A little bit about Shannon...
Shannon Taylor Vannatter is a stay-at-home mom and pastor’s wife. Her debut novel won the 2011 Inspirational Readers’ Choice Award. When not writing, she runs circles in the care and feeding of her husband, their son, and church congregation. Home is a central Arkansas zoo with two charcoal gray cats, a chocolate lab, and three dachshunds in weenie dog heaven. If given the chance to clean house or write, she’d rather write. Her goal is to hire Alice from the Brady Bunch.
How to connect with Shannon...
Purchase her book [here]
Author Interview | Shannon Taylor Vannatter
You & Writing
If published, what was the hardest thing about publishing?
...Deadlines. It can be stressful when I’m writing a book with a deadline. Midway through when I’m really on a roll with the book, I get edits from my publisher on a different book with a different deadline. I have to stop working and do my edits. Get them turned in on time, then pick up where I left off on the book I was writing. I finally told myself if I want to be a writer—this is it. Deal with it. I don’t stress out as much anymore and remind myself that deadlines are a good thing to have.
...The books are easier to write these days. They seem to just flow out of me.
...Arkansas Weddings is a 3 in 1 collection of my first three published books. Each story is set in Romance and Rose Bud. Both small towns are real and in west central, Arkansas. The Romance Post Office provides a re-mailing service. People send their Valentine cards and wedding invitations there to be re-mailed with a unique hand-stamped postmark from Romance. Couples also go there to get married at the post office or the Romance Waterfalls. Rose Bud’s claim to fame is the Darden Gifford House. The house was built in the late 1800’s and is on the historical registry. I incorporated the local flavor into all three stories.
Here’s the back cover copy:
Arkansas Weddings: Love’s never easy in three Arkansas romances.
Pastor Grayson loves his wife. The problem is, Sara was killed by a hit-and-run driver two years ago. He knows he needs to move on, but it’s not until florist Adrea Welch arrives at his church that the seeds of healing are planted in his heart.
Laken left home eight years ago and never looked back. Who knew when she applied for the promotion to postmaster that she’d end up in Romance, Arkansas, and much too close to her past—and Hayden Winters?
Shell doesn’t have a good reputation. But no matter what everyone in Rose Bud, Arkansas, thinks of her, she’s back in town with a job to do. Ryler also has reasons for being in Rose Bud, and they don’t include Shell.
But God’s love can soften the hardest heart and overcome the darkest past. These hearts may not know it, but they’re about to change.
Why are you/did you write it?
...The first story—White Roses came from my dad getting my mom and me flowers or a balloon every Valentine’s Day. And I thought if anything happened to either of us, he’d probably continue the tradition and take his gifts to the cemetery. Once I caught the interest of an editor, the publisher wanted to make the book into a series.
...Book 2 was based on this line from White Roses: Sylvie’s husband, an alcoholic, never stepped foot in church. Their two children, both grown and gone with lives of their own, never came for a visit. Instead of having empathy for the plight of Helen and Wade, since alcoholism controlled Sylvie’s life as well, she took all her heartache and picked apart the lives of others.
...That’s all I had to go on when I decided that one of Sylvie’s children could be female. After I delved into Lauren Kroft’s psyche, I decided she never came home because her mother is a gossip maven and her father is the town drunk. Enter the heroine for White Doves.
...Book 3 came from this line from White Roses: Just two years ago, she’d been the soon-to-be bride blissfully planning her own ceremony. Until three weeks before the big event, when Wade crushed her illusions with his curvy blond floozy, clad only in a towel.
...From the time I wrote that line, I wanted to delve into the floozy. What would make a woman bust up an engagement? Why was she like that? I soon learned Shell Evans had a chip on her shoulder. Raised by a promiscuous mother, Shell learned everything in the school of hard knocks. And it skewed her view of the world. Low self-esteem put her on a constant search for love and she looked for it in all the wrong places just as her mother had. And Shell became the unlikely heroine of White Pearls.
Do you have a favorite character in this work?
If so, why?
...I love taking a bad girl character, finding out what made her that way, and redeeming her.
What is one take-away from your book that you hope readers identify with?
...All my books are geared toward one theme: Love doesn’t make the world go round—God does. I don’t think we can have a truly fulfilling love without God in the center of the relationship.
Where do you find inspiration for your story/characters? Are they based on real life or pure imagination or both?
...I find inspiration for characters everywhere. Real life, headlines, snippets of conversation. When I see someone acting in a unique, strange, or interesting way, I wonder why they act that way. And those ponderings often become a character.
When you write, what is your overall intention with your stories?
...I write in the hopes that a reader struggling with similar issues will gain insight on their situation from my characters. And my constant prayer is that a reader will loan my book to a non-believer and my characters will plant seeds.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors for writing and/or publishing?
...Join a local writing group, attend local conferences. Join American Christian Fiction Writers, take their online classes, and attend as many of their national conferences as you can afford. Also, Seekerville is a great place for writers to learn the craft. One of my critique partners never belonged to a writer’s group or attended a conference. She learned everything from the Seekerville archives and sold the first book she ever wrote.
When you get an idea for a novel, what is the first thing that you do?
...I write it down. I have what I call an idea book. It’s a thick, heavy, nicely bound journal. Every idea goes in that book. I go to bed with it on my nightside table and have often awakened in the middle of the night and written my dreams down. I have a book that comes out in April next year that’s based on a dream.
September is Classical Music Month (who knew?). In keeping with that theme, do you have a favorite character from a classical novel?
...Scarlett O’Hara. She’s so selfish and manipulative. But I end up rooting for her anyway.
What is your favorite fall snack food?
...Sunflower seeds. That’s pretty much my year round snack food. Especially when I’m doing edits for my publisher. When I’m editing, I’m not reading the story or getting involved. I’m simply looking for inconsistencies, plot problems, and character issues. It makes me so sleepy and I’ve found that sunflower seeds keep me awake. But, this summer my feet kept swelling. I finally figured out it was the salt intake and laid off them. I might have to find another snack.
Thank you for joining us on the blog again, Shannon. I loved being able to "get into your head" a little bit about your book Arkansas Weddings! I am right there with you, always intrigued by peoples character and what makes them tick. I will admit right here and now that I'm a people watcher ;)
I love that you have a book coming out based on a dream as well. I have definitely gained inspiration from dreams. Instead of a notebook, I use a handy app called Evernote, and it already holds 10 ideas I have for future books!!! You need to check it out, writers, if you haven't already. It keeps everything updated on all my devices plus it's so much easier to type something in than turn on the light in the middle of the night ;) But to each her own!
Thanks again - we hope to hear more from you in the future, Shannon.
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