Thursday, February 17, 2011

Author Spotlight - Shannon K. Butcher

Meet Shannon
(as found on her official website)

A lot of authors knew they wanted to write books from the time they were little. Their heads were full of fanciful stories that they yearned to commit to paper with a passion that only grew as they did. They spent hours reading fiction, voraciously absorbing every kind of story they could get their hands on.

I’m not one of them.

When I was little, I wanted to be a daddy. When I learned the anatomical improbability of that happening, I decided instead to become what my dad was: an Industrial Engineer. So that’s what I did. I never once changed majors or veered from my path. After I graduated, I went to work for a big telecom company earning a steady paycheck while my husband pursued his dream to become a published author.

For those of you who might not know, my husband is Jim Butcher, fantasy and sci-fi author extraordinaire. I learned to write in an effort to help him improve his own work and as soon as I discovered that writing was more a learned skill than a natural talent I knew I had to give it a try. I couldn’t resist the challenge of taking the pieces of a story apart and putting them back together again. It’s the kind of puzzle that made me want to be an engineer to begin with – to learn how things work and why. I thought I’d write the same kind of thing Jim did, but then I picked up my first romance in 1998 and was hooked. Somehow, stories about how two people come to love each other made everything else seem shallow in comparison. Maybe it was just my hormones talking, but whatever it was, it was loud, so I listened and I started writing romances. I wrote great heaping piles of suckfulness – like most new writers – but eventually my work sucked less and hopefully that trend will continue as I learn more. Heaven knows I have a great teacher. Thanks, Jim.

A family of geeks to the core, we live in Independence, Missouri with our teenage son and a dog who is only one four-foot stick away from being a dust mop.

As a lover of all alpha males I was REALLY excited to read the latest book in the Sentinel Wars series called Living Nightmare by Shannon. She has a way of writing the right amount of mouthwatering heat with aggressive masculinity and I LOVED this book. What made it even more exciting was that I was able to interview her on behalf of The Romance Reviews and they graciously gave me the thumbs up to share that with everyone here. Enjoy!

Book Interview on December 2010

Q: For those new to The Sentinel Wars series, how would you describe your books and the importance of each Sentinel finding the woman who can save his soul?

I usually describe the books as being filled with hot, tattooed, sword-wielding warriors and the women who make their lives interesting. Basically, the concept for the Theronai—one of the three Sentinel races—is that the men house huge reserves of power that grow over time because they can't access it—they can only store it. After a few centuries, that power grows to the point that it begins to kill them. If they don't find a woman who can wield the magic inside of them and funnel some of that energy away, they are destined to either take their own lives or become like the monsters they fight.

Q: Where did you find the inspiration behind the series?

I'm a big ol' nerd, so years of tabletop role-playing games and bad sci-fi movies have given me tons of inspiration. I also find that music with a heavy emotional component does a lot to fuel my creativity.

Q: Please tell us about LIVING NIGHTMARE.

LIVING NIGHTMARE is a story I've been waiting a long time to tell. Rough, foul-mouthed Madoc has been trying to protect Nika from himself since the moment he met her. He wants her, but knows that she's too fragile and innocent, and the two of them can never be together. Nika believes differently, and is determined to make him see the truth. She's also determined to rescue her baby sister from the hands of the evil Synestryn demons, and she's going to see to it that Madoc helps her—whether or not he wants to.

Q: Madoc and Nika are the central couple of the story. When you created the characters, what made you decide that they would be perfect for one another?

I loved the dichotomy of their characters. Rough vs. fragile, harsh vs. gentle, stone-cold realist vs. tenuous hold on reality. The idea of putting them together was solidified in my head from the very moment they were on the page together for the first time in book two, FINDING THE LOST. They needed each other so desperately, and I knew that no one else in the Sentinels world would ever work for either of them as well as they would work for each other.

Q: What can you tell us about Madoc and Nika that would make us understand them better and sympathize with them?

Madoc's soul is nearly dead and he knows that if he doesn't go to his death while he still retains some small sliver of humanity, he'll end up hurting the people he cares about. Nika was attacked when she was a child and nearly killed. The psychic powers that allowed her to retain a mental connection with her baby sister also forged a connection with the demons. She's been fighting their hold on her mind for years, and because of that, everyone believes she's crazy.

Q: There were so many things about Nika and Madoc that make them unique, both having their own challenges to overcome. How did you develop their personalities and was there anything you did to help get you inside their heads?

I guess I developed their personalities the way I do all the other characters in my books. I have a series of tags and traits I assign to them, as well as a past (usually filled with plenty of ugly things), goals and secrets they don't want anyone to know. I did this long before I started writing the first book of the series. I find that makes it easier to develop character-driven stories, which I prefer.

Q: You have a lot of other storylines woven throughout the book. What made you decide to include them instead of the story solely belonging to Madoc and Nika?

I designed this world to be a big place with a lot going on. While I always focus on one couple per book, I also like to keep the other storylines going by revisiting what those characters are doing. For me, it's all about the characters. If they're busy doing something interesting, then they'll make the cut and get in the story. If not, then they don't. Also, I have an overarching story that's bigger than any one of the books. In order to tell that story, I have to keep the threads weaving through multiple books.

Q: If you could share anything with the reader any kind of insight about the story, what would it be?

While I try to make each book a stand-alone unit that can be read and enjoyed without the others, I feel that this series—unlike my suspense series—is something that will be more fun and have deeper meaning for the reader if the books are read in order.

Q: What does the future look like for your Sentinels?

Heartbreaking, bleak and beautiful. What? You really thought I'd spoil the surprise? :)

Q: What's in the works for you in 2011?

In February 2011, I have a Sentinels novella that comes out in the anthology ON THE HUNT. It's Neal's story, which takes place between books three and four, but is designed to be read by itself, out of order. There are also stories from Gena Showalter, Jessica Anderson and Deidre Knight in that book. It's so cool to be included with these fabulous ladies!

In March 2011, the first book in my new suspense series comes out. LIVING ON THE EDGE is the first book of the Edge series, which is centered around a mercenary company run by a woman.

In August 2011, the fifth book of the Sentinel Wars comes out. BLOODHUNT is the first book that focuses on the Sanguinar, and features Logan's story. It was so neat to get to play in a different part of the Sentinels' world.

In November 2011, the second book of the Edge series, RAZOR'S EDGE, comes out. I hope you enjoy the stories!

To read my review of Living Nightmare, click HERE

To visit you next one stop spot for ALL things romance, click HERE to go to The Romance Reviews

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