I am very excited to welcome Sharon Shinn to Songs and Stories. There were several questions that I had really wanted to ask her, so it was awesome when she wrote back to me agreeing to an interview. :)
Which of your fictional worlds is your favorite?
I’m not sure I have a favorite. But I’d like to live in Samaria just to hear the Gloria sometime. I think it would be amazing!
What is the hardest thing about writing a novel? Do you find that the first book in a series is the hardest? Or is a sequel more difficult?
Different things tend to be hard in each book. Sometimes it’s finding the voice. Sometimes it’s doing the world-building. Sometimes it’s making the fantastical elements actually seem plausible! But one thing that’s always hard, no matter what the book, is simply sitting down and writing it. I can always think of something else I’d rather be doing. So having the discipline to write at a steady pace for four or five or six months, until the book is finished, is my ongoing challenge.
Some parts about writing a sequel are easier. The world-building is done, and, in some cases, the characters are already established. But both of those things can be problematic, because what if the new book would be better served by a character with a different trait or a world with a different kind of magic? So it can be tricky to already be locked in to certain details.
Where do you find inspiration for your novels?
Everywhere. In a conversation with someone. In a book I’m reading. In an interview I hear on the radio. Now and then, in a dream (though those ideas usually need to be radically reshaped before they’re usable, because dreams never make much sense once you wake up). I’ll have a thought, or hear an observation, or see a picture, and think, “Huh. What’s going on here? What if THIS had happened instead?” If the idea is interesting enough, I keep thinking about it and building up a storyline around it. If it’s not…then I forget I ever had it.
Is there any particular author or written work that has inspired your writing?
Lots of them. Classic authors like Jane Austen and Charlotte Bronte, YA authors like Francis Hodgson Burnett and Carol Kendall, romance writers like Georgette Heyer, Western writers like Zane Grey and Ernest Haycox, and a whole bunch of fantasy novelists—Patricia McKillip, Anne McCaffrey, Peter Beagle, Robin McKinley. Everyone I read before I turned 25 has influenced me in some way.
If you could have the powers of any mystic in Gillengaria, which mystic would you choose and why?
I change my mind on this question with some frequency! But these days I’m awfully intrigued by the notion of being a shape-shifter.
Is General Winston's Daughter the first book in a new series? (I loved that one, so I am asking even though it has nothing to do with the Gillengaria books.)
(Thank you!) I have the idea for a sequel to the book, which would take place in Xan’tai, but I’m not sure I’ll ever get around to writing it. Sorry!
What are you working on at the moment?
I’m finishing up a two-book set that takes place in contemporary Missouri. Both books are about ordinary women who find their lives disrupted by shape-shifters. The books aren’t really urban fantasy—no kickass heroines—but they do have a kind of supernatural element.
Do you ever think about what happens to the characters after the story has ended? Have you ever thought about writing another novel in the series?
Yeah, I often think about my characters after the story is done. My friend Kay Kenyon says you should try to end a book so that readers believe the characters go on to live interesting lives. Especially if I’ve left someone in a somewhat unsettled situation, I usually have a pretty good idea in my own mind of what happens to that person once the book is closed.
I’m not sure I’ll write another novel about Senneth & the gang. I’ve toyed with a couple novella ideas, and I might write these someday. I’ve also toyed with writing a completely different set of books set in Tilt a few hundred years before Mystic and Rider opens. But, again, not sure I’ll ever have the time to get to those stories.
Small Spoiler Alert! You are warned if you haven't read the Twelve Houses Series!
Okay, here are the questions I have really wanted to ask ever since I first read
your Gillengaria novels. Do Senneth and Tayse ever have children? Will Ceribel ever get a story of her own? (I think that with her parents she would make a truly formidable heroine!)
I don’t actually think Senneth and Tayse have children, and I have my doubts about Kirra and Donnal, too. None of them really seem settled enough to raise kids. Cammon and Amalie definitely have kids, though—a daughter, for sure, the crown princess, and maybe a son, too—and I think Justin and Ellynor have a son in addition to Ceribel.
And I agree about Ceribel! In fact, I do have one more story idea for this world, and that would revolve around Ceribel, her brother, the princess, and a stranger who arrives in Ghosenhall and tries out to be a member of the princess’s personal guard…
There just isn’t enough time in the day to write all the stories that are in my head.
Thank you so much for agreeing to answer my questions! I have read all of your books so far and I hope to read and review many more. :)
Thanks for giving me a chance to talk about my books!
Sharon Shinn and Lieder Madchen