Today’s guest is blogger and author, Shannon Muir. Welcome, Shannon! Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I’m a writer who has worked in a variety of mediums, from prose to poetry to animation scriptwriting. My favorite genres are science fiction, fantasy, and mystery – both to read and write – though I have written about some other subject matters. Also, I’m known for running two blogs that focus on writers, INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS at http://www.house-of-books.com that features author interviews and guest posts, while DISCOVER WORDS at http://www.discoverwords.com leans more toward excerpts and cover reveals. INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS has been around for about three years now, and DISCOVER WORDS for around two, though after a rather catastrophic incident with my provider both blogs have to be rebuilt, so I appreciate patience with any readers who come to visit. I’ve also held production positions on animated series that continue to remain fan favorites such as INVADER ZIM and EXTREME GHOSTBUSTERS., as well as worked as part of the team that launched the now-closed NEOPETS spinoff virtual world PETPET PARK.
I grew up with my father reading my sister and I THE HOBBIT and THE LORD OF THE RINGS as bedtime stories; Bilbo Baggins is absolutely still my favorite literary character of all time. Favorite books also included all of L. Frank Baum’s OZ novels and C.S. Lewis’ NARNIA books. I also grew up reading Encyclopedia Brown and every single Nancy Drew story I could get my hands on. Those early loves I believe still reflect in all I do.
When did you begin writing?
I wrote my first novel at the age of 10, though the quality might be dubious. Around the same time period in school, the class was writing poems and the best of the class would be chosen to be displayed in the mall; I wrote a couplet about a journey through a toy store. My poem turned out to be one of the ones selected, but that didn’t really make an impact at the time. It would be my sixth grade teacher, Naomi Yap, who would make the most difference. Every week we had twenty spelling words, and she would challenge us to write stories in class that had to use all twenty words, and the next week the best ones would be read to the class. Mine would repeatedly end up being read to the class, and this really made an impact; she also chose one of those stories to display at the mall that year. An interesting aside, I did a set of stories about a boy and a girl and their cat who regularly went to a magic fantasy land called Zim where they assumed alternate identities and had fantastic adventures; little did I know that many years later I would be a Production Coordinator on a cult favorite called INVADER ZIM that – other than the name -bears absolutely no relation!
During my teen years, I turned my attention to learning about animated scriptwriting, but didn’t completely give up on prose writing. I wrote another novel at seventeen, a book on teenage pregnancy in a small town, which I even attempted to send to New York agents. I did go on to get a degree in English-Creative-Writing as well as Radio-TV, but found out after I entered that genre fiction such as I preferred to write was frowned upon, so I actually did all my writing workshops in poetry. This experience dissuaded me from continuing to write prose for a while. For years I focused solely on writing for the animation medium and didn’t pick up the prose bug again around 2004, when I stumbled on a call for submissions to an anthology called ARIA KALSAN; someone had already developed a world and wanted people to write stories based on the “bible”; since that is similar to how live-action and animation television series are done it felt a natural segue to try my hand after such a long time. I began writing regularly again after taking the National Novel Writing Month challenge in 2005 (see http://www.nanowrimo.org for more on this), which I have completed successfully for ten years as of 2014. I’ve made a lot of those manuscripts available via self-publishing, because while they are personal passion products for me with interesting characters and settings, they don’t reflect my primary love of genre fiction which is what I am starting to pursue in earnest. With Pro Se Press, and other outlets, that is finally coming to fruition all these years later.
Can you tell us about your most recent release?
“Ghost of the Airwaves” focuses on a radio actress who starred alongside her husband on a popular radio drama. He’s killed and the police are sure the case is closed. However, a mysterious letter that comes through her mail slot from the “Ghost of the Airwaves” lets her know that the police missed some crucial information. When the police don’t seem to take things seriously enough, the radio actress decides she’s going to take things into her own hands and be sure that everyone involved with her husband’s death is found.
How did you get the idea for the book?
Book is really becoming more of a generic term, it seems. “Ghost of the Airwaves” is what is known as a digital single, which in other words is a short story packaged on its own with a cover. Pro Se Press does a lot of this, but I’ve come to realize other publishers are seeing as a reasonable market as well.
