First off, since Margay has not been doing well as of late - Get well soon!
Shannon is an author Margay booked, so I have to apologize for the lack of a good intro! I know I usually try to have something witty to say about the author or her books, but this time, I really don't sorry! Hopefully Margay will be feeling better later this week and can offer something up in a comment!
MARGAY: So, let's get to the interview! As you may already know, in honor of April 15th being tax day, we’re asking our authors 15 questions this month. Speaking of taxes, are you’re taxes finished, or do you procrastinate with them? Do you do them yourself or do you have a taxman do them for you?
SHANNON: My husband does them. Math and I—we don’t play nice together. ;-)
MARGAY: As it says, “April showers bring May flowers”. What flowers do you hope to see the first thing in spring?
SHANNON: I love crocuses (and really should plant some of my own rather than staring lustfully at my neighbors’ lawns). I really get the sense it’s finally spring, though, when the local apple and cherry trees start to blossom.
MARGAY: Do you plant your own garden? Why or why not and where is it (are they) located? What type(s) will it (they) be and where is it (are they) located on your property?
SHANNON: Yes, I plant my own gardens. My husband builds the raised beds and tills the soil, but I decide what goes where and I’m the one getting my hands dirty doing the planting (it’s good for brainstorming stories). My main veggie garden is broken into multiple raised beds (companion planted) which surround (at a healthy distance, of course) our fire pit. My fruit trees, berry bushes and flower gardens (all of which are either medicinal or for food) are zero-/xeri-scaped with the fieldstone that’s so prevalent here and scattered around the main “lawn.”
MARGAY: Do you prefer plants or seeds? Does it matter where you get them, or do you have a favorite place to go? What’s the name of the place and why do you prefer there over other places?
SHANNON: I prefer plants (we have a very short growing season so I need many things started) but often have to start things myself with seeds. I try to buy from the smaller local nurseries (there’s one that’s not far from where our Highland cattle currently graze) but sometimes I get seedlings at the bigger chain markets and home stores. It depends on who has what and what they’ll charge me. I’ll pay a little more to buy local, but I have to watch the wallet, too.
MARGAY: What will you plant (or have already planted) this year and why?
SHANNON: I always plant the Three Sisters (corn, beans and squash—and together). They do well together and give us a bunch of options. I’m also a fan of Danvers carrots (they produced like crazy for us last year!), Roma tomatoes (we dry lots of them), basil, any type of mint you can think of (lots of sweet tea’s consumed around here in the summer), red potatoes, garlic, onions, peas, parsnips, strawberries, eggplant, asparagus (I hated it as a kid but can’t get enough of it now), zucchini and pumpkins.
MARGAY: Do you have any plants that are must haves for your garden, ones that it just won’t be complete without?
SHANNON: I have to have tomatoes. My mother encouraged my strong love of them—summer’s not really summer without tomato sandwiches. Yum!
MARGAY: Now that we some more about you, let’s get to your writing. What is your main genre (erotica, erotic romance, romantic suspense, etc.)? What was the draw for you?
SHANNON: Currently I have to say paranormal aimed at a YA audience. There wasn’t a particular draw to the genre, it’s just sort of what the characters demanded. Their voices were definitely teen voices and (since some are werewolves) paranormal was necessary.
MARGAY: Besides your main genre we just discussed, what elements do you prefer to use in a story and why those elements over others?
SHANNON: I like to throw in paranormal elements and traditional literary influences. Shakespeare and different classical books and plays are alluded to in 13 to Life...for a variety of reasons.
MARGAY: Do you prefer red roses or black roses? If so, does that show in your writing? If so, how? If roses aren’t your style, what flowers are? Do they influence your writing? If so, how?
SHANNON: Red roses. Traditionally they were viewed as a symbol of love and for me, love equates frequently with hope. Even when my characters are in dire straits (which happens often) there’s still hope.
MARGAY: The jury’s still out on this question, so we’re still asking it! - Who decides what you write about, you or your muse? What kind of influence do you have over your story, or is the muse always the one planting the seeds? How do you cultivate those seeds regardless of who plants them?
SHANNON: My characters, who step in to play muse whenever they like, determine what I write about. The seeds that grow into those characters (and the tangle of their lives) are definitely planted by me—what I read, the music I listen to, the people I observe. I cultivate those tender beginnings by getting waist-deep in research of all sorts of strange things.
