Welcome to my first Author Spotlight! I’m so excited to start doing this! I will be doing these occasionally where I interview a favorite author of mine who has graciously agreed to answer some questions by yours truly so that I can introduce you to them and their books!
So without further ado, let me introduce you to our first guest (of hopefully many),
SMALL FEISTY WOMAN: Hi Shanna! I’m so glad you agreed to be my first guest author. Thank you for joining us.
SHANNA: Hi Julie! I’m absolutely thrilled to be here with you today and so incredibly honored to be your first guest author. Thank you for the invitation.
SFW: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Let’s start with three unusual things about yourself.
SHANNA: 1. I was a “late” baby, meaning my parents hadn’t planned on adding another child to their nearly-empty nest. My oldest brother wed when I wasn’t even yet two and his oldest child is only four years younger than me. Growing up, I sometimes felt like I had three sets of parents with my two brothers and sisters-in-law keeping an eye on me.
SFW: Oh, wow! I totally understand the whole “late” baby thing. I’m the youngest of 7 with the others all being anywhere from 9 to 22 years older than me. My oldest nephew is only one year younger than me.
SHANNA: 2. My entire childhood was spent on a farm where I tagged after my dad every chance I could. Even though I could be something of a tomboy, my bedroom was a pink ruffled oasis of girliness where I daydreamed about my handsome prince and imagined a romantic future. (Little did I know my prince would turn out to be Captain Cavedweller and my future would include being a Hopeless Romantic writing sweet romances for a living!)
3. Painfully shy doesn’t even begin to describe my introverted tendencies during my entire childhood. I avoided eye contact with people until I was out of college then I gradually grew out of it. Now, I love meeting people and making new friends. (And if I can grow out of it, anyone can!)
SFW: I’m so glad you outgrew being painfully shy, especially since it means we get to interact with you now! How about a few more fun facts? Favorite color?
SHANNA: I have more than one… Pink (pale shades and raspberry) and Green (shades from mint and spa to hunter and emerald)
SFW: Favorite flower?
SHANNA: Roses. I’ve loved roses as long as I can remember. I also adore lilacs and tulips.
SFW: Favorite hobbies?
SHANNA: Reading! *Wink* I also enjoy baking and cooking and trying new recipes. Is Pinterest a hobby? If it counts, I love hanging out there finding all sorts of wonderful ideas. I also enjoy crafts on occasion as long as it doesn’t involve more than dozen steps and doesn’t require too much time to complete. And I like to fuss with the flowers in my yard. Oh, and tormenting Captain Cavedweller. I’m pretty sure he’d say that has turned into a hobby for me.
SFW: When did you start writing? Was it a dream even before then?
SHANNA: I sat down and started writing my first sweet romance novel in February 2010. After that, I was hooked! I’d always dreamed of being a writer. The first story I remember writing was about a racoon in the third grade. My brother had a racoon at the time and I’m sure that’s what inspired the story. When I graduated from college with a degree in communications, I started a career in journalism that lasted ten years, working for a few different newspapers. Then I switched gears into marketing. I missed writing and finally decided one winter day to see if I could write a book. I had no clue what I was doing, but it was so much fun, I couldn’t quit!
SFW: Do you have another job besides writing fantastic novels? 🙂
SHANNA: I’m incredibly blessed to be able to get up every day and do something I love so much – write sweet romances! I left my day job as marketing director of a boutique hotel almost three years ago to pursue my dreams full time.
SFW: Who or what has encouraged you most in your writing journey?
SHANNA: My husband has been fantastic about encouraging my writing journey. When I first started writing a novel in 2010, I worked between 50-60 hours a week in my day job. To give me time to pursue my writing, Captain Cavedweller (my awesome hubby) took over most of the cooking duties and learned how to do laundry and any number of things that helped around the house. He’s the one who encouraged me to take a huge leap of faith and leave behind my day job so I could fully pursue my dreams of writing as a career. Any time I need a pep talk, a dose of reality, or a champion – he’s there for me. Along the way, I’ve also met the most amazing people (including some unbelievably wonderful friends online like you), who have been so supportive and encouraging. I give thanks for them every day.
SFW: Sounds like you found quite the prince in Captain Cavedweller! You write sweet romance, mystery with a little intrigue, historical, western, cowboy, contemporary, younger couples, older couples and you write all of it well. I’m more than a little bit impressed. How do you come up with so many different ideas and story lines?