I decided I wanted to tell this story after the fun I had doing another story for Pro Se Press in an anthology called NEWSHOUNDS. That story, “Pretty as a Picture,” involved a group of people working for a newspaper who use the press in 1950s America to fight injustice in their city; those characters had all been pre-developed by Pro Se Press and documented in a “bible” and we wrote stories about them. As much as I loved doing that story, I also wanted to show what I could do on my own.
At the time, Pro Se Press also put out a magazine and “Ghost of the Airwaves” was originally written and submitted to the magazine to get more exposure for myself as a writer as well as within the genre. As it turned out, they discontinued the magazine soon after submission but everyone who had submitted would be considered for the digital single line called Single Shots. It’s taken a year for this manuscript to come to the top of that pile.
So that’s why the story happened to begin with, but there’s also the part of the question as to why I chose the golden age of radio specifically. Basically, the core of this story starts with a television script that I wrote in college called FROM THE FATAL HEART. In college, I received a double major in Radio-TV and English-Creative Writing, and also worked as a DJ on the college stations, so I drew in part from experience. In that script, a modern day request-and-dedication DJ thinks his wife committed suicide but comes to learn it was a carefully orchestrated murder; the script ended up getting national recognition as a finalist for a competition run by a national radio-television honor society. Years later, I still love that story, but in hindsight found the male lead to be very passive in deciding the course of his fate. I wondered what would happen if I made the lead a woman, made her a more active participant in finding the solution, changed the time period, but kept the same basic premise. By choosing an earlier time period, radio dramas were ruling the airwaves and the DJ as we know that role today didn’t even exist. I didn’t have any idea how the story would turn out when I started, but am very pleased with the result.
Of all your characters, which one is your favorite? Why?
Since the NEWSHOUNDS characters were created by Pro Se Press, I’m going to focus this answer on GHOST OF THE AIRWAVES. Actually, my favorite character is the person who turns out to be the “Ghost of the Airwaves,” but fully as to why would be giving away too much. Let’s just say I like the challenges that come with writing this character and I’d love to do so again. However, sales and word of mouth will be what it takes to see if further adventures come out. The story is written in such a way that while it does resolve, further tales could be told if the demand existed.
What was the most challenging aspect of writing your book?
Because it is set in a historical time period, I needed to be sure I had all my facts straight. I looked up the history of radio dramas for the time period I wanted, to see what kind of shows were popular that my lead character might be involved in. Also, the radio drama was a “story within a story,” so I needed to know all the characters being played in the radio drama and how they related to one another both in front of the microphones and away from them.
What is your primary goal as an author?
My primary goal would be to tell stories with believable character regardless of the time, place, or situation. If a reader can’t get into the story and care about the characters propelling it, the rest doesn’t carry much weight at all. Some stories I do might strive to make people think, but generally the primary intent is to entertain.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m waiting for final editing stages on several more stories with Pro Se Press that are slated for other anthologies, so there is definitely more to come in this vein of storytelling. I also have a story pending with Emby Press, whose tales lean more toward the paranormal and horror, that I hope will come out this year; it is part of an anthology regarding superheroes, so that’s closer to the tales I write than most of what they publish.
However, I also have some self-published titles that are of a different genre. Most of them came about over the last ten years of doing National Novel Writing Month and succeeding every year. For any readers not familiar with this challenge at http://nanowrimo.org, people challenge themselves to write a 50,000 word (or more) first draft of a novel in November. I’ve done this over and over successfully for a decade, though my two attempts at the more flexible Camp version actually didn’t work out. Basically, over the years, I created many books in several series that while I find myself passionate about them, I know they are just too niche for publishers. Over the next two years, I plan to return to the remaining first drafts that need a fresh eye and editing and complete both these series. After that, other than a one-off project I’m planning called DYING WITH HER NAME IN LIGHTS – featuring murder mysteries in the entertainment field, but not necessarily as intense in action as stories like those for Pro Se need to be – I’m not planning to do much more on the self-publishing side of things unless a story comes along that I absolutely feels must be told but that it isn’t worth the effort of burdening down publishers over.
What advice would you offer to new or aspiring authors?
