Interview with Shannon Muir

When did you first start writing?
I first started seriously writing in the fifth grade after some poetry I wrote got enough attention from my teacher to be featured in a student mall exhibition. In sixth grade my teacher made us write weekly stories with our spelling words. When mine regularly became among the best read to the class each week, I decided it might be something worth getting serious about.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I see my birthplace and hometown as two different things. Though born in California, my father was in the Navy, and we would also go on to live in Japan and Hawaii before he retired. After his retirement, we moved to Cheney, Washington, to be near his family. So I went from an early childhood in foreign lands and exotic cultures to teenage years in a college town in Eastern Washington with a main street that had only a couple stoplights, where I remained until moving to Los Angeles in 1996. I believe that my wide exposure to varied culture, geography and ideas gives me the freedom to explore people from a wide variety of backgrounds and set stories in varied settings. THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA novels are set in a fictional town similar to ones found in Eastern Washington with its own little twists, while my first novel TOUCH THE STARS takes place in Los Angeles.
Do you remember the first story that made an impact on you?
My father read my sister and I THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS as bedtime stories when we were relatively young. From those books, I learned not only a thirst for adventure, but a real desire to try and build a detailed world when I do my own writing. I completely admire the depth of the storyline Tolkien wove and how it all comes together.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There were two factors. One was that I suffered a long period of unemployment a couple years ago, and wanted to do things with all the time on my hands when I wasn't looking for work. I'd been freelancing other things off and on with projects for other people, but I decided I also wanted to start doing stuff directly and seeing what I could accomplish. More importantly, I realized the stories I wanted to tell just wouldn't be mainstream enough for publishers, but I've had it on my heart for years to tell some of these stories (such as THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA, which traces its roots back to my own high school days for its earliest character development). So I followed my heart because I had the time to do so. Though I release less books now because I've been working, there are still things being worked on that will see the light of day. Now that I've started I'm not giving up.
What's the story behind THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA?
THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA - which begins in the 1990s and will ultimately end in relatively present day, not including the prequel BY THE WILLOW BROOK set in the 1940s - is intended to explore the concept of people growing up in a community with expectations of them that do not follow the societal norm (even if a lot of it is kept secret from the public) regarding matters of family and personal identity. One of the two main characters, Angie Harrison, loses her parents at a pivotal time in her life and ends up making poor choices without great guidance. Her best friend, Cherie Daniels, thinks she's got the idyllic textbook life only to find she's been living a lie and having her world turned upside makes her lose focus regarding the choices she makes. The long term goal of THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA is to see what happens to both Angie and Cherie as they try to forge the lives they want despite the pressures of others who want to force them into lives they are expected to lead.
What are you working on next?
THE HEART'S DUTY was my second full length novel, and I learned a valuable lesson of how to set publication date from that experience. In hindsight I released it before it was really ready, but I'd promised it on a specific date for a promotion. I've found over the last couple years that there remained a number of questions to be answered about the lead character's family life. As part of National Novel Writing Month 2013, I worked on a first draft of a prequel book that should put a lot in focus. All of THE HEART'S DUTY related stories are now in a combied release as part of a larger collection project, similar to THE PHOENIX COLLECTION, called THE HEART'S DUTY COLLECTION - which also includes a copy edited update of my first book, TOUCH THE STARS.

Also, as I began to assemble Book 4 of THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA, I'm finding that certain elements need a prequel book in their own right. Otherwise that book will be bloated with a lot of flashbacks. So I put some effort into that and the prequel BY THE WILLOW BROOK released in February 2014. THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA will get back on track with new releases in early 2015.

I've also been starting to work on new pulp and genre fiction, starting with a short story in the Pro Se Productions anthology NEWSHOUNDS, which is available on Smashwords. More releases in this vein are to come in 2014.

The TRUTH REVEALED SERIES continues to generate strong interest. My goal is to see Book 3, GETTING TO THE TRUTH, come out in 2015. As I started putting together Book 3, I began to feel like THE WILLOWBROOK SAGA that there was just too much back story to cram in. Therefore THE TRUTH REVEALED SERIES will also be getting the prequel treatment in 2014.

