Monday, 15 November 2010

Author Spotlight Week - Q&A with Shawna K. Williams

STEPH: I'd like to welcome Desert Breeze Author, Shawna K. Williams to the blog. Shawna, I don't know much about In All Things. Can you tell us a little about the story?

SHAWNA: In All Things is the sequel to No Other. The story picks up with Jakob and Meri ten years later. Jakob has put all of his effort into fulfilling his promise to Roger by making Meri's dreams come true. They've moved to Hollywood and Meri is a successful actress. But what you have to ask is this; was this really Meri's dream, or was it what he thought was her dream, and by achieving it was he really trying to prove himself?

Meri on the other hand has her own set of issues. She's tried to put the past behind her, but a part of her still craves her parents' approval – something most children want even when they come from an abusive home. She hopes that time and her success have brought a change of heart to her parents, but when she finds that it hasn't she sets out with determination to shove her success in their faces and shame them that way.

Both Meri and Jakob are faced with coming to terms over the fact that success has proved dissatisfying. Likewise, an unhealthy nature to their relationship has stifled their growth in Christ, and they have to overcome that, too.

Along with Jakob and Meri's story is the story of healing that takes place in Jakob's family. Though, some things get worse before they get better. This story is actually more literary in that sense than romance. It's very focused on the characters' personal journeys.

STEPH: What was the inspiration behind the story?

SHAWNA: It was inspired from the same dream that inspired No Other. Then a lot of things evolved just from things I have experienced and observed of human nature. Like Meri and Jakob both wanting to be successful just to "show" someone. If they can't win their object's approval, then they'll ignite their jealousy, right?

STEPH: How long have you been writing?

SHAWNA: Off and on for almost nine years, with one of the 'offs' being two years long. I've always had a knack for it, but it wasn't until three years ago that I decided to really commit to learning and to make a serious effort at getting published.

STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?

SHAWNA: A little bit of both. I have to have an idea of the overall theme. So I initially write a loose summary of the story. Before each scene I also like to have objectives in mind – meaning, what do I want to accomplish with this scene. How I'm going to do that though is complete panstering, and I always leave room for the unexpected. Sometimes entirely new levels of characterization are discovered this way.

STEPH: Are you doing NaNoWriMo? What are your thoughts on National Novel writing month?

SHAWNA: I would love to participate in NoNoWriMo, but I wish it wasn't in November! This year there was just no way, not with one book just releasing and another coming out in December. But I love the idea, and when I can set aside the time I'm actually a fairly quick writer, assuming the story if fermently cemented in my mind. I wrote over 30,000 words in Orphaned Hearts in four weeks, and that was polished. It's not a stretch to think I could do it in 50,000 in a month. I'd love to try. I'd just need to stock up on frozen meals and be sure the family is all set before I enter my cave.

STEPH: Cast the characters: Who is Meri? Jakob?

SHAWNA: Hmm... this has changed numerous times over the years. When this story first came to me the movie Pearl Harbor had not been out that long, and for some reason I could easily see Josh Harnett as Jakob. Charlize Theron was who I saw as Meri back then. However, as the years trickled on, both of these actors started to seem a little too old to fit Meri and Jakob in No Other anymore, because in that book they are 20 and 22. When I started rewriting No Other to get it ready for publication it was season 8 of American Idol. I'm from Arkansas, and our state had a contestant, Kris Allen, in the contest. He went on to win – something that made Arkansans very proud. There was a lot of publicity surrounding him in our state, and physically, except for his height, he fit the description of Jakob. But manner-wise, he really fit! I even had a friend in Florida, who was familiar with Jakob's character, email me to say so. To top it off, Kris Allen's wife, Katie, fit the description of Meri spot on. So all during the rewrite of No Other these two were who I saw as Meri and Jakob.

BUT, when it came time to rewrite In All Things I ran into the opposite problem. Jakob and Meri were older, now 31 and 33. Kris and Katie Allen seemed too young to picture as my characters. However, Josh Hartnett and Charlize Theron didn't. Sooo, I went back with my original cast. The story had caught up to their ages. Weird.

STEPH: What's your favorite place to go on vacation?

SHAWNA: I love a cabin in the mountains in winter, surrounded by woods. I think I'd pick that over almost anything everytime.

STEPH: Do you have an ebook reader? If so, which one?

SHAWNA: Yep! I have a Kindle. I love it! My daughter has a Nook. She loves it! Sometimes we swap, but she always likes her Nook more and I always like my Kindle more.

STEPH: What attracts you to writing early 20th Century?

SHAWNA: It's hard to say. Something about the era evokes warm-fuzzy feelings in me. There was less clutter, and I think an innocence pervaded that seems lost in many way. But even as I say that, I'm fully aware of the dichotomy of the statement. One of the major story elements in No Other is the internment of Jakob's family based solely on their heritage in WWII, and this was something that really happened to many Americans of German, Italian and Japanese decent. Orphaned Hearts is inspired by my granddad's experience growing up in an orphanage. The indifference, or outright cruelty toward orphans was something he endured. These are both horrible things, and not something to feel all warm and fuzzy about. It does seem though, that at people's core there was something more solid... connected. Maybe that's what pulled them through such trials as what I just mentioned. I'm not really sure I can give a concrete answer to this question Steph, other than to say that something pulls me there, over and over, and whispers in my ear.

STEPH: Fun question: Who is your favorite: Picassco, Monet, Renoir?

SHAWNA: Renoir and Monet. I like Renoir's paintings a little bit more, but these two guys were friends, and there is one painting Renoir did of Monet painting in the garden that I love because it shows their relationship. And he didn't take his work too seriously all the time. There is this beautiful painting of his called, "The Thought." I don't think he actually named it, but I could be wrong. The painting is impressionists style of this lovely young girl looking lost in thought, and Renoir was thoroughly amused at listening to the endless chatter of people speculating about what she was thinking of. Apparently he knew the girl, and according to him, "She never had a thought in her life."


  1. Enjoyed the interview, ladies! Shawna, best of luck to you with your new release!

  2. Hi Shawna,
    I like Charleze Theron. She'd be great in your books. An interesting interview. Your books sound as though they have wonderful, in depth characters.

  3. Good interview, Shawna and Steph. I want to write something in the early part of the 20th Century, too, Shawna. I think you're right. It seems a time of innocence compared with today, and a much slower pace which seems enviable to me. It was nice to get to know you better. I wish you success with your books. Linda S.

  4. Best of luck with the new release!