If you have a choice between two gifts which would would you choose?
Keeping secrets at any cost or telling the truth under all circumstances?
Would you consider these gifts or curses?
Today I have the wonderful Sharon Shinn on my blog today! I asked her a few weeks ago if she'd do an interview and she agreed! I'm honored to have her here, especially since she is one of my favorite authors and her books just so happens to be part of my 500 follower frenzy contest that I'll share later this week!!! She answered the questions beautifully! Be sure to soak it all in!
Author Interview - Sharon Shinn
1. I know you’ve written quite a few wonderful stories throughout the years but my personal favorite was The Truth Tellers Tale. What made you think to write about sisters (mirror twins) who have two unique powers nothing like each others gifts? What was your inspiration? (for a synopsis click here!)
I wanted to write another story set in that world, so I just spent a lot of time thinking about the sorts of people who might exist there. All along, I knew I wanted my main characters to be twins, because I liked the idea that they would have opposite kinds of magic, but I was pretty far along in the mental plotting process before I decided they should be mirror twins, opposite in every kind of way. I spent HOURS trying to come up with names that worked forward and backward and sounded kind of mystical but didn’t sound too weird. My favorite discarded ideas were Lilac/Calil and Siana/Anais. I would have gone with Siana/Anais except I thought it might be a bad idea to even remotely introduce the influence of Anais Nin to a YA story. :-)
2. Summers at Castle Auburn was also another one of my favorites! You created a beautiful world, what inspired you to write this piece? (for a synopsis click here!)
My original idea for this story was centered more on Jaxon and Rowena. I planned to narrate their romance from the point of view of Jaxon’s young niece or nephew, who wouldn’t always understand what was happening between the adults. But I gradually grew less interested in Alora and more interested in the court intrigue—and much more interested in the story I could tell about the teenager. As Corie’s personality became clearer to me, I started thinking about her relationship with Elisandra and her relationship with the aliora—and where Bryan and Kent fit into the whole story. It took me a long time to come up with the outlines of the book before I finally sat down to write it.
3. I've always wanted to hunt for aliora (read the book!) ever since the first page! Where does such an imaginative mind come up with something such as this, did you draw a map out to showcase the other world, outline?
It’s always hard to explain where I get story ideas! My best answer, and it sounds very fuzzy, is to say, “I think about the stories until they become clear in my head.” The aliora obviously have a lot in common with fairies, though they don’t have wings and there are other dissimilarities. I like that they possess a sort of kind magic—they heal, they nurture—and yet… They aren’t really safe to love.
I often do draw maps when I’m writing about a made-up world, just so I’m clear in my own mind where the river is and which direction the main roads run. Sometimes (as in the Samaria books and the Twelve Houses series) I include them with the manuscript, so that readers can consult them as well. Other times, I just use them for my own reference. I didn’t draw a map for Auburn, but I sketched out the layout of the castle so I could keep track of where all the rooms were and where the fountain was situated in the courtyard and so on.
I rarely create an outline, and when I do, I usually don’t follow it. :-) On the other hand, if I’ve thought up a good line of dialogue, I often scrawl it down so I don’t forget it by the time I get to the scene where it belongs.
4. How many books have you published total? What was your first?
I’ve published 21 books. My first one was THE SHAPE-CHANGER’S WIFE, which came out in 1995.
5. How did it feel to write your very first draft?
It always feels great to finish a first draft. I’m usually overcome with relief, because for me, that’s the most difficult part of the writing process. However, there’s a lot more work to come. I usually go through and do two or three complete edits before I show the manuscript to anyone. And then I consider all the comments I get from friends, family, and my writing group, and I go through and do another draft.
Once my editor sees a book, she sometimes asks for changes, so there’s often another rewrite to be done. Then I make progressively smaller and smaller revisions during the copyediting and proofreading stages. So it never feels like a book is really DONE until it’s actually in print.
6. Did your first piece of writing get published?
Far from it. I wrote my first short stories when I was in my early teens. Wrote my first (dreadful) novel when I was 20. I’d written ten complete books and uncounted short stories before I sold SHAPE-CHANGER’S WIFE.
7. How long did it take you to become a published author?
Between finishing that first book and selling SCW, it was sixteen years. A very very VERY long time!
8. Was there ever a point in time you felt like giving up?
Yes, especially in those last few years. I could tell I was improving as a writer (those eighth and ninth books, for instance, were a lot better than the first one), but I had started to think I would never get good enough to get published. By this point, I was averaging almost a book a year—which takes up a lot of time! And I was starting to ask myself, “If you’re never going to get published, are there better ways to spend this time?”
