HEIDI'S PICK SIX: Sherry Knowlton



1. Which of your characters is your favorite?
In many ways, my protagonist from Dead of Autumn and Dead of Summer, is my favorite character. Alexa Williams is a smart young lawyer who stepped off the fast track at a big New York City firm to return home to a quieter life. Now she lives with her English Mastiff in a cabin in the woods. She's curious, tenacious and manages to get herself out of some dangerous predicaments. However, she's got a lousy track record with romance.

I do have to admit that I really like writing her best friend Melissa who is free-spirited and artsy - although it might be that I would just like to wear her bohemian wardrobe. And, it's fun to create bad guys with nuanced character and motivation.

2. Tell me about your travels.
When I was a kid, I kept this line from Tennyson's Ulysses on my bulletin board: "for my purpose holds to sail beyond the sunset, and the baths of all the western stars, until I die." And I've spent most of my adult life trying to fulfill that purpose. Right after college, my husband and I spent four months traveling in our hippie van and explored most of the continental United States. Since then, we've been to every state except Hawaii. When my son was growing up, we spent a lot of vacations sailing in the Caribbean and Greece. In recent years, my husband and I have traveled all over the globe from New Zealand to Southeast Asia to South America to Europe. Once place we keep returning to is Africa. We've gone on four long safaris that have taken us to Kenya, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Zambia, and Botswana -- plus gorilla trekking in Uganda. Part of my latest novel, Dead of Summer, takes place in Africa. I enjoyed writing about a place that's given me such joy.

3. Coffee, tea, or milk?
Tea, especially spicy tea like Constant Comment or Chai Tea (which also has milk). Of course, if I'm eating Oreos, I need a tall glass of milk.

4. What else can you do besides write?

5. Who are you reading right now?
When I was younger, I read every single book in John D. MacDonald's Travis McGee series. Travis McGee lives on a houseboat in Florida and spends most of his time solving crimes and rescuing damsels in distress. Recently, I read a re-release of The Lonely Silver Rain and it inspired to go back and reread the entire series. I'm going to read The Turquoise Lament next.

6. Pop culture or academia?

7. What is the toughest scene you ever wrote?
My first novel, Dead of Autumn, included a parallel plot tin which I fictionalized a Depression-era child murder. I told the story from one of the children's point of view. The most difficult scene I've written was the last chapter of that Babes in the Woods saga. I was surprised at the amount of emotion I felt as I wrote that final scene with Dewilla Noakes and her father. By the time I got there, I had become so connected to my vision of this young girl, that writing that last passage was a gut-wrenching experience.

8. Where do you find your inspirations to write?
9. Food you could eat everyday.
10. Are you into sports or other physical activities?
11. What kind of music speaks to you?
12. Do you outline your stories or do they just take you along for the ride?
13. Celebrity crush.

14. Who are the biggest influences on your work?
Countless authors have influenced me. When I was a kid, I loved the way that Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys solved mysteries. My love of travel was fostered by reading Mary Stewart’s The Moonspinners, Dr. Zhivago, Robert Ruark’s books based in Africa, James Michener… I could go on and on.

I recently got the opportunity to be recognized as a Debut Author at the International Thriller Writers conference, Thrillerfest, in New York City. It was truly a thrill to speak briefly at a conference where some of my favorite contemporary thriller authors headlined the agenda: Greg Iles, Lee Childs, Scott Turow, Nelson DeMille, Sandra Brown, and many others. They all continue to influence my work as well.

15. Do you still watch cartoons?

Sherry Knowlton is the author of the successful Alexa Williams suspense novels, DEAD of AUTUMN and DEAD of SUMMER. Sherry (nee Sherry Rothenberger) was born and raised in Chambersburg, PA where she developed a lifelong passion for books. She was that kid who would sneak a flashlight to bed at night so she could read beneath the covers. All the local librarians knew her by name.

Sherry spent much of her early career in state government, working primarily with social and human services programs, including services for abused children, rape crisis, domestic violence, and family planning. In the 1990s, she served as the Deputy Secretary for Medical Assistance in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The latter part of Sherry’s career has focused on the field of Medicaid managed care. Now retired from executive positions in the health insurance industry, Sherry runs her own health care consulting business.

Sherry has a B.A. in English and psychology from Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA.

Sherry and her husband, Mike, began their journey together in the days of peace and music when they traversed the country in a hippie van. Running out of money several months into the trip, Sherry waitressed the night shift at a cowboy hangout in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and Mike washed dishes in a bakery. Undeterred, they embraced the travel experience and continue to explore far-flung places around the globe. Sherry and Mike have one son, Josh, a craft brewer.

Sherry lives in the mountains of South Central Pennsylvania where her novels are set.


In a tale of suspense that travels from Southcentral Pennsylvania to Africa to the iconic Woodstock Festival of 1969, DEAD of SUMMER embroils Alexa Williams in the dangerous world of sex trafficking.

Alexa Williams is finally starting to recover from last autumn’s trauma of finding a dead body and the violence that ensued. The young attorney can’t believe that her summer has begun with the discovery of another body. This time, the dead woman was famous for her worldwide campaign against sex trafficking. Drawn into the fight to save lost and exploited children, Alexa becomes entangled in a web of deception and danger that puts both her heart and her life at risk. By the time she discovers that the key to the present lies in the halcyon days of peace and music, it may be too late.


In a Pennsylvania forest, Alexa Williams takes her dog for a walk and discovers the body of an ethereal blonde. The girl’s death bears an eerie resemblance to a crime from an earlier era, the infamous Babes in the Woods case. From that fateful day, the young attorney’s carefully ordered life begins to unravel. One of her mentors, an abortion clinic doctor, falls victim to a sniper’s bullet. After revealing a disturbing secret, her boyfriend turns into a stranger. She finds herself drawn to a handsome new man with a murky past. When a charismatic preacher emerges from the shadows, secrets begin to unravel. As violence claims more victims, seemingly disparate paths in Alexa’s life begin to intersect.

Against a backdrop of anti-abortion protests and escalating violence, Alexa and handsome forest ranger Reese Michaels become entangled in a web of extremism and bloodshed. Too late, Alexa discovers that danger lies closer to home than she could ever have imagined.


  1. Thank you for picking six, Sherry! Loving DEAD OF AUTUMN right now, especially since it's set here in PA.

    See you around Pennwriters and ITW.

  2. Thanks, Heidi, for the opportunity to Pick Six - and to feature DEAD of SUMMER and DEAD of AUTUMN. Looking forward to reconnecting at a future author event!!


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