top of page
  • N. N. Light

Author Interview | Meet author and speaker @CherylIlov and her new release #memoir #personalgrowth

I’m so excited to have author Cheryl Ilov here today. I first met Cheryl several years ago when I read and reviewed her first book. Now, she is back with an intriguing memoir. I asked if she would sit down with me for an interview. She agreed and I couldn’t be more thrilled. So, grab your favorite beverage and join us. Cheryl, take it away…

Have you always liked to write?

I haven’t always particularly enjoyed writing, but I have always had a passion for storytelling, even at a very young age. My writing career started by documenting patients’ charts as a medical professional as both a respiratory therapist and physical therapist. I quickly discovered that including colorful stories along with their treatment plans was a powerful tool in their healing and recovery process. That’s how it all started, although I never thought I would ever write professionally.

Is this your first book? How many books have you written prior (if any?)

“The Reluctant Ninja” is my second book. My first book, titled “Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond,” was published in 2016. In this book, I integrate my personal experience as a chronic pain patient (and subsequent recovery), with my professional experience as a physical therapist with over twenty years in private practice. I also include the art of storytelling to entertain, educate, and inspire my readers to realize that they can be fit, healthy, and active at every stage of life.

What writing advice do you have for other aspiring authors?

There is at least one book in each and everyone of us, and there is always going to be an audience who wants to hear from you. So, just sit down and get started. Tell your story and write your ideas down as they come to you. Do not judge them and don’t doubt yourself. Hire a reputable writing coach if you need one and focus on the journey and the process of writing rather than the end result. Whenever you feel stuck, step away from the project, go for a walk, play with your dog, clean the kitchen, and get back to it once your mind is refreshed. You can do it!

What are you working on now? What is your next project?

I am working on a follow-up book to “The Reluctant Ninja,” which highlights the many philosophies and life lessons that I learned in my martial arts training which can be applied to every single aspect of one’s life. I call them the secrets of the ninja, and I believe that they can help a lot of people, especially women, as they navigate through life’s challenges. These principles are incredibly valuable as well as empowering, but a lot of women don’t want to spend eighteen years training in a smelly dojo like I did, so I decided to share them in a book. I took the hits (literally and figuratively), so you don’t have to.

What do you consider to be your best accomplishment?

That’s a great question and a difficult one, because being proud of myself and my accomplishments does not come easily to me. After a lot of soul searching and self-reflection, I believe that writing “The Reluctant Ninja” and finally sharing the entire story of how (and why) I began training in martial arts at the age of forty-seven is my greatest accomplishment, especially since it came out of one of the most painful and difficult times of my life. Writing and publishing the book brought my story full circle, and it is my sincere hope and prayer that it inspires other women to find their own inner strength and warrior spirit.

What do you want your tombstone to say?

It might sound corny, but I would like the words from one of my favorite songs from Frank Sinatra. I want the words “She did it her way” engraved on my tombstone. As far as regrets, I have had a few, but I have learned to let them go and not dwell on them. And I am a happier person for it.

What were you like as a child? Your favorite toy?

I was a stubborn and tenacious child, much like I am today. I guess some things never change, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I really didn’t have a favorite toy, probably because I had two older sisters to play with, and we shared everything. Several years later I had two more sisters, and the sharing continued.

Do you have any scars? What are they from?

I have a large, curved scar on my right leg just below my knee from an injury I sustained when I was playing with my older sisters when I was five years old. It was a freak accident which wasn’t their fault or mine. It was pretty bad, and my leg was ripped open all the way to the bone, which earned me a trip to the emergency room as well as a few days off from school as well as a lot of attention. I never blamed my sisters for it since it was an accident and they would never do anything to hurt me, but I know that they still feel bad about it to this day. That makes me sad, especially because since we were having such a great time until that happened.

What secret talents do you have?

I have a few secret talents that I pull out to surprise people every now and again. One is my talent for sharing stories. Another is my passion for helping others see the best in themselves. Also, a few years ago a friend of mine talked me into taking a fit pole class with her, also known as pole sport or pole dancing. Two years ago, my coach talked me into entering a competition, and I won my division. Of course, there weren’t many other women in the over-fifty category, but I did win a gold medal. So now I have the distinct and rather dubious honor of being a gold medal pole dancer, but it is something I typically do not share with just anyone. It never comes up in casual conversation, but it is a little-known fun fact about me.

What is your biggest fear?

My biggest fear is becoming complacent. I love exploring new activities and learning new things. I might not always succeed in my endeavors, and sometimes I fail miserably. But as far as I’m concerned, there is no such thing as failure, only opportunities to learn. And lifelong learning is what helps keep us youthful, healthy, and vibrant, at every stage of life.

Thank you, Cheryl, for the insightful interview. I am so glad you’re here today. You’ve been an inspiration to me for years and I thank you. Readers, scroll down to read more about Cheryl’s new release…

Title: The Reluctant Ninja: How A Middle-Aged Princess Became A Warrior Queen

Author: Cheryl L. Ilov

Genre: Memoir

Publisher: Willow Bay Publishing

Book Blurb:

Cheryl Ilov surprised everyone, including herself, when she began training in an ancient Japanese martial art at the tender young age of 47. As a self-proclaimed middle-aged princess, she was the last person anyone would expect to study martial arts.

Cheryl had been living a charmed life until it all came crashing down after a traumatic experience thrust her into the vortex of hell known as PTSD. As she tried to deal with the devastating effects of the trauma, she slipped deeper and deeper into the dark pit of despair.

