I recently reviewed Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A Thompson (you can read my full review here), and can’t wait to get my hands on the sequel, Seconds Before Sunrise. This interview is part of a new feature on Confessions of a Book Geek, which also includes a great giveaway – more information on that at the end of this post!
R: Introduce yourself and tell us a little about you, what do you do when you aren’t writing/blogging?
SAT: I am a 22-year-old author, poet, and blogger – but my life started on the road. I’ve lived in 6 different states and moved 15 times already, which has allowed me to learn from many types of different of people and settings. In my free time, I am almost always playing with my cat or talking to strangers at a coffee shop. I prefer black-and-white movies, Elvis Presley, and I drive a manual, but this summer, the child in me is looking forward to Sailor Moon returning.
R: You began writing at a very young age, what do you feel has been your biggest achievement so far?
SAT: Honestly, returning to the publishing world in 2012 after I dropped out in 2007 feels like the biggest achievement to me because it was the hardest decision I had to make. I had given up. I was only going to write for fun. But one day, I woke up, and it was like my brain clicked – my writing soul knew before I did. I had to go back, and I did.
R: Who are some of your favourite authors, or your favourite books, and why?
SAT: It’s always difficult to pick a favorite, but Meg Cabot is probably my favorite YA author – although I wish she wrote another “darker” series like she did ten year ago. (I’m talking “The Mediator” or the “1-800-Where-R-U” series.) Her female protagonists were always unconventional, bad-ass, and lovely – all at the same time. I truly admire Cabot for that.
“The Daughters of the Moon” series by Lynne Ewing is sort of the same thing for me. She has four interesting girls with unique powers, but they still had time to dress up – which was their armor and war paint. How cool is that? I don’t even like to dress up, but I thought it was neat that these two authors could depict a girly side as incredibly powerful.
R: You have faced difficult losses in your life; how have your personal experiences shaped you as a person, and as a writer?
SAT: Unfortunately, yes, I lost my mother when I was eleven and my college roommate when I was twenty-one very suddenly. These experiences have definitely shaped me. My mother’s death was the reason I started to pursue a publishing career at such a young age. I realized that life isn’t guaranteed, so I stopped listening to everyone who told me to wait until I was older, because we may not get the opportunity to get older. As dark as that sounds, both of these deaths have shaped me into a more passionate and kind person who only wants to help others achieve their dreams.
R: Introduce Book Geek readers to Minutes Before Sunset in one sentence.
SAT: When the dark is good and the light is evil, only destiny can bring two people together to fight against archetypes and stereotypes, including the fate that binds them.
R: Minutes Before Sunset is a very unique take on a paranormal fantasy story, where did you get your inspiration? And which character is most reflective of you?
SAT: The Timely Death Trilogy is based off of a series of very realistic dreams that I had. I actually shared an excerpt from my personal diary in which I wrote out what I had seen. You can read about that here.
I don’t believe any character is most reflective of me now because I wrote the novels between the ages of 14 and 17. But back then, I would say I was most like Eric actually. I had a bit of an anger problem, and school was not something I enjoyed, despite the fact that I excelled in it, but I did find comfort in strangers I met, and I looked forward to work outside of school (kind of like Eric’s training.) He also drives a manual. So that’s something we would get along on… 😀
R: How do you know when your books feel “done”? How do you recognize that time when you are completely happy with them?
SAT: Well, I plan all of my novels before I write them. That being said, they almost always change before I get to the ending. I don’t think I ever have a moment where I am like, “It’s done”. Novels never feel complete to me. Even though Death Before Daylight (book 3 in the Timely Death Trilogy) – is not released yet – it has a conclusion, I have this extended story in my mind that I would never share with readers – mainly because I believe in allowing the readers to decide what the epilogue is.
R: The most recent Top Ten Tuesday post was dedicated to book covers, tell us a little about the inspiration behind your book covers for this series. Are book covers important to you?
