Friday, June 18, 2010

Guest:Shawn Grady

By Jillian Kent

What other way could we end our week about heroes than with a real live hero, Shawn Grady, fireman and paramedic. One of the brave who responds in dangerous situations where lives are on the line.

The last time Shawn was here we were talking about his debut novel, Through the Fire, and now he's got a new book to be released July 1, 2010 called: Tomorrow We Die.

ABOUT TODAYS HERO: Shawn signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named "Most Promising New Writer" at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference.Shawn has served for over a decade as a firefighter and paramedic in northern Nevada. The line of duty has carried him to a variety of locale, from high-rise fires in the city to the burning heavy timber of the eastern Sierras. Shawn currently lives in Reno, Nevada. He enjoys spending time in the outdoors with his wife, three children and yellow Labrador.

The first line of Shawn's new book is, "I spent the day chasing the Angel of Death." How's that for a hook? The heroes in Tomorrow We Die are paramedic Jonathan Trestle and Flight Nurse Naomi Foster.

I asked Shawn three specific questions to kick off this blog post today.

1) Who are the heroes in your life?

My wife and her love for the Lord, for me, and for our children. I couldn�t write the books I do without her. Her advocacy, servant heart and perceptive spirit are tremendous blessings.

My mother. Throughout her life and the various challenges therein she has loved the Lord with all her heart. I grew up seeing Jesus in her. She is patient, joyful, and persistently prayerful.

My father-in-law. I really look up to his love for the Word and family and his marriage of over 34 years.

2) What's the most heroic act you've witnessed first hand?

It's tempting to say seeing two firemen emerge with no hoseline from a singlewide trailer that's more than half involved in fire with two unconscious children in their arms. That's pretty darn cinematically heroic. And hose children are alive and well now because of it.

But I think heroism that the Lord clearly sees and that we often only get to glimpse is of the foundational and consistently growing variety, like a well built bridge that supports hundreds of thousands of travelers over many, many years without fail, like a garden that flourishes and bears many and increasing good fruits. The father who loves his children, the spouses who love each other, the churches that care for each other and their communities. That is heroism. Love is heroism.

3) What heroic qualities does a hero have to possess to find a place in your novels?

My protagonists in Through the Fire and Tomorrow We Die possess the ability to overcome the obstacles and challenges in their lives, the walls that, were they not to be scaled, would serve as roadblocks in their personal and spiritual growth. They find the courage that comes through faith to pursue their hopes and to transcend the difficulties they're battling through.

Please jump in and ask Shawn your questions. It's not every day we get to share our thoughts with a guy here at the Inkwell. We're really thrilled you could spend some time with us Shawn and I know you're too humble to consider yourself a hero, but you are!


Charity Benefit Book Launch Party
Hosted by Barnes and Noble and Reno Artown
Saturday July 10 from 1-3pm in Reno, NV.
Everyone is invited to come celebrate the release of Tomorrow We Die with a book signing, fire engine exhibitions, raffle prizes and refreshments. A check will be presented to the Reno Firefighters Community Assistance Program aiding victims of fire tragedy and B&N will donate 10% of book proceeds to Reno Artown in support of local arts.

Visit Shawn's website at


  1. Hey Jilly, nice job!

    Welcome back Shawn! A second book already? I'm sure to you it feels like a long time coming. Congratuations! I hope you have a very successful book party tomorrow in Reno.

    What are some of your favorite authors? Do you generally read in the genre' you write? What is your writing schedule like?

  2. Thanks for giving us a peek into the man behind the books, Shawn. (And your books look great, too!)

  3. Glad to have you back, Shawn. It must be kind of like being a male guest on "The View."

    So are your books geared more to men, or do you think they are anyone? I've heard not as many men read these days. What do you think guys are looking for in a book?

  4. Hi Gang,
    I'm sure Shawn will be along shortly. Remember we have a time difference and I'm not sure what his work schedule is like today.

    Shawn, what have you learned between the time your first book came out and now your second related to the writing, marketing, and the balance between home and work?

    Dina, you're a riot! "The View." :)

  5. Congratulations Shawn! I look forward to reading your books!

  6. Hi All!
    Jill- you're right about the time difference. It's only two o'clock my time and I'm way behind the eight ball! Thank you so much for inviting me here, I'm humbled and grateful for the kind words *blush* :)

  7. Debra-

    Great questions. I read across genres and styles. The biggest thing that draws me to a book is voice. I tend to not read dust jacket copy. I want to be surprised with the plot. On occasion I'll pick up a book solely based on premise, but if the voice doesn't sell me on the first page or two, then I usually wont read it.

    Leif Enger, Ernest Hemingway, Orson Scott Card are a few of my favorite authors. And of course, Jillian Kent. Her submission to Jim Bell's mentoring group a few years back is still vivid in my head. -That lady knows how to write horses! No surprise that she landed a three book deal.

  8. As far as writing schedule goes, we don't have much in the way of unplanned hours in the week. My wife makes it possible for me to have about four hours on my weekday days off from the fire department in order to write. Depending on how my 24 hour shifts fall that week, that may only be two days worth of writing. We plan out a weekly word count to make so that we know we'll be able to get the first draft in on time.

    I am still working on a busy fire company, so my days in between shifts can be sleep deprived and challenging for making word count. If it seems like Aidan in Through the Fire was tired a lot coming home after running calls through the night, it's probably because I was tired when I wrote that part.

  9. Great to have you back again, Shawn. Thanks for sharing with us and best wishes on your big party in Reno next month! I'll be on the lookout for your new release.

  10. Thanks, D'Ann. Big props to Paul Higdon and the design team at BHP.

  11. Dina-
    lol! I do feel like I'm on The View.

    Both books have a romantic subplot with a female lead which most female readers really like. Tomorrow We Die is even stronger in that aspect with Flight Nurse Naomi Foster playing a key role in Jonathan's life both spiritually and emotionally as well as outwardly with the plot.

    Every guy is different in regard to books.

    Marketing teams will aim for certain groups and you see it on book covers- bonnets and buggies vs. American icons and rifle scope cross hairs.

    But I think great fiction is predominantly universal in its appeal.

  12. Jill-
    I've learned that it doesn't get easier. I had one day to go, "phew, I'm done with TOMORROW WE DIE", before starting the first draft of my third book, FALLS LIKE LIGHTNING.

    We have to consistently list out priorities and apply the time God has given us, knowing in faith that He has given us everything we need for life. We make a strong point to protect our time as a married couple and our time as a family together with our kids.

  13. Hi Shawn,
    You know how God doesn't make any mistakes? I can't help but wonder sometimes where I'd be if I hadn't gone to Mt. Hermon and Jim Bell's mentoring group. It seemed a big turning point in my writing life.

    Oh and thanks for being so sweet.

    Speaking of horses. If you remember (your not on the spot here, really) we were talking on-line one time about the term "horsing around." Since a few of us write historicals can you explain that term as it related to fire-fighting way back when?

    Also, my guess is you are a plotter because of the time factor. I used to be a pantser but I'm learning to plot. Jim Bell's book on plotting has helped me a lot. Do you have any other thoughts along those lines?

    I'm getting ready to take my hubby out to dinner for his birthday, so I'm outta here. :)

    Thanks so much for joining us today Shawn. We all love having you here. Tell Sarah Beth we appreciate her sharing you with us.
    Have a great Father's Day weekend.

  14. Congratulations Shawn! I look forward to reading your books!
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