This month, I am having coffee with Shawntelle Madison. Shawntelle is a debut novelist. I met her at Archon in St. Louis soon after she received word that her first book was going to be published.
Please grab a cup of coffee, or drink of your choice, and join me for a Coffee with David author interview.
David Alan Lucas: With so many books on vampires, what attracted you to choose to write an Urban Fantasy about a werewolf?
Shawntelle Madison: Once I had the idea for Coveted, I actually made a personal decision to exclude vampires from the universe of my book. Not that I don’t like vampires, I just wanted my book to be different from the rest of the pack. Pun intended. ;)
Also, I just felt the book worked better with an OCD werewolf.
DAL: When you are starting to work on a new novel, what do you find brings the story into focus for you? A Character? A setting? Something else?
SM: For me all stories start with a character. The reader needs to be hopefully interested in their journey. Once in a while, an event is where I start, but character comes first the majority of the time.
DAL: How did you develop the voice used in Coveted?
SM: Of all the books I’ve written, Nat’s voice is one I slipped into the easiest. Who hasn’t felt like the underdog? The one who is bullied and cast out? I just dug in deep and wrote how I felt. The book just flowed out from there.
DAL: What was the hardest part of writing Coveted?
SM: The hardest part of writing the book was the feelings it brought up. Who doesn’t want to feel left out or abandoned? They are quite painful. In order to convey my heroine’s true feelings, I had to feel the same emotions—which meant a lot of crying while writing. ;)
DAL: What themes in your fiction writing seem to drive you the most?
SM: For me, I love writing about characters who overcome adversity. I love when a character is beat down, but they are driven to stand up and do the right thing for the people they love.
DAL: Do you work on multiple novels at once? If so, how many?
SM: I’ve tried working on multiple books at once, and I can, but I prefer to be deep in one person’s head. So I’d say I spend the majority of the time writing one book at a time.
DAL: What do you find focuses your writing?
SM: I get distracted very easily. I focus best when I’m at the library with some good music. If I write at home and I need to focus I use Write or Die. It has forced me to focus so many times.
DAL: How easy was it to take the leap of faith to become a serious writer and chase this career? What did you find that you had to do to take the step?
SM: I actually found it quite easy to take that step. I knew I wanted to write books. I was hungry to write and that was all I needed to take the process seriously.
DAL: What was your biggest fear when you decided to be published?
SM: My biggest fear is uncertainty. (This comes from someone who tries to keep track of everything and schedule stuff.) You just never know what will come at you and when it will come. I got no warning from my agent when he called to offer rep. And I was actually in the middle of a phone call with my crit partner when my agent called me with an offer from my publisher for Coveted.
DAL: Who was the most influential person or persons in your writing career?
SM: I’d say the most influential persons would be my first critique partner, Sarah Bromley and one of my favorite science fiction authors , Octavia Butler. Sarah has been with me since the beginning and has really helped me learn the craft.
DAL: If there was some advice that you could give to a fellow writer, what would it be?
SM: Never give up that hunger to write and to be published. Whenever I finished a book, I immediately started thinking about the next project. (I’m still that way.) It’s way too easy to give up these days. When people say it’s easier to edit a finished page instead of a blank one, they’re not kidding!
DAL: What advice would you give a fellow writer about pitching a story either face to face or in a query letter?
SM: Starting working on your pitch as soon as possible before you actually need to give it. Try to whittle your pitch down to a few sentences or even one if possible.
When it comes to query letters I highly suggest you check literary agency websites for samples. There are many on the internet to give you great ideas. Also, don’t be afraid to ask crit partners or critique groups for feedback on your query. You’d be surprised what your own eyes miss.
DAL: When you plot your novels, from whose point of view do you plot from? The protagonist’s? The antagonist’s? The narrator’s? Someone else?
SM: Since I write first person I plot primarily from the protagonist.
DAL: What is your writing schedule like?
SM: You mean people have one? Just kidding. I’m one of those writers who doesn’t write every day—unless I am on deadline. I tend to write in bursts like a sprinter. I will go crazy and write thousands of words per day for weeks, then rest for a few weeks to months. Most books take me four to five months to write.
DAL: If you could have coffee (or drink of your choice) with four other authors from any time period, who would you choose and why?
SM: I’d have coffee with Octavia Butler, Clive Barker, Stephen King, and Dean Koontz. I have so many other authors, but I think I’d enjoy lunch with them first. :)
DAL: How could my readers learn more about you?
SM: If you’d like to connect with me, you can find me on Twitter as Shawntelle, on Facebook and through my website. I also do blog posts on Wicked Authors (Mondays) and Magic & Mayhem Writers (Wednesdays).
To win a free copy of Coveted, please see: First of the Month Book Giveaway: Coveted http://davidalanlucas.blogspot.com/2012/06/first-of-month-book-giveaway-coveted.html
Thank you for reading and please visit www.davidalanlucas.com and www.thewriterslens.com. You can also follow me on twitter @Owlkenpowriter and the Writer’s Lens @TheWritersLens. Fiction is the world where the philosopher is the most free in our society to explore the human condition as he chooses.