SHANNA: An active (or maybe it’s overactive) imagination has always been a huge part of who I am. I think that definitely plays a big role in being able to come up with different story lines and ideas. I can be standing in line at the grocery store and something will catch my eye or spark a thought and the next thing I know, I’m working on a new book idea. Also, I had an interesting childhood on the farm and often incorporate elements of things that happened to me or happened to people I know into the stories. And I’m a bit of a crazy weirdo klutz and keep myself supplied with fodder for story ideas. Captain Cavedweller is also a great sounding board for bouncing off ideas. We’ve yet to take a road trip or go on vacation when I didn’t come home with a few new ideas for books.
SFW: Nice to know there are other “crazy weirdo klutzes” out there besides me! 🙂 Will you share some examples with us of situations or people who’ve provided inspiration for your books?
SHANNA: People who’ve behaved badly have ended up as bad guys in my stories (the boss in The Coffee Girl is based on a boss I once had). And I’ve had so many experiences (strange, amazing, and otherwise), that I often work them into a story. My close friends still shake their heads sometimes in disbelief, even when they witness the craziness! Some examples: In the book Capturing Christmas, there is a scene where Celia (the heroine) gets really sick and basically passes out and remains out of it for the better part of a day. One reviewer called it “unrealistic,” but the truth of the matter is that I got that sick once (on our honeymoon) and lost almost an entire day before I came back to reality. I guess it’s that whole “truth is stranger than fiction” thing, but I do enjoy incorporating things like that into my stories because it’s fun. Another fun example is once I was helping my dad move gated irrigation pipe. It was so hot and muggy and the smells coming from the pipe were awful. Then he tipped up a pipe and all this steaming ooze (dead mice, fish parts, slimy mud and all) ran down the front of me and into my boots. It was horrid! And I have the same thing happen to my character Jenna (Country Girl vs. City Boy) as she’s helping her husband move gated pipe.
SFW: Oh my! Those definitely make for interesting additions to a story. I’m sorry you had to experience them in real life though! I’ve noticed two things that I think are in nearly all of your books. One is that faith in God seems to be an underlying, background theme and then family or a community of great family-like friends exists. How have you experienced these things in your own life?
SHANNA: Faith is a very important part of my life and piece of my heart. Life hasn’t always been easy, but through everything I’ve never once doubted that God would see me through, and I think that carries over into the stories I write although they aren’t technically part of the inspirational genre. There have been times when I felt like my faith was all that kept me going, so I can relate that into my characters. As for the community and family aspect, I grew up with bunches of extended family around. As a teen, I couldn’t go to town without running into a cousin or aunt or someone who knew one of my brothers (which drove me nuts… it’s hard to do something you shouldn’t when there are eyes everywhere! LOL!) The little community where my parents farmed was tight-knit for the most part and I think that feeling of community and family I knew as a child is expressed in the communities and families I create in my stories.
SFW: Is there one character you’ve written that you relate to more than others?
SHANNA: Hmm… I see parts of myself (both good and bad) in many of my characters. If a character enjoys baking or has a bit of a sarcastic side or goes loopy over babies, you could point that finger back at me. I’d say Callan from Heart of Clay is close to my heart not just because it was the first book I wrote, but because she and I are alike in so many ways. The character I’ve written I’d like to be more like is probably Aundy.
SFW: Yes, Aundy seems like quite the SuperWoman with how strong she is, all that she accomplishes, and the high level of perseverance she seems to possess! I’d kind of like to be more like her myself! What makes the perfect writing environment for you?
SHANNA: I have an office where I work and I treat it like I would a regular job. I’m most often at my desk ready to work by seven in the morning and am often still working at seven at night (although I do take plenty of breaks, especially when Captain Cavedweller arrives home from work!). A “perfect” writing environment or day would be when my office is spotless and the only thing out on my desk are research books that go with my current work in progress and whatever visuals I need for the book. I’ve got a song playing on a loop in the background to keep me focused on the story and I have hours of uninterrupted time to get lost in the characters and story. That is perfection!
SFW: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
SHANNA: Writing the first-draft of the story. I enjoy research and figuring out the characters, but I love sitting down and putting their words and thoughts – the setting – to paper. My favorite part of writing the story is probably the dialogue, especially if there is a little tension or banter going on between the main characters.
SFW: I do love the witty banter you often have going between your characters! What advice would you give those who are aspiring to write?
SHANNA: Keep at it! Don’t give up. Don’t listen to people who discourage you from following your dreams. Follow your heart and never quit!
