An Interview With Shannon Peel
A few posts ago, I wrote a review of Thirteen by Shannon Peel and today they join us again to answer some questions!
Can you share a brief introduction to Thirteen with us?
Jack wants to hang out with his friends but his mom's rules keep him grounded until they wake up to machine gun fire and everything has changed. Foreign soldiers have invaded his hometown cutting off power, shutting down communications, and restricting travel. To make matters worse, he doesn't know if his dad is alive, wounded, captured, or dead. He wants to find him, however, his mother doesn't care, the soldiers are in his way, and the cop who busted him is no help at all.
Are any characters inspired by people you know?
Jack's rebellious and independent streak is based on my son, who at thirteen became a different person, but that is where the similarities end. Sydney is the stereotypical over protective helicopter parent, which I am the opposite of, however her struggle to let her son go is very real to me.
What were the biggest challenges of bringing your story to life? How did you overcome them?
Confidence and time. Confidence to know that I could write. To know that feedback from others is just opinion and not absolute fact. Writing and sharing it with people gave me the 'oh I'm good enough' feeling but it the book didn't get strong enough until I hired a professional editor. Her feedback and advice made the story stronger and gave me the confidence to believe I could succeed.
Time is always a problem. I had published an ebook version in 2013 and then was side tracked with a divorce, kids, work, and the list goes on. One of my good friends kept after me to go back to THIRTEEN, to make it stronger and give it another go. I had to focus and commit to the project and try to make it stronger. I hired an editor (recommended by a local literary agent) and sank my teeth into the project. I focused on getting it done and didn't let anything distract me. In June of 2015 I published a new version of THIRTEEN, including a paperback.
How did you come up with the title?
The book is about the turbulent time when a kid turns 13. Although the plot is about the invasion and Jack's search for his father, at the core of the story is his need to break away from his overprotective mom and find himself. Something many 13 year old young people go through, along with their parents.
How do you think you've evolved creatively since writing 'Thirteen'?
I have become more confident in my ability to write. I've taken the courageous step to move from being jealous of writers to becoming one myself. I still have a long way to go before I can support my family on book royalties, however I've taken the first step.
Are you working on anything now?
Between my day job, my children, promoting THIRTEEN, and having a life, I am writing the next book in the series. The first book was about the invasion, the next will focus on the change in their day to day lives as the totalitarian government starts to take hold. The kids will be pushed into more dangerous situations and there is one big surprise that will change the life of one boy forever.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Just write. Keep writing. Read everything you can get your hands on. Write a scene, a chapter, a section.... Keep writing and then when your novel is done hire a professional editor. Take their feedback, their observations, and then revise your story by writing again.
While you are writing make friends on Facebook, GoodReads, Twitter etc... Build your online platform. Take a course in marketing or at least read about how to market yourself both online and off. Those authors who achieved great success on a mediocre story were able to do so because they had a large online following to support them.
And that is the end! Thank-you for joining us again, Shannon!
///////// Quote of the post ////////
"One of the hardest decisions you'll ever face in life is choosing whether to walk away or try harder"