Thursday, May 19, 2011

Aspiring Author Thursday: Introducing Shallee McArthur

I can't quite remember where I first "met" Shallee. I think it was from Michelle Merrill's blog. Anyway, Shallee has a fabulous blog with wonderful posts about writing and book reviews. Check it out, here.

When did you first know you wanted to be a writer?

I've been writing like a mad woman since elementary school. Next to reading, it's my absolute favorite thing to do! But I didn't get serious about publishing what I wrote until a little over a year ago. My husband gave me a signed book from Brandon Sanderson for Christmas and told me about Brandon's writing class that was coming up. That class gave me the guts and know-how to write better-- and to finally buckle down and get serious about publishing what I wrote.

I still haven't read his books... I really need to get on that.

Do you have a writing schedule, or do you just sit down whenever you get a spare moment?

I have an 18 month old and I work from home as an editor, so it's sort of both. I try to have a schedule (write during the Kiddo's naptime and after I work at night), but it doesn't always work. Some days, I get about twenty minutes, and some days I'm lucky and get up to four hours. The most important thing to me is to sit down and do SOMETHING every day.

Wow! I didn't know you were an editor! Want to edit my stuff? ;) You think I'm joking...

Could you tell us a little about yourself? Random facts? Hidden talents?

Hm, random facts. I play the piano and the guitar. I played softball and ran track in high school, and was on a rowing team one summer in college. I used to have pet rats. I once hitch-hiked in Africa and made friends with a music-loving guy named Toufick (which was fun, but I can't say it was the smartest thing I've ever done).

Holy cow! You hitch-hiked in Africa? Brave, brave, woman. I wouldn't dare to do that anywhere! lol And that is so cool that you were on a rowing team!

If you were stranded on a desert island, what is one thing you couldn't live without? (Besides your family and a laptop of course.)

SUNBLOCK. I burn like crazy, then fade right back to pasty white. Once, I made the mistake of showing my husband pictures of me near the end of my four-month trip to Ghana and bragging about my "tan." He laughed so hard, he snorted.

I feel ya. I don't tan. I burn like no other, but it just goes back to white. Sad. I'm glad I know I'm not alone with the whiteness though.

What is one book you could read over and over and over?

Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly. It is AMAZING. Every time I read it, I have to just soak it in for a few hours before I'm coherent again.

Never read it... I know. I need to start reading! I swear I get like ten book recommendations a week!

What book are you dying to read this year?

I'm really looking forward to Divergent by Veronica Roth. I've heard so many good things about it.

I've heard it is fantastic! 

What genre do you write and why?

I write YA sci fi. I love YA because I love the teenage characters on the cusp of change. And I love sci fi because...I'm a nerd. I find science fascinating. I actually wanted to be a scientist as a kid (first a marine biologist, then a geneticist) until I realized what I loved most about science was writing about it.

I wanted to be a marine biologist too! Then I realized that I couldn't do it because of my fear of sharks... And I'm not smart enough to do all of that science stuff. Probably why I don't write sci fi either. That is awesome that you write it. We need more YA sci fi authors out there!

Do you have any writing rituals? Music, silence, eating, etc.

I always write in silence. When I start, I have to read back over the last page or two I wrote the day before so I can get back into the world of the story.

Where do you come up with your ideas? Dreams, while driving, etc?

When I'm doing mundane tasks. I've gotten ideas doing dishes, cleaning the bathroom, and taking a shower. Most of my ideas actually come in the bathroom, oddly enough. My husband says things make more sense in the shower, and I think he's on to something.

I get a lot of my ideas in the shower. I guess I'm not as weird as I thought. Or maybe we're both just weird. ;)

Any advice for aspiring authors?

You are good enough. There are so many voices on the internet, in books, and in your head telling you what you HAVE to do to be good/successful/published. I'm not saying those voices are bad-- I've learned a ton from them. But it's easy to suck up all that information and tell yourself you're not good enough because you can't do X, or you don't have time or money to do Y. You don't have to be and do everything, and you don't have to be and do everything right now. Wherever you're at in your writing, you are trying. You are good enough.

I really love that answer. Really.

Random Writing Question: If your current MC were thrown into the Hunger Games arena, what would they do? Would they have a shot at winning? ;)

Let's see...Ash has some pretty sweet knife skills, so he could certainly defend himself. But he kind of has this thing for protecting people, and he sometimes jumps into things without thinking. That might not bode well for his future in the arena.

Okay, so I LOVE your character's name. Because it's the same as MY character! Great minds think alike! :D Thanks so much Shallee!!


Teralyn Rose Pilgrim said...

That was a great interview! I love Shallee's advice, and the Hunger Games question is a good one. I wonder what my MC would do....?

Candice said...

Nice to get to know you better, Shallee.

Michelle Merrill said...

LOVE Shallee! She's awesome. Great interview Chantele. And Shallee has great advice for writers. She gets me out of my self doubt mode all the time :)

And Chantele, I'd edit your book...if you'd just send it to me! I'm not as good as Shallee, but I've learned a lot from her. Just sayin'. :)

Jolene Perry said...

Shallee is so awesome.

I have done lots of hiking, just not in Africa...

And I play the guitar, too!! SO fun :D

Unknown said...

I'm burning with jealousy that Shallie got to take a class from Brandon Sanderson. Serious wow.

Angie said...

Great interview. I loved learning more about Shallee. Can't wait to see her book on the shelf!

D. U. Okonkwo said...

Great interview! Looking forward to reading her blog.

Bluestocking Mum said...

That was a really good interview. Thanks Shallee and Chantele.

I particularly like the point around, 'You are good enough.' Those voices cripple me sometimes.
Thanks for the encouragement.

Chantele Sedgwick said...

@Teralyn Rose Pilgrim Oooh... I may have to interview you to find out what your MC would do! :D
@Michelle Merrill I know. I need to figure out what to freaking write first. LOL You'll see what I'm talking about with my blog post tomorrow. :(
@Jolene Perry I wish I could play the guitar. I'll just settle with the harp I guess. Maybe you could teach me sometime!
@Robin Weeks I know. Seriously. So. Jealous.
@Angie I can't wait either!
@D. U. Okonkwo Thanks! :D
@Bluestocking Mum I know. She had some great advice. Thanks for stopping by! :)

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

wow! totally fun stuff. She sounds like an awesome person and I'd love to meet her!

Patti said...

It's great to get to know other aspiring authors. Another great interview and she had some wonderful advice.

KM Nalle said...

Great interview! Shallee - I'm the same way with the suntan too. Most people never believe me when I go on vacation. It's because I'm red and then I'm white. Argh.

Chantele - I'm terrified of sharks too. I blame Jaws.