Tuesday Talks – Interview with Shannon McNear

Today we are privileged to have Shannon McNear with us. Shannon has been writing novel-length fiction since age 15. Her first novella, Defending Truth, from A Pioneer Christmas Collection, was a 2014 RITA® nominee. She’s a member of ACFW and RWA. Welcome, Shannon. Tell us a little about yourself and how you were raised.

I’m a wife (going on 32years), mother (8 here on earth, 1 in heaven), mother-in-love (3 oldest are married), grammie (oldest has 2 little boys), worship and youth leader, research nerd, seamstress, music fanatic, very mediocre guitar player … and always the socially awkward geek type. J I grew up on a small farm in central Illinois, wandering the timber and riding horses. Graduated from a small Christian high school and attended Liberty University for three semesters. Had a rather broken family situation but God provided me an amazing step/adoptive father who showed me what honorablemanhood could look like. Unfortunately he went to be with the Lord when I wasonly 17 and my younger brother was 10, but my mom’s rock-solid faith was aconstant throughout my childhood. The one thing I learned, through the ups anddowns, was the conviction to live my own faith in a genuine, transparent way.

What’s your favorite genre to read and write. Who’s your favorite author?

At one time, I’d have saidanything speculative, particularly fantasy. But I also love historical. And Ilove romance done well. I can’t say I have a single favorite author, but my topfavorites include C.S. Lewis, Mary Stewart, Susanna Kearsley, Rachel Hauck,Ronie Kendig, Michelle Griep, Lori Benton, Elizabeth Camden … heavens, too manyto name!

What age did you realize you loved books? When did you start writing?  

I’ve always loved books!Words on the page have always fascinated me—I can’t even recall learning how toread—and third grade was when I discovered writing stories. I’ve never reallystopped …

Tell us about this book.

The Cumberland Brideis is #5 in the Daughters of the Mayflower series. It tells the story of KateGruener, daughter of settlers moving westward into Kentucky via the WildernessRoad in 1794, and Thomas Bledsoe, their guide. Kate loves to write and is fascinated by people’s stories, and though she rightly guesses that Thomas has plenty of his own to tell, he’s less than forthcoming about sharing them.

Is she too naïve to survivethe journey? Or when danger threatens, will she find a courage no one knows shehas?

What did you learn about yourself through writing it?

Oddly enough—I had a fresh realization of how fascinated I am by people’s stories. That I need to have more courage to actually ASK people to share them—because they’re usually more than happy to do so.

Do you normally use an outline for the books you write, or do you just start with a few ideas?

Writing on contract means that I’ve had to come up with at least a rough summary of the story, start to finish, and I actually find that helpful, though I’ve considered myself more of a “seat of the pants” writer. I love the process of discovering the charactersand story as I write—although the uncertainty can be terrifying!

What was something that surprised you in the way this book unfolded?

Thomas’s journey was a lot more difficult than I expected. I wasn’t sure I could pull off his character arc, but several readers have said that was the thread which resonated most strongly with them.

Is there a special place you like to write?

In the summertime, I love sitting on my front porch swing, and in the winter, I usually sat in a very comfy recliner loveseat in one of our downstairs rooms—but while on deadline last year, I found I needed to be able to shut myself away from the rest of the family. So I cleared out a corner of what was then a very cluttered sewing room and discovered I loved having a dedicated space for writing. Gradually I turned half the room into a writing/office area. It really helps me get into that “I’mat work now” mindset.

What advice would you give a new author?

Read, read, read. And write, write, write. Don’t be afraid to study the craft. Listen to feedback, but trust your own story sense and writing voice. And above all, understand that getting published isn’t a destination unto itself—it’s a milestone on the overall journey, but also a higher level of responsibility, with new pressures and insecurities of its own.

What project are you working on now?

Another Daughters of the Mayflower title, this one set during the CivilWar.

Where can we find your books?

Amazon is a good place, or other online booksellers such as Christianbook.com, Books a Million, or Barnes & Noble. For The Cumberland Bride:

Amazon(both paperback and Kindle)
Christianbook.com (both paperback and ebook)
Barnes & Noble (both paperback and Nook)

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