MARGAY: In your opinion, what author had the most influence on your writing? What about their writing did you find so influential and why?
SHANNON: Every time I’m asked this question I think I wind up giving a different answer. Every book I finish reading influences me in some small way—makes me rethink things in character, plot or setting based on what I think worked and didn’t work in that particular book. So, I guess, the most influential authors (for me) would be the ones I’ve read the most of... Orson Scott Card, Robin McKinley, Anne McCaffrey, CJ Cherryh, Mercedes Lackey, Andre Norton, Philippa Gregory and Eloisa James spring to mind based on how many books of theirs I’ve consumed. Oh. And Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe. Do I write things that distinctly feel like anything of theirs? I doubt it, but I know their creativity and their unique voices and settings make me hungry to grow my own.
MARGAY: While authors can definitely influence us, inspiration can be everywhere for a writer, but specific people, places and events can inspire certain characters, personality traits or things that happen in our stories. In your current story that we’re promoting here today, 13 to Life, did any one particular person, place or event inspire you? If so who/what was it (were they), how did it/they inspire you and how is this inspiration reflected in your story?
SHANNON: The early death of my mother definitely influenced my character Jessie. Although my frustrations and struggles with my mother’s loss don’t (hopefully) come across obviously in the book, it was definitely a life-changing event that wound up pouring onto the page when Jessie’s dealing with the loss of her mom. My mother was very supportive of my writing and art and losing her to cancer was a huge blow.
MARGAY: Without giving away anything pertinent to the story, tell us about the hero and heroine (s) of your story. What do they look like? How do they meet (or “did” if this is a second book with these same characters)? What are their personalities – Are they comical cut-ups, are they serious or are they a mix of the two? Please give us a little bit of dialogue from the story that can illustrate this. (Not much, but just a few lines and from a different section than the main excerpt – Thanks!)
SHANNON: Jessie’s my main heroine (and the narrator, so everything readers experience is through Jessie’s eyes). She’d describe herself as average (but, like so many young women, she doesn’t give herself enough credit). She’s lost some faith in people and life in general since the death of her mother, but she’s trying to do what her mother would want: forgive. Jessie wants to be a writer but she often struggles with finding the right word.
Pietr’s my main hero for the trilogy (at least in my eyes—and Jessie’s). He’s tall, dark-haired and built of lean muscle. He has a gift for stating the obvious and Jessie and he have some definite issues.
“So what do we do here?” Pietr asked. He looked at the face of his cell phone. Another clock.
I blinked at him. “Help improve people’s quality of life.”
“Is that on some brochure?” he asked. “It’s catchy, but what do we really do? How long do we have to stay? There are things I’d rather be doing…”
“I hope one of them is shutting your mouth and realizing we don’t just… Ugh!” I exclaimed in frustration, “We don’t just live our lives for ourselves,” I retorted.
Hascal wrapped an arm around my shoulders, dragging me forward. “That’s Jessie’s new motto,” he explained.
I immediately understood that to Hascal “new” equated with “since the accident.”
“What was your old motto?” Pietr asked.
Annoying Pietr. “I didn’t have one,” I admitted.
MARGAY: The main characters are usually great, but sometimes, secondary and tertiary characters are known to steal the scenes. Who are the secondary/tertiary characters in your story and what do they look like? What’s unique about them? What is their relationship to the hero/heroine? Have any of these gone on to become scene-stealers? If so, who and how did they do it? (Again, please give us a small bit of dialogue to illustrate this – thanks!)
SHANNON: The one who jumps to mind in this first book in the series is definitely Maximilian Rusakova. “Max” (as he prefers) is one of Pietr’s older brothers and he’s definitely my “hot boy.” Girls definitely like the look of Max (and his self-assured attitude) and Max isn’t shy about showing how much he likes girls, too. He’s a flirt (and a bit of an embarrassment to Pietr).
I was digging in my locker when Pietr leaned toward me and spoke again.
“You look really nice today.”
My breath caught. Probably because I’d stirred some dust up in the bottom of my locker. I really needed to clean it out soon.
“That’s a pretty lame compliment,” a deeper male voice rumbled behind me.
