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Adam Interviews...Shannon Blake!


Well, hello!

It's Monday - in fact, it's Tax Day, isn't it? Unless you live in Massachusetts or Maine, in which case you have until Wednesday

What? Why?

A confluence of two holidays. First is Patriots' Day - a legal holiday in Massachusetts and Maine which commemorates the first battle of the Revolutionary War. That's April 15.

Then, on April 16, the District of Columbia celebrates Emancipation Day. As a result, those two New England states get two extra days to file.

So relax! You have plenty of time!

For the rest of you, well, you'd better get it in tonight. But that doesn't mean you can't take a break, right?


Here's our first interview today - Shannon Blake! Shannon has been dreaming up stories and writing them down for almost as long as she can remember. She’s insatiably curious, and writing science fiction gives her the excuse to research wonderful (and sometimes random) things — and gives her galaxies for her playground.

 

In addition to penning novels and short stories, Shannon is also an award-winning screenwriter who writes for both film and television. She loves giving back to the writing community through her coaching practice, workshops, and speaking engagements.

 

When she’s not writing, she loves dancing, long nature walks, running, stargazing, and hanging out with family and friends. She’s never been known to turn down chocolate or a cappuccino.


Instagram: @shannonblakebooks

Website (bookstore): https://areionmedia.com

Website (coaching): https://www.thestoryscene.com


Star Trek or Star Wars?

Both! I love Star Wars for blending so many elements into a terrifically fun adventure (with a love story, of course!), and I love Star Trek for the way it shows us that the farther we go into the stars, the more we discover about ourselves.



DCU or MCU?

MCU. And let me just say…I cannot wait for the new Daredevil series! He’s my favorite Marvel superhero by far. I have a photo with me and Charlie Cox in my office – I’m a total fangirl!


Reboots – a great idea or a lack of creativity?

I think reboots (when they’re done well) can be a fun way to introduce new audiences to beloved stories. But sometimes I think reboots and endless sequels come not from a desire to serve the audience but from a desire to hedge bets – and for me that’s when it turns into a lack of creativity. But retellings are another thing…I love to see a really fresh twist on a favorite story!


When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I was a writer from a very young age. It was just something I did, like breathing. My sister and I would always make up elaborate stories for our dolls, and I think that just naturally evolved into writing stories down. But the first time I realized I wanted to be a professional writer was when an author came to our second grade class and did a reading from her book, and as I watched her sit on that stool in front of the class and share her work, I had this absolute certainty that I was meant to be a writer.


Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I find inspiration literally everywhere. I’m incredibly curious, I have a lot of different interests, and I’m always on the hunt for anything that has the slightest whiff of a story. I’m always asking “what if…?”, and I’ve found that to be incredibly powerful for generating ideas.



What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?

I prefer to have a stable schedule for writing, where I devote a few hours at a set time each day to my work. But lately, out of necessity, I’ve become what I call a “binge writer.” On most days, I let my mind chew on the project in the background. Then I’ll carve out a day or two in my schedule and sit down and write for upwards of six or seven hours each day. I honestly have a love-hate relationship with this process: when I don’t write every day, the work feels like it’s burning holes in my soul…but I’ve also been producing my best work this way lately, which I love.


Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

Yes. I love writing strong female protagonists in my work. Not all of my books are female-forward (my latest book has a male protagonist), but most are. I also find myself coming back again and again to themes of self-discovery, transformation, and “love conquers all.”


What are common traps for aspiring writers?

I think there are quite a few, but there are three that I think can be particularly perilous. The first is the trap of thinking that writing is an innate skill or gift, not a craft. You can be a naturally gifted writer, but you always have to work on honing your skills. There’s always more to learn, always something you can improve – and that’s the beauty of this work, I think. It also means that even if you don’t feel you have a natural talent, you can develop the skills to be an incredible writer. The second trap is thinking that your first draft is ready to publish. This is connected to the trap of thinking that you don’t need feedback on your work. Feedback is one of the most valuable ways to grow as a writer, and learning how to take notes on your work is an essential part of being a professional.



Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

We have to have an incredible amount of self-confidence and an almost delusional belief in ourselves in order to build worlds and invite others to live in them for a while. But that’s not the same as having a big ego. Ego is thinking you’re everything – it’s arrogance and conceit and an unwillingness to learn from others, and I think this only hurts writers. Ego locks you away from everything that could help you grow.


If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

I would tell my younger self, “Greenlight yourself.” I would tell myself to bet on myself – to trust my intuition, to follow the stories, and to follow my heart. I would tell myself that the answer isn’t no until it’s no…and even then, sometimes it’s really just a “not yet.” And I would tell myself that the cost of playing it safe is far heavier than the cost of rejection.


What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?

The best money I have ever spent as a writer has been on masterclasses, coaches, and my editor, and I continue to invest in these today. Each one of these has been (and continues to be) a huge needle-mover for my career.



Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else?

I write novels, novellas, short stories, and screenplays. I’m a repped writer in Hollywood and I love writing for film and television. I’ve recently gotten more into writing short stories and novellas, and novels will always feel like home to me, because that’s where I started.


Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m currently self-published, but I’m taking my next novel the traditional route. I think which direction you choose really does depend on your overall goals for your career and for that particular project. I’m a firm believer in the idea that you get to choose your own adventure in this business, so find what feels right for you and for your project, and know that the decision might change as you evolve and your career progresses.


What does literary success look like to you?

It’s funny – this has changed over the years. Success to me used to be an arbitrary number: “when I hit x copies sold, then I’ll be a success”, or “when I make x dollars, then I’ll be a success”. But I don’t write to hit some arbitrary number. I write to share stories with the world – and so that’s my new definition of literary success: sharing work that I love and that I’m proud of with the world, in whatever way that happens.



What’s the best way to market your books?

I don’t know that there’s one “best way” to market. I think it depends on you as a writer, on your books, on your audience. But I will say that my current favorite way to market my books is at live events. I absolutely love getting to meet my readers!


What do you have coming next?

I released the next novella in my Silesia Chronicles: Origins space opera adventure series on April 5, 2024. The third installment in the Origins series will be out in the second half of 2024, release date still TBD. My next novel – a dystopian thriller – is in final edits and then will go out to literary agents. I have a couple of short stories under consideration at magazines and anthologies right now as well, which is opening up a new market for me. And last but not least, I’m actively pitching two television series, developing the pitch for a third, and writing an action thriller feature.



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