Be open to trying new things; you may find in time that there are things you can do that previously seemed out of range. I certainly never saw myself writing the kinds of stories I’ve been doing such as “Ghost of the Airwaves” and “Pretty as a Picture,” though I enjoy reading and watching entertainment in the same vein. Kevin Paul Shaw Broden – who at times is my writing partner and who I will be married to – is even more into it than I am, and in fact is how I discovered Pro Se Press. He was reading a book called YESTERYEAR by Tommy Hancock (who also happens to be Editor in Chief of Pro Se Press, but I didn’t know it then), and I asked to take a look at it; it intrigued me but I still didn’t think I could do it. Then I found out that every so often, Pro Se Press put out open calls for submissions and Kevin showed me a list. A couple things were on that list, but the one that really stood out to me was NEWSHOUNDS. Suddenly, seeing that anthology idea about ordinary people using the power of the pen to write wrongs as something I could relate to, my repetitive “I can’t” turned into “I can”. I tried but was unsure if I’d be accepted, and as it turned out so did Kevin, not to mention the cover is also his art. The advice I’d give out of that that story is this: don’t ever close your mind to possibility and invest in your passion for the long haul.
About the Author:
SHANNON MUIR’s most recent genre fiction release is the Single Shot “Ghost of the Airwaves,” a New Pulp digital single tale, preceded by her debut genre fiction story “Pretty as a Picture” in the anthology NEWSHOUNDS from Pro Se Productions. Prior to venturing into the world of New Pulp, Muir is best known to genre readers as co-writer of the long-running webcomic FLYING GLORY AND THE HOUNDS OF GLORY with her partner, Kevin Paul Shaw Broden (featured in Pro Se’s anthology THE BLACK FEDORA, his own story in NEWSHOUNDS, and the self-published REVENGE OF THE MASKED GHOST). She tends to gravitate towards writing stories with females in leading or influential roles, which can prove a challenge in the time periods that pulp stories are set in. Muir aspires to bring different perspective to a classic time period by taking on this viewpoint. Muir also has credits in new adult contemporary fiction, as well as published textbooks on the animation industry, a field in which she’s held writing and production positions as part of her nearly twenty year career focused in family entertainment. She currently resides in Glendale, California.
Connect with Shannon Muir:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Shannon-Muir/e/B004G28H0I/
Smashwords Author Page: http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/shannonmuir
“Ghost of the Airwaves”: From Pro Se Productions’ Single Shot line comes a tale of mystery and murder set against the backdrop of the Golden Age of Radio! Through this stand alone digital single, Author Shannon Muir introduces the world to Ghost of the Airwaves!
Ghost of the Airwaves is the suspenseful tale of radio actress Abigail Hanson, whose husband died under mysterious circumstances. Everyone believes the culprit is caught until a mysterious typed letter from “Ghost of the Airwaves” comes through her mail slot. Abigail becomes determined to find out who killed her husband and uses her own observant eye to help coax the police along. But, as she delves deeper into the mystery, Abigail may learn she should have stayed behind the microphone…to stay alive!
Ghost of the Airwaves by Shannon Muir, featuring fantastic cover art and logo design by Jeff Hayes and digital formatting by Russ Anderson. A Pro Se Single Shot digital single from Pro Se Productions!
NEWSHOUNDS: News For All, Justice for the Innocent and Weak! That is the Masthead of The Partisan and the mission of its keepers in Pro Se Productions’ action packed tribute to the printed press- NEWSHOUNDS! Dogged reporters, crusty editors, copyboys and cub photographers with dreams of grandeur. Pressmen who know the city lives and breathes by what they print. Characters like Editor ‘Red Dillinger, reporters Viv Bailey and Ted Boland, photographer Margie Haviland, and more all work for The Partisan, a 1950s paper partial to the common man, to righting the wrongs done against the housewives and the blue collars! And this gaggle of hard bitten, hard fighting men and women are known near and far to those who love them and those who wish to see them dead! Do No Wrong in Their City unless you want it covered by the Newshounds! Started in 1930 to stand up for the little person and to protect the rights of the rightless. The Partisan has always been the paper that focused on both accurate news reporting and standing up for the common citizen against crime and corruption of all types. This led to a style of writing both factual and fiery that the paper is known for. Authors Kevin Paul Shaw Broden, Shannon Muir, and J. Walt Layne bring life to the chaotic adventures of a larger than life newspaper staff in this three story collection. Only two types of people work at The Partisan- Those truly interested in standing up for truth and justice and what’s right…and those with a death wish or nowhere else to go. Either way, they make great stories for Pro Se Productions’ NEWSHOUNDS!
Buy NEWSHOUNDS in Print at Amazon