Author Cheryl Honigford at the Chicago Literary Fest signing copies of her novel The Darkness Knows, and displaying an advance copy of her new novel Homicide for the Holidays was released Oct. 10 (Submitted/The Report).

By Sandra Landen Machaj

When we read a work of published writing, we often think that the author is someone special, unlike the everyday people living in our neighborhood with a family and a full time job.

In reality, most authors are special, but they also may be our next door neighbor, who like you, spend their days caring for their family and working a full time job.

It is after these everyday responsibilities are complete, that they begin to write. Many retire to their computer to make the magic words that will become their next work appear on the screen.

One such author is Cheryl Honigford, an Antioch resident.

By day, Honigford is an employee at Abbott Laboratories, a wife, and a mother, and in her free time, author of historical mystery fiction.

While her first novel, The Darkness Knows, was published in 2015, her interest in writing began long before, during her childhood on the family farm in Ohio.

“I began writing as a child, pounding out stories on an old Underwood typewriter that would be brought out by my Dad and placed on the dining room table,” Honigford said over a cup of coffee at Café Book in Antioch.

She notes that the first story she remembers writing and completing was called The Mouse That Didn’t Believe in Santa Claus which she wrote and illustrated when she was in third grade.

“I still have it,” she added.

While writers always want to write, often life and family obligations become a twist in the road to their ambitions.

So it was with Honigford until nine years ago, when her family moved to Antioch.

Then she returned to writing, turning out what would become her first published novel.

With a long time interest in history, a love of mystery, and old time radio it is not surprising that the setting for this book would be Chicago in the 1930s and that the main character would be a woman making her way into radio. Of course it would be a mystery.

“I have always loved historical research and spent a lot of time researching life in the 1930s,” she said. “ There are always details that may be different from how these things would be carried out today. Such as how would you elope in 1939? Would you need a blood test?”

She enjoys the escapism of looking deeply into life in the past and loves to learn those special little details that we don’t know, things that are different today.

Additionally, Honigford visualizes what life was like in downtown Chicago where her book was set and spent a great deal of time researching how radio shows were produced, which she succeeded in giving us a glimpse of life in Chicago during this time. In the 1930s, it was to the radio that one turned to listen to mysteries much as we now turn to television.

New writers are often given the advice to write what they know, but according to Honigford, they should also write what they like to read.

Passion for both the work and the characters is important to fully develop them. When developing the characters even if they are historical, they are still real people with many of the same emotions as those of us today.

The process of completing and getting her first novel published was a long journey.

“It was seven years from the time I started until it finally made its way into print. If I had known it would take that long, I probably would have given up,” Honigford said.

Part of the delay was due to not receiving a notice that an agent wished to represent her after winning a writing contest. When they finally connected, the process moved faster, but still took time.

With the success of her first novel, she began the second in the series. Fortunately this one will not take seven years for publication.

Homicide for the Holidays is scheduled for release on Oct. 10.

In this book, Viv and Charlie, the main characters, will embark on their next adventure. The book will be available at most bookstores and online.

The third volume of the series, which is scheduled for release in 2018, is already at the publisher. This one will take the duo to Lake Geneva where new adventures will await them.

For those who haven’t read Honigford’s first book, The Darkness Knows, it is still available.


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