My latest interview is with the talented writer Shannon Collins who lives in South Carolina, where she was born and raised. By trade, she is a high school teacher and she loves her job. Shannon loves reaching kids every single day and watching that light bulb go off above their heads when they really grasp a concept. She teaches Career & Technology (CATE) classes like Accounting, Marketing and Finance. Shannon loves that she has a hand in preparing the next generation for the world. She is also a high school cheer leading coach and she loves that job equally. She thinks it’s the best feeling in the world to cheer on your team to a victory and it’s a great creative outlet. She has been married for 15 years to her husband, Joey and they have a six year old daughter, Hailey. Hailey is the miracle baby that doctors didn't think she would have and she’s certainly spoiled rotten. She is a huge Clemson Tiger fan; Shannon loves watching college sports on television and in person, and following her local teams. She loves spending time with her friends and family, whether they are at the park playing a game of soccer or at home grilling out and just having a good time.
Books & Writing: What got you into writing?
Shannon Collins: Writing only came to me after reading for many years. As a child I devoured books, especially the Sweet Valley series by Francine Pascal. I loved reading so much that my mother bought me a set of encyclopedias one year and I spent my summer reading them and writing essays on all 50 states of the U.S. for my own enjoyment. I never tried to write much until around 2006. Then I began writing short stories or “scenes” as I like to call them. There wasn’t a real beginning or end, it was just what I saw in my head at that moment. Almost like a skit on a soap opera. I found a group of people who pretty much did the same thing through a roleplaying mind-set on MySpace and it just took off from there. One person in particular, Christie Ann Volpe, really seemed to get my writing and we became fast friends. We traded writing ideas and got to the point where it was hard to tell which one of us wrote something. She would write a scene and then I would take that scene and write another one in relation to it.
I think I just never wrote something that inspired me to expand it until 2011 when I began writing my first book, UnMarked. I fell in love with the story and couldn’t stop from writing it. The love of that story has propelled me to expand it into many stories.
Books & Writing: Does your family support your writing?
Shannon Collins: I would say that my family supports me in general. They support my excitement for writing but none of them are avid readers, so it is a little foreign to them. The bulk of my support for writing comes from my friends.
Books & Writing: What is the book you are working on “Unmarked” about?
Shannon Collins: UnMarked: The Sons of Kerry, Book I is currently in the final editing stages. I remember watching a Disney cartoon when I was young about King Arthur and the Sword in the Stone. I’ve always been fascinated by this era in history and folklore. So I found an Irish folktale called “The Twelve Horned Women”. I thought it was interesting and began to research it further. What I found was a story which I consider to be Ireland’s version of King Arthur. In this folklore, Fionn mac Cumhaill, fell in love with a woman who had a curse upon her which made it where she could only be human on his land. When she was beyond his land she turned into a doe. He loved her dearly but she was taken from him and he searched many years to find her but never did. As a king he needed a queen and was offered a neighboring princess, Lady Grainne. She was much younger than him and when she was introduced to him she was met by him and his knight, Diarmuid. She fell in love with Diarmuid and they ran away together. Fionn was enraged and hunted them but finally decided to forgive them. He met his friend, Diarmuid, for a hunt and Diarmuid was mortally injured by a boar. Fionn, who was bestowed with magical powers, could have offered Diarmuid water from his palms and he would have been saved. Fionn chose to wait until there was not enough time left and watched Diarmuid die. Grainne was left to raise her five sons in a small place known as County Kerry. She swore she would have revenge on Fionn. My book picks up there with the group created from that event called the Sons of Kerry. They are a warrior clan who still fight against Fionn to this day, though he is entrapped in a mountain and must send twelve witches to do his bidding before he can be returned to power. The Sons of Kerry series will follow the battles of these twelve witches and the Sons of Kerry. Romance will be found along the way and new storylines that build upon the folktale will enfold. Book I involves Donovan McGrath, a Son of Kerry, and Sabina Keane, a woman who has known mostly tragedy in her life on the streets of New York City. It weaves paranormal, romance and history into one exciting story.
