Friday, April 27, 2012

Friday Firsts with YA author Shannon Kennedy

The first five sentences of... THROW AWAY TEEN

Who cares if it’s a beautiful April day? The glare of the sunshine on the windshield is killing my eyes. I wish Carol would hurry up and get her butt out of the youth center already. She sent me out here to wait in her Ford Escort that’s older than I am. Whenever I bitch about the decrepit rust-bucket, Carol just shrugs and says the would-be wreck is paid for.

Available September 2012 from Black Opal Books

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What was the first romance you ever read?

The first romance I ever read was a sweet category story, Roses in December by Essie Summers –at least I think that was the title. It was about a young woman who crossed a riverbed in New Zealandonly to find herself trapped by a winter storm on a remote sheep station. Along the way she fell in love with the owner – it was a great story and I learned not to read the end of the book first!

Tell me about the first novel you ever wrote? What ever happened to it?

At eighteen, I was fascinated with romance. I had read tons of them growing up and they were my favorite fantasy. I always wanted a hero on a white horse to rescue me although I knew it would never happen. Life in a single-parent household taught reality. Men came with baggage and they always expected women to buy the suitcases. One of my first jobs was on a reserve Army base and my boss allowed me to use the office typewriter to type my first book.

While I happily typed away on my masterpiece, Ed occasionally looked over my shoulder. If he felt my hero was turning into a jerk, or worse acting like a coward, Ed told me so. My orders ran out about the time I finished the novel, so I bundled up my baby and shipped it off to Harlequin Books in Canada. I didn’t know anything about the publishing business, so I mailed the only copy I had. In addition to this no-no, I also didn’t have a clue about setting up a manuscript. I finished each chapter and began the next one on the same page, a fatal flaw. I also used up every scrap of paper and didn’t worry about such things as margins, or double spacing the lines of text.

Worst of all, while the man my heroine thought she loved was dashing, romantic and charming – he was also unfaithful, dishonest and nasty, a little too much like the real life I knew about. She ended up with her nice, quiet, dull best friend, Toby – the kind of guy a woman could spend a lifetime loving, but he wasn’t a traditional romance hero. Still, as a Vietnam veteran, he didn’t have a problem handling the garbage my heroine threw at him – he could duck.

Long story short, Harlequin didn’t buy the book and I spent years learning to perfect my craft. I still have that book tucked away in a box and one day I’ll probably rewrite it and make it work.

If you could live your life over again, what’s the first thing you’d do differently or change?

I would follow all my dreams instead of letting anyone talk me out of them. I stopped and waited too many times – I didn’t quit on those dreams, I just didn’t pursue them wholeheartedly because I had such tremendous gaps in my knowledge. For example, I knew in high school that I wanted to be an English teacher, but it took me far too long to obtain my teaching certificate– I was almost 50. I didn’t know the questions to ask my college advisor and so now I tell teens how to find the answers. As the saying goes, “You’re never given a dream without being given the power to make it come true.”

More about Shannon: As a child, I loved to dream away the days in an old cherry tree on my family’s pony farm. It was my favorite place to read books. Now, I write mainstream western romance and young adult realistic fiction. I used the setting of the pony farm for my second romance from BookStrand. The Daddy Spell is a finalist in the Colorado RWA Award of Excellence contest. Today I live on the family ranch in the Cascade foothills of Washington State. Some days are longer and harder than others, but I still write from 8PM to 2AM, seven days a week. As a substitute school teacher, I love the school breaks but I’m just as busy, since there are 36 horses to look after, along with other assorted animals.

With all the critters on the ranch, I don’t have time for a husband. As for kids, I have to give back the ones who come to learn how to ride at the end of each day. Now, I’m teaching the kids and grandkids of the ones I taught way back when we started. I’ve had a lot of adventures over the years – and in my next 50 years, I plan to write all about them. I hope you enjoy reading about them!

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