Guest Author Interview with Shannon Simpson!

Thank you so much to author, Shannon Simpson, for taking the time to answer some questions for us. We appreciate it, and we know that your readers will as well! 1. What inspired you to write this book? Answer: I was inspired to write Spellbound for a number of reasons. I have loved vampires and witches for years. Twilight was a huge part of my life. It reminded me of my love of vampires. Shortly after I read Twilight, I wrote a short story about a witch. One night when I couldn't sleep the two ideas merged and Spellbound began. 2. Can you tell me about the book? Answer: Spellbound is about Ashlie, a slow aging witch. She is afraid to open herself up to love for fear she will hurt or kill the unsuspecting boy. Her many powers are controlled by her emotions. Her ghost mind reading best friend, Stephenie, believes Ashlie can have love and be a witch. Aidan Crane isn't like other boys; he's a vampire. He notices something is different about Ashlie from the beginning. How much is too much to sacrifice for love? 3. What is your writing process like? Answer: I don't really have a writing process. An idea will come to me from something simple, like a lyric from a song. I'll make a note of the idea and as I am going to sleep at night I'll expand on it. With Spellbound, I came up with the idea for a series of four books. I wrote an outline for each one after Spellbound was completed. Enchanted, book two of the series, followed the outline for the first two pages, then went in a new direction. I've learned outlines are merely suggestions when it comes to my writing. My characters decide which direction to go as I write. 4. What did you learn when writing the book? Answer: As I wrote Spellbound, I worried about making it long enough. Up to this point all stories I'd written had been at the max a hundred pages. When I finished Spellbound I had a new worry. I'd written over 174,000. All my research showed novels weren't supposed to be that long, but I couldn't bare to edit anything out. Thankfully I found a publisher who believes the words matter. 5. What surprised you the most? Answer: Reading back over Spellbound I am surprised by the intricate story I wove. It amazes me I was able to weave such a story. 6. What does the title mean? Answer: I chose the title, Spellbound, because witches do spells, but also because vampires have the ability to captivate their prey, holding them spellbound. 7. Was the character inspired by a real person? If so, who? Answer: Ashlie isn't inspired by anyone, but she is named for my goddaughter. Ericka, a relative of Ashlie's half sister, is inspired by a young lady I met while working with the Junior League. She is funny and outrageous and full of life. She actually suffered some of the things I used in the book, but managed to make it through. 8. What do you think happened to the characters after the book ended? Answer: I can't say as there are sequels to come. 9. What advice do you have for writers? Answer: My advice would be to never give up. When the rejection letters come in, the urge to give up is strong. Surround yourself with people who will believe in you even when you begin to doubt. 10. Does writing energize or exhaust you? Answer: If the words are flowing freely, writing energizes me. On the days when I'm struggling with a specific part it is exhausting. That is when the words sound forced and require rewriting. 11. What are common traps for aspiring writers? Answer: The most common trap would be to write following someone elses guidelines. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. Write the way you want, not the way your favorite author writes. 12. What is your writing Kryptonite? Answer: I'm bad about procrastinating. I tell myself I have to get this done, only to put it off until the next day. 13. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym? Answer: A few years ago, I suffered a loss of my twin nieces. I wrote a poem for them that my sister turned into a program for their funeral. I was so worried about the way others would see my writing, I refused to sign my name. In the end it had just my initials. I regretted it the moment I saw it. I decided there and then to never hide my writing again. 14. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want? Answer: I write for me. I hope that it will be what readers want to hear, but if not, it is their loss. 15. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book? Answer: With Spellbound I want my books to connect as they are a series. I have another book, Always, coming out later this year that is a stand alone. I never imagined doing a series before Spellbound. I don't know if I will ever do another one. It just depends on what the book is at the time. 16. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have? Answer: I currently have one book finished that is currently with the publisher. I have many half-finished books that I will finish as I can. 17. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? Answer: I don't research before the book. If there is something I need to research, I do it as I am writing. 18. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one? Answer: I have been writing since I was fifteen years old. I became a full-time writer last year when Spellbound was published. 19. How many hours a day do you write? Answer: It varies day to day how much I write. If the words are feeling forced, I stop. It's better to write another time than to have to rewrite what I wrote. If the words are flowing I write until they stop or I get to a good stopping point. 20. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult) Answer: I used to write about whatever age I was at the time I am writing. Now it depends on the story line. 21. What did you edit out of this book? Answer: With Spellbound I didn't edit anything. I tried at first, but removing any of it felt like ripping a part of the heart of it out. 22. How do you select the names of your characters? Answer: When I am selecting a name I will use a friend or families name or a name I love. If it's a character that is bad, I will choose a name of someone I crossed paths with in the past. Someone who I didn't care for from my school days or someone from a friends past that was less than friendly to them. 23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work? Answer: I used to dream of being a teacher. Then I read my first romance novel and my mind began making plots. I can't imagine being anything other than an author. 24. What was your hardest scene to write? Answer: The hardest scene to write would have to be the end. I can't elaborate without giving away to much, other than to say it made me cry and I don't like to cry. 25. What is your favorite childhood book? Answer: The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein 26. How long on average does it take you to write a book? Answer: Spellbound took three years but in that time I didn't devote all my attention to just it. I wrote short stories as well as had a full time job. Always, my next book, took 16 years to write, but that was because I didn't devote all my time to it. Enchanted, Spellbound's sequel, has taken less than six months. 