Books & Writing: How long have you been working on it?
Shannon Collins: I have been working steadily on this book for about six months. The story has been in my mind for nearly a year and I’ve recently begun work on the second book, UnRemarkable: The Sons of Kerry, Book II.
Books & Writing: Is “The Twelve Horned Women” part of “Unmarked” or a separate story?
Shannon Collins: “The Twelve Horned Women” is an old tale of Irish folklore. It is basically a map of the story of the entire series and introduces the evil side, being the witches and Fionn. That folktale will be weaved in and out of each book.
Books & Writing: Are you planning on publishing it?
Shannon Collins: I would love to publish this book and anyone willing to do so should let me know immediately, of course. As of right now I’m talking to a couple of publishers but am considering self-publishing the book, but will definitely be offering it online in an e-version very soon.
Books & Writing: If you could be one of your characters for a week, who would it be, and why?
Shannon Collins: I think I would be Grainne because she’s known great love and great tragedy and would have an amazing perspective on what’s important in life. She’s a strong character who chose to follow her heart and to stand up to a man known to be favored by his kingdom and see him for the darkness that he really is. She didn’t shy away from him and as a woman she decided to build her family to be a real power against him without letting it darken her.
Books & Writing: Where can people find you on the internet?
Shannon Collins: I have a website: www.shannonmariecollins.weebly.com
You can also find a Facebook page under the title of The Sons of Kerry
And a Twitter account: @SMECollins
Books & Writing: Which writer(s) inspires you?
Shannon Collins: As stated before, I loved reading Francine Pascal as a young girl and I grew into reading Nora Roberts when I got older. I love how her work can range from traditional romance and then some stories weave in magic that takes you to a whole new world of reading. I’ve become a huge fan of Sherrilyn Kenyon and Lorie Handeland in the last couple of years, as well.
Books & Writing: Do you have any tips for aspiring writers?
Shannon Collins: Write with the end in mind but don’t let the end be written in stone. For my series I know where I want it to end and I know the main ending but how I get to that point is completely changing every time I sit down to write. Just letting the story come to you is the best way for me to describe my writing. I also believe that if you have one main detail that you love then make that detail stick out. If you really want to emphasize that someone has red finger nail polish and you believe that is what makes her strong or feminine then use that small detail to shape the character. Flat, expected descriptions are exactly that – flat and expected. Take the quirky ideas you have and make them explode with flair. It’s hard to read or write if you can’t see the idea in your mind’s eye. Make a reader see exactly what you see through their emotions connected with a detail. Maybe it’s not your vision in your mind but it makes them take ownership in your details and in your story, and they’ll come back time and time again after that.
Below is an excerpt from her story “Unmarked”
It was as if Donovan could sense her thoughts and her resolve to not feel anything for him. The hurt in his eyes was quickly replaced by a steel so thick that she doubted he would ever break through it to touch her again. He stood his full height, making it seem as if he towered over her and even the others in the room who were intimidating enough on their own.
“You can’t leave,” he said to her, his tone flat and emotionless.
“The hell I can’t,” she turned on her heel and strode out of the room. She was half way up the stairs when she looked up and saw him standing at the top of them. He hadn’t passed her on the way up.
“Now you have secret passage ways,” she huffed and turned to go back down the stairs. When she reached the foot of them he stood only inches away from her.
“You can’t keep me here.” She turned back up the stairs and immediately turned around to say something else but he was not there. The hairs on the back of her neck stood up and she turned, craning her neck to see up the winding stair case. His head hung over the railing, looking down at her. There was no such passage way that could be accessed that quickly.
Where was a white flag to wave when you needed one? She took a seat on the step and dropped her head in her hands. She felt the air sizzle and saw Donovan appear in front of her like he walked through some invisible door.
She should have expected it. The man shot electric bolts from his fingers, Thomas made her fly in mid-air after jumping from the window, Candi looked as if she could eat a man whole and pick her teeth with his ribs. “Guess I’m not in Kansas anymore,” she muttered.