I've also started delving more into period fiction, such as my publication in the anthology NEWSHOUNDS from Pro Se. I'm planning to continue to do more in this area, either with publishers or independently.
What inspired you to write THE PHOENIX RISES and THE PHOENIX BURNS?
Among the various pieces of education I received, I have certification as a Library Technician. I did this because I could see the global importance of information and the cataloging of information, but didn't want to spend the money on a Master of Library Science (at least not yet), especially since I have an MA in Communications. Also, heading up towards a certain age range, I wanted to write about an older woman and certain life issues. Since I just researched a lot about libraries for the Library Technician certificate, I set out to write a story set in a library. I also became intrigued about the idea of men secretly penning romance novels, and created Stern accordingly. Later, when National Novel Writing Month 2012 came along, I decided to tackle the premise of my librarian character facing issues of old age and what would happen if her younger husband died, leaving their just near adult children to make decisions for themselves. The two books were a lot of fun to write. They can be also purchased together in the value priced THE PHOENIX COLLECTION.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
What I enjoy most about writing is to be able to create various characters and explore what it would be like to live lives and face decisions that I myself probably never will face. I like to take a look at humanity's many facets and how nothing is really black and white. I enjoy when I'm writing and then all of a sudden a plot twist reveals itself I didn't plan and how it changes everything. The joy is in the discovery.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not writing, you can usually find me immersed in playing LORD OF THE RINGS ONLINE or reading a book. However, as my "day job" if you will, I do quality assurance of websites. Attention to detail is important in that line of work, as well as in writing.
What do you read for pleasure?
Though I write mainly what can best be considered New Adult or Literary Fiction, I actually enjoy Science Fiction and Fantasy most when it comes to my own reading. My father also reads a lot of the same and exposed me to it at a young age, so I think that was a big influence.

