Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Interview with author H.M. Shander

Please start by telling us a little about yourself (education, jobs, significant other, children, pets, etc.) 

My name is H.M. Shander, and I am from Edmonton, Alberta (Canada) and have been married for nearly 17 years. When I finished up high school, I was a nanny which evolved into a FT support staff position within a private school until I took maternity leave at age 29. Then I enjoyed being a stay at home mom, until after the birth of my second child. I then become a PT birth doula – taking up to two birthing clients a month. With my children in school FT, I was offered a PT job in their school’s library. This afforded me to have time off when my kids were home (perfect!), and became the ideal job, which I love, and also gave me time to indulge in some creative writing on my days off. It started out slowly, "winning" NaNoWriMo in 2012, and then again in 2013 (Run Away Charlotte). I spent 2014 editing Run Away Charlotte, having beta readers and critiquers, and then an editor before self-publishing it in December 2014. I learned a lot about that process. 

Tell us about your latest New Adult book and what inspired you to write it.

Run Away Charlotte is based off a dream I had. The last few chapters were the dream, and it led me to ask what drove Charlotte in that direction? What was her life like that led to those decisions. It became overpowering in a sense that when I started to think through all the little intricacies of her life, I couldn’t get them out of my head until they were written down. And the more I re-wrote the scenes, the more in depth I was getting.
It’s a love story, the romance of a nineteen year old Charlotte and the love of her life, Andrew, a university student. How she pushes him away because she comes from a place of rejection and hate, and never learned how to properly love. And then when she does fall, he pushes her away because he has commitment issues of his own that stem from his broken childhood. So they are growing and learning about love together. But a grievous error on Andrew’s part threatens it all.

The New Adult genre is fairly new. What's your definition of it? How does it differ from Young Adult or just regular Adult books?

Young adult, to me, is the age of high school students. Those who typically haven’t really experienced real life – the pressures of adulthood – bill paying, living on their own, finding their way in life. Regular adult books, in my opinion, is the mid-twenty and older age. There is this gap of time where the people I know, have had some struggles as they make the transition from being supported (from parents for example) to being on their own until they settle with a partner (typically mid to late twenties). The New Adult era is that time in between.

Do you belong to any critique groups and/or do you have other people read your work as you're writing it? Who's brutally honest and who's a cheerleader? Which do you prefer?

I do belong to a critique group, but I wait until I have a finished manuscript. I have a couple who will help with grammar/sentence structure/punctuation and give me their feedback overall on each chapter, and then I have others who will go almost line by line and critique it, leaving comments/questions after every paragraph asking some thought provoking questions. To me, I love having both when I send out my manuscripts, as then I’m seeing the small details and the big picture. By time my editor gets it, the story is much smoother, and infinitely better.

What are your all-time favorite authors/books?

My favorite authors are Stephanie Meyer (because it’s so easy to escape into the Twilight world) and Cassandra Clare (because I really enjoyed reading the entire Mortal Instruments series). They are my go to beach books. But my absolute favorite author would be J.K. Rowling because her worlds and characters are so rich and vivid, and I enjoy spending my time in her fantasy world. I also really enjoy Nicholas Sparks – nothing like a good ole romance story.

Do you outline before you write or just dive head-first into a manuscript? Do you maintain a schedule for writing, or is it more haphazard?

 I am so a ‘pantser’ – diving head first. I have the outline in my head but it’s very basic. As I go, the story evolves and I like that. It’s like we’re growing together. My original outline for Run Away Charlotte is very different than what is now out there, and the ending evolved considerably from where it was.

Where do you do your best writing? (Ex: desk in your office, public library, under a tree in the park, in front of a Real Housewives TV marathon, etc.) Do you like music or some other background noise, or do you need quiet?

I do my best writing either in bed, after my kids go to bed, or at “my writing spot” at the kitchen table. The perfect spot to have my mug of coffee, my laptop plugged in and to hear the music playing softly in the background.

What are the best and worst parts of writing a book?

The best and worst parts really, is to read what I’ve written. Some things I absolutely love and am astounded when I know that it was my brain that thought them up. On the flip side, the worst parts are also for that, for that exact same reason. J I will re-read it and think, “That’s what I thought? It’s so terrible, my 7 year old could write it better.”  
I think the easiest thing is to get the thought down, and the hardest is to have it make sense, have it be strong and have it relate to the general story line.

When you're driving and you have a sudden, brilliant idea for the new manuscript you're working on, what do you do? (Ex: pull over and fire up the laptop, keep driving while scribbling on a McDonald's bag, tell Siri, etc.)

Our streets are so terrible and so full of bad drivers, that keeping my mind focused on the road is essential. ;) Plus, with two busy boys, and a part time job, there’s not a lot of time for me to think. Thankfully, I do my best thinking at night, as I’m falling asleep. It gives me a chance to play out the story and see what works and what doesn’t.

Imagine you have a whole day free for shopping. Where do you go? (Mall, unique boutiques, flea market, antique shops, bookstore, home improvement store, etc.)

I’m not a typical girl, and I absolutely hate shopping. I go for groceries and clothes when I need them, but honestly don’t think I could spend a day shopping. I’d rather spend that time, reading or writing, or visiting with a cherished friend.

What are the top 5 titles in your Netflix queue? (Be honest.) Or if you don't have a Netflix queue, which books are on your bedside table? (Again, be honest.)

No Netflix queue, but the 5 books on my table are (in no particular order):
Divergence ~ A Discovery of Witches ~ The Evolution of Mara Dyer ~ Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince ~ Full Measures

Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?

Both. J I love my kobo for the easy of portability, the amount of books I can carry, and that I can read late at night without disrupting anyone. However, I also love a print book for during the day to cuddle up with on my couch.

Where is your favorite place in the world?

That’s an easy question – HOME.

Do you have any advice for people who want to write a book?

I say Go For It, and let me know how I can help you along the way. Give it your heart and soul and don’t be afraid of rejection, because if you are like me, then you’re your own worst critique.

Twitter handle @HM_Shander

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