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Saturday, September 17, 2011
Author Interview with Shannan Albright
The Long and the Short of It is pleased to welcome Shannan Albright. Her release Dark Passion Rising: A Dark Breed Novel released March 25,2011 through Evernight Publishing. This is the first book in the series, and she's finishing up on the second.
"The second book revolves around Tegan. You will learn more about the different societies of the Dark Breeds and how they interact," she told me, "and, of course, the love story between him and a Atlantean shape shifter and their quest to find a dangerous artifact that had caused the sinking of Atlantis. "
She's also working on the second book in another series she writes, Knights of Excaliber, featuring Arthur and his Knights.
Shanna is a very busy woman—she works full time as an Administrative Assistant and HR, writing on her breaks. The she goes home and writes, cooks dinner, and gives classes for Renaissance fairs.
"I also try to find time to be alone with the hubby so he won’t feel ignored. I’m already tired just thinking about it!" she added with a laugh.
"Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?" I asked her.
"I would love to see someone who has never struggled with this. Much like being an insomniac we all get stressed out with too much on our mind. This is what triggers my writer’s block and it goes downhill from there."
When she gets too stressed, Shannan turns to oil painting to work out the voids in her creative process.
" Letting my mind ease off the problem often helps me to get back on track," she explained. "If I still have problems then I know for sure it is some scene that needs to be worked differently and most times that comes out in my painting process."
In addition to oil painting, Shannan also works Renaissance Fairs. This is something she's done since 1990. She teaches people the songs, the Shakespearian speech, and how to develop a character. She uses the same character outline for writing books for teaching this and told me, "It sure came in handy….it's a hoot to see people come out of their shells."
She told me that there are so many authors she enjoys she can't pick just one, however she was able to narrow it down to two who stand out as outstanding writers for her: J.R.Ward and Sherrilyn Kenyon.
"J.R. Ward's voice is dark and edgy; the characters are three dimensional to the point you can reach out and touch them," she said. "She brings out the best and worst of humanity and weaves it into relatable plots that are complex and far reaching. The same goes for Sherrilyn Kenyon. I gravitate to the dark I guess but she adds snarky humor that makes her books so unforgettable."
"What comes first: the plot or the characters?" I wondered.
"For me that is like asking what came first the chicken or the egg? They both develop in tandem of each other. The plot won’t ring true without knowing how the character will react. So the plot weaves itself around the characters' unique traits."
Shannan started reading Gone with the Wind when she was eleven, and that's when the idea of being a writer took root. Then, at sixteen, she read Sweet Savage Love by Rosemary Rogers and the idea sprouted—she started writing and illustrating at that time.
"How do you come up with the titles to your books?" I asked.
"I think about what the book is about—the elements in it. Like with Dark Passion Rising the book was about the Dark Breeds and the passion between Marcus and Tambra. Rising is about her “Rising” which is the change she undergoes to become a Full Blooded Lycan plus the passion between the characters rising to a fever pitch."
On a personal note, I asked Shannan if she hated how she looked in pictures.
"YES!!! I cringe and hide from a camera whenever possible. My friend is a photographer and she had to get a few drinks in me before I was comfortable enough for a photo shoot. "
There are several sayings that she uses a lot; one of them is "This, too, shall pass."
Her favorite, however, is from Buckaroo Bonsai: "Wherever you go, there you are."
"When you think of it, it's kind of a duh line, " she said. "I love the reaction of people looking for some deeper meaning to it."
"You can erase any horrible experience from your past," I told her. "What will it be?"
"My marriage at the age of 16. I was way too young for that and the abuse that followed both from my husband and from the kids in school. Yep, I was a senior in high school. That was a very awkward time for me but it made me tough so I guess if I changed it I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now."
On her mother's side of the family, Shannan is Basque Cajun—the family originates from the bayou of Louisiana—and on her dad's side she's French and Austrian.
"I call myself a mixture between poodle and gator," she said with a laugh. "I've never had a chance to be one of those tall blonde and blue-eyed gals with peaches and cream skin. Instead I'm an auburn-haired, hazel-eyed, short gal with an olive complexion! Go figure, huh?"
She takes after her father as far as eating goes—she's tried all kinds of weird things.
"Hey, you don't know until you've tried it, right?" she told me. "I've had snails, roses, chocolate covered ants and beetles (I don't recommend the beetles—they are too crunchy). I want to try rattlesnake; just haven't had the opportunity as yet."
She absolutely hates pizza, however. She also dislikes football.
"I guess I'm in the minority on this," she said, "but hey—it's all good!"
"Have you ever cried in a movie?" I asked.
"I have only cried during one movie in my life. Beaches with Bette Midler and Barbara Hershey gets to me every darn time."
If she were to pick a stereotype for herself, it would be "geek." She admitted she's more comfortable with a book in her hand than talking to someone.
"In parties I was the one who made like a wall flower and talked to only a few people that I could relate to. I am not much about talking clothes, who is with who etc." She laughed. "I would rather talk about the possibility of time travel. Like I said…Geek."
"Are you a morning person or a night person?" I wondered.
"I am so not a morning person. I plan everything I need out the night before so I can just grab and dress. Can’t think without my coffee. Afternoon and night is when my creative juices kick into high gear. When the house is quiet since everyone is asleep and all you hear is my fingers on a keyboard. That’s my time and I’m in my element."
Finally, I asked her, "What advice would you give a new writer just starting out?"
"Concentrate on the love of writing. That’s why anyone really writes. Take advantage of workshops to hone your craft, join critique groups and learn to have a tough hide. All those “negative” remarks are really little gifts to make you better. Look at it this way – every time you get something negative about your writing know they are expending the energy because they think your good enough to make that kind of effort. For every rejection realize you are just that much closer to an acceptance. Never stop doing what you love and it will happen."
You can keep up with Shannan on her blog, http://shannanalbright.blogspot.com