SHAWN: I'd be glad to. Well, aside from being a creative individual, I’m a sports enthusiast (except for basketball) who used to break horses and train for Olympic fencing. I sit glue in front of the T.V. for most sporting events – and OH, how I wish for picture in a picture during baseball playoff time when hockey and football seasons begin. The downside to all this, I married a man who didn’t know a fastball from a curveball or a fumble from fore-checking. Bless his heart – after 26 years Rob has come around to liking hockey and football. He still snoozes during baseball.
Fortunately, my husband is also creative and a former storyboard artist and writer for Filmation, and worked on He-Man, She-Ra and Fat Albert. With his help I was able to pitch and get my first scriptwriting gig with BraveStarr – another series done by Filmation. Rob has always been supportive of my never-ending desire to write. He allowed me to study and spend countless hours writing, re-writing and editing. When ALLON started at the request of our daughter, he hopped on board. In fact, so did Briana, and what started as single story has turned into a family enterprise.
When Briana asked me to write a good old fashion fantasy, she didn’t like anything dark, witches or vampires. She loved Lord Of The Rings and Narnia, so I gave her what she asked for. Her friends couldn’t believe I was doing this for her and became intrigued by that fact. She shared the story and soon they became hooked and came over after school to discuss ALLON. Conversations about characters, plot lines, etc., gave way to more personal discussions when a few opened up to me about their lives.
Many of these were immigrants or refugees from other countries, thus of different faiths and cultures. It amazed me how God was using my story to draw them out, to encourage them and help them understand some difficult concepts of adapting to a new country. Across the spectrum, the main thing these kids spoke of was a desperate need for “Hope”. Many certainly didn’t have it where they came from due to war, poverty or oppression. It was elusive here in the U.S. as they struggled to fit in. God placed it my heart to address those issues in my stories and the one book turned into a series.
JANET: See folks, I told you - the story behind the story is just as good as the books! Now for the next question, if you could be any fantasy animal, what would it be? Would it be a flyer? A swimmer? A fast running mammal?
SHAWN: Pegasus – a flying horse. I love horses. I used to own an Arabian, did barrel racing and helped to train horse and lead trail rides. The flying part, well, that’s to see the world from above and get places fast. Although, I’m afraid of heights and would rather drive than fly anywhere.
JANET: Very cool! Flying is definitely a hit with me, as I'm sure it is with so many others out there. Here's another question for you. Are you a chocolate lover? If so, which is your favorite - milk choc, white choc, or dark choc? Or maybe you have an obscure fav flavor like dark chocolate chile pepper (one of my favs!) If you're not a chocolate lover, tell us what you do like - caramels, fruit flavors (skittles, smarties, etc.)
SHAWN: Dark chocolate! The darker and richer the better. YUM!
JANET: Agree 110% on that one! Let's say after savoring your last tidbit of dark chocolate, you'd like to go have some fun; describe your perfect day out (or in): Is it shopping with friends? Staying home alone and curling up with a good book? Would you prefer to hang with your family at the beach? How about a mountain hike or spending the day at a theme park? None of these? That's OK - just fill in the blank. :)
SHAWN: Spending time with my family whether watching a movie, playing a game or traveling. With ALLON becoming a family enterprise, it has given us a stimulating and creative environment and strengthened our bond. That’s exciting. Most families have difficulty living together; we not only live together, but also work, pray and play together. Whoever marries Briana will have to fit in.:)
JANET: That is so awesome! I love the whole family thing and am blessed to be able to relate to your situation. When you go out to eat - what's the first place you think of? Sushi? Steak? Seafood? Italian? Mexican?
SHAWN: Logan’s Steakhouse. I’m a meat eater. Mexican gives me indigestion and I’m allergic to shellfish.
JANET: You are cracking me up! I'm having a blast, and I'll bet others are too. It's so nice to meet someone who is like-minded in my genre, meaning, you're a YA fantasy author - how in the world did that happen? :)
SHAWN: It’s very fascinating actually. I am a BIG historical fiction lover. My favorite, and inspiring authors are John Jakes, Taylor Caldwell, Mary Stewart and Alistair MacLean. I was writing historical fiction when Briana asked me to switch to fantasy. So I hadn’t a clue since Mary Stewart’s stories about King Arthur were the closest I came to fantasy.
Well, I went looking for something to spark an idea. This is when I read LOTR – after the movies. I remember Narnia from childhood, but not much. One day I found the first chapter of a story I wrote when I was 16 called “Shiloh” – a fantasy! Further looking and I discovered I had the character names and maps – all that would become the foundation for ALLON decades later.
JANET: Now that's impressive! Isn't it amazing how God has us do things we don't even think about at the time, then up it pops - often times so many years later. I love when that happens! With so much inspiration from your past and now your family, there has to be more than one fantasy novel. How many novels have you written in the YA fantasy genre?
SHAWN: I kept writing to answer the questions, so at present there are 9 books in the ALLON series. I have a few prequel ideas, but I’m also going to be getting back to my historical fiction roots.
JANET: Nine! Holy cow that's wonderful! Since you're writing that much fantasy, you certainly have a favorite. Which do you like to write about most in your YA fantasies? The mythical characters? Dragons or other creatures? Good vs. Evil? Princesses? Castles? Journeys? Or even something I've not mentioned.
SHAWN: Good vs. Evil, but with a purpose to illustrate a theme, point, answer. My stories are more character driven than magic driven. Although magic and creatures are included, along with knights, kings, princes and immortal characters - it is human drama that compels the story. The most powerful and gripping are obstacles that must be conquered without magic. Example – Frodo had the ring of power, but that didn’t help him overcome dangers and such to complete his journey and destroy it. No, it was his inner mettle, his friends and courage. The same is what I do with my characters in ALLON.
JANET: I would concur with Good vs. Evil. My novel Maycly is similar in that there is magic and fantasy things, but like you, the morals, values, and relationships of the characters are what carry the story. Enough about me...so what exciting novel can we expect to see "on the shelves" next?
SHAWN: Allon Book 4 – A Question of Sovereignty. After that, there will be a bit of a break for a historical fiction release before returning to ALLON.
JANET: You are quite versatile. Historical fiction sounds very interesting. I'm sure after this interview and discovering your talent, you'll have fans knocking down your door for more Allon while you're on break! Would you mind giving us a "sneak peak" at A Question of Sovereignty?
SHAWN: I'd love to. A Question of Sovereignty is the story of a family in crisis and on verge of being destroyed. If they fall, so does Allon. Some storylines from the other 3 books do culminate, but new twists and surprises are discovered also. It is a roller-coaster ride, and longest of the books, that ends with a bang!
JANET: You've done this before haven't you? Because you just lured me in wanting to know more! Good job! When can we expect to see A Question of Sovereignty released?
SHAWN: August 2011. In 2012, I plan to release an historical fiction and ALLON Book 5.
JANET: Where can we connect with you, plus find these awesome novels to buy?
SHAWN: The website is a great place to visit – http://www.allonbooks.com. We strive to make it family friendly with excerpts, animated videos, character pages and an interactive map. From there, people can link to Amazon, YouTube, Kindle, my blog or even email me. On my blog, I post about writing and the industry, a different topic each month.
SHAWN: Dimension travel – how the Guardians travel from one place to another. Light – so I will never be in the dark. Strength – to lift something heavy with ease.
SHAWN: Pegasus and Ireland. I know, sounds strange a Greek mythological creature in the land of Leprechauns. I love horse and always wanted to visit Ireland. I just hope I don’t get airsick.