I do find it interesting, however, that my only novel with Science Fiction and Fantasy influence so far is FOR THE LOVE OF AIRAGOS - an urban fantasy which also features an emphasis on characters with interests in role playing games, play by mail, and MMOGs - but it is more indicative of the other "Spontaneous Choices" style books in its plot and theme. It is my hope to do more fantasy or science fiction pieces at some point.
Published 2014-06-23.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Heart's Duty Collection
By
Series: Spontaneous Choices. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 192,610. Language: English. Published: June 15, 2014. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Three generations of women who make choices fueled by passion, and others influenced by them are in THE HEART'S DUTY COLLECTION. Includes four novel length stories - from new to previously released. Collects DISCOVERING THE HEART'S DUTY, THE HEART'S DUTY, REDEFINING THE HEART'S DUTY, and TOUCH THE STARS - A STORY OF THE HEART'S DUTY. Part of the SPONTANEOUS CHOICES collection.
Lives Reflected: Stories and Poems Looking Back At Choices Made In Life
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 17,350. Language: English. Published: April 6, 2014. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
This eleven short story and twelve poem collection of works by Shannon Muir include many glimpses into the worlds of her series WILLOWBROOK SAGA, TRUTH REVEALED, THE HEART'S DUTY, and THE PHOENIX COLLECTION, yet are completely enjoyable on their own.
For the Love of Airagos
By
Series: Spontaneous Choices. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 53,200. Language: English. Published: March 2, 2014. Category: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary
Heather Candor grew up playing RPGs with her friend Abe and a regular group of college friends, but Abe mysteriously disappeared. Years later,getting away from the world and getting immersed in MMOGs, old mysteries revive and reveal that they are pieces in a larger game for another race to come to Earth. Ultimately it takes an acceptance of love, at times lust, and destiny to save two worlds.
By The Willow Brook
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Series: Willowbrook Saga. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 35,790. Language: English. Published: February 12, 2014. Category: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
This prequel sets the stage for the Willowbrook Saga showing that the town's unusual ways do not begin in the 1980s. Teenager Mona Williams finds that her married English teacher Albert Rawlins has eyes for her in World War II Willowbrook. Combined with personal family turmoil, Mona finds herself sucked into the future she wanted to avoid and gives up on escape until she meets Irving Greymont.
The Phoenix Collection
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Series: Spontaneous Choices. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 98,140. Language: English. Published: September 22, 2013. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
Two books for one great price! This collection brings together THE PHOENIX RISES and the PHOENIX BURNS into a single volume. This is part of the SPONTANEOUS CHOICES collection, which feature women fueled by passion!
On the Search for Truth
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Series: Truth Revealed, Book 2 · Spontaneous Choices. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 47,530. Language: English. Published: March 2, 2013. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Aidin Moore is haunted by visions and also begins to receive mental contact from the family babysitter named Marva, and starts to realize there is far more going on than she imagined - and she may not be who she thinks - in this new adult paranormal series about two people with mental powers destined to be in love but kept apart by people with dangerous schemes.
Fill the Inner Circle
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Series: Willowbrook Saga, Book 3. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 57,490. Language: English. Published: December 22, 2012. Category: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
After losing Angie Harrison, Cherie Daniels makes a new friend named Lisa Allen who is a lot like her. Everything seems fine until something happens to Lisa at a school event and Bill Caldwell, the boy that Cherie secretly likes, is blamed for it. Cherie’s determined to find out the truth of what happened to Bill, even if it costs her a friendship.
The Phoenix Burns
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Series: Spontaneous Choices. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 56,880. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
After her father's unexpected death not long after Cassandra's eighteenth birthday, she's left to take care of her ailing mother and her younger siblings without much to pay the bills. The one thing left is her father's half finished novel, so she takes it upon herself to complete his book, which changes her own future in the process.
Down to the Roots
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Series: Willowbrook Saga, Book 2. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 71,960. Language: English. Published: August 26, 2012. Category: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
More family secrets for the Harrisons are unveiled as Angie ends up living at the Daniels and a supposed brother appears in town. A freshman English project about family turns up skeletons in the closet for many. Angie learns new things about her own past that open her up to a forbidden relationship followed by consequences and choices.
Everything Changes
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Series: Willowbrook Saga, Book 1. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 66,350. Language: English. Published: May 4, 2012. Category: Fiction » Themes & motifs » Family sagas
Willowbrook is a town where a past of agriculture and pioneer medicine collide with a town moving forward in state of the art commerce and healthcare. With the changing times have come changing ideas that lay hidden in the dark for many years which these two families will begin to bring to light. The series explores women trying to build their own identities against a town's expectations.
The Phoenix Rises
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Series: Spontaneous Choices. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 44,540. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2012. Category: Fiction » Romance » General
Dawn, a middle age reference librarian, gets lessons in love and life when the library takes on its first intern, a young man named Stern. However, her spontaneous choices are not without consequences.
Flying Glory Flashback: Celebrating 10 Years of the Lyrics, Words, and History Behind the Webcomic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 16,170. Language: English. Published: December 15, 2011. Category: Fiction » Graphic novels & comics » Comics
A complete text-only book of lyrics, along with the evolution of the storyline's history, for a webcomic about a group of teen musicians who also happen to be superheroes which celebrated a 10th anniversary milestone in June of 2011.
At the End of Innocence's Road: An Anthology of Stories and Poems Covering the Journey from Childhood to Old Age
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Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 26,730. Language: English. Published: November 30, 2011. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
In this value-priced book comprised some of material from the author archives and mainly new material written for this collection, sample a wide variety of ideas all brought together under the common theme of the ages and stages of life.
Half Truth and Full Lye
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Series: Truth Revealed, Book 1 · Spontaneous Choices. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 56,990. Language: English. Published: November 1, 2011. Category: Fiction » Women's fiction » General
Truth Knox searches to find out the truth about her family when the man she believes to be her father returns to town with his charming assistant Lye in this new adult paranormal series about two people with mental powers destined to be in love but kept apart by people with dangerous schemes.
Search for a Woman: An Anthology of Stories and Poems Looking at Women from All Walks of Life
By
Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 35,430. Language: English. Published: August 18, 2011. Category: Fiction » Anthologies » Short stories - single author
An anthology of short stories and poems looking at women from all walks of life. This book does contain some adult themes and occasional language.