Shannon Richard is an up and coming writer whose books Undone and Undeniable, tales of love and identity and figuring out who you really are, are available now. The sequels Unstoppable and Unforgettable are up next and I personally, can’t wait to read them! I loved the first two in her lovely, evocative and romantic series. Once I finished Undone, I absolutely knew I had to interview such a great talent. Enjoy!
1.) You’re represented by the fabulous powerhouse agency Nancy Yost Literary Agency. Can you tell us how you became a client of theirs? Did you query? If so, how long did it take to come up with your query and send it out and get a response of rep back?
I’d had a rough draft of a query that I’d worked on for a couple of years. But it had been written for a different book that I’d never finished, so it was never sent out. When I was ready to start sending out queries for Undone, I just used that draft and tweaked it.
My story for querying isn’t a normal one. I was very lucky. It was a right place, right time sort of thing. I queried three agencies when I finished the manuscript for Undone, and I heard back from The Nancy Yost Literary agency the next day. I’d chosen to query Sarah E. Younger, and it was because of what I’d read on her submission request on the website. She’s from the South, so I thought the setting of Undone might intrigue her. She’s a fan of fury animals that are strong side characters, and I had that with Brendan’s dog Sydney. And she likes humor, so I was lucky she found me funny.
2.) What advice do you have for writers who are about to query?
Do the research. It’s important to find that perfect fit, and you need to make sure the agent you’re querying represents your genre.
3.) Your book Undone is out and available for purchase. It’s also out and available for reviews! Talk to us about how you prepared yourself for the inevitable day of getting your first reviews? (Amazing reviews, by the way! I’m seeing quotes like “thoroughly enjoyable” and “cute love story” and “fun” and “six sexy, steamy stars”.)
I knew that reviews were going to happen, both good and bad. As for preparation, I don’t think you can really prepare yourself. I tried the whole policy of not reading, but that didn’t happen. You love the good ones, praise all of your readers no matter what, and move forward after reading some of the not so good ones. At the end of the day I, you, any writer just has to write the book that’s true to them and their characters.
4.) What would you tell a debut author about reviews and how to handle them?
Don’t read them. And if you do because most likely you won’t be able to resist, some you have to take with a grain of salt.
5.) Besides Undone, you’re writing Undeniable, Unstoppable and Unforgettable. Did you start out with these characters thinking their journey would be a quartet of books?
Actually, when I first started writing Undone, the only characters I knew were Brendan, Paige, and Grace. I knew that Grace was going to have a book, I just didn’t know who she was going to end up with. The first time I knew anything about Jax and Shep was when they walked into Lula Mae’s kitchen in the first book, and that’s when I realized they were going to get stories too. It was the same thing with Bennett and Tripp. As soon as I wrote them I realized they were going to get stories.
Other characters were subtler in me discovering they had a story to tell. Mel, Harper, and Abby were just going to be side characters and then I started to write them and I was like “nope, they have stories that need to be told too.”
As far as Jax and Grace being together, I didn’t know that was going to happen until the first time they got into an argument. Same thing with Bennett and Mel. Something happens at the end of Undeniable that made me realize they were going to become a couple.
6.) Do you find it more difficult to write a series than a standalone or more enjoyable, since you now know your characters and have established the world?
I think it’s both difficult and enjoyable. It’s difficult because I have to try so hard to stay consistent with everything. I can’t make changes to Undone and Undeniable anymore, so if I said that a certain character has blue eyes, they’re stuck with blue eyes. I also have to go back and look a lot of things up which can be time consuming. But it’s enjoyable too because I’ve already established these characters and I want to tell their stories. I’m nowhere near done with the town of Mirabelle. Really I have a bit of a problem. I write a character, sometimes it’s just at a glance, and I know/figure out that they have a story. I think I’m somewhere in the teens with future books.
7.) What’s an average writing day like for you?
Well, I still have a day job so I have to carve out most of my writing time, but a lot of work gets done at night and during weekend writing marathons.
8.) Can you tell us about your evolution as an author? When did you start and how has the journey been so far?
I’ve always been coming up with stories in my head, but as far as writing them I’d only get a scene down here and there. But then during my senior year of college, I sat down and started to write a book. That book is still unfinished, but I learned a lot from it. I’ve heard that the best way to learn how to write a book is to actually write a book.
When I was writing my first book, I wrote it out of order. As a scene came to me I typed it out. This became a big problem during editing, which I did off and on for two years. So when I decided I was going to do the National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) in 2011, I knew I needed a new process. I started at the beginning and wrote until I got to the end. It was also a brand new story so the clean slate was refreshing.
9.) Finally, what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been told?
Write the story you want to read, not the story you think everyone else wants to read.