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!
Mystery and fantasy 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 tell a tale is as strong now as it was then. She lives in Colorado with her family where she is a total homebody. She loves to read, cook and bake, and spend time in the spectacular Rocky Mountains.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
I’ve always written and always loved to write, but I never thought of it as a career possibility until after my youngest was born. I even majored in English in college and a writing career never occurred to me. I’m not sure how I thought all those books got on the shelves in the stores and libraries. Duh, someone wrote them and got paid for them!
Why did you choose to write your genre?
Mystery is a new genre for me. I’ve already released a young adult fantasy series – The Wish Makers. Once that series was done, I decided to challenge myself by writing something different. After only one mystery novella, I was hooked on the genre. As much as I love my Wish Makers, mystery feels like a perfect fit and where I’m meant to be as a writer. Always test and challenge yourself, you never know where it will lead. [My new favorite quote!]
Currently, what are you working on?
The second book in my Whispering Pines series, KEPT SECRETS, is set to release in mid-October, so my days are filled with preparing for that release. I’ll start on the third, ORIGINAL SECRETS, after that. I have an idea for a humorous cozy mystery series that I’ll start playing around with soon.
Let’s talk about your latest book for a moment. What motivated the plot?
FAMILY SECRETS, the first in the Whispering Pines series, started out as a young adult novel and many years later became an adult mystery. The bits that carried through are Jayne the main character, Meeka her West Highland White Terrier, and the fact that she goes to her grandmother’s house in northern Wisconsin. The rest of the story developed because a) I wanted to write a mystery, b) I had heard about a place called Lily Dale, New York which is a community of psychics, c) I wanted to learn more about the Wiccan religion.
What is the strangest subject or topic you’ve ever written?
My Wish Makers series dealt with tough topics – death of sibling, divorce, dating violence, homelessness, mental illness, bullying, teen suicide, and kidnapping. In my short story, THE DOOR, the main character’s art project comes to life. My Whispering Pines series is populated with Wiccan witches, fortune tellers, and circus rejects. Is any of that strange?
What was the hardest story for you to write?
The first draft! If I don’t blast through that first draft as fast as I possibly can, it will drag on forever and be a hot mess in the end. I love the revision process. That’s when my characters and setting really come to life.
What process do you use to plan your novels?
After I’ve got the bones of an idea – see #5 above – I start with research. I’m a very visual writer so Pinterest is a big source of ideas for me. [I love Pinterest and have boards for every story.] You can see my FAMILY SECRETS page here https://www.pinterest.com/shawnmcguire1/family-secrets-a-whispering-pines-mystery/
and my KEPT SECRETS page here https://www.pinterest.com/shawnmcguire1/whispering-pines-2/
Then I come up with an outline which for me means knowing the major plot points for the entire book and a loose idea of what will happen from plot point A to B and B to C, etc. The outline tends to change as I write and that’s fine. I just like to have a direction to start in and let the story and characters take over from there.
Do any of your characters reflect facets of your personality?
Absolutely, many of them. I strive to be courageous like Desiree. I love to cook like Mandy, the main character in STICKS AND STONES. I have a strong desire to always do the right thing like Jayne in the Whispering Pines series. I have a love for nature like Morgan, my Wiccan green witch in Whispering Pines. I don’t think it’s possible for an author to not put a little of herself in her characters.
Have you ever experienced writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
I have enough story ideas to keep me writing for years. If I ever become “blocked,” in that I’m stuck and can’t move forward with a story, it’s because something is wrong with the plot. When that happens, I go out for a walk and talk it through. Literally. People in my neighborhood wonder who the crazy lady is talking to herself. Seriously, though, the tactic works for me every time. Sometimes the solution I come up with still isn’t right, but it gets me writing again and eventually everything works itself through.
If you were to choose another genre to write in, what would it be?
Hmm. I kind of answered that in #2 but if I could add another genre it might be women’s fiction. All of my books, even if I don’t initially intend them to, end up having a relationship theme of some kind or other – romantic, friendship, family, etc. Relationships are very important in women’s fiction so that intrigues me.
Which authors inspire you?
So many. Too many to list. I especially admire authors who write what they want and are successful doing so regardless of genre.
What novel would you read multiple times?
Tough question. It’s rare that I read a book more than once. There are just too many out there I want to read! I do want to read the Harry Potter series again, so I can be truly amazed by Rowling’s plotting genius and find all the nuggets she hid along the way. I read the last one so fast, fearful that someone would ruin the ending for me, that I know I missed things. She is an author who inspires and amazes me.
If you could meet anyone in the world, alive or deceased, who would it be and why? (Person could be a fictional character)
I’d want to meet my characters. I’d love to have Desiree, Mandy, and Crissy over for dinner. It would be fun to follow Jayne around while she’s investigating a case. I’d love to watch Morgan performing one of her Wiccan rituals. I don’t think there’s any real person I’d want to meet. I’ve said I’d love to meet Celine Dion, Oprah, and JK Rowling—because they are strong, successful women who did things their own way—but I’ve got an idea in my head of what they’re like and I don’t want real life to mess with that!
What is your favorite quote?
What is your favorite animal, real or imaginary?
Not sure anyone’s ever asked me that before! The first creature to pop into my head is a wolf. I had a Siberian Husky, Nikki, when I was a kid. He was a great dog and very wolf-like. [Ah, Huskies. We had Samoyeds.]
What is your favorite color?
This tends to change. Purple is at the top of the list right now.
When you’re not writing…
I’m very fortunate to say full-time. I’ve been a stay-at-home mom since my youngest was born . . . So maybe that means writing is part-time because being a mom is definitely a full-time gig! My youngest is 16, though, and doesn’t need me as much anymore. I’m happy for more time to pursue my dreams, but I’m not ready for him to leave the house yet!
Don’t forget you can pick up the first book in the Whispering Pines series, Family Secrets, for FREE until 9/29! While you’re on Amazon, go ahead and pre-order, Kept Secrets. It will be available soon.
You can find Shawn online at…
Thank you, my friend, for hanging out with me today.
Join me next week when Jaci Wheeler will be dropping by!