1. What is your name, where were you born and where do
you live now?
My name is Shawn Lamb, I’m the author of the YA fantasy Allon series. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and currently live in Nashville, Tennessee.
2. Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
It took a few years for the series. With the state of publishing changing, I wasn’t surprised by the length of time to find a traditional publisher.
3. Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
Actually, I’m both. I was traditionally published by Strang Communications – now Charisma Media. When they passed on the rest of the Allon series, I went independent.
Allon started at the request of my daughter when she was in high school. She likes the old fashion fantasies like Tolkien and Lewis. I once wrote for the animated television series BraveStarr, which was done by the studio that did He-Man and She-Ra. My husband worked on those shows.
Anyway, I was able to take my scriptwriting skills for kids and write her story. During the process, her school friends became interested and starting asking questions. Talk of the story turned into ‘life’ discussions. As a result, one book turned into a series in an effort to answer those questions, needs and concerns.
4. How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
About 3 months. I wrote 5 books in 14 months, each around 100,000 words – so half a million words since the kids wanted more. I write chronological from beginning to end. I don’t plan and I don’t outline, it is strictly out of my head. And, yes, I manage to keep everything in the series straight in my head. Not bad for a fifty-something age woman. J
5. What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
I’m adding new historical fiction books for adults beginning with The Huguenot Sword in November 2011. It’s about the Huguenot (Protestant) struggle under Cardinal Richelieu and includes the battle of La Rochelle. Although there will be more Allon books in 2012.
6. Do you have a favourite out of the books you have written? If so why is it your favourite?
It’s a toss up between Allon Book 4-A Question of Sovereignty and The Huguenot Sword. The latter is the first book I ever wrote at age 16. It’s taken 35 years to finally seen print. Book 4 of the series contains some of my favorite characters in Allon.
7. How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was a teenager. I was a BIG historical fiction fan when I was younger. Some of my favorite authors are Taylor Caldwell, Mary Stuart, John Jakes and Alistair MacLean. Of course there are the classic authors, Dumas, Stevenson, Dickens.
8. Do you read all the reviews of your book/books?
I do try too read them all but I’m not always aware of reviews. When one comes to my notice, I do.
9. How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
My husband designs all the covers while our daughter draws the characters for the website and videos we produced. She’s now out of college and following in her Dad’s footsteps of storyboard, costume design and has worked on a feature film to be released in 2012. Everything is accessible from the website. http://www.allonbooks.com
10. How do you market/promote your books?
Of course, I do the usual online, social media, but primarily I visit local schools, private, public and home school groups. I also participate in events such as book festivals and fairs throughout the year. These are by far my most favor thing to do as I get to interact with kids and parents and share the story of how Allon came about.
11. Are there any hidden messages or morals contained in your books? (Morals as in like Aesops Fables type of "The moral of this story is..")
Yes, there are. As I said earlier, the Allon books came about in response to kids and the issue they struggle with. One of the main needs they expressed was for ‘hope’. In the stories I deal with serious issues and the resulting consequences.
One of the key things I try to do is create balanced female leads As a mother, I wrestled with all aspects of life that assault a girl’s self-image and society’s ideal of what a woman should be. Most YA heroine/female leads are kick butt, take no prisoners, mouthy, independent and cunning. Fiction rarely shows how unselfishly giving strong, unwavering support for the hero, friends or family, can be helpful and desirable characteristics for a woman.
Although my female leads do stand up, face challenges and wield a weapon or two, I strive to give girls an example of the beauty of spirit and will that transcend physical appearance or martial prowess to a person’s heart and character.
With the male leads, I attempt to show boys and teens how to treat a girl/young woman, with respect and kindness, no bullying or controlling. To show how a couple can work together, bound by love, common goals, faithfulness to each other.
12. What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean. He was a master at third person and pulling the reader in and makes the struggle of the North Atlantic theatre in WWII come alive. I can feel the cold, danger and sympathize with the characters. Actually, I like all his books.
13. Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Not all books translate well. I know this from my Hollywood screenwriting experience. There are really many, many examples of bad adaptations since this is where the studio decides to take dramatic license rather than doing the story as written. Just by the previews and scuttlebutt, I can say the new Three Musketeers is an example. They took Dumas’ classic and made it steampunk meets Final Fantasy style fighting merely to please their target audience.
An example of a great adaptation is Lord Of the Rings. Jackson and the scriptwriters took a very complex book and made brilliant movie versions. They didn’t skimp on Tolkien’s characters and ideas, yet made a few modifications and clarification without damaging or radically changing the original story.
14. What do you think about book trailers?
Having a screenplay background, married to man who worked in animation for years, and an artist daughter, I’m partial to book trailers. We’ve created 6 trailers all visible through the website or my YouTube Channel http://www.youtube.com/user/shawnelamb?feature=mhee.
I even have a short video where I explain how Allon came about.
15. What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Be patient! With self-publishing increasing and e-books readily available, the number of books published annually has grown to 1 million! It takes time to become known. Hocking and Locke are exceptions, not the rule. The average time a traditional publisher breaks down this way:
*6 months pre-release for marketing and promotion to create a buzz.
*1 year shelf live after release.
* 6 to 12 months at discount in major retailers.
*6 months at discount stores
This can add up to 3-4 years before the publisher removes a book from circulation to shelf it. In this period, the author can get the rights back or the publisher keeps it for future release.
Your blog details? _ http://allonbooks-thekingdomofallon.blogspot.com I blog about writing and the publishing industry.
Your web site ? http://www.allonbooks.com
Your facebook page? http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100000208991898&ref=name
Allon FB Fan Page. http://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Kingdom-of-Allon/153435971408175
Your Goodreads author page? http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3385442.Shawn_Lamb
Your Twitter details? http://twitter.com/#!/slamballonbooks
Thankyou for taking time from your writing schedule to do this interview!