Keynote address: Cherry Adair – RWAus14

Cherry Adair is an award-winning and best-selling South African American romantic fiction writer. She lives near Seattle, Washington.

She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award given by Romance Writers of America, and she has been nominated for the Career Achievement Award for Romantic Suspense from Romantic Times two times. Her book Hide and Seek tied at number eight with author Nora Roberts for Romance Writers of America Top Ten Books of the Year in 2001.

Has series that involves operatives in Terrorist Force Logistical Assault Command (T-FLAC), a fictional secret counter-terrorist force, started in 1994.

Cherry is a funny, entertaining, and engaging speaker with great sense of humour (in a dry self deprecating way that fits with my sense of humour).  She kept getting off on tangents, and distracted herself a lot.   Talks often about bringing ‘the 5 year old in her out’ (5 on the inside, sometimes 3).

Wrote 17 books before she sold

  • all a learning curve
  • don’t think what you are doing is a waste of time
  • try not to get frustrated

Despite the chaos, she gave a very interesting presentation, the rest is below.

When she sold her first manuscript (The Mercenary), she sat down and shredded all 17 manuscripts

  • she would read a book by an author and enjoy it
  • would read the ‘next’ book by the same author and not enjoy it
  • realised they were publishing their previously unsold manuscripts once they were successful
  • doesn’t want to be that author
  • not only felt that those manuscripts deserved to be shredded, but has never reused any of those plots or characters


Had trouble selling after her first manuscript, had following ones rejected.

  • Wrote herself a career plan
  • Has updated them every year since in September
  • Second book did not sell until 7 years after her first one
  • Second book was a single title, but she insisted to agent that she wanted to sell to Harlequin.  Agent wanted to sell to Ballantine (Random House)


That magical moment when she is talking to an editor offering from her 2nd book:

  • Publisher on phone
  • Husband in next room also on the phone, but ignoring her knocking on the wall
  • Cat came in and spewed up half a fresh rat on her bare foot
  • Had no recollection of what she promised to change in the story
  • Cat spewed up the other half of the rat on her other foot, tail wriggling

Competitive people are going to be sad

  • someone is always going to be better
  • editor will love someone else more and be their bff not yours
  • agent, not your best friend – like each other sure, but don’t send their children birthday gifts
  • sometimes your friends will be unhappy with you because they get all the ‘goodies’


Cherry had always imagined going to NY (and being thin) and having a glamorous lunch with her editor in an exclusive restaurant, dressed in black wearing a hat


  • Went to New York (from South Africa) to have lunch with her editor
  • fabulous restaurant in a hotel, corner seat
  • longtime dream come true
  • however she had the sun in her face
  • had spanx on, started rolling up while she was at lunch
  • had put hairspray on her face to set her makeup, turned it to putty
  • Went to ladies room, took off her clothes, tried to rearrange her spanx – not able to do alone.
  • Eventually someone else came into the ladies, and asked if she needed a hand.  She didn’t know the lady, who laughed all the way through while helping her get the spanx fixed up –
  • later found out her good Samaritan was from a rival publishing house.





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