Mason Cooley said, “Reading gives us some place to go when we have to stay where we are.”
A Center Stage Moment shines a spotlight on writers who give us great places to visit with the characters we love and want to call friends.
Today, I have the pleasure of introducing to you Shawn McGuire!
Colorado-based author Shawn McGuire started writing after seeing the first Star Wars movie (that’s episode IV) as a kid. She couldn’t wait for the next installment to come out so wrote her own. Sadly, those notebooks are long lost, but her desire to write is as strong now as it was then. Her young adult novels deal with harder issues—dating violence, death of a family member, bullying, and teen suicide. Since those topics can be hard to handle, she infuses a good bit of humor as well because she believes that laughter can help you get through just about anything.
Without further ado, here is Shawn’s interview…
I love reading the bios of authors. Many of them did not start out as writers. Sometimes people stumble upon the craft. Did you always want to be a writer? I’ve always enjoyed writing. Honestly, it never occurred to me that being a writer could also be a career. I majored in English in college and everyone asked, “So you’ll be a teacher.” No. “A journalist?” Nope. No one ever said novelist! It takes me a while, sometimes, but I get there!
Why did you choose to write young adult speculative fiction? It all started with a little wizard boy you may remember from a few years back. I absolutely fell in love with the Harry Potter series. I remember one time being so deeply involved, with whichever of the books I was reading, that when I looked up from the pages I couldn’t figure out where I was for a few seconds. My brain was totally at Hogwarts. [That’s happened to me a few times.] I thought, if JK Rowling could do that to me, maybe I could do that for someone else.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written? Probably the novella I’m working on right now. It involves the yakuza – basically, the Japanese mafia – and they are some complex characters. Sort of Robin Hood meets Al Capone. (The real people, not my characters.) While writing the novella, I beheaded someone one day and fought with Samurai swords the next.
What are you currently working on? The novella I just mentioned and I’m also working on the last book in my Wish Makers series.
What motivated the plot of the Sticks and Stones series? I don’t remember! I wrote the first book in my series, Sticks and Stones, probably nine years ago. At the time it was a middle grade novel and a complete and total hot mess. Even my critique partners were like, what do you want us to do with this. I put it away, but the concept, about a girl whose imaginary friend comes to life, kept talking to me. When I pulled it out again, about four years ago, I intended it to be a standalone novel, but the genie, Desiree, kept telling me, “I’ve got a lot to say. Give me more page time.” Um, yeah. She had five books worth of stuff to say! [Five? I can’t wait for this book!]
What was the hardest story for you to write? The fourth book in my series, Had A Great Fall. It deals with bullying and teen suicide. Because I write in first person, I sometimes feel like I’ve become the character. In this story, Robin gets bullied to the point where he contemplates suicide. It’s a really important topic, and I’m glad I wrote the book, but it got so dark that I started getting depressed and once it was finished, I couldn’t write for a while. I wasn’t prepared for that. [I’m glad you wrote it, too. I enjoyed Robin’s story.]
What process do you use to plan your novels? I stick the initial idea – maybe a character, maybe a setting – into a far back part of my brain and let it simmer, usually for many months before I even start plotting the story. I believe that the universe provides what you need when you need it. So, if no more ideas come, that book wasn’t meant to be right now. [I like that thought.]
Looking at pictures is hugely helpful for me. I’m very visual so Pinterest is a great tool for me. Slowly, the initial idea starts getting bigger and more characters start to show up. Pretty soon I’m jotting down an idea for a scene (Ideas tend to come to me when I’m drying my hair so I keep paper and pen in the bathroom.) and then more ideas and before I know it I’m plotting the whole book. [I’m very familiar with getting ideas in the bathroom. My ideas hit in the shower.]
Who has been your favorite character to write and why? You know! Desiree, my genie. She’s a hippie (straight out of Woodstock) and so much fun. She looks at the world in a very laid back, Zen, yin-yang sort of way. She cares a great deal for people, but has few people of her own in her world. She’s loaded with attitude and will put you through hell to get your wish, but she cares deeply that you are happy and on the right path when the wish ends. She has become so real for me, that I feel like she’s with me all the time. She stands just behind me and to my left. [Desiree was my favorite in this series, too. I loved her heart.]
