12 September 2012

Aspiring Author Interview: Shayla Danielson

As an aspiring author, I love interviewing authors and aspiring writers because in many respects our journeys are the same.  I've known Shayla long enough be impressed by her even demeanor, talent for words and vibrant description from a young age.  I am certain she's going to be a published author some day and I'll be excited to say I was one of her very first fans.

What do you hope readers will take away from your writings?
This is probably the hardest question to answer, and that would be because it is the most important one. I don't want my readers to come away feeling like I've lied to them. I've read those books, where the character gets away with doing everything wrong and she lives happily ever after with a boyfriend who in the real world would leave her in a heart beat. I felt cheated. I don't want my readers to feel that way. I want my characters to be truth-tellers. I want people to read my stories and feel like it's real (only it with magic, good looking men, and includes a happy ending [for almost everyone]). So even if my readers are ticked with me because I was too honest, then I will still be satisfied because I've done my job.

What genera(s) do you find particularly interesting to write and/or read?
I love the fantasy genre. I've been raised on it my entire life and I really relate to it. There are so many things that I've wanted to do that I can't because of typical limitations (gravity is a fantastic example). I think that you could say my stories would all be considered "Epic Fantasy" which would be like the quest stories (Lord of The Rings fits this classification). But it's not quite that either...I've found that most of my stories fit snugly in the broad fantasy parameters, but once I try to narrow it down, they start to squirm.
 
Do you have a favorite time or place where you find you are most inspired?
My ideal spot is next to a waterfall and mountains (West Virginia anyone?), but since I live in Iowa with no mountains, precious few waterfalls, and no laptop, I find that I do most of my writing at home. I am very bad at writing at any given time, but I find that I write best in the evenings, when I can look back at my day and see what things have happened that I could implement in a story. But an absolute must is music. I have to listen to music when I am writing. Right now I am listening to movie soundtracks, but that's not set in stone. Two months ago it was musicals, and four months before it was Country.  

Who are some of your favorite authors?
Well my favorite author (at the moment) has got to be Megan Whalen Turner. She is such a clever writer it's scary. She's no George R.R. Martin, but I think she's fabulous. The next would be Patrick Rothfuss. He's a little different. I am insanely jealous of his writing abilities. I will give myself some slack, he's been writing much longer than I have, but he really triggers my competitive side. So here it is, I want to be the next Patrick Rothfuss. If you've never read his books than you won't get it, but I can hear the snigger's from anyone else who has. He has a beautiful way of telling his story, and you can see it and feel it. And for the most part he's a truth-teller. So yes that's me. I need somewhere to aim, and I've picked it. I'm not saying my first story will be anything like that, but I'll be there, just you wait.

Where do you find the most help for critiquing your writing?  Relatives?  Friends?  Writing competitions?
Whew. Well family is fabulous for a boost, and when you have three generations of writers, story tellers, and editors on both sides of your family that's a definite advantage. But even though they swear they aren't biased, I like to go to friends or people in various writing groups (hatrack.com is a good one) for any heavy lifting. I am currently trying to see if I can find people in my area who want to start one in the next couple months before I leave for college.
Writing competitions. Do them. If only to keep you going. It gets your work out there and allows people who are professionals to critique your work. My goal is to submit a story to "Writers of the Future" competition. Besides the fact that if you win you're almost guaranteed publishing, it gives your work a chance to be judged by people like Orson Scott Card and Anne McCaffery. Big names in the book world.

Do you have any advice for other aspiring teen authors?
I won't say keep writing (because that's obvious). I will say only this, we control the future of writing. We are the next generation of authors. We will help define what the quality of writing is in the future. I want to tell people how it really happens. What do you want to tell them? Anyone can write or get published if they're tenacious, and they will find that fanbase. In the end it's going to be your content that makes you stand out. Do you want to be on the most read authors list because you wrote one fantastic book, or 359 cheap novels? I know which one I want to be, but it's up to you to decide.

Where can people keep up with your literary accomplishments and adventures?
You can find me at my new blog Mnemosyne, where I will be writing about my story, books I've read, life at college and just about everything else.  I have a weekly writing prompt that I've started, and I post my prompt stories on my blog.  So, if you want to see some of my stories, feel free to stop by.  I also am co-author at the blog Authors Anonymous, which Rachael has featured before.  I don't write nearly as faithfully as I should there but it's another place where you can find me.

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