Hi everyone, I’m so thrilled to feature the amazing, talented, and delicious, Myndi Shaffer, who is launching her new book, “Shrilugh.” (prounced Shree-loo)
Revenge’s sister Justice, sweet,
Stands tall in her own courtroom, keeps
A list of those who hold her dear,
And those who falsely call to her
While her dark sister whispers
Evil nothings in their ears.
That quote is from the opening pages of a her novel, titled “Shrilugh” and Myndi Shafer, is in my mind, a celebrity, because she is doing something worth celebrating! She is launching her first novel, while raising and educating four…. count them… FOUR diminutive humans — also known as children.
Myn (yeah, we’re on a nickname basis) asked me to read her book and I’m not a big fantasy reader, because so many of them are filled with cliches and that gets old very fast. But I took a chance on “Shrilugh” and I can say I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was totally enchanted by the detailed, sophisticated, and beautiful world that Myndi has created, but most of all I was moved by her characters and their adventure pulled me in and I loved the journey they took me on.
Here is the teaser from her smashwords page: A recent high-school graduate wrongly accused of trying to murder her step-sister flees her vengeful stepfather with an otherworldly stranger through a mystical Door.
So, let’s get started with our interview (which following slick magazine protocol, I’m supposed to tell you it took place at some uber-faboo restaurant in La-La-land, but it really took place on Facebook)
Rachel: “Okay, since this is technically your first celebrity interview… do you have the celebrity interview required snacks? A sleeve of Oreos, some Pringles and a diet Coke?”
Myndi: Oh my goodness, I’d KILL for a sleeve of Oreo’s right now. Preferably frozen. Actually, I’m juggling the laptop and a very happy squealing baby, so food and drink aren’t in the cards right now.
Rachel: I was just thinking back to all the celebrity interviews I read in “Vanity Fair” where the journalist had just dined with said star in some happening restaurant. There would always be references to the food. Now, tell us again, you mentioned the baby. How many do you have?
Myndi: I’ve got four rug-rats. They’re the coolest kids on the block.
Rachel: Which begs the first question: how in the heck do you find time to raise four well-adjusted junior human beings, and write fabulous prose AT THE SAME FREAKING TIME????
Myndi: In little teeny-tiny spurts. Most days I have to be content with working 15-20 minutes at a time…and that’s a long spell. On the weekends the Hubster really kicks in. I absolutely couldn’t do this without him. I swear, spouses of writers have a special place in Heaven.
Rachel: I will agree with you there, I have one who allows me time to indulge in the same quest. But 15-20 minutes is not a lot of time. Do you write off of an outline? Because “Shrilugh” has a very involved plot line, and not only that, but you had to create a “world within a world” too.
Myndi: I’m a “Pantster.” I used to be ashamed of that because every writer I know plots their outlines and then sticks to those suckers like a lifeboat next to the Titanic. I tried to plot “Shrilugh” once and was miserable writing like that. For me, writing has always felt like digging for something. At first I’m not really sure what I’m going to find, but as I go along, I can see the story beginning to take shape under the surface. “Shrilugh’s” plot is very intricate, and I had to take the time to stop and write the whole backstory for the ‘world within a world’ before I could go on. Now that I understand what happened in the past, I know exactly where to dig for the rest of the story. Does that make sense? That being said, I’m very aware of the pitfalls of writing this way. It’d be easy to allow the story to grow into this grand thing that ultimately becomes unmanageable. I work really hard at keeping the story tight. I don’t want it to be something that collapses under its own weight.
(The waiter (aka Hubster) just refilled my iced tea. I flirted with him a little.)
Rachel: (Oh, yes, we must keep the wait staff happy.) I understand both strategies, for me it’s taken me a long time to gain enough self-confidence to “pants” out a first draft. When I first started, my story lines would ramble all over the place, and I tried outlines, to keep at least the main story straight. But the problem without lines are they just become sets of facts: this happens, this happens, that happens — and you get no sense of the hero’s emotional reaction to all of those events. Tell me about your main character, Aydan. When did you first “encounter” her if that’s the correct word.
Myndi: Exactly. Outlines can sometimes feel stiff. But every writer’s different – there’s definitely no right or wrong beyond what’s right or wrong for the individual’s creative needs. I met Aydan at the foot of the silo. She was scared, and I didn’t know why. She was going to climb the ladder and go through a door that seemingly led into mid-air, and I didn’t know why. I wanted to know what her story was, what had brought her to this weird place, why she was making this weird decision.
◦ Holy cow, Alice just rolled onto her tummy.
◦ She’s showing off for auntie Rachel.
