Interview with Irina Shapiro

Posted on August 21, 2013


This afternoon, it is my pleasure to present to you the beautifully talented Irina Shapiro!



Do you write under any other names? No, just under my own.

What are you currently working on? I’m working on a new novel called The Hanging Tree.

How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles? So far I’ve published eight novels: The Inheritance, Full Circle, The Folly, Precious Bones, The Hands of Time, A Leap of Faith, A World Apart, and A Game of Shadows.  The last four are part of The Hands of Time Series.

What inspired you to write your first book?  I just felt this overwhelming urge to write something.  It was like this constant nagging at the back of my mind.  I wasn’t even sure what I was going to write about, but this invisible pull wouldn’t leave me alone until I finally gave in.  Once I started writing, it came easily enough.

Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer?  I tend to write from multiple points of view.  I think it offers greater insight into the characters and allows me to share their thoughts and innermost feelings.   I think the reader becomes more involved when they can see into the character’s soul and not just be told about it from someone else’s perspective.

How did you come up with the title of your book(s)?  The first book I ever wrote was Full Circle.  If you read the story, there’s really no other title that would work because the characters in the book literally come full circle, but not in a way you would expect.

Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp?  I think my main message is that in life anything is possible, and that you should never, ever give up hope of finding what’s right for you.  The Universe works in mysterious ways.

How much of the book is realistic/true?  My novels are based on real historical events, so that’s all true.  However, the fantasy/supernatural parts are obviously just fiction.  As far as I know no one has traveled through time yet and came back to tell about it.  Would be fascinating though.

Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life?  I always thought that if I ever wrote anything it would be autobiographical, but once I started writing I found that the characters had a mind of their own and often did things I wasn’t expecting or planning on.  They write their own story, I just take it down.

Then there’s also the fact that people tend to look for themselves in the stories and take offense if they perceive that they were somehow presented in a negative light, so I never use anyone I know.

What books have most influenced your life most?  I’ve read everything from Tolstoy to Dan Brown, and I find that I love books that grab you by the first page and don’t release you until the story is told, and even then, you are still thinking about those characters and missing them.  It takes a great storyteller to accomplish that, and there aren’t that many of them out there despite the huge quantity of books available.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”?  I’d have to say it was Diana Gabaldon.  I love her Outlander series; they are some of the most imaginative, addictive books I’ve ever read.  Her writing is like a beautiful painting where every single inch of the canvas is filled with exquisite detail.  Reading her books is more like watching a movie because they are so visual.  You can just picture everything down to the smallest detail.

What book are you reading now?  I just started The Firebird by Susanna Kearsley.

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.  I have a few friends who encouraged me and gave me confidence to put my work out there.

Do you see writing as a career or a hobby?  Writing started out as a hobby, but quickly became a career.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?  No, I don’t think so.  The story played out exactly as I wanted it to.

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?  I’ve always loved to read, so to be able to write something that someone else actually wanted to read was a dream come true.

Can you share a little of your current work with us?  I can’t give too much away, but there will be a trip to Scotland, dark family secrets, a restless spirit who haunts a ruin, and a twist ending that will tie all the threads together.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?  According to my readers, I write fast-paced, imaginative stories, but sometimes I have trouble with flowery descriptions.  I have a tendency to get to the point.

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?  Diana Gabaldon, see above.

Who designed the covers of you books?  I designed the covers myself.  It was fun.

What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works?  The hardest part is not to subconsciously “borrow” from something that I’ve seen or read.

Do you have any advice for other writers?  Write for fun.  If you turn it into work, it’ll show.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?  All I can ask is that they read my books and judge for themselves.  I don’t think they’ll be disappointed.

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to life?  For me the challenge is in keeping the reader guessing.  I refuse to be predictable and I want them to gasp as they read something, thinking that they never expected this to happen, and oh, my God, what will happen next?

What character from your writing is your favorite and why?  My favorite character is Valerie in The Hands of Time series just because she resembles me the most out of all my creations.

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