Monday, July 21, 2014

Marilyn Peake, author of YA novel, Shade, dishes about her writing, 'Shade', and future writing endeavors!

1.    Hi Marilyn, Thanks so much for taking this time with me. I’ve seen on your Goodreads that you’ve written A TON of books. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and the books you write/written?

I’ve written five novels and many short stories and edited a number of books.  My most recent publication is SHADE, a YA Mystery novel with Paranormal elements.  I’ve also written three middle grade children’s novels in the Fantasy genre: THE FISHERMAN’S SON, THE CITY OF THE GOLDEN SUN, and RETURN OF THE GOLDEN AGE.  And I’ve written a science fiction novel, GODS IN THE MACHINE, which I’m thinking about rewriting with more emphasis on adventure.

I really love writing.  That and travel photography are two of my passions.  I recently posted travel photos from Ireland, Alaska, Niagara Falls, and Roswell, New Mexico on my Goodreads Blog as part of the GSRG (Genre Specific Review Groups) Blog Hop:

2.     So, Shade, I’m a book cover art enthusiast, and I just adore your cover for, Shade, who created it and how did you all decide on the final edit?

Thanks so much!  The book cover artwork for SHADE was created by Claudia McKinney of Phatpuppy Art.  She’s an incredibly talented artist and I’m thrilled with the book cover she created for SHADE.  I’ve sometimes spent hours looking at the beautiful artwork on her website:

The final edit of the book was up to me, but Claudia’s always willing to make changes to a book cover until I’m happy with it.  In the case of SHADE, I absolutely fell in love with her cover art.

3.    Can you tell us a little bit about, Shade, and how you came up with the idea?

SHADE is about a teenaged girl with a chaotic mother.  Her full name is Galactic Shade Griffin, but she hates her full name because it’s so unusual, bullies tend to pick on her because of it.  She shortens her name to Shade and just goes by that whenever she can.  Her mother’s an alcoholic and drug addict who moves them frequently to new towns after breaking up with her boyfriends.  Shade is spunky and smart and responsible, very different from her mom.  To deal with all the stress in her life, Shade cuts.

The story begins with Shade and her mother moving once again to another new house in another new town.  This time, however, Shade encounters a ghost boy living in her attic bedroom.  It turns out that the ghost whose name is Brandon cannot move on in the afterlife until he helps someone…and helping Shade turn her life around becomes his mission.

Although SHADE deals with a number of serious issues—drug and alcohol abuse, cutting, and disturbing world events—it's primarily a novel about a teenaged girl finding out who she really is and that she's capable of so much more than she ever thought possible.

When I decided to write a YA book, I thought about a character and setting that I’d find interesting.  Once I knew the kind of person Shade would be and the type of mother she would have, I started writing their story as they moved into an old rundown Victorian house that looked haunted.  I developed the rest of the story from that point in time.

4.    Can you tell us a little about the characters in Shade, are they based off of anyone you know in real life?

The characters in this novel aren’t based on anyone in real life.  I love the main character, Shade.  She’s smart and brave and talented.  She’s extremely loyal to her friends and even to her mother, although she won’t stand for any of her mother’s chaotic behavior.  Shade’s also really funny with her sarcastic wit.

Brandon is a ghost who lived from 1959 to 1975.  He had a great deal of tragedy in his life and died tragically as well.  In order to move on in the afterlife, he has to help someone…and Shade becomes that someone.

At her new high school, Shade becomes good friends with a few students: Annie Green, Kailee Knight and George Williams.  Annie becomes her best friend.  Both Kailee and George are computer geniuses.  Annie’s a creative goth girl in total rebellion against her rather stifling wealthy family.  When Annie goes missing, Shade, Kailee, George, and Brandon the ghost switch into high gear, doing everything they can to find her.

Shade also creates her own story character when she begins designing a graphic novel featuring a superhero, Leotard Girl.  I had great fun inventing the storyline for Leotard Girl.  I’m thinking that someday I might like to publish a series of Leotard Girl graphic novels.

