What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
Shannon Stoker, I was born in Royal Oak Michigan and I like in DeKalb, Illinois (about 60 miles south west of Chicago)
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
When I was younger I dreamed of being everything from an astronaut to zoologist. I think I started focusing on writing when I was in college
Did it take a long time to get your first book published?
From conception of the book to publishing date was about 18 months for me. During the publishing process it seemed like forever, but looking back the time flew.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
I work for Northern Illinois University for the Office of Research Compliance and Integrity.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
The Registry. In a dystopian America where girls are auctioned to the highest bidder and beauty is valued above all else, eighteen year old Mia Morrissey rebels against the game plan.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins
How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
For a first draft about three months. From the point of first draft to ready to submit to publishers about nine.
What can we expect from you in the future? ie More books of the same genre? Books of a different genre?
Well there are two sequels scheduled for the Registry. I’m busy working on those. I have some ideas for a modern book I’d like to see go into a series and one for a stand alone novel. I think I’ll stick with the new adult genre for now.
What genre would you place your books into?
New Adult, which is exciting since the rules are just being defined. A lot of people consider it Young Adult, which I am fine with too, but in my eyes the subject matter is slightly more mature and older audiences can enjoy the plot as well.
What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I was just trying to write a book that I would enjoy.
Do you have a favourite character from your books? and why are they your favourite?
Grant, the villain, is hands down my favorite. He was the most entertaining for me to write. I would laugh out loud while I was typing some of his scenes.
How long have you been writing?, and who or what inspired you to write?
I’ve been writing since I was little. I used to write all these short stories and they would all end with the line “and they trashed the place”. It became a running joke in my family.
Where do you get your book plot ideas from?What/Who is your inspiration?
Mainly my friends. Sometimes we’ll be out and a person will complain about something, or tell an interesting story that will trigger an idea. Even if their initial comment has nothing to do with the final plot it’s a great starting point.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
I have a spot carved out in my basement. I like things quiet, and even though I’m downstairs a lot of the time I’ll ask my husband to leave because I can hear him walking around.
Do you have anybody read your books and give you reviews before you officially release them?ie. Your partner, children, friends, reviewers you know?
Two very good friends read the books for me after the first drafts. My mom and dad do as well.
Do you choose a title first, or write the book then choose the title?
I write the books and then chose the title. Sometimes I have a working idea, but I’m never stuck on one title.
How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
For The Registry almost all the characters and named after family, friends, and co-workers. My original idea was to change them once I was done with the first draft, but it was such a pain in the butt that I didn’t bother.
Are character names and place names decided after there creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
For people the name comes first most of the time. For places the creation comes first, then the name.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
For one of my unfinished manuscripts I went into huge detail developing character traits. I spent months working on their descriptions, but then when I started to write the book it hampered the experience. Now I like to have an idea of who they are then let them grow as I write.
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I plan the basic plot out. It’s nice to have benchmarks so I know where to take the plot.
Have you ever suffered from a "writer's block"? What did you do to get past the "block"?
I am lucky to work with such an amazing team at HarperCollins. My editor is the best at helping me work through an issues I’m facing. My agent also comes in to play and gives me some great ideas.
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
I am obsessed with my dog. He’s a terrier mix and he loves wearing clothes. If I could I’d spend every minute of the day with him and I think he feels the same way about me. So when it’s time to relax I like to cuddle with him.
Have you ever based characters on people you know or based events on things that have happened to you?
Not the whole character, but some traits I pull from people I know. There are several ideas taken from ex-boyfriends in the development of Grant’s character. My husband is named Andy and he likes to tell people Andrew is based off of him but they couldn’t be more different. I think there are more traits of my husband in Carter!
Is there a certain Author that influenced you in writing?
This is a time where there are so many fantastic authors out there. I just finished reading Sophie Jordon’s Firelight and I was blown away. I think it’s hard to pick just one author. I’d pretty much have to list everyone I’ve ever read.
Which format of book do you prefer, ebook,hardback, or paperback?
I’m a big fan of reading in the bathtub so I’d have to say paperback. I like ebook more than I should admit though and if they make a waterproof kindle my answer might change.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
The Shining. I read it in a hotel, which might not have been a good idea, and I was terrified. I’ve read it several times since then.
Do you think books transfer to movies well? Which is you favourite/worst book to movie transfer?
Normally I can read the book and then enjoy the movie, but if I see the movie first I have a hard time getting into the book. That being said I don’t think I’ve ever seen a bad book/movie transfer. My favorite is when they make the movie their own and change little things. I like to watch for those.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Not in our lifetime. I think that there is always some benefit to having the book in your hand. Especially if you want to take notes on it. I think there is room for both the ebook and hard copies.
Did you read a lot at school and write lots of stories or is being a writer something newer in your life?
I wrote constantly.
Did you have a favourite author as a child?
R.L. Stine. I was a Fear Street kid and I’d devour those books in seconds.
Do you have a treasured book from your childhood? If yes, what is it?
The Little Golden Book “Where’s Goldie?” It was about a girl looking for her bird and I loved it. The spine is broken but I’ll be buried with that book someday.
Do you have a favourite genre of book?
I try to make it a point to step around. I usually stick to fiction but I enjoy a non-fiction narrative every now and then.
Where the Red Fern Grows. I am so sensitive about dogs. If I know the story ends with an animal death I can’t get through it. I tried to read the book and the whole time kept randomly crying because I knew the end.
What piece of advice would you give to a new writer?
Even if you think your book is awful finish writing it. You can change more in the editing stage than you realize and just finishing that first draft is a great accomplishment.
Do you or would you ever use a pen name?
I do not. Would I? Absolutely.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
Right off the bat Hemmingway and Fitzgerald, I think those guys were more interested in the liquid being served than the food though. Then I’d throw in E.L. James too. I bet the four of us would have a fantastic night.
Where can readers follow you?