith Gray