Interview with Cheryl Wanner, Author of See Me as I Am

Short and sweet: Give us the elevator pitch for SEE ME AS I AM

Blind high school senior, Jenny Ryan, meets and falls for her favorite rock star without knowing it’s him.

Where did the idea come from?

I dreamed it. Literally. At night, in bed. It’s the only dream I’ve ever had with characters and a plot line, and where I was nowhere to be seen. That said, the novel version deviates greatly from its origins.

This is your debut. Usually, the debut novels aren’t the first drafted book. When did you start writing? What drew you to it?

I started writing at age 12. My first story was for a school project. My second was to give life to characters I’d created who were in need of an outlet. I wrote throughout my high school years, strictly for enjoyment and to share with friends. Not till my early 20s, did I begin writing with a goal of publication. First sales were to Oregon Coast Magazine for which I’ve written a number of articles (many of them still viewable on their website). SEE ME AS I AM was actually my second write-to-sell novel (though under a different title and very different execution), but the transformation from concept and publication would take years to complete.

This book was a RevPit 2019 winner. How was that important to the book’s publishing journey?

RevPit (Revised and Resubmit) was an absolute turning point in the evolution of SEE ME AS I AM. This annual Twitter contest is hosted by several developmental editors with a prize (offered by each editor) of full developmental editing. I was a finalist in RevPit 2018 with an editor/agent who pointed out two fatal flaws in my manuscript. The result was more than 150 pages of altered or scrapped-and-rewritten-from-scratch material. I was halfway through the work when I entered (and won) RevPit 2019 with my amazing editor, Katie McCoach. She helped me develop my characterizations more deeply as well find solutions for the remaining RevPit 2018 edits. I later hired her to critique the final product. The developmental work and revised 150 pages absolutely kicked SEE ME AS I AM into high gear and made it publication ready.

What was the actual writing process for SEE ME AS I AM like? What was the revision process like?

Writing and line edits go hand in hand for me—I do both at the same time—so it’s hard to separate them. I wrote THREE full novel versions of SEE ME AS I AM (all highly polished and epically different) with much shelving and writing of unsold projects in between.

Because I was writing before the development of word processing (yes, I’m that old!), I adopted the edit-as-I-go method to avoid excessive retyping (and I do mean on a typewriter!). That’s changed now, of course, but I still prefer to edit while writing so the sentences pop from the get-go. Not to mention I LOVE the editing process and can’t wait to get to it! And because I often think in the style I write, some sentences land on the page with little polishing needed.

While a lot of content revision took place during the writing/editing phase of SEE ME AS I AM, true overhaul didn’t occur until after RevPit 2018-19 when I was blindsided by what I had no idea was needed.

Your book touches on issues relating to inclusion. How did you approach writing from the perspective of a blind person?

In terms of inclusion, I relied heavily on Jenny’s first person/present tense narrative and her personal blog where she addresses living blind in a sighted world (with emphasis on her desire to be seen for who she is and not how she’s labeled). This is absolutely key to her character and an integral part of the budding relationship with her love interest for whom her sightless world and her journey toward acceptance is unknown territory.

Actually writing from a blind perspective—making readers “feel” blind while seeing what Jenny can’t—is one of the most commented on aspects of the book. For this, I use a technique I call saying-a-lot-with-a-little which involves grabbing key descriptive elements in a concise and voicey manner (power verbs, no adverbs) and leaving the rest to the reader’s imagination. The result is a strong pace with high level visuals. With a blind MC, descriptions are given through senses other than sight which my readers say they see in full detail.

When asked if writing from a blind perspective was difficult, my answer is always no because I did it long enough to become second nature.

Forgiveness is a big part of this story. Why was it important to include this in your book? What do you want readers to take from this element of SEE ME AS I AM?

Betrayal is a major plot point (HERE THERE BE SPOILERS!) in SEE ME AS I AM. So the climatic choice between forgiving an epic wrong and destroying oneself with bitterness is the fulcrum around which this story revolves. No forgiveness, so resolution. Which is the take away I hope readers will, well… take from this story.

What drew you to YA? What about this story made YA a perfect fit?

YA is my favorite category. I LOVE the voicey/deep POV narratives, but also reading and writing about this period of life. I met my husband at age 17 and married him at 19 (just celebrated our 47th anniversary!). I lived with my parents until I married and never had what I consider a professional career. So I naturally gravitate toward young, first love and to an MC who lives with her family, making YA is a natural fit!


And perfect for SEE ME AS I AM , too, as I believe young adult readers will find Jenny to be an intriguing and highly relatable MC. As a music scene novel, SEE ME AS I AM brings the world of big concerts and fandom to life, also popular with teens. (Says the 66-year-old author who’s clearly a fan of the music she’s written about!) YA also allow me to explore family dynamics in a way I find more relatable.


Every book changes us as authors. What’s the biggest lesson you got from writing SEE ME AS I AM? What will you take into writing your next book?


My biggest take away is the importance of involving other people (family, betas, editors) much sooner in the process than I did with SEE ME AS I AM. Admittedly, options were more limited before the advent of social media, but even so, I was late to the Twitter and Instagram platforms. Now I have Tweeps who are betas and already involved in my next project, helping me catch critical plot and developmental errors (as I write the book!) before they take on a life of their own.


What’s the biggest surprise regarding the publishing process (so far)?


The length of time it took to sign with a publisher—5 years including querying and overhauls (post RevPit). And that I landed one without an agent (which I’d always wanted, but in the end, didn’t need). I absolutely LOVE my small publisher (Immortal Works Press) whose editors are so hands-on and personal and an utter delight to work with!  I have every intention of going back to them with my next project!


Where can we find you to keep up with the latest!


I have a website ( In addition to info about myself (writing, family, interests) and SEE ME AS I AM (as well as a teaser for my WIP, DEAD RECKONING), my site includes a blog (loaded with my own photography) and a newsletter (signup available).


I can also be found on social media at:

            @WannerCheryl (Twitter)

            @cherylwannerauthor (Instagram)

            Cheryl Wanner Author (Facebook) (Goodreads)


Where can we order SEE ME AS I AM?


SEE ME AS I AM released on May 16, 2023, and is now available on Amazon, Barnes&Nobles Online, and through my publisher, Immortal Works Press.





  1. Wow! What a marvelous interview! You are an amazing author my friend! Praying always for you and for great success!


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