Her salvation came when her acupuncturist finally convinced her that taking some martial arts classes would help her heal from the trauma. Little did she know that decision would take her on a journey which would change her life forever.

Cheryl takes her readers on a roller coaster ride as she skillfully weaves her remarkable story of personal transformation and triumph as she overcame her fears, discovered her inner strength, and unleashed her warrior spirit.


I STOOD QUIETLY in the middle of the dojo floor and listened respectfully while Sensei yelled at me. He had progressed from yelling to screaming, and by now, he had been screaming nonstop for thirty minutes. I was keeping track of the time by sneaking peeks at the clock on the wall at the end of the dojo.

Sensei was my teacher’s teacher, mentor, and friend. He had begun his martial arts journey in Japan under the guidance of a well-established and accomplished teacher. However, after many years of training under his tutelage, Sensei became uncomfortable with the changes being introduced in the training and curriculum and felt that the true essence and high quality of the training were being lost in the process. After many heated discussions with his teacher regarding the wisdom of compromising what Sensei felt were the high standards of training, he decided to break off from his teacher, go out on his own, and start his own organization.

Thirty years later, Sensei had established a strong student base, teaching them the Art of the Ninja according to his standards, eventually growing a federation that included four dojos in three states under his supervision. When my teacher, Marc, met Sensei, he had been training with a teacher in Denver. But once he met Sensei and took his first class with him, he was drawn in by Sensei’s insights of the art and his attention to detail in his technique.

It was because of Sensei’s encouragement that Marc opened his own dojo, and it was how I happened to be standing in front of Sensei, being yelled at on this unbearably hot summer evening. It was quite impressive to witness Sensei’s ability to find new things to yell about, as well as his stamina for screaming. He certainly was a creative screamer, and apparently I was giving him plenty of reasons to scream at me. I didn’t know where he was getting his energy from, but at least one of us had some staying power. Personally, I was exhausted but knew better than to admit it or, Heaven forbid, complain about it.

Over the past half hour, we had established a predictable rhythm. My partner would attack me, I would defend myself, Sensei would scream, I would sweat, and when he finally stopped yelling at me long enough to take a breath, I would bow respectfully and shout, “Hai, Sensei!” Every so often, I would discreetly swipe the sleeve of my gi top across my forehead in a futile attempt to wipe the sweat off my face. It was the middle of July in Southern California, and the air conditioning in the dojo wasn’t working. Not only was the heat unbearable, but also I was wearing a heavy black gi that was the equivalent of wearing a carpet, and I was suffering from hot flashes that were so intense they threatened to knock me over faster than my training partner did. I tried to be nonchalant when the heat began to rise from my neck to my face while my face turned bright red, then purple, and back to bright red as the flash subsided, which was clearly evident in the full-length mirrors against the wall in front of me. To this day, I am quite certain I was the first and only black belt in our entire federation who had to deal with hot flashes during training.

However, I couldn’t let that distract me. I already had enough to deal with and needed every bit of concentration and brainpower available to me. Standing directly in front of me was Sensei’s top black belt instructor and right-hand man, Angel. Angel was my uke, which is ninja speak for training partner, who seemed to take a perverse pleasure in my discomfort as well as Sensei’s many innovative ways to hurl insults at me. At least he was young and easy on the eyes, which was some consolation.

Sensei was still yelling when another hot flash threatened to bowl me over. I surreptitiously shifted my weight and felt my left leg quiver with pain and fatigue. We had spent the first thirty minutes of class working on the same technique over and over and over again. It was the first technique from a list of twenty-seven that were on the agenda for the evening. The movement pattern ended with a deep lunge onto my left leg as I slammed Angel face down onto the mat. Apparently, my lunge wasn’t deep enough, according to Sensei, and he had me repeat the movement so many times that my strong dancer’s legs threatened to completely give out. At one point, I was afraid that my quadricep was going to rip right off my femur.

Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):

Barnes & Noble coming soon

Apple coming soon

Kobo coming soon

Bookshop coming soon

Author Biography:

Cheryl Ilov has always had a passion for storytelling. Her writing career began by chronicling medical documents and progress reports for thousands of patients as a medical professional in both respiratory as well as physical therapy. Along the way, she discovered that weaving stories along with treatment modalities helped educate her patients and was a powerful tool in their recovery and ongoing progress.

She started a blog in 2011, writing about health, fitness, and life in general. Her elegant, friendly, and sometimes whimsical writing style captivated her followers, and several of her short stories have been published in The Pueblo Chieftain as well as FINALLY! Magazine, an international online publication for the over fifty population.

“The Reluctant Ninja” is Cheryl’s second book. Her first book, “Forever Fit and Flexible: Feeling Fabulous at Fifty and Beyond,” made Cheryl an award-winning author and was a #1 Best Seller on Amazon. She is currently working on her third book, which shares secrets of the ninja and life lessons she learned through her training that readers can apply to every aspect of their lives, without spending eighteen years training in a smelly dojo like she did.

Cheryl lives in Denver, Colorado. When she isn’t writing, dancing, hiking, or beating up bad guys, she loves nothing more than relaxing at home with her handsome husband and three Italian Greyhounds.

Social Media Links:


Barbara Bettis

What a fascinating interview, ladies! Thanks for sharing, Cheryl, and best of luck with the new book.


N. N. Light
N. N. Light

Thank you, Cheryl, for the wonderful interview. I had such a great time!

bottom of page