Interview with Annie Sherman

Travel and Write Today – Featured Writer

Annie Sherman

Annie Sherman, author and freelance journalist, shares how she got into writing, her favorite spots to catch a sunset, and some of her favorite spots in Rhode Island! She also shares words of wisdom for aspiring writers and journalists!

Lauren — Travel and Write Today: When/how did you initially decide to become a writer? 

Annie Sherman: I think I have always been a writer. As a kid, I kept a journal, wrote short stories about fictional characters doing mundane things, and even won a poetry award from my local library. (I am not a poet, so I suspect there were very few entries!) I also read books religiously, and my grade school English teacher fostered my vocabulary skills, which ultimately helped my writing and love of the language.

Another big factor was my family. My father, grandfather and great grandfather published a newspaper in my hometown of Newport, RI for 99 years, so I was surrounded by, and naturally gravitated to, that creative environment. After college I worked at another newspaper, which was my first real taste of journalism. The process of researching, interviewing and writing an article on deadline thrilled me and terrified me simultaneously, but I liked it, so I kept at it. In the years since then, I’ve been a newspaper reporter, magazine editor, and now freelance journalist, so it’s no longer terrifying!

I also knew I wanted to write a book, and that opportunity came in 2013 when I authored “Legendary Locals of Newport,” a historic anthology of Newport’s people. I’m also writing my first novel, which is an experiment in fictional world and character creation, time management, and the art of self-editing. Stay tuned for my next writing adventure!

TWT: I love all of this – so inspiring. I cannot wait to come to your book signing!

TWT: Tell us about your first writing gig! 

AS: After college I worked at the South Florida Sun Sentinel Newspaper, which was a glorified internship. I learned how to conduct interviews, how to write in the traditional inverted pyramid style that is the staple for newspaper article structure, and experienced a busy newsroom. I had no previous experience, but they took a chance on me anyway. There is nothing as exciting for a writer as seeing our first byline.

TWT: This reminds me of Rory Gilmore. I really think you need to watch Gilmore Girls!

TWT: What is one of your favorite pieces you’ve written?

AS: A journalist picking a favorite article is like a parent picking a favorite child. So I don’t have just one. I like to write stories that enlighten, educate, or help people, that are full of resources for readers, and have some greater takeaway message. The best part is that I’m learning as I’m reporting too, so I get to become somewhat of an expert in the topic. I’ve been lucky to write so many cool stories under those parameters, from the best pizza shops in the northeast to the health benefits of being in nature to food waste and the traditions of a historic fish ladder. I even got to spend a night on an aircraft carrier in the Pacific Ocean to profile a local Naval commander.

TWT: Wow – you’ve had so many exciting opportunities through your writing!

TWT: I know you grew up in Rhode Island, what are some of your favorite spots in the area?

AS: When the weather is fine, I try to spend as much time outside as possible, and teach my 6-year-old son the values of nature. So we stand-up paddleboard at Third Beach in Middletown, hike at Weetamoo Woods in Tiverton or walk at Sachuest Point in Middletown, and my husband takes him fishing in various spots across Aquidneck Island. We ski in the winter at Sugarloaf in Maine, where my in-laws live, and try to take advantage of any snow that hits Rhode Island by snowshoeing or cross-country skiing at Sakonnet Greenway Trail.

TWT: What cities/towns are on your list of places to visit?

AS: My husband and I visited Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks when I was pregnant, and they took my breath away. Exploring the American west for more of that outdoor adventure is at the top of my travel list, including Yellowstone and Rocky Mountain National Park.

TWT: What is your favorite book?

AS: Historical fiction is my favorite genre, and I’m in a Kate Quinn mood, so The Rose Code is a must. I loved Delia Owens’s Where the Crawdads Sing, and Jojo Moyes’s The Giver of Stars.

TWT: What is your go-to coffee/tea order, and from where?

AS: I prefer Tazo Awake black tea at home in the morning, always with a dollop of honey and almond milk, and a peppermint tea in the evening. But if I’m treating myself, a spiced or sugar free vanilla chai from Custom House Coffee in Middletown is my go-to.

TWT: Just added it to my list!

TWT: What is your favorite place to watch the sunrise/sunset?

AS: I’m not a morning person, so sunrise isn’t in my vocabulary! Sunsets, however, are stunning in Newport. Ft. Adams overlooking Newport Harbor and Narragansett Bay is a prime spot, or having a cocktail on the lawn at OceanCliff is a favorite girls’ night destination.

TWT: It’s official – we have to meet for a drink!

TWT: What advice would you give to aspiring writers/journalists?

AS: It may sound obvious, but aspiring writers should write. Don’t overthink it. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you how or what to write. Write your own blog or journal, an article or social post. Then later write another. And then another. Just for yourself on your own time, when you’re inspired. Pick topics you enjoy and want to learn more about, and soon you’ll develop your style and interests and creative flow. And without even thinking about it, you’ve become a writer.

To be a journalist, you need to be a strong writer as well as a good researcher and interviewer, which informs your writing. As a freelance journalist, I pitch story ideas to editors every week, and it’s exhausting, but worthwhile, because that’s how I’ve expanded my scope of published work. So if you want to be a journalist, identify the outlets you want to write for, and the right editor there, and pitch them a story idea. Relentlessly. Or apply to writing jobs at publications or companies you connect with.

Meanwhile, read good writing, in books or magazines or anything really. Envelop yourself in it. You’ll be more educated in those topics, and will become a better writer for it.

Photo Credit: Maaike Bernstrom @maaikephoto

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