Deb here and, after readig THE BLUE CLOAK, I'm pleased to share some questions I had for Author Shannon McNear. I have a special fondness for this wonderful author because I can honestly say she's just an extraordinary person too!
So many questions came up for me while listening to this story on audio. But so many were answered in the heartfelt message Shannon shared at the end of a book no one could ever call 'a light read'. Here's what I came up with:
Deb: Do you ever estimate the amount of time you put in to research for a book? Of course knowledge gained over the years counts but hard to figure into this question! Given the amount of details from a time when records were sketchy, where does THE BLUE CLOAK fall into that?
SHANNON: It's VERY hard for me to estimate how much time I'll need for research. I had back-to-back deadlines on both this one and The Rebel Bride, and was working very fast. On Rebel Bride, I had only four months between actual contract and deadline, and then it was just four more months to my deadline on Blue Cloak. I did use small breaks while working on Rebel Bride to surf for possible sources on Blue Cloak, so I'd be ready to go once the first was turned in. The subject matter was difficult on both, and I hated feeling rushed, but I determined to dig in and devour as much as I could. I basically read and read (and make notes) until I feel the story come alive enough for me to begin writing. That part took most of a month for Blue Cloak. (I'm looking at my word count log, and I only made it to about 4500 words by the end of April, but then it took off from there.) Even then, research is constant as I'm fact-checking and digging deeper into certain aspects of the story. I would have LOVED to travel to Danville and Stanford and find out if those court records still exist!
Of course, then there's the issue of things surfacing so late in the game that I have trouble figuring out how and where to work them in ...
Deb: Absolutely! Things surface when the book is nearly done and that's what I like about adding an "author's note"!
What writing projects did you dive in to after THE BLUE CLOAK and did you feel you needed to write something lighter? And did you have that option?
SHANNON: Honestly? I was so exhausted, I just wanted a break!! My next, almost immediate, next project was a novella titled The Wise Guy and the Star, part of Love's Pure Light, a Christmas romance collection to release this September. It's a generational thing centered around a Nativity, and my story is set in 1919. It felt strange, and almost wrong, to be writing so light right on the heels of Blue Cloak, and despite not really "feeling" the story, initial feedback has been good, so ... I'm hopeful it's worthwhile. (I'll be honest, though, my co-authors are so amazing, I think all their stories are wonderful! I have the honor of sharing space with Deborah Raney, Susanne Dietze, and Janine Roche on this one.)
Deb: Another Barbour novella I am anticipating!
On the same topic of how writing tends to exhaust emotionally, what story of yours, novel or novella, was the most joy to write and why?
Deb: Thanks so much for the chance to chat, Shannon, and your prompt and off-the-cuff answers. We wish you the best in all your upcoming projects and some much needed peaceful downtime too!
Coming tomorrow, Rebecca and Paula share their reviews of this much-talked-about story!
Shannon provided me with an ARC and I bought the audiobook as well. I was completely immersed in this story! While it covers a very dark period of history, I didn't feel it overwhelmed the experience. In fact, I was so very impressed with how Shannon McNear was able to balance all aspects of this story. Not only is she an incredible author, but she had a way of keeping hope and 'light' in every chapter!
Interested in more? See THE BLUE CLOAK at Amazon