I never thought I’d be a sci-fi writer. But then again, I never thought I’d be a monster either.
Both of these things were set into motion the minute I learned to read. Books offered me a chance to escape real life and experience the world through a different lens. When it came time to try out for the school play, I jumped at the chance to take my love of reading one step further and actually become the character. I was hooked after my first play, and quickly gained a reputation as the school actor. The summer before I started high school, I met an aspiring movie director (Sam Raimi) in a community theater production. I ended up getting cast in his Super 8 movie, and after that, I was in a lot of his films. I played a cunning murderer who attempts to escape by running across roofs, an innocent victim who gets stabbed in the stomach (through a door!), and a bunch of other characters. When I wasn’t on screen I’d help out by holding props and lights, filling in for other actors, or working on stunts (like how to fake fist fight). Years later, when it came time for Sam to shoot his first feature (the cult film The Evil Dead), I didn’t audition because my mom wouldn’t let me take three months off high school to shoot a horror movie in the mountains of Tennessee with a “bunch of KIDS!” But when Sam came back he asked me to fill in as a “fake shemp,” a term he used to describe all of the nameless, and sometimes faceless, characters. Filming in his parents' garage, I spent a summer as a monster coming up out of the grave, a chopped off, still-alive hand, a diseased leg – when you (or your limbs) have star quality, the possibilities are endless.
On set with the groovy Bruce Campbell
After The Evil Dead I began to act professionally, working my way through the University of Michigan while appearing in commercials for cars and…more cars. (It was Detroit, after all.) I quickly learned that acting wasn’t nearly as fun when you weren’t surrounded by a bunch of friends who, in between shots, were teaching you valuable life skills like how to fake bash your head into a locker. But I still loved the idea of seeing the world through a character’s eyes; the ability to experience another life. And so I started writing. At first I assumed I would be a journalist, documenting the real life adventures of true characters. I graduated from college with a degree in political science and moved to Washington, DC where I began work at Nat Geo TV. But I missed the opportunity to become another character. So, while still working full time, I wrote a fiction book for adults, published under a pseudonym a lot less glamorous sounding than “Klam.” I quit my day job and wrote a bunch more books for adults (all published under the same boring pseudonym) before writing my first YA book, Learning to Swim, about a teenage girl who’s afraid she might just succumb to the same disease as her mom: “love lunacy” (a desperate need for male attention.) That was followed by The Pretty One, which was nominated for an Isinglass Teen Read Award. Based on my sister’s real-life, near-death accident, The Pretty One is a darkly funny book about two sisters who lust after one guy; a story about sibling rivalry and the role beauty plays in society.
Claudia and Cheryl: formal portrait
How we really look
After taking some time off to work on TV and film projects, Claudia Gabel and I decided that we would like to challenge ourselves to write a book that contained more than just one imaginary world. And so we began Elusion. (For more details on this momentous event, as well as information regarding Elusion, please see the FAQ and ELUSION pages.) And suddenly, I realized I had become a sci-fi writer. And then I really wished I could travel back in time and tell my seventh grade science teacher, who, when I refused to dissect a frog, warned me that I would never, ever achieve anything in the field of science. It just proves that with fiction, anything is possible.
When I’m not writing, I’m practicing being a monster in Maryland with my husband, two teen daughters and one extremely lazy dog.
My very official short bio:
Cheryl Klam is the author (along with Claudia Gabel) of Elusion (HarperCollins 3/14) and Etherworld (HarperCollins '15)). She has also written nearly a dozen novels (under a pseudonym) for Pocket Books, Harlequin, and teen novels (under her own name) for Random House. Her work has been published in fourteen different languages and her teen novel, The Pretty One, was nominated for an Isinglass Teen Read Award. She lives in Maryland with her husband, two daughters, and one lazy dog.