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality? Desiree! As I’ve been writing the series and watching Desiree agonize over the choices she’s made, I realized I was kind of writing about myself. We all struggle with the choices we make sometimes. By the end of the series, Desiree is content and knows that overall, she’s done the right thing.
I sure some of the others also reflect me somehow. They all came from me, after all.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it? I have more ideas for books than time to write so that’s never my problem. If I ever get stuck and the words stop flowing, that means something is wrong with the structure of the book. Either the plot is heading in the wrong direction, or I’m trying to force a character to do something that’s not right. [Very true.]
Most of the time, going for a walk helps shake loose the problem. There is a large field near my house. I go out to the field and I talk to myself. Literally, out loud. I try to make sure there’s no one else in the field when I do this, or they’ll think I’m a crazy person. But seriously, if I talk it out with my characters, I usually have the answer by the time I get back home.
The bonus is, when I get to the midpoint of my walk and I look west, I get rewarded with a view of the Rocky Mountains. I can see the range from Boulder clear down to Colorado Springs.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be? Funny you should ask. I just recently decided that I’d like to explore the mystery/suspense genre. The novella I released in December, One Of Her Own, and the one I’m working on now – the one with the poor beheaded person – came from an opportunity I had to write fan fiction for mystery author Toby Neal. I had more fun writing these novellas (it’s kind of cathartic to behead a bad guy) and am getting such great response from readers, I’ll definitely be writing more suspense. Also, it’s time for me to step away from high school and leave the YA world. I’m going to write about slightly older characters with my next work. [Look out New Adult world!]
Which authors inspire you? Oh, too many to mention! That sounds like a cop-out, but I seriously love the work of so many authors. Those who give me complex characters will capture my heart and my loyalty.
What novel would you read multiple times? I don’t generally read books a second time. My to-be-read stack is so big that I just want to keep digging through it to find new works that I’ll love. I would like to read the Harry Potter series, again at some point.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? My characters. I think many times that I would love to have all of the girls from my novels over for dinner. Man, would that a blast! [Yes! I’d love, love, love to have dinner with Desiree.]
If I’m a big fan of someone, I tend to like to hold that fantasy in my head and heart. It could be crushing to meet someone you thought was one way only to find out they were not at all the kind of person you thought they were.
I would love to meet author Elizabeth Gilbert. I get the feeling that she is exactly as she appears to be. (I love people like that!) She seems to be such a beautiful spirit. I would love to just be in her presence sometime. (Can you tell I’m a bit of a fan?)
What is your favorite quote?
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary? Desiree’s dog, Rasta. He’s a Hungarian Puli – the kind that looks like a living pile of yarn – and because Desiree can do magic, she dyed his cords the color of the Jamaican flag – yellow, green, and black. He’s also telepathic and talks to her, in a Jamaican accent, through his thoughts.
What is your favorite color? Right now, purple. It tends to change.
Shawn is fortunate to be a full-time author. Her youngest child is a teenager who doesn’t need her as much anymore. Her oldest is graduating from college this year. After fifteen years of being a stay-at-home mom, she’s focusing on her dreams. Something she’s very grateful for.
Catch up with Shawn online at:
Website – www.Shawn-McGuire.com
Email – Shawn@Shawn-McGuire.com
Facebook – www.Facebook.com/ShawnMcGuireAuthor
Newsletter – http://eepurl.com/V21k1
Pinterest – http://www.pinterest.com/shawnmcguire1/
Twitter – https://twitter.com/Shawn_McGuire
Instagram – https://instagram.com/shawn.mcguire1/
One Of Her Own http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0197C65T6
Coming Soon (Pre-order Now!)
Tick Tock: Seven Tales Of Time (Anthology) – http://tinyurl.com/h3thp8z
The Wish Makers series
Sticks And Stones – http://tinyurl.com/k5upza6
Break My Bones – http://tinyurl.com/kbhbors
Never Hurt Me – http://tinyurl.com/nc78orh
Had A Great Fall – http://tinyurl.com/qh2mq4t
Back Together Again – Coming March 2016
It was fun learning more about you, Shawn! Thanks for being a part of my Author Spotlight!
Join me next week as I feature Raye Wagner!