Today, I’d like to welcome author and blogger-extraordinaire, Shannon A. Thompson for a quick chat about writing, reading and the Timely Death trilogy.
BG: Have you always wanted to be a writer? Did you like to share your stories with people? Or were you more of a dreamer, setting out to amuse yourself?
SAT: I was always a writer, but I’m not sure I always wanted to be a writer career-wise. I seem to recall a year where I was set on being a veterinarian instead. I believe I was five. I did, though, want to be a writer most of my life, and I took it very, very seriously at a young age. I shared my stories with anyone I could, but I started pursuing publication right after my mother suddenly died. I was eleven, but the shock really caused me to focus on how I wanted to live my life.
BG: You published your first book as a teenager. Is it different publishing as an adult?
SAT: Very different! I was very naïve when I first published, and because of that, a lot of unfortunate things took place. First, when I first published the Indie market was barely around. Kindles weren’t even out yet, so finding an affordable professional to edit or create cover art was basically impossible, which is why I want to re-release my first novel. Also, I was a minor, and that ended up causing problems with the copyright, and a few publishers took advantage of that, so – in the end – I was forced to pull my book off the shelf, and the discouragement caused me to quit publishing for seven years. Now that I’m older, I understand a lot more of the market, and I feel more comfortable with the risks around me. I built up a tough skin over those seven years, and I don’t plan on giving up ever again.
BG: When you come up with something new, are you an ideas and concepts person, or does it all start with the characters?
SAT: That is really difficult to say! Since most of my novels start off as dreams I’ve had, it’s probably both, but I am starting to believe my novels are more character-driven, despite the plot, so perhaps the characters stick out to me the most.
BG: As an avid reader, were there any books that had a lasting influence on you as a child? Any books that ruled your teenage years?
SAT: Of course! I’ve actually written entire posts about this. Here’s one titled Books That Changed My Childhood and many novels influenced my teenage years as well, including classics like 1984 and mainstream novels written by Meg Cabot.
BG: Do you have an all-time favourite character that you wished was yours?
SAT: I don’t compare my writing other authors. When I read, I am a reader. When I write, I’m a writer. If I’m thinking about writing while reading, I’m not going to enjoy the story, so I try to separate the two. That being said, I loved Suze in The Mediator, and the first four girls in Daughters of the Moon. The Magic Tree House Series was also a great influence on me.
BG: In The Timely Death Trilogy the Dark are the good guys, while the Light are bad. What made you turn to the Dark side (apart from the superior theme music, obviously)?
SAT: I find archetypes in literature extremely traditional. Not that that is a bad thing, but I wish we had more novels that challenged the traditional roles we see. I am a night owl. I love the dark, and winter is my favorite season. It always saddened me to see both of these things demonized in literature.
BG: Eric is a somewhat reluctant hero. Was he always supposed to be that way, or did his resentment grow with the story?
SAT: Eric is definitely supposed to be reluctant. This goes back to challenging stereotypical literature. In The Timely Death Trilogy, we have a prophecy, and we have a hero destined to win, but I find stories like that very irritating. How is someone a hero if they are destined to win? How can they possibly struggle? I wanted to challenge that, and the second book truly does in terms of the prophecy, so the prophetic hero is not as prophetic as it sounds.
BG: Jess has quite a lot of things to deal with in the first book – new town, new school, new friends, searching for her parents, etc – are you always so tough on your characters?
SAT: I must admit. I giggled at this question because I’m asked it a lot, even with my other novels. The Timely Death Trilogy is truly the lightest piece of fiction I’ve written. My other works are much darker, but I am hard on my characters, but it is mainly because I am true to their story. Their lives are hard, and I tell the story about their lives. I believe everyone out there has hardships, so why wouldn’t my characters have them, too?
BG: This story has a prophecy at its heart. Do you believe in fate and destiny?
SAT: Like I said above, the prophecy – I promise – is not a traditional prophecy, but I love toying with the idea of fate and destiny because our culture does. For instance, history has almost constantly debated preordained lives, divine kings, and coincidences that seemed too far-stretched to be coincidences, so I take those concepts and I put them into my characters’ hands.
BG: This book is only the start of the story, but I have to ask, what is a Shade?
SAT: That is a difficult question to answer, mainly because readers will find out EVERYTHING in book 3, Death Before Daylight, and they will also learn why I couldn’t explain it all in book 1 and book 2. That being said, a shade is a creature of the Dark. They can only transform at night, but they look fairly human (but nothing like their human selves.) They have many abilities, ranging from transportation to telepathy, but they also have roles within their society – like warrior and guard – and they don’t receive their full powers until they’re 13. They are in a war with the Light, and the Dark is destined to win under Eric’s hand, but that is up the air.
The final installment, Death Before Daylight, explains where they came from, why they are fighting, and more, and it releases in January of 2015. But I will say this – there are HUGE hints in book 1 and book 2 – and I’ve already received a few emails from readers who’ve figured it out, so joining the mystery team is a fun adventure.
BG: And finally, what other series do you have and what are you working on now?
SAT: My latest novel, Take Me Tomorrow, is available everywhere. It is a young-adult dystopian novel about a clairvoyant drug.
I’m currently working on Death Before Daylight for release in January of 2015, but I am also hoping at re-releasing November Snow in November of 2015.
All updates can be found on my website – www.ShannonAThompson.com – where I also help writers and readers.
Shannon has been a writer for as long as she can remember. Her mother encouraged her to write away her nightmares and to capture her hopes and dreams on paper. Although she passed away when Shannon was only eleven, Shannon still writes for her. Her mother’s inspiring words to “write for yourself and edit for your reader” are always with her.
With her father and brother’s continued support, Shannon published her first book, November Snow, when she was only sixteen. Minutes Before Sunset, is her second, and she has written eight books in all. They are in various stages of preparing for publication.
She speaks Italian and is soon to graduate with a B.A. in English from the University of Kansas. She also has a growing list of fans who follow her insightful blogs at ShannonAThompson.com.
Thank you for speaking with me!