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1. Where did your inspiration to write The Extraordinary Journey of Vivienne Marshall come from?
From a dream! I had the most vivid dream one night while on a ski vacation with my family. It formed the basis of Lachlan’s Heaven, as I was on a very blue stream that spilled into a reservoir and the sky and trees were so inexplicably green. Everything was peaceful and the temperature was the kind that’s equal to your body’s temperature, but a shimmer warmer of sparkling sunshine on your skin. I miss that dream.
2. 2. What was the most difficult part in writing this book for you?
The most difficult part is that I had to cut the story a mother in heaven tells her son in heaven. The story outline is vaguely still in the book, but the underlying story, one about a girl named Ailene who grows up in a crayon factory, is largely cut. I really love that story, but, and here’s what I’ve learned time and again in writing novels, the side rants you go on as a writer, often hit the cutting room floor. It breaks my heart.
3.Did you struggle writing a certain scene in particular or a character?
I struggled with writing, and still struggle reading, the scene where Vivienne visits Jack in his “heaven.” I was heartbroken to write that scene, as Vivienne’s struggle in making that decision is one I think we all struggle with, at some point in our lives: when to give up and when to keep trying. The emotions boiled up and packaged as fiction in that scene, are actually my true emotions of battling this decision with respect to other real-life issues, of course. And now, when I read Vivienne’s visit to Jack’s heaven, I’m not sure I’ve ever really made this decision myself, for when I read the chapter, I yell at Vivienne in my mind, no, never give up, ever. And yet, her decision was correct. See, a struggle. That chapter is hard on me.
4. If you could pitch your book in 25 words or less how would you do so?
Woman samples different heavens to see what works for her, while also battling the certainty of death and the uncertainty of life.
4. Who was your favourite character to write about?
Marty. And he was also the most fun to read for in doing the Audiobook.
5. What are your top 5 favourite indie authors?
Can I just say all Indie authors?
6. If you could cast celebrities as your characters, who would you cast?
Chris Pine as Jack
Tina Fey as Armadillo
Toni Collette as Vivienne’s Mom
Emma Watson as Vivienne
Ryan Gosling as Noah (hello!!!)
7. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with good or bad reviews?
I have learned to only read the good ones, if they are sent to me or someone mentions me on Twitter. I don’t search for them. The truth is, when my first book was published, I read all reviews, and I found that in reading a negative one, I would obsess for days over just one bad review, as opposed to focusing on ten positive ones. This cobbled my writing; I stopped writing after one three star review (which wasn’t even that bad) for two solid weeks. It’s not that I can’t take criticism, in fact, I take criticism constantly in my job. It’s just when it comes to writing, it’s so very personal, and I want readers to enjoy what I write so bad, I get obsessive about it. Best I just concentrate on writing and let the chips fall where they may. Reading is so subjective. There are books I’ve read, which I absolutely adore, but have numerous one-star reviews; likewise, there are books I’ve read, which I’ve thrown across the room they make me so mad, but they are international bestsellers and everyone loves them.
8. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give your past self on writing?
I would tell my past writing self to not hide the fact that I was writing late at night, in hotel rooms, as if writing were a dirty secret. I would also tell myself to only pursue writing, as a full time career, from the start.
9. What is one piece of advice, you would give new writers?
Do not read any of the “don’t do” lists. No rules. Just write. You can figure out the technical stuff and editing later. Substance and creativity must come first and not be cobbled by rules.
Shannon Kirk is the awarding-winning author of the international bestselling Method 15/33 (psychological thriller--bestseller in Colombia and Spain, will be lead title in Italy, 2017) and Heavens (Literary Fiction). Method 15/33 has received multiple accolades: 2015 Foreword Review Book of the Year (Suspense); Winner of 2015 National Indie Excellence Award, Best Suspense; 2015 USA Best Book Finalist; School Library Journal's Best Adult Books for Teens (2015); and Finalist in 2013 William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition (when a Novella). Method 15/33 is optioned for a major motion film and has sold to nineteen foreign rights.
When not writing, she is a practicing lawyer, residing on Massachusett's Cape Ann with her husband and son and two cat writing accomplices, Marvin Marquez (in honor of Gabriel Garcia Marquez) and Stewie Poe (Edgar Allen Poe).
Shannon enjoys writing in several genres: literary fiction, psychological thriller, young adult, and poetry. She has been honored three times by the William Faulkner William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition.
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