The Write Stuff: Sherrill Bodine

Like the glittering jewels she’s known for wearing, the glamorous Sherrill Bodine is a writer with many facets.

Her 17 novels are filled with romance and thrilling twists, so it comes as no surprise that Sherrill herself has had some drama in her life.

She grew up in her grandparents’ house in Lafayette, Ind., caring for her developmentally disabled mother. Her novels come to her as scenes, and film has been an inspiration to her since she was a child taking her mother to the movies.

“The movie theater is where we could really connect,” she says. Sherrill is currently working on a memoir about her childhood.

She won her first writing award in the seventh grade in a statewide essay contest. “The need to write has always been there,” she says.

At 18, she eloped with her husband, John, with whom she has four children and 12 grandchildren.

While moving 22 times across the country and rearing their children, Sherrill sold stories to Fate Magazine, Home Life Magazine and True Confessions. She sold her first novel in 1988 and received a two-book contract. Her book “The Other Amanda” won the Wisconsin Romance Writers of America Write Touch Readers’ Award and “Talk of the Town ” was featured as a “Red Hot Read” in Cosmopolitan.

To say that Sherrill has a passion for fashion is certainly an understatement—she once sat behind Anna Wintour at a runway show during Milan Fashion Week. The idea for her latest book, “A Black Tie Affair,” which came out early this year, originated with a curator of the costume collection at the Chicago History Museum who said he had been poisoned by a black Dior dress. Sherrill toured the museum’s storage vaults as research for the book.

“I’m a big believer in on-site research,” she says. “As a writer, I’m sharing with you some special knowledge that I have.”

And her research doesn’t always take her to places quite so chic. She went to prison for a day and was also in an operating room for a quadruple by-pass.

When she’s not writing, Sherrill dedicates her time to serving on the boards of the Parkways Foundation, the Chicago Academy for the Arts and the Service Club of Chicago.

Travel is another passion for Sherrill—China, Spain, Romania and India are just a few places she’s visited—but she loves coming home to Chicago, as evidenced by the fact that all of her books take place here and are inspired by local figures such as Marshall Field.

“Chicago has so many great stories,” she says.