YA Author talks good vs evil, the publishing industry and the YA Genre
Shannon Thompson is an inspiring person to say the least; not only does she write whilst attending University (of Kansas), but in fact she was just sixteen when her first novel, November Snow was published under the pen-name of Ashlee Ironwood. And at 600 pages long, that’s some feat. But five years later, she’s older, wiser and ready to dabble her hands into the world of writing once more with upcoming Paranormal YA novel Minutes Before Sunset.
She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.
Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.
He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.
Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.
Mixing the supernatural with reality, this upcoming release is less than 15 days away and i’ve had a good old chat with Shannon about what readers can expect.
- Your new novel, Minutes Before Sunset is due to be released in May. Tell us a little about what we can expect?
Minutes Before Sunset blurs the line of dark and light, good and evil. One group may not be what it seems; then, two chapters later, it will return to the original meaning. There are a lot of questions to be answered or reworded to be asked again. Expect the relationships between the paranormal and the normal to be a catalyst of philosophy, love, action, and death.
- What do you think are the strongest themes that run throughout the book?
Choice. Destiny. Light/Dark. War. Time/Age
Minutes Before Sunset ultimately comes down to choice. This may seem strange since it is based on destiny, but the destiny comes from choices made over time, along with choices between characters, time, and sects (The Light and Dark.) The contrast of Light and Dark is a very important theme as well, and I’d also add overall time versus the ages of the preordained. The protagonists are very young, yet they hold great responsibilities of things they’ve never asked for. It comes down to whether or not they will choose to accept it, despite their fears, or ignore it, choosing to live within lies.
- I read that Minutes before Sunset is told from two perspectives, what an original idea! Tell us about why you decided to do this and how you approached writing it.
In my ten or so years of serious novel writing, I think I’ve almost always written in two perspectives. [November Snow is also written from two perspectives.] I find that one protagonist often cannot be in every scene that is vital to the story and/or has a perspective that cannot express the meaning of that scene in the way it needs to be depicted. I generally use one woman and one man for this reason. I think different people, along with genders and backgrounds, can define moments in different ways that challenge the readers to wonder what that one scene in particular actually means to them, rather than relying fully on the speaker to explain.
- I’ve also read about the shades and lights in your novel; two paranormal beings, but you’ve switched the traditional view around and have the shades as the ‘good guys’ and the lights as the ‘bad guys’. I think this unique take will undoubtedly make the book an exceptional read. Tell us a little of how you came to this idea.
Personally, I’m a night owl. I’ve always loved how the world looks in darkness. And I’m a fan of winter—especially if there’s a snowfall under a full moon. Our world becomes cloaked in silver, and it takes my breath away. So literature has always disappointed me when it repeats winter as death and darkness as evil—two of my favourite times—and I thought it was best to finally change that, and I set out to do so with Minutes Before Sunset.
- With your college work, how do you fit time in for writing? Do you plan extensively or allow yourself to write without restraint and see where you end up?
I’m always writing. I never plan, but I don’t feel as if I have to. All of my free time goes to writing, and I think people have more free time than they realize. For instance, I don’t watch T.V., and I hardly go out on my weekends. Because of that, I have lots of time to write, even in my senior year at college. It’s all about time management and figuring out what works best within your lifestyle restrictions.
- Under the name of Ashlee Ironwood, you released a novel entitled, November Snow when you were quite young – what an achievement! What do you think you have learnt from that experience that you’ve used within your new book?
I’ve learned a lot before, during, and after November Snow was published. My writing has most definitely enhanced since I was 16, and my understanding of the publishing market has grown. I’m more confident in my abilities to continue forward with success, but I’m more excited to say that I feel more confident in my abilities to help others succeed as well.
- If you could meet one of your characters and take them for a day out, who would it be and why?
Right now, it’d be a character I have in an unpublished work, because he’s complex in the sense that he is a very simple. I find that I learn more from my characters than they learn from me. (I always tell people that writer’s block happens when the writers try to force their characters into doing something, because writers believe they created them; therefore, they can control them. But that’s just not true. We, as writers, many initially bring them to life, but they find themselves within your life, and they become the controller. I often talk to my characters, so I feel as if I already take them out all day and all the time. (I’ve even been caught talking to one in my car before.) Because they have a lot to say (probably because I talk too much, too.) But the male protagonist I mentioned before, I feel, would teach me a lot about my life right now—as he has a much older perspective than I’m used to writing about (when it’s such a young person.)
If I had to pick a character from Minutes Before Sunset, I’d say Jonathon Stone [named Pierce in the Dark], because he’s Eric’s best friend, and I love his perspective. Since he’s in the Dark, but he isn’t the first descendant despite his involvement, he very much portrays an outsider on the inside. His presence always excites the chaos I love to submerge myself in.
- After Minutes before Sunset has been released, what’s next for you?
Minutes Before Sunset is actually the first in A Timely Death Series. Information about the second novel, which is already written, will be released…well…in a timely matter. Including Minutes Before Sunset and November Snow, I have eight novels written. So I promise there is more to come.
- You write for the YA genre; do you think that YA is currently swamped by titles or do you think that is a good thing?
I think this answer is a double-edged sword. I love how busy the YA industry is, but, like Hollywood, it’s can get very repetitive. However, I blame the publishers for taking advantage of the economic market rather than the authors and/or readers. I hope to see more original titles and stories, but I’m excited still to see such an abundance of words to be read. We can never have too many novels.
- Since becoming a writer, what has been your biggest surprise?
The publishing industry includes almost all of my surprises, but I was also very young when I faced it for the first time. As I finished, November Snow, I was fifteen, and I never imagined there’d be agents and/or publishers out there just looking for victims to sell their dreams away. It still makes me very sad people do that to others who’ve worked so hard to do something like creating a novel. But this is the world, and I doubt that will ever change. I only hope others won’t fall into traps I’ve seen others fall into.
- Imagine you have been stranded on a desert island, which three characters from fiction would you choose to be stranded with … and which one would you not like to be stranded with?
I’d love to be on an island with Meursault from The Stranger (as long as I’m not the Arab he shoots.) Instead, it’d be more about speaking with him. I sympathized with the existentialism so deeply the novel has never left me. (Sort of ironic, I know.) But I’d also like anyone from a Kerouac novel, because they were based on real people I find fascinating. If we were speaking on YA terms, I’d love anyone in The Mortal Instruments, but I’d never want to be on an island with a character like the monster in Frankenstein. I couldn’t possibly be able to handle the smell.
- Once upon a time, there was a fair maiden who was locked up in an unbreakable glass tower. For years she sobbed and fought to break free, but alas it was all in vain. Until one summer’s night
…she used her imagination to set herself free.
With such a promising start to her career, surely the only way is up for this talented young author. And with such a varied reading list, Shannon Thompson could be one to look out for. She has a widely acclaimed blog and tweets under @ShanAshleeT23 and has her own Author Facebook page too.
If Minutes before Sunset is something that appeals to you – why not add it to your To-Read list over on goodreads? Remember people, only fifteen more days until its release … watch this space.
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