27. Do you believe in writer’s block? Answer: I believe sometimes writing comes freely and sometimes writing drags. Is that writer's block when it drags? Maybe. 28. What works best for you: Typewriters, fountain pen, dictate, computer or longhand? Answer: I was working on a book on a computer many years ago before USB sticks and I didn't have a floppy disc. The computer died and I lost everything. From that moment on, I decided to write with an easy flowing pen and a notebook. After I have the book done, I type it up on my laptop and print it out. Then I read the printed pages and do edits there. 29. When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer? Answer: I was fifteen when I decided to be a writer. I read a romance novel, a Harlequin Presents by Carole Mortimer. I fell in love with the idea of making a world where I controlled the outcome. 30. How hard was it to sit down and actually start writing something? Answer: In the beginning I wrote short stories about my friends and I with our celebrity crush. As the years passed, my stories got longer and longer. 31. Do you aim to complete a set number of pages or words each day? Answer: I find if I try to set a number of words a day, I won't succeed. It's better to not have a deadline and reach it then to feel it looming over your head. At least that's how I feel. 32. Do you set a plot or prefer going wherever an idea takes you? Answer: I have a general idea of the plot, but it goes astray quite often as I write. I go wherever my characters take me. 33. Any tips you would like to share to overcome it? Answer: Believe in yourself and your ability to write. 34. Do you read much and, if so, who are your favorite authors? Answer: I love to read, but lately haven't had time to do so. My favorite authors are Stephenie Meyer, Richelle Mead, Linda Lael Miller, Catherine Coulter 35. What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion? Answer: When I read,I want the book to pull me in from the first page. If the beginning starts with a lot of description it usually loses me. I love dialogue. 36. How would you feel if no one showed up at your book signing? Answer: I had my first book signing at an event called Witches Night Out in Illinois last October. It wasn't a traditional book signing event. It was more of a small town fair where people dressed as witches and shopped the local shops. I had only fifteen copies of Spellbound and sold everyone. I drove ten hours unsure if anyone would show. If no one had it would have been heartbreaking but as I am a new author I would have understood. It takes time to get a fan base. I am working on that one word at a time. 37. Do you recall the first ever book/novel you read? Answer: My very first novel was Engaged to Jarrod Stone by Carole Mortimer 38. How much of yourself do you put into your books? Answer: I don't intentionally put a lot of myself in my books but a little of me creeps in as I write. I usually don't notice until I am editing. 39. Who are your books mostly dedicated to? Answer: I dedicate my books to my family but mainly to my friend that never stops encouraging me. 40. Who is the most supportive of your writing in your family? Answer: All my family supports me. 41. Writers are often believed to have a Muse, your thoughts on that? Answer: I don't know that I have a Muse, but when I am feeling stuck sometimes talking to a particular friend does make the words flow. Not sure if he's my Muse, but he helps. 42. Another misconception is that all writers are independently wealthy, how true is that? Answer: I wouldn't know about that. I wanted to write because I wanted to touch lives of people the way other authors have touched mine. I didn't do it for the money. 43. Is it true that authors write word-perfect first drafts? Answer: No. I had at least ten drafts of Spellbound before I finally let it go. 44. Did any of your books get rejected by publishers? Answer: Spellbound was rejected by more agents than I remember. The only publisher I sent it to was my current one. I entered it in a writing contest and I won. 45. What is your view on co-authoring books; have you done any? Answer: I once wrote a story with a cousin. It was in the beginning of my writing days. It was a story about me and her and our two favorite members of New Kids on the Block. I would write about myself and tell my story then give it to her. She would write about her and then give it back to me. I don't know that I would ever co-author a book though. 46. Is writing book series more challenging? Answer: Yes! It requires keeping up with all unanswered or resolved issues from the first book and making sure as the series goes on answering and resolving them. 47. Does it get frustrating if you are unable to recall an idea you had in your mind some time earlier? Answer: At first this was an issue, but lately when I can't recall an idea, I just go with a new one. 48. Have you ever destroyed any of your drafts? Answer: I had many unfinished stories from my younger years. One day I tossed them out deciding that I was no longer going to write the childish fantasies I'd started with. I regret that now. I would have like to have finished them some day. I can't imagine ever destroying any now. 49. Can you tell us about your current projects? Answer: Currently I am working on Enchanted, the sequel to Spellbound. I am also working on the cover art and back summary for Always. 50. Had any of your literary teachers ever tell you growing up that you were going to become a published writer one day? Answer: When I was in ninth grade I had a student teacher notice I was writing one day. She asked to read something. I wasn't one to share my writing with anyone. I entered a short story in the school newspaper after much encouragement from my family. It was published in the paper. She asked again to read something. I let her and she loved them. She told me she just knew one day she'd see my name on a book. When I wrote Spellbound, I named one of the teachers after her. When she heard, she told me how proud of me she was. 51. Were your parents reading enthusiasts who gave you a push to be a reader as a kid? Answer: My mother always has a book in her hands. I have an aunt who reads hundreds of books a year. From my first Christmas until I was eighteen, she gave me a gift certificate for books. It was her book that I borrowed and read all those years ago that gave me the desire to write myself. 52. Do you enjoy discussing upcoming ideas with your partner? If yes, how much do you value their inputs? Answer: I'm single. I have a friend I will run certain ideas by but mostly I do it on my own. 53. Have you ever turned a dream or a nightmare into a written piece? Answer: A part or two within some of my writing has come from dreams.

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