Linda Seed, author: Q&A With Author Shannyn Schroeder

Q&A With Author Shannyn Schroeder

One of the things I’d like to do on this blog is introduce you to authors I think you’ll enjoy. Shannyn Schroeder is the author of The O’Learys series of contemporary romances, the Hot and Nerdy series of new adult romance novellas, and the upcoming For Your Love series, with the first book scheduled for release in June. Shannyn was kind enough to tell us a little bit about herself, and I hope it will inspire you to give her books a whirl if you haven’t already.

LS: How did you get started as a writer?

SS: To a certain degree, I’ve always been a writer. I wrote mostly poetry and short pieces throughout high school and college. Once I started teaching, however, writing got pushed aside. I came back to writing after staying at home with my kids.

LS: What led you to the romance genre?

SS: Purely an accident. I was an English major and a literature snob. However, I’ve always been a reader, and because I read so much, I’m always looking for a bargain. While grocery shopping one day, I picked up a two-for-one book at Costco by Nora Roberts. The Return of Rafe MacKade was my introduction to romance. Even after reading the books, I didn’t realize they were categorized as romance until I went to the bookstore to get more by the author—yeah, I had no idea who Nora Roberts was. Imagine my surprise when I found her in the romance section.

LS: What does a typical workday look like for you? Do you have any writing rituals?

SS: There really is no typical day for me. I have three kids and a few part-time jobs so I fit writing in around all the other things I do. For example, my youngest had an orthodontist appointment the other day at six a.m. I am not a morning person, but since I had to be up and I was stuck sitting in the office, I wrote. For as long as I’ve been at this writing/publishing thing, I’ve worked around swim practice, dance class, tae kwon do, anything. Even before I had a laptop, I wrote in a notebook and then typed it all late at night. Basically, I make writing fit in whenever I can, but I do write almost every day.

LS: You tend to write about working-class Chicagoans. Do you feel a special affinity for them? Is that your background?

SS: I definitely write what I know when it comes to the background of my characters. I have a strong affinity for them because it’s how I grew up—and although I live in the suburbs now, it’s not all that different. I grew up knowing what it was like to worry about bills. I only knew people who truly depended on having a job. While I wasn’t poor, I’ve never been rich, either. I think part of why I love writing about working-class Chicagoans is that for me, they’re real people. They’re people I might run into, and I think all readers like to be able to connect with characters in that way.

LS: Your new adult Hot & Nerdy novellas deal with college students who are, shall we say, socially challenged. Does this have personal relevance for you? Were you a band geek?

SS: Ha! No, I am not at all like my Hot & Nerdy characters. I can’t read music or play an instrument, and math and computer code confuse me. I’ve always been nerdy—my love for reading and writing and learning—but nowhere near as cool as my characters are. However, a couple of my Hot & Nerdy characters are more socially challenged than others, and in all honesty they were the easiest for me to write. I’m about as socially challenged as they come. I can’t make small talk. I often put my foot in my mouth without realizing it. I’m pretty much a wallflower until I feel comfortable in a group.

LS: Did your own experience teaching young people help you in writing the Hot & Nerdy novellas?

SS: At first, I didn’t think so, but when I’m teaching my college classes, I listen to my students. Not just in class, but when they’re talking to each other before class and during break. I pay attention to how they communicate and what’s important to them. In that respect, being a teacher has definitely helped.

LS: What books have inspired you as an author?

SS: This is so hard to answer because there are so many. As I said, I came to romance late in life compared to most. But when I did, I inhaled books, long before I had any idea that I might want to write one.

LS: What is one book you think every romance fan should read?

SS: Again, this is impossible to answer. I think it really depends on what you like and where you are in your life. For me, I read tons of romantic suspense when I first got into the genre. Tess Gerritsen, Allison Brennan, and Iris Johansen were favorites. But then I realized that I couldn’t write romantic suspense. My voice didn’t fit. I was drafting More Than This and knew it was straight up contemporary, but I had hardly read any (except for my foray into the genre with Nora Roberts).  Then I read Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie and I fell in love with contemporary. It’s definitely one that I recommend for people who want to see what the genre is really about.

LS: Which of your own novels is your favorite, and why?

SS: We’re not supposed to have favorites, but I’m not ashamed to say I do. Of my O’Leary books, Catch Your Breath is my favorite. Moira was so much fun to write that I kind of fell in love with her. And Jimmy (*sigh*)—he’s just an all-around good guy who takes care of everyone. Moira and Jimmy pop up in my new series because it’s a spin-off of the O’Learys where Jimmy’s siblings all get their HEA. I love visiting with them.

LS: What’s the most challenging thing about being an author? Is it the writing itself? The marketing? Dealing with negative reviews?

SS: Self-promo sucks. And I’m not really good at it. It’s something we have to do and I try, but I never know how effective anything I’m doing is. The other parts of being a writer—the drafting, revising, edits, reviews—I can handle that. We all have good days and bad days for those pieces, but for me, there never seems to be a good day when it comes to promo. I’m not a salesperson so I feel inept.

LS: What’s your advice for writers trying to get a start in the business?

SS: Write. A lot. And read so you know what’s out there and selling. Then write some more. Be true to yourself. Don’t write something just because it’s “hot” right now. If you can, join a writer’s group. Without my local RWA chapter (Chicago-North RWA), I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today. Most important, don’t give up.

LS: What are you working on now?

SS: I’m drafting the third For Your Love book, Through Your Eyes. I’m also working on promo for the Hot & Nerdy 2 anthology that will release at the end of May and promo for Under Your Skin that releases at the end of June. (Yeah, it’s a long way off, but it’s my first title in mass market print so I’m getting a head start.)

LS: Do you think you’ll always write contemporary romance, or do you see yourself branching out into other genres?

SS: I started out writing romantic suspense (and those manuscripts are tucked away forever). There’s a part of me that often wants to go back to that, but my voice fits well with contemporary romance. Plus, I have about a million story ideas and they’re all contemporary, so I’m not going anywhere any time soon.

Visit Shannyn's website to learn more.