But, you know, I’m one of those people who can’t not write. Even during the months I’ve decided to take a break from writing, I feel my mind filling up with stories. The only way I can keep sane is to exorcise them by writing them down.
9. What did you do when you got your rejection? Cry, scream, eat some ice
Not sure I ever cried, but I’d always be really depressed for a couple of days. (I don’t think there’s any way to NOT be depressed. Being told your book isn’t good enough to be published is like being told your baby is ugly.) I could usually shake it off within a few days, though. And then I’d either send the manuscript out again, or go back to the one I was currently working on and tell myself, “Maybe THIS one will sell.”
10. What advice to you have to give aspiring writers?
First, obviously, don’t give up! Just because one—or two or twenty—editors and agents don’t like your book doesn’t mean that everyone will reject it. Keep sending out your stories until you’ve run out of places to send them.
Two, keep writing. There aren’t many people I know who have sold their first books. Most of them write two or three before they get it right—before they really learn how to pace a story, how to develop a character, how to bring a world to life. You learn something from every book. And you get better with every book. Writing is like any other skill. It improves with practice.
11. Did you have another job while pursuing your dream of writing? Do you still?
Yes to both. For the past thirty years I’ve been an editor at one magazine or another—usually relatively small trade or association magazines with pretty targeted audiences. I have a degree in journalism and I like being around other writers. I’ve learned a lot about copyediting (not to mention parallel sentence structure and noun-verb agreement) from being a magazine editor. And—so far, at any rate—being an editor has been a steadier line of work than being a fiction writer. I always knew I wanted to write, I can't remember a day when I didn't want too.
12. What is happens in the day of the fabulous author Sharon Shinn?
There’s a line from the movie “Lion in Winter” when the Henry character says, “My life, when it is written, will read better than it lived.” I always think that applies to me! My daily routine would be pretty dull to watch, since most of the action is going on inside my head.
I work from home, and I’m generally at my computer by 9 am. I work on the magazine until about 5, though two or three times a week I leave to have long lunches with friends. In the evening, I take a walk to work out all the kinks I get from sitting at a computer all day. Then I work on a fiction project for a couple of hours. It’s usually close to 8 by the time I’m done, and by then I’m starving. So I throw together some kind of meal and catch up on my TV shows and/or my reading and/or the phone calls I’ve missed during the day. Lights out by 11.
On weekends, I do such exciting things as cleaning the house, paying the bills, and folding the laundry. THEN I plunge into writing. My social life usually revolves around going to movies with friends or heading to someone’s house for dinner. I have three friends with in-ground pools, so barbecues and pool parties are frequent summer pastimes.
See? Really boring.
13. Any secret projects in the works? Upcoming books we should know about?
There are three things in the works right now. This fall I’ll be publishing TROUBLED WATERS, a book set in a wholly new world. Everyone in this world identifies with certain elemental traits (air, water, fire, earth, wood), and they all wear charms or carry tokens stamped with the “blessings” associated with some of those traits. (For instance, some of the water blessings include luck, persistence, and surprise.) My webmaster and I are currently working on some really cool designs to represent the blessings, and eventually they’ll be posted on my site.
I’m also finishing the drafts of two pieces that will come out in 2011. One is a modern-day urban fantasy about a woman in love with a shape-shifter. The other one is a novella set in Samaria, which will appear in an angel anthology. My co-authors for that are Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, and Ilona Andrews. Not sure of exact dates for either of those!
FUN & RANDOM THINGS:
Favorite Book - JANE EYRE
Favorite Author - Georgette Heyer
-- These two have been pretty constant since I was 15--
Favorite Song - More like favoite soundtrack (GLEE)
Current Read - Just finished Kay Kenyon’s PRINCE OF STORMS and just started Martha Wells’ THE ELEMENT OF FIRE. In their very different ways, they’re both so good at world-building that I think I shouldn’t even try to write in the same genre.
Favorite Subject - Literature courses, from Shakespeare to Southern gothic.
Favorite Season – Autumn.
Sweet or Salty – Both. Chocolate-covered pretzels are perfect foods.
Chocolate or Gummy Bears – CHOCOLATE. Hate gummy bears and jelly beans and similar chewy things.
Flying or driving – Hate both. Am waiting for someone to invent teleporting.