An Interview with Shannon

1) What was the first piece of fiction you ever wrote?

If we’re talking poetry, I wrote a poem when I was 4 about a stink bug. But if we’re talking an actual story, I wrote a story when I was around 7 about a racing cat that disappeared. It was titled “The Cat Came Back”. I had a few things to learn…like how not to give away the ending in your title. πŸ˜†

2) When did you know that you wanted to be an author?

I though about it at various points in my life, starting from that very first story…to writing for my high school newspaper…to submitting children’s books to publishers when I was 22 (none of them accepted). I took a huge break from everything while dealing with my kidney disorder and raising my son, Jack. But in March of 2006, I got a kidney transplant that not only saved my life, but made me feel like I could finally start living.πŸ˜ƒβ€ Automatically, my passion to write returned, stronger than ever. Despite feeling like I never could write an entire novel (it’s so long!), I was able to complete my first novel, Solitary Sky.πŸ€“ Now, I’m about to re-release it with a new cover and I’m also knee-deep into the sequel.

3) Of all your characters, written or planned out, who are your three favorites?

I absolutely love Gram from Solitary Sky. She was loosely based on my own highly beloved grandmother, so that may bias my affection toward her.πŸ˜‰ But no, I really like her as a character. As with most of my characters, she is a blend of people I’ve known, met, or that I’m related to.

I’m partial to all of my characters in SolSky. But I also have favorites in the books I haven’t written yet…the ones patiently waiting.πŸ˜‡ My second favorite is a young female lead character who works, goes to school, and takes care of her ailing mother. I love her because she’s strong and selfless, but she’s also super smart and good in a crisis…as you find out when her whole world gets sucked into a whirlwind of crazy!😯 Tentative title is “Alien Nephew”, which I promise will NOT end up as the actual title! (YA Paranormal Romance)

My third favorite is the male lead in another upcoming novel with the working title “The Water Whisperer”. He is a loner-type…someone who has never fit in anywhere. But when he’s sent to live some place where he’s not so special, he fits in but rebels against it. He is a very cool character that has such growth and affects so many others…all with the help of the female lead. But that’s a fourth favorite character, so I guess we’ll stop there.😁 (YA Paranormal Romance)

4) What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever had to research for a story?

Oh, wow…that’s kind of a black hole I get sucked into often! lol I think the weirdest I can remember is looking up the bloody details on a wolf killing a rabbit. It was awful, being an animal lover and a vegetarian, I cringed my way though researching and writing about it. I’m pretty sure there were tears. 😡

5) If you could give a new writer any piece of advice, what would it be?

I love this question because I wish I could megaphone this message to every new writer in existence: No writing rules are set in stone! Learn them, then learn how to break them. Keep your focus on clarity, flow, and your own voice. But remember that writing is a form of communication…getting your message across the way you want it to is most important.😎 Clarity is king.πŸ‘‘

6) What aspects of your life and experiences have had the greatest impact on your stories and characters?

Nearly all of them! There have been a lot of colorful aspects of my life that I always choose to draw on. But I usually make them worse than my reality, or better…I change the details and much more. Of course I add stuff I have no personal experience with, but I like using the experiences I know and messing around with them…like an old pic being photoshopped just enough to make it interesting.πŸ’£πŸ’₯😊

7) You have a knack for creating compelling, believable characters. How do you come up with them? Do you have a special process for character development?

I think of each character as a real person and try to put myself into their head whenever they are talking or anything else they do. I think about their personality, their quirks, their views, etc…and then I ask myself, “What would this character do/say?” in this situation. They have to feel real for me or else they won’t feel real for the reader.

I don’t have a specific process for character development. Once I have defined my character’s personality, the development is scene-by-scene doing as I said above…getting into their head and going from there. πŸ€“

8) Do you have a favorite type of scene to write? A least favorite?

My favorite thing in the world to write is dialogue. I love the back and forth between characters, what they’re going to say and how the other will reply. It’s like having a conversation except I’m on both sides. 😊 It’s fun for me, going from one character’s mind to the other, over and over…it’s the most exciting part of writing. And it’s funny because my inclination as a romance author is to say, ahhh…the romantic scenes are my favorite, but no! I do love romance, but romance is very quick, spontaneous, and sweep-you-off-your-feet…while writing is slow, methodical, and really dissecting the moment, which could not be less romantic. So there’s a sweet spot I have to find, keeping the romance flowing and taking the reader in while I’m working with the intricacies of the scene.😍

My least favorite scenes to write are fight scenes. They are so not my thing! The reasons are pretty much the same as the ones for writing love scenes, but fighting scenes are way worse. Getting the right moves, the injuries, the blood, etc. It’s just not a joy for me. πŸ˜‰

9) Is there a location, real or imagined, where you would love to set a story?

I live in the Galveston, TX area and always wanted to set a story here. Now, I actually have a book waiting in my writing queue that’s set in Galveston. So beyond that, I would love to write a story someday set underground…or underneath the ocean. Something mysterious, like a newfound world. πŸ˜‹

10) What three things do you need before you begin a writing or editing session?

I need my music, my playlists. I have a few songs specifically inspiring for the story I’m working on…but mostly I use movie scores, ethereal music, and brainwave sounds (which are amazing!). I also need solace; interruptions are annoying!πŸ˜‡ And coffee, or any form of caffeine is practically a necessity. πŸ˜ƒβ˜•