Saturday, October 25, 2014

Welcome Special Guest Shannon McDermott!

Welcome Shannon! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m an author of science-fiction and fantasy, as well as a YA detective series called the Adventures of Christian Holmes. I have two novels in print – The Valley of Decision and The Last Heir – and several novellas released as e-books.

How did you discover your calling to be a writer?
School. Those creative writing assignments got me writing before I was ten, and I never stopped. I enjoy the work, enjoy creating characters and their stories, and I’ve found it an excellent channel for my imagination and my thoughts.

What books have influenced your life most?
The Bible, first of all, for teaching me who God is.

What I Saw at the Revolution, by Peggy Noonan, was also influential because it taught me, at an early age, that the government is not a machine and power is not an impersonal force; it’s all driven by people, and there’s a human reason and a human motivation behind everything.

A History of the American People, by Paul Johnson, reinvigorated my interest in history and solidified my commitment to studying it.

The works of C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, and G.K. Chesterton all influenced me – Lewis, by showing me both the intellectual justifications of religion and the imaginative expressions of it; Tolkien, by coloring my imagination with visions of heroes, epic struggles, and marvelous worlds; Chesterton, by his writing style and opinions, alternatively playful and profound.

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
If I had to … I suppose Chesterton. He’s probably the writer who has influenced most my individual style, as different as I know it to be from his.

What is your favorite time in History?
Any time where great change is occurring – even at the beginning, where almost nobody knows it yet. How many people knew, in the 1760s, that the ideas of those radicals in Boston would drive a revolt that would drive a war? And how many people knew that it would end in creating the very nation and government that, two hundred years later, would be the most powerful in the world?

I haven't read your novels, can you tell us about your book The Valley of Decision.
The Valley of Decision is a fantasy novel, set in a world of mortals and Fays and hobgoblins. Keiran, my protagonist, is the Captain of the Hosts of Belenus, the “undying master of the north”. Although he holds a high position, Keiran is still owned by his master, Belenus; he is not free. The Valley of Decision is his struggle for freedom, for himself and his downtrodden people.

What was the most outstanding thing you learned while researching for this novel?
I learned that this whole web of stories we call fairy tales is much more varied and complex than I had imagined. In modern culture we have these neat categories, elves and dwarves and goblins, but in the old stories it’s not nearly so simple. There’s also a sense of wariness, and fear, that hangs over Faerie. Every wise human knew, in the old tales, to be on his guard around anything not human.

What do you want readers to take away from The Valley of Decision?

I hope they feel, when they close the book, that they have been on a journey and it was worth it, that they weren’t just wasting time. I hope I’ve given them some vision of the choices we all have, full of reward and risk and consequence.

Any fun behind the scenes tidbits you'd like to share with us?
I don’t think anyone noticed it, but Keiran goes through a lot of swords in this novel. He gives up his first sword to use a sword forged by the Trow; the sword forged by the Trow is taken from him, and he replaces it with a sword he takes; that sword is also lost, but he acquires another one, which he later gives as a peace offering. At the end of the book, he is holding a large and impressive sword taken from a field of battle.

Swords are such valuable objects, it really is careless of Keiran to keep losing and giving them away ...

What is the next project you're working on?
I am working on a manuscript titled The Shameful Years, book two of a sci-fi series I’ve started. In this story, I’ve dusted off the old obsession with Mars, combined it with the old trope of an abandoned space colony, and given it a modern twist: Suppose the people on Mars are abandoned simply because, in the wake of the Great Collapse, Earth decides it doesn’t have the resources to feed them?

I also decided to give full attention to both sides of the abandonment: Earth and Mars. So I have two storylines running alongside each other; I hope it turns out well.

How can readers find you on the internet?
My website is a great place; I have pages dedicated to my works, listings of guest posts and interviews in the About page, and a blog, where I review books and occasionally movies.

I am also on Goodreads, and I welcome friend requests. Finally, readers can drop by my Facebook page.

Thanks so much for stopping by the blog today, Shannon!

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