Tell us something about yourself. A mini-biography of sorts.
Shaunna Gonzales has toyed with writing since her teenage years but has only written in earnest since 2005. In an effort to give Dark Days of Promise an authentic feel she endeavored to include some experiences of veterans she knows and could often be found discussing the realities of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) in their lives and how it could honestly be shared in this project. On the evening of this books first promotion, she realized that the scope of PTSD reaches deep into the core of our society and includes infants, children, housewives, the working and unemployed as well as veterans; in short, all of us. In an effort to treat this subject fairly, Ms. Gonzales has altered her writing course from “romance with a twist” to helping our society, sufferers and innocents alike to becoming aware. It is more than those who experience the violence, more than the victims who experience this debilitating disease that are affected. It is their families, the bystander of violent crime and all of us who dare to care for and love them.
Shaunna currently resides in the Seattle, Washington area, with her husband, and their two younger children.
Did you always want to be a writer?
Actually I did when I was in school until my older sister got rejected by one of the big four and I figured “If my sister, the English Major, can’t get published, how can I? I know… I was young and blonde to the roots!
What part of writing do you find the most fun? the most difficult?
I won’t call writing fun. Enjoyable? definitely but not fun.
How much of your personal life do you incorporate in your writing?
Probably more than I should. I nearly fell over when my sister made the comment, “I didn’t know how much of a flirt you are. But here’s the proof.” She handed me the manuscript she’d just finished. I’m not a flirt, at least I don’t think so.
Tell us a little about what you’re working on right now.
My current WIP is a Time-Travel Romance. It has a very different feel. The research is done as I grew up where the story is set and I’ve heard some of the stories, or dreamed them for a good portion of my life. I hope that it will find a home as part of a series. The trick will be the time constraints of a contract. I plan to flip back and forth between the two genres. Novels like Dark Days of Promise take a lot out of me because I get so involved with the people I research.
Is there anything surprising you’ve learned about the publishing industry that you’d like to share with us?
The promoting is more work than the writing and take s a lot more time.
There are lots of rules out there, like “show, don’t tell” and “don’t use adverbs”. Are there any rules that you break and why?
“Tie all the laces.” As in– don’t leave any loose ends. With Romantic Suspense I follow that rule, but not with this Time-Travel and the only reason why that I can put my finger on is: “It’s just supposed to be that way this time.” Lame, I know.
What’s the most rewarding aspect about writing?
Doing what I love and being good at it. Finishing a project deserves a major happy dance but not too much partying, ’cause it’s tough to get back to work.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve learned so far?
Write for yourself, not anyone else. Write what you know and what you are passionate about.
Do you feel you chase the market or do you write from the heart, knowing you’re writing the best you can and someone will eventually publish your work?
I used to be vain enough that I thought I could write anything. Wow, was I wrong. I write for myself ’cause that’s when the finished product that is good.
How would you describe your writing style and genre?
I’m a panster. I know the ending and a few scenes in the middle, but if I plan it out too tight, I lose interest.
I love character-driven novels myself. Can you tell me where you got the ideas for some of your characters and describe a few of them?
Kelly Chase (Dark Days of Promise) took this novel in his hands and threw it over his shoulder onto the floor. He then stared at me and said, “You figure out why.”
Do you create challenges for your characters to overcome and why?
Of course I do. If a character is too comfortable for too long they and the reader fall asleep.
What challenges you personally in your writing?
Making my current WIP better than the last.
Do you work on paper or a computer?
I work on the computer because I can’t read my own writing three seconds after I’ve written it.
At home or in an office?
My commute takes me from the kitchen to the living room. Not a long commute but one that I hate during the summer. Maybe soon I will have a longer commute, God willing.
What time of day do you write and why? How much do you write a day?
I have to write without distractions of any kind. No phone, no family members and no music. Dogs are the exception to the rule. I write for as long or and little as the muse attends me. Early on I would write all night. Of late, I sneak in the writing when I can. And it isn’t long enough.
The inevitable: are you a plotter or a pantser?
Tell us three quirky facts about yourself that we wouldn’t normally find out.
1. I rarely drink anything but water. Sleepy Time Tea at night to help me unwind.
2. We, my family and I, have moved more than 24 times.
3. I write better than I talk–probably because I can edit my words.
Do you have any favorite websites and/or blogs that you avidly follow?
I probably should but I don’t.
Who is your favorite author in the whole world and why.
I really don’t have a favorite. My taste changes. For example: I love cozy murder mysteries–probably because I can’t write one! I enjoy a good clean romance and a well written novel in general.
And, lastly, who has impacted your writing the most?
That is a toughy. I’m religious and certainly God has had and continues to have a major impact. But I think you’re asking within the human realm. That honor has to go to the women of ANWA, one of the writing groups to which I belong.
While Vicki’s children grapple with the death of their father — a man whom she’s successfully fabricated as loving, a lie her rebellious teenager recognizes — she must find a way to support her family and find a role model for her boys. She never intends to fall for Staff Sergeant Chase, her best friend’s son, who suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). She’d much rather choose a safer man to love, but her children have a voice in the decision she makes. With two deaths to deal with, a suitor after her money, a rebellious son, and Sergeant Chase’s repeated attacks, she can only hope to survive the danger she faces. If she doesn’t, her children will be left without either parent.
Visit Shaunna at http://www.shaunnagonzales.blogspot.com