Tonight I am adding in an extra author interview for the week because I loved it so much I could not wait to share Shannon A. Thompson’s interview! I hope you enjoy it!
Do you write under any other names? My first novel, November Snow, was published under the name Ashlee Ironwood, because I was a minor and the publisher didn’t want to use my real name. My published poetry and other novel, Minutes Before Sunset, are both under Shannon A. Thompson.
What are you currently working on? I am currently working on the editing process of “Seconds Before Sunrise” (Book 2 of a Timely Death trilogy.) It is scheduled to release this fall.
How many (if any) books do you have published and what are their titles? My first published novel, November Snow, was sponsored, self-published. Award-winning author of Shifting Sands, T.L. McCown, supported the printing. In 2012, I was featured in a poetry collection, and my recently published novel, Minutes Before Sunset, was published by AEC Stellar Publishing on May 1, 2013. It’s available as an ebook and paperback through all major retailers.
What inspired you to write your first book? I suffered from night terrors, nightmares, and a place in-between as a child. I struggled understanding what was real and what wasn’t, so my mother taught me to write stories in order to make sense of them. Unfortunately, my mother died when I was eleven years old, and I decided to pursue my dreams. “November Snow” is dedicated to her.
Do you have a specific writing style or one that you prefer? Most of my novels are told from two perspectives: one boy and one girl. “November Snow” is told by Daniel and Serena. “Minutes Before Sunset” is told by Eric and Jessica. However, I do have other novels and different genres that are not written this way. I like challenging myself by going beyond what I’m used to.
How did you come up with the title of your book(s)? I’ve explained this in detail on Writing Tips: Titling Your Novel, but here’s it shortened: “November Snow” was originally “It’s Only a Matter of Time.” I knew this was wrong, and it was forced. So I went to a coffee shop (I’m addicted to coffee) and I flipped through the edit print, and I thought about it. In short, that novel only takes place in November and snow is the ultimate symbol. “Minutes Before Sunset” was chosen through the idea of time and darkness, fate and choice. The first novel in the trilogy is truly centered around the Dark, hence the sunset, which leaves readers to wonder what “Seconds Before Sunrise” will be centered around. Fun fact: the phrase “seconds before sunrise” appears in “Minutes Before Sunset,” and it hints to the second novel’s purpose.
Is there a message in your writing that you want readers to grasp? There are different messages for each writing, but I hope my young-adult novels help readers decide for themselves what is right from their identity. For instance, I definitely discourage stereotypes. In “Minutes Before Sunset” there is a character named Crystal–she dresses punk, but her dream is to be a journalist, and she still loves girly-type things. She’s also excited for prom. Through her, I try to show how teens can differ in their friend groups, dreams, and attitudes.
How much of the book is realistic/true? My first novel was science-fiction, so none of it is. Although paranormal-romance, “Minutes Before Sunset” is partially true. I was going through a very dark time in my life when I began having dreams of a boy. He’d simply visit me at night–just to talk and see how I was feeling or what I was going to do in order to fix the situation. Once the situation was fixed, I stopped having the dreams. They felt very real, and it was almost as if my brain created a person to protect myself. However, I was truly saddened by his absence, so I decided to do what I did as a child: write a story explaining the presence.
Are the experiences in your writing based on someone you know, or events in your own life? “Minutes Before Sunset” is based on what I just talked about, but the majority is fiction. So is “November Snow.” I don’t purposely base any of my characters on people I know, but I have noticed similarities in some.
What books have most influenced your life most? “The Stranger” by Albert Camus. “Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer. “Never Let Me Go” by Kazuo Ishiguro. “1984” by George Orwell. And so many more.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a “mentor”? T.L. McCown was my literal mentor. She taught me about the publishing industry, and her guidance has brought me here today.
What book are you reading now? “My War Gone By I Miss It So” by Anthony Lowd.
Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members. Other than T.L. McCown, I have had numerous and unfailing supporters. “Minutes Before Sunset” is dedicated to my college roommates, and my friends are very supportive. They were some of my first readers. But I’d also mention all of my followers at ShannonAThompson.com. They encourage me every day to continue. They really brighten my dream.
Do you see writing as a career or a hobby? Both. I work, and I love what I do. Sometimes, I write just to write, but other times I am doing business. I like to remind myself of the saying: Write for yourself; edit for your readers. That’s when writing becomes a hobby and a job.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? No. It’s funny you ask though, because the first version is very different from the published version. For instance, the first version was 136,000 words (about 600 pages.) The printed version is just under 80,000 (300 pages.) A lot changed, but I love the changes even more.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated? I was little, and my mom really encouraged me to write. We wrote together, mainly about those dreams I was talking about, but we wrote of fun things too. I wrote about my husky a lot. Fun fact: I have two books I wrote in elementary school that were printed, because of a contest I won. They sit on my desk and remind how far I’ve come.
Can you share a little of your current work with us? “Seconds Before Sunrise” is book 2 of a Timely Death trilogy. It starts off one month after the first book ended, and, I’ll say this now, it isn’t what you think it’ll be. While “Minutes Before Sunset” centers around the Dark, “Seconds Before Sunrise” really brings out the human ethics of the situation. Because of this, the biggest twist against fate happens.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? “Minutes Before Sunset” challenges readers to reconsider the archetypes. In this novel, the Dark is good while the Light is bad. This is explained, but it gets into this reasoning deeper through all of the books, especially the last. In terms of “November Snow”…it’s very violent. The overall theme is about violence against the innocent. It takes place in futuristic Vendona, and the government is hunting down children. This novel is told from two of these kids’ perspectives. I think a lot of people were distracted by the violence for a moment of time and didn’t see that the entire novel is about it. But, in a way, it was successful for me, because shock from a certain point was the reaction I was hoping for.
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work? I’m going with my favorite young-adult author, Cassandra Clare, because she’s so inspirational. She took every paranormal creature, made them different, and created a new one altogether. She also one of the first authors to follow the classic Greek hero system in terms of who the protagonist falls in love with. But, spoiler, she does stray from this, and I’m okay with that! I definitely recommend her books.
Who designed the covers of you books? “Minutes Before Sunset” was designed by Autumn Fog Photography. Photographer: Grace Griffin. Model: Audrey Yazel.
What was the hardest part of writing your any of your works? Staying true to the character sometimes gets me. I try to force them into my plan for the plot, and they often turn around and tell me they’d never say or do what I want. We have a little argument before they ALWAYS win.
Do you have any advice for other writers? Write with passion; succeed with self-discipline.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? Just to readers? Enjoy yourself. Get lost in any book and find yourself in it. To readers who are inspiring writers, do the same within your work.
What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing your stories to to life? I do a lot of recording before I start–very detailed character charts, maps, and more. I put all of these on my “Extras” pages so other writers can see possibilities into creating or just adding new things to go with your work. However, the creating is often the hardest part for me, because I figure out everything before I begin. I cannot tell you how many times I started creating, got halfway through, and realized how big of a contradiction I made. Then I have to go back and change everything. I love it, but it’s often bittersweet, because I’m left with dialogue and scenes I can no longer use that I loved. I save all of them–just in case I can incorporate it into a novel in the future.
What character from your writing is your favorite and why? My “sidekick” characters are often my favorite (not that I don’t love my protagonists.) I think I love my sidekicks, because there is a little mystery to them. They’re a little more unpredictable than the protagonists. For instance, I love Pierce (Jonathon) in “Minutes Before Sunset.” He’s quirky, strong, and changes more than the others during transformation. His contradictions bring out a truth to their lives, and I cannot wait for “Seconds Before Sunrise” because we get to see more of his psyche than we did in the first book.