Welcome Shannon Danford to Author Interview Friday. I have met Shannon twice now in author events such as Marco Island’s AuthorFest. It is a pleasure to have her on my blog today.
Shannon, when did you first know you wanted to be a writer and was there a particular inspiration to get started?
Some of my earliest memories are of my parents reading to me, reading whatever they happened to be reading. Not surprisingly, I became intrigued with the magic of the written word. Then, in the fourth grade, my teacher published some of her students’ stories and after seeing my story in ink, I knew writing was in my future. That future turned into a circuitous journey that ultimately provided the stories that needed a voice. I saw my first book in print at age 49. It’s been a long road.
I know the feeling. Why did you choose to go the self-publishing Indie route in lieu of traditional publication?
I have an undergraduate degree in marketing, so I have a basic understanding of the pipeline from creator to end user. And since I’m not a fan of traditional marketing, I’m employing a strategy that makes more sense to me – place a high value on creativity throughout the product cycle; it keeps things fresh and authentic. To that end, I think the wordsmith/creator has to reinvent herself to adapt to a new literary world where she has to escort the book from concept all the way to the end reader and employ her creativity in ways that defy traditional marketing. At this point, if a major press became interested in my books, I don’t think I’d sell out the flow and process I’ve forged. I like being a rebel.
What does finding your “Voice” mean to you?
I think part of the human experience is coming to understand your authentic self which naturally includes the discovery of your own voice. Whether you play an instrument, dance, cook, paint or write, that spark that animates us wants to be known. For me it happened while working in a nursing facility. Watching people die (often without any family around) and handling things like adult briefs that no one wants to touch, takes a toll on you. To get through the day, I started imagining I was on the set of a sitcom. If I didn’t figure out how to laugh about my situation, I would be too depressed to function. That humorous perspective allowed me to survive and ultimately flourish. Back then, finding my voice was liberating. Today, writing in that voice keeps me grounded.
What was your biggest challenge in learning to write or in the industry?
For me, the hardest part of writing is changing hats from writer to editor, to publicist, to publisher, to marketer. But the literary world is in flux and I believe to survive it, one must adapt. On a positive note, I have to think that with every book the obstacle course gets more familiar and easier. I look forward to the day when I can take off my training wheels.
Do you have any advice for new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Believe that you can’t fail. You are the only person who can speak in this voice; you have a story to tell. The only way you can lose is to stop writing! When you have a finished manuscript, get as many people to read it as possible and listen to their feedback with an open mind. Then buy the best editing you can afford.
Complete this sentence……. My favorite place to write is …..
My favorite place to write is at my desk with a cup of coffee on my right and a lighted fragrant candle on my left. Celtic music plays in the background and it is raining outside. Ahhhh
What’s your next big writing challenge?
Everything I’ve written to date has been humorous and I plan to continue in that genre for at least two more books; however, my sister writes screenplays and encouraged me to give that a try. So I’m working on a story that is told largely through pictures. It is a challenge that I think will help sharpen my dialogue skills and allow me to explore another writing medium. Beyond that, I’ll go where the muse leads.
Can you share a few paragraphs from your book to whet our appetite?
This excerpt is from my third book in the blues series – Chinese Takeout Blues.
“What the hell is this?” Bucky knelt down and picked up the script. He began to read the questions out loud. When he looked up, Bucky’s mouth hung open, unhinged; his eyes were black pinpoints of malice.
Mo collected the rest of the pages and tucked them away. Then he stood and faced his colleague. “I would like to say I’m sorry, but I’m not, Bucky. You don’t deserve to serve the people of this county.”
Fern made no move to turn off the camera when she left the sound booth. Hiram followed behind and they entered the chamber where the two commissioners were still facing off.
“You did this!” Bucky shook the paper at Fern, spittle flying from his mouth.
Fern nodded. “Yes. I had to do something before you hurt anyone else.”
Bucky stormed toward her full of enmity and rage. “Are you trying to shake me down?” He drew up to within a foot of Fern and stood, nostrils flaring with each breath, oblivious to the fact that his entire comb-over hung free, dangling from his barren pate down to his shoulder like a threadbare beret. Buell closed the gap between them to inches. “This is setup!” He held the script under her chin and then released it. It floated harmlessly to the ground.
“No, sir, this is justice.” Fern said the first words that came to her. She stood toe-to-toe with the man, daring him to push her further. Buell flinched first, turning to the sound of the chamber doors opening. After several very tense seconds, all of which were being recorded, Fern knelt and picked up the paper, turned on her heel, and left him seething in his Kenneth Cole loafers.
Thank you Shannon. Where can readers buy Chinese Takeout Blues or your other “Blues” mysteries?
To purchase my books at the best price, go to my website: www.mamasluckymojo.com
There are also available on Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=ntt_athr_dp_sr_1?_encoding=UTF8&field-author=Shannon%20Danford&search-alias=books