Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Secrets or Truths? Special Interview!!

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!


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.


Jai Joshi said...

Fabulous interview, Jen! Thanks to Sharon Shinn for being so cool about doing it.

In answer to your question I would choose speaking the truth in all circumstances but I'd try to speak the sweet truth. No sense in hurting people's feeling by telling them their butt lots fat in those pants or their pimple really is huge or their manuscript is terrible! Those kinds of truths are counter-productive.

I'd only choose to keep secrets if I were a secret agent and the fate of my country depended on my ability to keep my mouth shut.


Candyland said...

Great interview! Ha! Like being told your baby is ugly...good line.

Diana Mieczan said...

That is a beautiful interview sweetie...She is amazing!
To answer your question. It’s hard to say...it all depends on the individual case...Happy Tuesday :)

Diana Mieczan said...

That is a beautiful interview sweetie...She is amazing!
To answer your question. It’s hard to say...it all depends on the individual case...Happy Tuesday :)

Vicki Rocho said...

Good job! I don't think I've read her before but with 21 books I could be wrong!

I have read many many books, but don't always remember title/author. Sometimes they get filed under what I was doing when I read the book (beach/airplane/study hall) or plot points instead of something as useful as the title and author!

Ann said...

Really enjoyed this interview Jen. Found it very encouraging. Thanks for that. Loved the line from the "Lion in Winter," “My life, when it is written, will read better than it lived.”

Joanne said...

I always enjoy reading about writers' journeys, and all the interesting twists and turns in the road they encounter. Great interview, thanks to Sharon for sharing her story with us.

Summer Frey said...

Awesome interview; thanks for exposing me to a new author!

Jaydee Morgan said...

Great interview - and just goes to show to keep going and churning out that work - eventually, we might get there!

Kaitlyn said...

Thanks for the compliment about my art work. Feel free to post my work on your blog. Of course, I love to share my work with all who love art. Thank you so much! I am now a follower of an amazing blog! So glad you found me!

Amy Saia said...

That was a great, great interview. I learned a lot about her and loved her comments on trying to get published. Thank you for that Jen!

Tamara Narayan said...

Hi Jen,

Great interview. I feel much better knowing there are lots of writers who don't get that first book sold. Not than I am ready to give up!

I would pick always keeping a secret. I still have a secret told to me by a close friend way back in eighth grade!

Erica Mitchell said...

Great interview Jen, how do you get all these fab interviews!? Very inspirational, especially when it comes the first book. I want that one to publish so badly but I need to keep letting new ideas flow at the same time. I forget to do that occasionally, most of the time, okay all the time till real recently.
To answer the question: Both are destructive in their own right. I'm kind of a grey area person hmm, so I reject them both lol. I could never choose one to be absolutely honest. Some secrets are not mine to tell, and some truths aren't either. Tough question!

JE said...

16 years?!?! And she never gave up? Wow, what an inspirational story! And a wonderful interview, Jen. Goes to show that determination can pay off. ;-)

And, I think telling the truth beyond all circumstance would be curse!!


Matthew MacNish said...

Great interview! Thanks Jen and Sharon.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Fantastic interview, Jen! I love learning behind-the-scenes details about where book ideas came from. Thanks, ladies.

Elana Johnson said...

I love reading this journey! Thanks for the inspiration to never give up. 21 books -- I am in awe.

And yes, we need to teleport, stat.

Jackee said...

Yay for Sharon! Thanks for the interview, ladies.

I think I might worship Sharon even more after she shared this spectacular journey with us. What a great path to pub! Thanks again.

Christina Lee said...

Wow! 21!?!?! This was very inspirational to read! Everyone's journey is so different and I need to keep reminding myself of that!

Meredith said...

Such a great interview! It's so inspiring to hear about authors' stories. I can't wait to read her books now!

vmichelle said...

Thanks for sharing this! Both of you...

j.leigh.bailey said...

Wow, what a great interview. She's fascinating and her books sound great. Yet another author to add to my must-read list. :)

Talli Roland said...

A really interesting interview - again! Thanks, Jen and Sharon. I love your little blurb at the start of the interview.

Tahereh said...

awesome interview! a huge thank you to you both!! :D

Melissa said...

OOO. Your interviews are always fabulous. Love them!

I really liked this one and I can't believe she kept pursuing, for 16 years. That baffles my mind and is also so inspiring!

Id always tell the truth. I can count the times I've full on lied on both my hands (and most of that was when I was younger and rebellious!) Most of the time though,I say the truth but I'm very good with words so i'm good at putting a spin on the truth. I guess thats what makes me a decent writer.


Clara said...

What a fabulous interview! Thanks Jen and Sharon!

Anonymous said...

Snazzy interview! Thanks to the both of you! I really like the idea of "exorcising" your writing ideas by getting them onto paper.

The question you posed was a hard one, but I'd have to say I'd rather have the gift/curse of telling the truth under all circumstances. So much is wrong in this world because people lie too often. Sometimes the truth can be painful, but it's better than finding out after being lied to, which will just worsen the impact and the problem.

The Words Crafter said...

Wow, this was really interesting and informative! Thanks for doing and posting the interview!

Jemi Fraser said...

Great interview ladies!

I'm with you on the chocolate :)

Love the idea of the mirror twins - very cool. I'll definitely be picking up this one!

Lizzy said...

Great interview! I have to agree, Lit courses are so much fun. I wish I had taken more of them before I graduated.

Karen Lange said...

Always like interviews. Thanks for sharing! :)

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing this fabulous interview, Jen and Sharon!

Your publishing journey is definitely very inspiring, Sharon. And I've heard so many wonderful things about your books. I'll definitely have to check them out!

Kristin Rae said...

wow she gave you some great detailed answers!! look at all those interviews you have lined up! you are quite the journalist these days!