SFW: For the last bit of our interview, please tell us a little bit about your reading preferences. Favorite location/time for reading a good book?
SHANNA: I’ll read a good book any time I have the chance! I do most of my reading in the late evening, curled up in a chair (and I also like to read in bed).
SFW: Favorite snack while digging into a good book?
SHANNA: My favorite snack is Peanut M&Ms but I never turn down a piece of really good dark chocolate either.
SFW: Ebook or paperback?
SHANNA: Both! I love the convenience of taking my Kindle with me when I’m away from home, but the rest of the time I read both it and paperbacks.
SFW: Favorite genre?
SHANNA: Romance! I read a broad range of genres, but my hands-down favorite is historical romances set between the 1890s and 1910s.
SFW: What drives you crazy in a book?
SHANNA: When authors don’t do their homework. I’ve read historical books where they’ve included sayings or things that are inappropriate for the period (or the cover is a decade – or century – off from the story). I’ve recently read several books where the heroine is annoyingly whiny and needy – and that is a sure way to lose me as a reader. I like to read women characters who have a mind and use it, who have strength, yet maintain their femininity. And, being a farm girl, when authors write about country life and cowboys and get the details wrong… that really drives me nuts. So many writers seem to think hay and straw are the same thing and that positively drives me bonkers. I’m not a card-carrying member of the grammar police. If the story-line flows and the characters are believable, that’s all I really ask for – well, to not bed the horses on hay and feed them straw. *Wink*
SFW: Last question! What is your favorite book?
SHANNA: Oh, I can’t pick just one. Honest, I can’t! I’ll share a few of my favorites, though. I fell in love with the Girl of the Limberlost when I was in high school I still read it from time to time. It’s just beautiful! I’m a huge Ralph Moody fan and think everyone should read Little Britches (the whole series, actually). I also like Deeanne Gist, Karen Witemeyer, Carolyn Fyffe, Cathy Marie Hake, Lauraine Snelling, and Marcia Lynn McClure. And everyone should read Randy Pausch’s The Last Lecture.
SFW: Thank you for sharing some of your favorites with us. I know asking a book lover what their favorite book is is like ???? I don’t think I could pick just one favorite either! And thank you so much for answering my questions and sharing a little about yourself and you writing journey with us today!
Y’all (Yes, I’m from Texas, and I embrace it!), Shanna Hatfield is a wonderful writer! I highly recommend checking her books out if you haven’t already, especially if you love strong, masculine, yet wonderfully sweet heroes and feisty, smart, yet feminine heroines. She weaves a great, well-thought out story with no loose ends! I never feel like I’m left hanging at the end of one of her books, yet she’s interested me so much with the characters that I look forward to the other books she’ll write in that series. I don’t have to worry if she’s going to resolve all the situations in her book satisfactorily. I may wonder how she’s going to manage it, but never if; and her resolutions are never reached too hastily, making me feel like things happened too fast. Her books often have little surprises and turns in the plot that I don’t expect or see coming and I really appreciate that aspect of her writing. She creates wonderful communities of friends in her books and it’s always so much fun to catch up with them in her new books. A degree of humor is present in each of her books as well. I think I’ve laughed out loud at least once while reading each of her books. And the romance! It. Is. Perfect. Her books are filled with heart-melting scenes mixed with just the right amount of fiery, flirtatious banter.
I have yet to read any of Shanna’s books that I didn’t like, and I’ve read all of them! Please take some time and check them out! Shanna has a couple of ebooks, Heart of Clay and QR Code Killer, that are free right now on Amazon, if you want to take a look at those! Many of her books are also offered through Kindle Unlimited right now if you participate in that. She also has a Savvy Entertaining book for each season of the year that offers tips and ideas for planning parties and get-togethers. Each of those books is also free on Amazon right now.
Shanna just had her 41st book, Millie, release yesterday. A huge CONGRATULATIONS to her on that! In celebration and just for this weekend she’s offering Aundy, the first book in the series for free, and Caterina, the second book in the series for only $0.99! Find out more about Shanna at her website or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, or Goodreads. She also has some incredible Pinterest boards that show her visual inspirations for her books that you might want to check out.
Now for a giveaway! For a chance to win a Kindle version of any one of Shanna’s books, comment below and tell me your favorite Shanna Hatfield book or tell me who one of your favorite authors is. Make sure to leave your email address in the comment form so I have a way to contact you if you win. Winner will be drawn on June 17th.