Author Interview with Shannon Peel
Sometimes blending two realities together can create the perfect fictional story for young readers. Shannon Peel discovered this when she wrote her book, Thirteen, a middle grade novel that she has self-published. This will be the first book in a series which explores the recent events occurring in South Sudan from a North American point of view. Peel has a clear message that she is trying to get across in her story. Below are her responses to my 10 author questions.
1. How many books have you written and where can you buy them?
I have written one full middle grade novel, THIRTEEN. It can be purchased in paperback and on Kindle on Amazon and as an e-book on most online bookstores.
2. What famous books can you compare to your own?
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
The movie Red Dawn
The series will move toward a real world 1984 by George Orwell.
3. Why do you write for this particular age group?
In 2007 I met a Lost Boy from South Sudan who told us about being an 8 year old boy on his own escaping war. In 2007 my son was 8, so his story hit home rather hard. The thing that bothered me was that I didn't know anything about the Lost Children of South Sudan because the media didn't cover their story. When he was 8 years old, North American teens were raising money for famine in Ethiopia. We didn't know about the war, Kony, and the effects both had on the Sudan children fleeing into the country we were raising money for.
I tried to write this story. However, it wasn't my story to write. Every time the story moved to the setting it reminded the reader it was Africa, a continent North Americans can't identify with. I wanted Western children to understand what it meant to be caught in war and to do that I had to bring the war home.
4. How autobiographical are your books?
When I started writing THIRTEEN my son was 13, and I was struggling with letting him grow up, and he was pulling at those apron strings pretty hard. Jack's core is based on him. However, over time, my son grew up, and Jack evolved with each edit and each revision into his own self.
Soon after I'd finished the original manuscript, my ex-husband demanded a divorce, and although the situation isn't the same as Jack's parents, some of the reasons and the effects of divorce on a family are drawn from it.
5. What’s the best compliment that you’ve ever received about your writing?
Some reviewers mentioned that I understood the psyche of a 13 year old boy and really got into the boy's mind. Building strong believable characters is vital to any story.
6. What has been your greatest moment as a writer so far?
Seeing my book in print and having my mom display it for her friends and family to see. I finally felt like a 'real' writer with it in my hand. My next goal is to be a professional writer and make a living writing novels with strong political undertones that ask hard questions, like: What would happen if foreign soldiers invaded the Lower Mainland of BC, and how would they do it?
7. Where do you get your covers?
I purchased the image from a stock photo company, added some filters and either created it in Photoshop elements in the case of the e-book, and the CreateSpace software in the case of the paperback.
8. What is a subject/character/setting you would like to tackle?
I have a lot to tackle with this series. I will be bringing the workings and effects of a totalitarian self reliant state to the area of BC's Lower Mainland to explore how a political economy such as North Korea's will affect the citizens who live there.
I am a proud Canadian and I believe that a lot of the American-type blockbusters that are filmed here as US locations can be set in Canada. I want to keep what is Canadian about the area while at the same time writing blockbuster-type stories.
9. What is next for you?
The second instalment in the series, which still needs a name. I was calling it the THIRTEEN series. However I am searching out something that will encompass all the novels that will follow in this series. I am open to suggestions from my readers and intend to engage them.
10. End with a favorite quote.
A favourite quote:
This is not a favourite quote, but it works and is insightful for the future of Jack, THIRTEEN's main character. Many people who get to know my son think that due to his looks, his personality, his outlook on the world, and his humour, that he is a young Canadian version of Russell Brand. It was so true it became an inside joke between us.
When he had stop over in Britain, I asked him what he'd do if he saw Russell Brand. His answer.... He'd run up yelling, "Daddy."
Since Jack is based on some aspects of my son's independence, rebellious nature, revolutionary attitude, and desire to be older than he actually is, looking to Russell Brand for inspiration seems natural.
"We have been segregated and severed, from each other and even from ourselves. We have been told that freedom is the ability to pursue our petty, trivial desires when true freedom is freedom from these petty, trivial desires." - Russell Brand
My Website: http://shannonlpeel.wix.com/shannonpeel