SH: Hi Tirzah! Thanks for having me on the blog.
Your fantasy books are so varied in that you infuse all sorts of culture and knowledge of different sorts of trades and ways of life into your stories. What sort of research did you have to do to in order to write them?
I love to do research, but not enough to write historical fiction! I like to choose what juicy bits work for my story and get rid of the rest. I do research cultures and regions when I’m working on a new land. I’ve pulled from Germany, Scandinavia, Rome, Mongolia, Ireland, and turn-of-the-century American West. I read books, websites, look at photos, cookbooks, museums, etc. There’s nothing methodical about my research. I dabble till I find stuff that makes me say, “Wow!”
You've written a lot of books, from Middle Grade to Young Adult to Adult titles, and from fantasy to contemporary fiction; does your writing process vary between the genres?
It doesn’t really. I don’t feel like I’m switching gears. With each book, I feel like I’m just trying to tell the story and using whichever genre or style would work best.
What was one of your favorite books when you were a teen?
The first one that popped into my head was the Riddle-Master trilogy by Patricia McKillip. Do people read that anymore? I loved it. Re-read it probably four times (a lot for me, as I’m a slow reader).
You happily surprised many readers by continuing the Books of Bayern series with Forest Born; do you think you might write even more books set in Bayern?
Thank you! I don’t have any immediate plans, but the characters continue to live on in my head. I know them so well by now. The truth is, I didn’t even have to go back to the first three books and re-read before writing Forest Born. The characters were so real and easy to draw on. So if the right story bites me in the heiney, I won’t refuse. Until then, I’m happy to move on to other stories.
What are you writing now that we can look forward to?
I’ve got 150,000 words of a rough draft for a possible two-book series called Daisy Danger Brown. It’s a monster right now, a monster of many parts and much terror that will take a couple of years at least to tame. And yesterday I started a new book because I couldn’t help it.
If you could have a conversation with any author, alive or dead, who would it be?
Oh, Jane Austen for sure, though I’m not sure what she’d think of me. She was so snarky, and I’m such a wimp, I’m afraid she’d find fault with me. But I could never pass that up. And what if...what if we became friends? That would rock.
Is there anything I didn't ask that you wish I had?
Just the thing about my favorite kind of brownies (mint chocolate) and an address to mail them, but don’t beat yourself up, no one can think of everything.
Thanks again, Shannon!