I turned around to see Pietr’s brother—was his name Maximilian? I tried to remember the name tag he’d been labeled with in the Guidance Office that first day.
“Max,” he introduced himself with a bold grin.
He had Pietr’s attention. And Amy’s. Giving myself a moment to look at him, I could understand why. He was tall and broad across the shoulders with a mop of hair so dark it was nearly black. Certainly not hard to look at. I had to give Stella credit. The Rusakova boys were pretty hot.
“The proper way to hit on a girl,” Max was saying to Pietr (who looked like he would sink into the floor, he was so embarrassed), “is like this.”
Max turned all his focus to Amy. “Hey,” he said with a nod of his head.
She froze like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car.
Let's check out the blurb and excerpt:
BLURB: Everything about Jessie Gillmansen’s life changed when her mother died. Now even her hometown is changing. Wolves and newcomers with a dark agenda prowl Junction. All Jessie wants is to avoid more change.
But showing a hot new guy around Junction High, she’s about to discover a whole new type of change. Pietr Rusakova is more than good looks and a fascinating accent—he’s a guy with a dangerous secret. And his very existence is about to bring big trouble to Jessie’s small town.
It seems change is the one thing Jessie can’t avoid.
EXCERPT: (Set-up: The students at Junction High are required to do service-learning assignments and Jessie and Pietr both help out at the local nursing home by taking animals from a shelter to visit the residents. Pietr’s carrying a kitten named Victoria and Jessie’s got Tag, the pug).
Once inside, we boarded the elevator to begin our rounds. My boys got the first two floors; Pietr and I got the third and fourth. As the elevator doors opened, he wrinkled his nose.
“It reminds me of a hospital,” I confessed.
“I hate hospitals,” he replied.
“As much as you hate Romeo and Juliet?”
He smiled at the comparison. “Almost exactly.”
“Let’s start at Mrs. Feldman’s,” I said, leading the way. I knocked on her door.
“Come in, come in!”
I ran my hand across the chimes that hung from her doorjamb, enjoying their sparkling sound. “I just don’t understand why you hate Romeo and Juliet,” I said as we entered.
Mrs. Feldman’s eyes were wide. “Who hates Romeo and Juliet?” she asked, her gaping mouth accentuated by the stretched and ghostly wrinkles of laugh lines. She set aside the strange cards she was shuffling, tucking them into one of the folds of her voluminous and colorful skirt.
I looked at Pietr accusingly, then moved a small, wheeled table covered with a variety of sparkling stones and colorful crystals out of my way to stand beside Mrs. Feldman so she could pet Tag. “He hates Romeo and Juliet.”
“Well, finally!” she exclaimed. “A sensible young man!”
“Close your mouth,” she instructed me, “You’ll only catch flies that way.”
“Why anyone finds that play romantic is beyond me. Both Romeo and Juliet are so--” her jaw worked silently, pushing her expression around until she found the word, “--naïve! Instead of enlisting their friends’ help, they go behind everyone’s backs, lying.” She snorted.
“The cat, please,” she said, her fingers twinkling with gaudy rings set with chunky stones. “Why you must always bring cats and dogs eludes me,” she whispered as Pietr stepped to her other side. “Why not a little bunny? They’re so cute and innocent. Cats always seem to be thinking up trouble.” But she petted Victoria, her hands relaxing at the feel of plush fur. Victoria purred so loudly Tag wiggled around so he could watch.
“Hmph. Romeo and Juliet. The boy — Romeo!” Mrs. Feldman shook her head. “Hardly a romantic hero. He was head over heels for Rosaline and then — poof! She’s out-of-sight-out-of-mind as soon as Juliet comes into view.” She grimaced. “And why does he really want Juliet?” She looked at me, waiting for an answer. “Why?” she prompted.
“He thinks she’s beautiful,” I said softly.
“Pah! She’s unattainable! He knows he can’t truly have her so he wants her even more! They’re so blinded by hormones — hormones!” she set Victoria on her lap and petted her. “They think love will be easy.” She put her lips together and blew, reminding me of my horses. “Pah! They wouldn’t know love if it — if it--” she held Victoria out, giving her a little shake in emphasis “— bit them.”
(I will be formatting this a little later...sorry!)