5.    As someone who wants to become a published author can you tell me and anyone else who may want to become a writer, a little bit about your writing process? How do you do it, over and over again? Is there a trick?

The writing process is a very emotional one for me and for many other writers—lots of highs and lows.  When I’ve worked myself to exhaustion or get stuck on a section of a book, that’s really frustrating.  However, I love most of the writing process and it’s wonderful to complete a book and realize how much I enjoyed the characters and the world I spent so much time developing.

I don’t think there’s a trick so much as a feeling.  There’s a wonderful interview conducted by Debbie Millman with author Dani Shapiro in which Dani Shapiro talks about the sensation Joan Didion called “a shimmer around the edges.”  That sensation of “a shimmer around the edges” is what draws me back to writing again and again.  Here’s how Dani Shapiro describes it: “It’s the feeling of something becoming heightened in just a moment where…I know that it’s going into a place where it’s like it’s storing itself somewhere inside of me… It is unmistakable when it happens. And then sometimes… it requires a lot of patience to make sense of it. It’s not like that shimmer happens and, Eureka!, you have a story—it’s like that shimmer happens and, sometimes, it can be years before it connects to something else that then makes the story clearer, or makes clear why it shimmered.”  That full interview can be listened to on the Brain Pickings site:

6.    Among your many novels, do you have a favorite, if so, what is it?

I really don’t think I could choose a favorite because I’ve fallen in love with so many of my characters.  I really admire Shade and I feel the same about Wiley O’Mara, the brave young boy in THE FISHERMAN’S SON series.

7.    If you could describe, Shade, to your readers in just three words, what would they be?

Smart.  Spunky.  Funny.

8.    A lot of authors leave things out of novels during the editing process, can you tell us about something you may have left out of the book, a quote, a scene, etc.?

I would have loved to have created more chapters for Leotard Girl in SHADE, but I never actually wrote more of those because I knew it would have taken away from the main story.

9.    You’re on a deserted island, and a team of minions and their fearless leader runs it. He’s allowing you to have just three books? Which three books are you taking with you and which three are you leaving behind?

Oh my goodness, that’s a really tough question!  I guess I’d take the omnibus edition of WOOL by Hugh Howey.  I’d take the graphic novel, WATCHMEN.  And…and…and…such a tough decision!  I guess I’d take THE POISONWOOD BIBLE by Barbara Kingsolver, one of my most favorite novels.

I can’t really name any books I’d purposefully leave behind.  I guess I can answer this by saying I’d have to leave all my books behind except three of them.  Phew, I got out of answering at least one tough question.  LOL.

10. Tell us about what you’re working on next? Will Shade have a sequel?

Right now, I’m writing a fan fiction story set in the universe of Hugh Howey’s WOOL series, and I’m delighted to have the complete blessing of Hugh Howey to write and publish it.  My story introduces Evangeline Hubbard, a hoarder in the silo of Hugh Howey’s first WOOL novel.  I’m now about three-quarters of the way through writing it.

And I have plans to create a series of SHADE novels.  The first book took place during Shade’s junior year of high school.  She goes from being a rather lost teenaged girl to a girl who has really started to find her voice as a writer, graphic novelist and amateur sleuth in SHADE.  I’m thinking I might write separate novels for Shade’s senior year of high school and each year of college, and in each book she would solve another important mystery.  I’ve started planning out the next two novels and I’m very excited about them!

Thanks, Marilyn!

Thanks to her offbeat mother, Shade’s full name is Galactic Shade Griffin. Having a name like that while being the new girl in school is pretty much catnip for bullies. The summer before Shade’s junior year of high school, her mother breaks up with yet another boyfriend and moves them once again to a new town.

This time, they move into a dilapidated old house where Shade has an entire attic bedroom to herself—at least until she discovers it’s haunted by the ghost of a teenaged boy named Brandon Yates. When Shade’s best friend goes missing, her life becomes even more complicated. With the help of Brandon who’s struggling with his own issues in the world beyond, Shade faces the question of whether or not she has what it takes to become a true hero.
 Keep up with Marilyn and find out more about her books:

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