Interview with Shiree McCarver

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
II love reading and it's something I don't do while I'm writing because I don't want to be influenced in my current work by another authors work. So I don't get to read as much as I use to so I also Karaoke to unwind from the stress; at least once a week.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I do. The first story I ever wrote I actually haven't published yet. It's a historical called Loving Lavina. I hope to someday rewrite it and publish it with a new title. It needs a lot of tweaking because it's very dated since I wrote it In the 80's.
What is your writing process?
I have a file I keep on future books based on ideas, or dreams. I try to write down the theme so that much is done before I get started. Afterwards Characters names can be a task in itself because names are very important. So each book is like when you are naming your child. The name helps set the tone of the characters personality. So after I have theme, name, I do characterization charts so I can refer to as I write. Birthmarks, tattoos, habits, family and background knowing all these things influence the characters personality as you right. The last thing I do is a summary of my story and if I'm having hard time writing a chapter by chapter outline to keep me focus.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
No, I don’t remember the first story I read. I didn’t actually feel the drive to write until I started reading
Historical Romances. The first Author I read I do remember. It was Johanna Lindsey I was in my senior year of high school and a choir classmate let me borrow her book. I fell in love with Historical Romances, but I after I read one after another I got tired of none of the heroines looking like me. When you are a Black woman reading Historical books in particular it feels as if Black people didn't exist unless we were slaves. I did researched and it was difficult to find back in the 80's when I started we didn't have the Black history books that are available now that gave us biography on Black people that influence positive changes in the world with their contributions to society and never was publically acknowledge for. Then I decided at the time because their wasn't hardly any Interracial Romances back then, why not write all genres of books but with Interracial pairs? I decided to become an Interracial Romance writer, only. From that I develop crushes on Asian Actors and again I ran into a problem of not being able to find books with Asian leading men and Black leading women, so I started writing them and now I'm known for being a leading writer in the genre of books featuring Asian male leads. I'm happy with that title.
How do you approach cover design?
Cover design is difficult because it can be overly expensive for an Indie writer to get a professional to do one for you. Also some stock art is extremely expensive, finding interracial couples that look similar to your characters make it sometimes impossible to have the cover you want to have. So it's better I'm learning, to have standard "item" covers and leave people faces off them unless you can luck up and find someone who can really represent the characters, because readers notice stuff like that and they find it irritating to say the least.
What do you read for pleasure?
I'm always on the search for music or entertainment theme romances. It combines both my loves.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I believe word of mouth. That is why writing the book itself is so important. If you tell a good story people are going to talk about it and or book clubs are going to recommend it. That reaches the people that don't take stock in advertising. When you write Interracial Romances you don't have many big name publishers in line to get your work, so the companies that are, the advertising dollars aren't there for you. Most of those publishers make you responsible for the cost of your own advertising and when you're a struggling writer you have to rely mostly on word of mouth. I tell my readers how important it is that if they have a favorite author or book let everyone know about it, because there is no greater support to keep the author writing. If we don't sell books we can't afford to spend most of our time writing when we have to work two jobs to make end meet. All I know is the author of Shades of Grey should be kissing her publicist and marketing departments butt with thankfulness because her books has been presented as something new and innovated but in truths there are several independent authors that have been writing Erotic BDSM stories far better and more effectively for years before her but no one knows it because they didn't have the dollar backing to get the information out there. After they put the information out there with the right people, word of mouth made it spread like wild fire, then free publicity comes from everywhere because people are talking about it, then movie offers...ect... I think every writer would like to experience that type of noteworthiness in their career at least once?. I mean who would love to see their character truly come to life on big or little screens all over the world? I'm not going to lie I have several books of mine I would love to see adapted to screen.
Describe your desk
I work in bed. I have a laptop table like you have at the hospital and a laptop. It allows me to be comfortable when I fall asleep at the computer. When I have a great dream or a story idea to hit me, it’s right there for me to type out the idea so I can get back to sleep. Nothing is worse than characters and or stories to be nagging you when you're trying to sleep. You have to get it out of your head by writing it down. I get it done quicker with my computer right here. I know this is impossible when you have another person in your bed, so if you do this please be considerate shut it down at a reasonable hour. However, this works for me and it allows for good circulation in my legs because I can elevate my legs for the hours I spend at the computer. I have no room for anyone in my bed; the other side is full of reference books. I know the "romantic" life of a romance author is nothing like the books we write. At least not for me! Laugh!
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is called The Search. Like most of my books I try to write something new or different for the Interracial Genre that hasn't been seen before, attempted, or not enough of them written by others in the same genre. I try to do that with most of my books which start I start by asking myself "What if"
questions. So the process for this book went this way. What if I write a historical ghost story featuring a Black woman? What if the ghost story takes place in the Wild West with a freeborn Black woman in the nineteenth century Wild West? What if I take place in San Francisco on Alcatraz Island before it
became a prison? What is the lead is the first American born son of Chinese immigrants? So in the end The Search became a story about a Black/Indian woman who was a tracker for people of color that were missing and a bounty hunter for the government. Back then a lot of free Blacks came up missing either murdered, or kidnapped, enslaved and sent to the Southern plantations. There were no Pinkerton men that would search for a missing Black person. There are many facets to this characters life that makes her good at her job and she is driven by the horrors of her own past. A near death experience as a young woman has given her the abilities to see the dead. The story begins with the female lead arriving in this town in search of her childhood friend, a Chinese woman who is a mail ordered bride for a Chinese Doctor in San Francisco Chinatown. The doctor is the leading man and his home and family business is located on Alcatraz Island which use to be an abandon military fortress and stockade for runaway soldiers and renegade Indians. The story develops as the mystery of her missing friend and hundreds of others are revealed in the mist of budding love story between the suspected Chinese doctor and this Black woman who will take him down regardless of her love for him if she finds him to be the culprit behind her friend's disappearance.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The lack of interracial novels and the lack of big name publishers wanting to invest in the books because they assumed there was no readership for them. I bet they are kicking themselves in their behinds now, because they missed out on a big niche in the publishing field and then EBooks arrived and made everyone dream readily available. Some of those publishers are trying to play catch-up now, but a lot of us have already built our own reputations, readership. We've done the grunt work and still is because unless you are one of the well known Multicultural writers they groomed to write Interracial romances under their titles in the stereotypical version they are looking for, they still won't invest in your works. I like being independent in my thinking and I can't do formula writing that seems to be very popular in large publication novels. It's their way or no pay. Being an Indie writer works with my creativity process as a writer; I don't see it changing any time soon. However, I'm not above publishing works with publishers too if it's one I feel I can have a good relationship with who respects my need to tell the story my way.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
We will see. I am a later comer to publishing on Smashwords. I joined the website a long time ago and for some reason never realized it's full potential until now. So I'm hoping this is the beginning of a beautiful relationship.
Published 2013-12-12.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.