Rachel: Wow, the young Miss Took is making her presence known. In what ways are you and Aydan similar and in what ways is she different? (waves to cutie baby)
Myndi :Similarities: We both grew up in the country on horseback. Also, Aydan’s a bit of a commitment-phobe. So am I. Ask the Hubster how many times I broke up with him before I agreed to marry him. He is one VERY patient man. Biggest Differences? She’s not human. I am.
Rachel: Ooohhhh, not human? Care to give our readers a hint?
Myn: Well…that is a little spoiler-y, isn’t it? I wonder what the correct term would be…humanoid? Humanesque? Human-ish? She’s similar, but different.
Rachel: okay, that’s enough of a hint. But we should talk about one human character, when I met him, his name was Bristol. And it was hard to keep Aydan (female) and Bristol (male) clear in my head because both names were not very gender specific. Care to talk about how you reacted to my comments?
Myn: *giggle, snort*
It wasn’t the first time I’d heard this comment. But I LOVED the name Bristol. I liked the idea of him being Aydan’s bridge, her safe place over unpredictable waters. So it was a hard pill to swallow, for sure. That said, I’m super happy with the name Brig. It’s taken some getting used to, but it’s meaning is similar to Bristol, and it has the added benefit of being the name of a guy I had a serious crush on in high school. ￼
Rachel: There you go, I’m glad you came up with a solution that works for you. I just had such a hard time whenever you called him “Bris” for short. It brought up the whole Jewish baby boy thing….
Myndi:Yeah, that’s a mental image that’s guaranteed to kill any sex-appeal he might have.
Rachel: But moving on…. tell me about the hunka-hunka-burnin’ love called Rein? Did you think he’d turn out to be such a hottie?
Myndi:Oh, I had so much fun writing his character!! I love that he’s arrogant and hot and has a past…
Rachel: Like most leading men…. did you tell your hubby about him?
Myndi: Oh, yeah. The Hubster’s been there every step of the way. Thank goodness. It can be hard to write in a dude’s head, and T’s great about steering me in the right direction. When Brig makes fun of Rein’s name, that’s all T. He totally hated Rein’s name. I told him to stuff it, and then wrote his scoffing into the story.
Rachel: Good way to add depth to the story. But that does bring up an interesting issue, when you are in a character’s head, writing from their point of view, do you “see” the scene through their eyes? What is that experience like for you? And does it come easy?
Myndi: I stumble into scenes pretty easily. When I’m writing from a character’s POV, I’m usually perched on their shoulder. That can be a dangerous place to be, because I’m prone to flying from one person’s shoulder to another. I’m getting better about that, though.
Rachel: Some writers say they think of a person or group of people they are writing for, is that part of your process? Do you have someone in mind when you are writing, or is it all about discovering the story as it unfolds?
Myndi: I don’t have a group of people in mind. The story just comes. This makes the process of writing (for me, anyway) really pleasurable, because I’m not trying to fit the story into a box. I can just enjoy it as it blossoms. When it comes time to publish, it gets trickier because I don’t have a story that fits neatly in one genre. I’ve really struggled what label to put on the book. Fantasy? Romance? Young Adult? Mostly I’m just striving to write the kind of book that I’d enjoy reading.
Rachel: I think most writers are faced with the same problem: how do I stay true to the story as it comes to me and yet think about marketing. I’m in the “build it and they will come” school in that with all the energy and care you put into the story, that energy will magnetize the audience, the people who need to find it will….. or am I sounding too “Shrilugh-ey”???
Myndi: Sugar, there’s no such thing as too much “Shrilugh!” Yep, I totally agree with you. And in the end, it has to be something that I’m satisfied with. If I’d tried to force it into a mold, I don’t think I’d have as much satisfaction with the end product. It might make it a little harder to market (writing without an audience in mind), but that’s okay with me.
Rachel: Okay, the oreos are half gone, and the Diet Coke is getting low, what else would you like our fair readers to know about “Shrilugh” before we sign off?
Myndi: Thanks so much for visiting with me! Maybe next time we’ll get to chat under a Hawaiian sun, yeah?
Rachel: Of course, so tell our readers where we can find this amazing book of yours?
Myndi: “Shrilugh” is available to purchase at Smashwords and Amazon, and HOPEFULLY by the 30th it’ll be available at B&N, too. I’m really hopeful that the paperback copies through CreateSpace will be available soon as well. I’ll get you those links in a minute, if that’s cool. “Shrilugh’s” sequel, the Darkening, will be available in October.
There you have it folks, and do please check out Miss Myndi’s fabulous blog, if you ever need a great pick-me up, Myndi is the girl to turn to. And do you have any questions for our celebrity? Please feel free to post them here. Thanks so much for stopping by.