SAT: Book covers are very important to me. There has been mixed reviews of The Timely Death Trilogy covers, but they were definitely purposeful in extra sense. They were perfect – exactly what I wanted – and that’s because of the symbolism in the story. I also didn’t want my trilogy covers to easily “blend in” with all of the other covers out there. For instance, there’s a dance scene in this book, so I had a cover artist suggest having a girl on the cover in a dress in the forest – and I just couldn’t do that. That’s every other cover out there. So I wanted this completely different style, and this is why:
Minutes Before Sunset revolves around the Dark (the title refers to the moment before a human turns into a shade). Jessica is on the cover in her shade self. The reason she is blue is because she is looking up at Eric during the first flying scene, and his Dark powers are symbolized with a blue color. The background is purple because it shows off her Dark powers, and they are near a forest.
Seconds Before Sunrise revolves around being a human in a paranormal world (again, the title refers to the moment a shade returns to their human identity). The cover shows Eric as a human, and the reason it is so green is to show that he has strength, even as a person without powers.
With the two covers together, you will notice the characters are facing each other, which was a very specific design I intended, and I am very grateful to both of my cover artists who agreed to such a specific and out-of-the-box design: Viola Estrella and Autumn Fog Photography.
R: You touch on a lot of serious issues in Minutes Before Sunset, both in-real-life and in the paranormal, which book/scene in The Timely Death Trilogy was the most difficult to write?
SAT: Each novel represents of coming-of-age, so the issues become more serious as the trilogy continues. That being said, the most difficult scene to write in Minutes Before Sunset was probably the bat scene – mainly because this scene was very real for me, but then it became very personal to one of my characters. During the time that I was having these dreams, I really thought I was going insane. They were so vivid that when I woke one morning, I ran outside, half-expecting to see people in my front yard. Of course, no one was there, so I took a moment to watch this thunderstorm roll in, and all of a sudden I was surrounded by bats. And I love bats, so it was a really neat moment, especially because I had no clue this happened almost every time a storm rolled in. When I entered it in the story, though, I never expected Eric to talk about his late mother for the first time.
R: What is your favourite part of the writing process?
SAT: When one of my characters surprises me – just like how Eric surprised me in the bat scene – I am blown away. I love it.
R: Weigh in on the eternal debate – eBook or hard-copy?
SAT: I am a hard-copy person.
R: Do you prefer to type stories on a computer, or hand-write in a notebook?
SAT: Hand-write first.
R: What is your favourite word?
R: Which 5 fictional characters (books, TV, film etc.) would you invite to a dinner party?
SAT: Can I invite my own? Not that I’m trying to sound egotistical. It’s just that I have spent so much time getting to know them that I would love to see them in real life. When I see a person walking down the street that looks like one of my characters, I seriously have to fight myself from approaching them. If I could have characters from my currently published works, I would invite Pierce and Camille from The Timely Death Trilogy, and Daniel, Serena, and Calhoun from November Snow.
R: Which do you prefer – contemporary or classic?
SAT: Depends on what we’re talking about. If we’re talking about books, I am a contemporary person.
R: What is your favourite non-fiction book?
R: Do you prefer the hero or the villain?
SAT: In most entertainment, I prefer the villain because he’s generally more interesting, but I am striving to allow the hero to be just as complicated in my own novels.
R: When you read, or write, books do you believe in book monogamy?
SAT: Depends if my character believes in it. My characters are the ones in charge, so I don’t make that decision.
R: Finally, which character do you prefer – Eric or Jessica?
SAT: I love both of them for many reasons, but it definitely depends on which book in the trilogy we’re talking about. For instance, I prefer Eric in the second novel, but in the third, I prefer Jessica, so I really can’t pick one over the other.
R: What are you currently working on that we can look forward to?
SAT: My next novel – Take Me Tomorrow – is expected to release July 17, 2014. It’s a YA, dystopian novel about a clairvoyant drug. It’s on Goodreads, so be sure to check it out here.
Links for readers to find out more about the author:
Shannon has kindly offered Confessions of a Book Geek readers the chance to win an eBook copy of Minutes Before Sunset, but she’s gone one better than that, because there are three copies up-for-grabs! The rafflecopter link will go live in a giveaway post on Monday 12th of May, right here on Confessions of a Book Geek 🙂
I’d like to thank Shannon for the opportunity to review her book, and for being the first author in my new author interview feature.