Interview with Shannon Bozarth

When did you first start writing?
I've been writing since I was a child. My first attempts were plays that featured woodland animals. While I can't remember the specifics of the plays, I do remember being frustrated that I couldn't get any of my family members to act in them. My first attempt at novel writing started when I was fifteen. While I still have the manuscript, it will never see the light of day. To say it's bad and needs a lot of work would be an understatement.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Ride the Train is a "What if" book that takes current social, political, and religious issues and moves them forward into a future where they have morphed into a theocratic government that strips people of basic human rights. Those who are diagnosed with an aspect of "the disease" are separated from society under the guise of curing them. What a majority of the populace doesn't realize is the true horrors that are perpetrated against these people.

Thankfully, there is a group of people working to rescue those diagnosed with the disease. They risk their lives to get these people and sometimes their families to safety. It doesn't always end well, but they give others a fighting chance to lead a life free of oppression.
What is your writing process?
I'm what most people refer to as a "pantser." I don't have a specific process that I follow. Most of my ideas start out as a name or a concept, sometimes even a sentence from a movie or song, and then they begin to take shape in my mind. When I actually start writing, I may have a vague picture of where things will end up, but how I get there is as unknown to me as it is to a reader starting a new book. I try to let the characters go where they want and be who they need to be, and I try not to push them in certain directions.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a lot of science fiction, fantasy, and young adult novels. I've greatly enjoyed The Hunger Games and Harry Potter. The Dune books--both those written by Frank Herbert and the ones his son, Brian, and Kevin J. Anderson have written--are some of my favorites. It's such a great world/universe to be in. Anything that has a fully realized alternate world or reality is something I can lose myself in.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I use the Kindle app on my Samsung tablet. My first e-reader was a second-gen Kindle, and I had a Fire before I got the tablet.
Describe your desk
It looks like a clutter bomb exploded everywhere! Every once in a while I'll get brave enough to clean it off, but it eventually finds itself in the same state. I'm a stacker. I have a stack here, a stack there. Eventually all you see are stacks, a monitor, a mouse, and a keyboard.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in the very small town of Gage, Oklahoma, which is near the Panhandle. There were roughly 650 people in the town when I was growing up, but now I think it's closer to 400. My graduating class had 14 people in it, including me. I was definitely a nerd growing up. While I had a problem with that as a kid, now it's something I embrace wholeheartedly. My favorite classes were English, History (of any kind), and Science. Most of the writing I did for classes was very technical and researched. My senior year I wrote a 30-page thesis on cold fusion, much to the chagrin of my teacher and the class I had to read it to. The assignment was only supposed to be about eight pages long, but I tend to be a little...wordy when I write. That's why I'm so thankful I have a group of people I trust that act as beta readers and editors for me.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Having people read my works is the greatest joy. I like hearing what they think about the stories, the characters, the message. Even if they don't like something, I like hearing why they don't like it. I will admit that I'm terribly impatient, though, when it comes to waiting for someone to finish reading. I'm definitely big on instant gratification. I like giving presents more than I like receiving them, and I think that's what this falls under. Waiting for someone to see what I have for them is so difficult, and I want them to be finished reading as quickly as possible so we can discuss their thoughts and feelings. My mantra has become, "Don't ask them if they've read it yet."
What do your fans mean to you?
They're the reason I do what I do. As an author, if you don't have people reading your novels or short stories, you're just writing for yourself. I don't want to just write a journal. I want to tell a story, entertain people, make them think. I'd even settle for them hating something I've written. Sure, it's disappointing if they don't like something I've put so much of myself into, but at least they took the time to read it.
What are you working on next?
I want to say that it's the first novel in a series for young adults. I desperately want to say that, but until I can get the characters to show me their true voices, it's just a frustrating quasi-short story that I wrote over a year ago. So, in the meantime, I'm working on four short stories that will appear in an anthology that should be published in October. I'm always involved in my writers group and helping the members to hone their skills and stories. There is some amazing talent in the group.
Published 2014-05-15.
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