Please help me welcome author Shannon K. Butcher to Romance University. Shannon’s best known for her enthralling romantic suspense books: No Escape, No Control and No Regrets. However, in May 2009, Book One of her The Sentinel War series, Burning Alive, debuted with resounding success.
Without further ado, here’s Shannon…
Tracey: What factors played a role in your decision to write in a different subgenre?
Shannon: I grew up reading fantasy books, so I’ve always loved a bit of the supernatural in my fiction. In fact, several of my first awful practice books were paranormals romances. I hadn’t quite gotten the hang of balancing world building and storytelling at that point, so I moved on to romantic suspenses, which I also love. Once I felt like I had some of the basics of writing craft down well enough to give paranormals another shot, I decided to dive back in to all that otherworldly goodness. The fact that paranormal romances are so popular now gave me the opportunity to try my hand at something I’ve always enjoyed.
Tracey: Will we see any more romantic suspense books?
Shannon: Absolutely. I have a romantic suspense coming out in October of this year titled LOVE YOU TO DEATH, and I’m currently working on a new series centered around a mercenary company. It’s still too early to go into too much detail, but I plan to continue writing them for as long as there are folks wanting to read them.
Tracey: Did you break into romantic suspense by writing category or single titles? Did you have an agent when you finally broke through?
Shannon: I started writing single titles since that’s mostly what I read, and I am one of those people who strongly believe in getting an agent first and letting them sell the work. I’d seen my husband’s 10-year struggle to do it the other way (try to sell his work directly to an editor, which never panned out) and I knew I wouldn’t last 10 years before giving up and moving on to a different line of work, so I went for the agent first.
Tracey: What do you love best about your agent? Your editor?
Shannon: I think the thing I love most about Nephele Tempest is how she balances personality and professionalism. She’s caring and funny, and I love to hang out with her, but at the same time she can take care of all of the business stuff-making deals and helping grow my career-without breaking a sweat. She’s a mix of sweet and ruthless and I love it!
My suspense editor is she’s really great to make sure to point out what she loves about the book. So, even when she’s asking for changes, the sting of not having done it right the first time is lessened by a bunch of glowing praise. And although I haven’t been working with my paranormal romance editor long, so far I really appreciate how she gives me the creative space to tell the stories I want to tell. She trusts that I have an idea where the overarching story is headed and gives me the creative room to let that unfold.
Shannon: BURNING ALIVE is the first book in my paranormal romance series, The Sentinel Wars. There are three races of Sentinels, and they were put here to fight off the growing number of evil Synestryn, who want to break through the only gateway into another world. That gateway is here on Earth, and despite their dwindling numbers and a heaping helping of suffering, the Sentinels do their best to protect the gate and any humans who happen to fall victim to the Synestryn.
The first book in The Sentinel War series is about Helen, who sees visions of her own death. The man who watches her die comes into her life and she knows her time is up. She tries to run, but gets caught up in a world where magic is real and she’s the key to helping a dying race survive.
The rest of the books feature different couples, but all of them are filled with hot, tattooed, sword-wielding warriors and the women who have them wrapped around their fingers.
Tracey: When did you go from writing “great piles of suckfulness” to writing great piles of publishable romance?
Shannon: I had started 36 bad books and finished 8 of them before I’d finally gotten enough writing craft through my head to be good enough to show my work to any professionals. I got a recommendation for The Knight Agency and, about a year after submitting to them, got an offer for representation. Once I’d cleaned up NO REGRETS enough that it was sellable, Nephele took it out, sold it and I’ve been writing ever since.
Tracey: You mention on your website that your husband, Jim Butcher, played a key role in your success. Can you tell us how?
Shannon: If it weren’t for Jim I still wouldn’t be published. In fact, I never would have even tried to write since I never would have believed I could. He taught me the craft of writing, showing me that anyone can learn to write a decent book if they’re willing to put in the work (in my case, lots and lots of work). I went from being an engineer who couldn’t spell her way out of a paper bag and thought conflict was icky, to being able to write publishable work because of his lessons (Some of which he’s posted for whoever wants to read them on his Live Journal. There’s a link to it from my website.). Not only that, but I also watched his loooong struggle to become published and learned what worked and what didn’t. Namely, I realized that once your work is of publishable quality, getting out and meeting people is one of the best ways to go from a name on a query letter to a real person who is much more likely to hear a yes. I also learned that having an agent greatly speeds up the process of getting editors from big publishing houses to consider one’s work.
Tracey: When you’re not writing, what do you do for fun?
Shannon: I love to play with beads. I think I must be part magpie, because if it sparkles, it must be mine. I have a whole room dedicated to crafting and often use my engineering skills to find new ways of storing all those fabulous tiny bits of colored glass.
I also like to play Rock Band and City of Heroes, though I have to be careful not to get sucked into the video game vortex where time ceases to exist and no work gets done.
Thanks, Shannon! We really enjoyed having you here.
After spending too many years as an Industrial Engineer, Shannon learned to write from her husband, bestselling author Jim Butcher. She learned writing craft in order to help him with his stories, but found the idea of writing her own too compelling to resist. She lives in Missouri with her husband and son, where conversations at the dinner table are more often about things someone made up than about anything that’s actually happened. Feel free to contact Shannon via her website: www.ShannonKButcher.com
Please be sure to join Kelsey on Wednesday when she talks to our latest male victim, er, guest blogger about Looking for the “One”…or Not.
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