Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Author Interview - Shanda Sharlow - SciFi/Fantasy Author


      Welcome to my interview with SciFi/Fantasy author Shanda Sharlow. Today we meet in the giant stone meeting hall of the Great Elders, a vast and empty area with small, unattended campfires and worn down, faceless statues towering in the gloom of the arched structure. This place has a foreboding feeling so let's meet around this campfire to stay warm as Shanda tells us a bit about her book.

Deanna: Shanda, tell us a bit about yourself that our readers might not know.


Shanda:   I don't just write, I also draw. I've actually drawn longer than I've written, but the effort has been sporadic, and I haven't done it much lately. My skills have declined quite a bit from lack of use and proper tools now, but I still enjoy doing it whenever I have the time and inspiration for it.

Deanna:  What made you want to become a writer?

Shanda:  I'm not sure if there was any one cause. If anything, it was reading and viewing so many stories growing up, and then one day realizing I could create something with my imagination that would have substance and be shareable.

Deanna:  Do you write under a pen name?

Shanda:  Nah, I don't see a point to it, and I worry it'd get confusing.

Deanna:  As authors, we love all of our characters. Is there a certain type of character that is easier to write than another?

Shanda:  I find that, in general, the roguish sorts of characters are easiest for me to write and have fun with. They're loose and flexible, and they've got spirit. I enjoy writing sarcasm, and often times they're the sorts of characters quickest to provide a timely quip or remark about any given situation.

Deanna:  Do you read in the same genre that you write in?

Shanda:  Oh yes, almost exclusively. I rarely read anything other than Fantasy, unless it's a novelization of something else I've enjoyed. Of course, I'm considering writing Sci-Fi and Paranormal now, so I suppose that won't always hold true—since I can't say for sure that I'll start reading science fiction or paranormal fiction once I start writing it.

Deanna: Tell us about a typical day in your life as a writer.

Shanda:  Normally, I tend to need to get out and about to write. At home I have difficulty focusing on just one thing, and tend to also lack any kind of writing muse. If I go out to a local coffee shop, restaurant, or even a friendly, spacious fast food parlor I find it easier to write. So...a typical 'writing day' involves sitting in an out-of-the way bench with a cool (or sometimes hot) drink and soaking in the sounds of the ambient radio and the nearby customers as I write.

Deanna:  Most of us have pretty vivid imaginations when it comes to story lines. Where do your story ideas come from?

Shanda:  Oh, I'm sure part of the inspiration has come from previous stories I've encountered throughout my life. Some of it comes from adventurous dreams that...need a bit of sorting out before they can be used, and a good portion just comes from walking around, observing other people, having random conversations about anything at all, and stopping to think 'what if...'

Deanna:  Do you have a favorite character in your novel, The Psyonic?

Shanda:  That's...hard to say. I'm fond of Hale, but I think my favorite character might actually be Collis. He doesn't play a great big role in the novel, but he really clicked as a character for me to write, and if I'd had more time, I'd have spent more time with him.

Deanna:  What part of the book was hardest for you to write? Did you have any catches or blocks while writing?

Shanda:  I'd have to say...the middle of the book, after the beginning and the set up, I had a bit of difficulty making the swing to the end of the story without rushing things along. I also, originally, had a bit of trouble with giving out too much exposition too early while writing, but in the final version I removed much of the spoon-feeding scenes. What's the fun of a mystery that's solved too early?

Deanna:  How does your writing impact your family? Are they supportive? Doubtful?

Shanda:  Well, my brother and my father both write as well, so yeah they're pretty supportive. They know exactly where I'm coming from, and sometimes we all go out and write together so we can bounce ideas and jokes off of each other to see how they work out. My mother lives on the other side of the country, so she can only really send messages of support.

Deanna:  What perspective do you most prefer? First? Third? Omniscient?

Shanda:  Gotta say I'm a traditional third person girl. Still, if I could, I think I might swap between all three however often I could. Sometimes there's just certain scenes that sound better one way or another, but the rest of the book just doesn't go that way...so that's gotta be given up for the sake of consistency.

      But I do have a soft spot for my first writing efforts, which completely disregarded these rules without shame.

Deanna:  What has been your favorite moment as a writer?

Shanda:  I'm not sure, really. Perhaps when I first finished my novel, and I could look at it as a complete story, ready to be shared with other people. That was pretty incredible right there.

Deanna:  What kind of hero would you consider the main character of The Psyonic?

Shanda:  Well...I wouldn't call him an anti-hero, but he's certainly not an enthusiastic one. He's more of a reluctant hero, than anything else. He'd prefer just to live his life and mind his own business without anyone bothering him...but that's just not in the cards for him. And when people threaten those he cares about, or violate the sensibilities his Elders instilled in him, he just can't stand by and let that happen without doing something about it. Thus...getting himself into even more trouble. Here's an excerpt:


The Psyonic:
 
      Hale lived his entire life in hiding, traveling through slums and nondescript villages, never staying anywhere long enough for the people there to recognize his face. Never staying long enough for anyone to ferret out his secret.

      When he comes across a woman who recognizes him, he becomes the confidante of a Princess. Yet the halls of the palace hold far more danger than that of the streets, for within its shadows lurk dark mysteries and murderous intent. Desperate to remain hidden from those who hunt him, Hale must unravel the hidden machinations of the gathered royal families before it's too late, or it will be more than his life that he loses.
 

Deanna: You wrote The Psyonic some time ago, given that it was your first full-length novel, correct? Is there any one thing you might write differently in it if you wrote it now, instead?

Shanda:  I'm not really sure. Often I'm tempted to go back and double its length, because there's a lot of places I could have gone, and a lot slower pace I could have followed, if I really wanted to...but I worry that doubling the length of it might just ruin it. It's pretty good as is.

      If anything else, sometimes I wonder if I could have ended it differently, but when it's all said and done, there's only one way I ever envisioned for it to play out, even from the very beginning. I actually had the ending planned at the same time if not slightly before the beginning.

Deanna:  Do you have any future projects we should be on the lookout for?

Shanda:  As it turns out, I'm currently almost finished with a full-length Paranormal...Thriller, I suppose it would be. I'm a little fishy on genres, honestly. It's about a young woman down on her luck and really quite cynical for that, who suddenly finds the world around her shifting and changing in impossible ways that only she seems to notice...and she can't come up with any explanation why.

      I'm also working in a science fiction romance that's still in the planning stages...but I can say it'll involve a slightly different interpretation of aliens.

Deanna:  Which character was most difficult for you to write in The Psyonic?

Shanda:  Hmm, that's hard to say. There were certainly difficult characters to get down. King Jasten was certainly a pain sometimes, and the less than savory adviser to Princess Nerisma was occasionally difficult to pinpoint...but I think the toughest person to get down was Malek. He's a complicated guy, and sometimes it was tough to figure out just what he was doing.

Deanna:  Is there anything you'd like to say to prospective authors?

Shanda:  Don't ever give up or let go of your inspiration. You never know how the book will turn out until you finish it, and one day you might just find out it's completely brilliant.

Amazon Links -  ebook       paperback


Deanna:  Shanda, thank you for visiting my blog and best of luck on the rest of your tour.