Author Interviews

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Friday, 3 May 2013

Author interview with Joyce Shaughnessy (revisited)

Back in March 2013, I interviewed author Joyce Shaughnessy for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with historical novelist and multi-genre short story author Joyce Shaughnessy. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Joyce. Please tell what genre you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Joyce: Historical fiction is the genre in which all three of my published books are written.  Since finishing my last one in December, I have started writing short stories.  I’m trying to stretch my wings a little.  I’ve done some horror and humor.  They each required a lot of imagination, but none of the research.  They were fun to write.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
all 3 books 007
Joyce: I’ve published three books – A Healing Place (2010), Blessed Are the Merciful (2011) and The Unsurrendered (January 2013).
Morgen: You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Joyce: They are all self-published.  The main reason was time spent trying to get an agent, etc.  I wrote a murder mystery in 2009 and tried to get an agent.  I don’t think the book was as good as the three I published.  But I was 59 at the time and decided that if I was going to publish before I was decrepit, that I should self-publish. I’m 62 now and don’t see myself slowing down.
Morgen: As long as you’re enjoying it, please don’t. :) Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Joyce: Yes, all three are in HB, SB, and e-book.
Morgen: Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Joyce: It’s hard to choose. The books become like my babies, but I guess it would be Molly from A Healing Place. I modelled her after my mother, who died when I was 14.  Jacob in The Unsurrendered also is a favorite.  I see Emma Stone as Molly and Matt Damon as Jacob, the spy.
Morgen: A great combination. I’ve only recently discovered Emma Stone but she’s fantastic. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books?
Blessed coverJoyce: I chose all of the titles. The cover for Blessed was not what I asked for, but it’s okay.
Morgen: I like it. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Joyce: Just writing short stories, my blog at, and marketing.
Morgen: You clearly enjoy writing, have you ever suffered from writer’s block?
Joyce: Thankfully, I have never suffered from writer’s block.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Joyce: I plot the stories in my head. But all of my books are historical fiction, so I had to research and catalogue articles and parts of reference books, but I never have written an outline.  Talk about writer’s block – that would do it for sure!
Morgen: :) Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Joyce: I lean on history and imagine characters fitting into it.  The names are sometimes the hardest part.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Joyce: No, I do a lot of editing, and my husband helps.  He reads everything I do.  Then I have professional editors read it.
Morgen: It’s always important to have second (third, fourth) opinions. Do you have to do much research?
Joyce: Tons!  For this last book, I researched for six months before I wrote a word.
Morgen: Wow. What point of view do you find most to your liking?
A Healing PlaceJoyce: I have written my books in third person.  I’ve written my stories in first person and it’s been easier and more fun, but then there’s been no research involved.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Joyce: Yes, my murder mystery.  Unless I can find a way to change it and make it more believable.
Morgen: I like to think it’s all about practice, and putting a project away so it’s ‘fresh’ when you go back to it. Have you had any rejections?
Joyce: I received rejections from the unpublished manuscript, and I expected them.
Morgen: Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Joyce: No.  I do think they are vital in traditional publishing.
Morgen: Do you do much marketing for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Joyce: Yes. I have a website, and my blog.  I am trying to establish my credibility as a writer.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Joyce: My passion for it has surprised me – even my ability.  I love it all.
Morgen: Me too. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Joyce: Write. Write. Write.  Over and over.  You will find what kind of writing you love most if you keep trying.  Also, writing clubs are essential because you’ll be exposed to so many kinds of writing.
Morgen: I run or belong to four and they’re great. If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, whom would you choose?
Joyce: Eleanor Roosevelt, Douglas MacArthur, and Churchill
Morgen: Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Joyce: I have a writers club I love.  There are only eight of us, and we bring writing to each month’s meeting to read aloud and be critiqued and helped.  We all write so differently and it really is a lot of fun.
Morgen: Isn’t it just. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Joyce:  The groups I most enjoy are: historical novels and authors helping authors.
Morgen: LinkedIn is great. So many helpful people and interesting topics. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Joyce: Someday the only books that exist outside of libraries will be e-books.  My husband and I have a large collection of hardbooks, and we hate the trend.
Morgen: I don’t think paper books will disappear. They will certainly be less evident but both formats will run alongside. I’ve interviewed over 700 authors and less than a handful have said they only read eBooks. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Joyce: Thank you for your time.  I think it’s wonderful when writers support the works of other writers.  I try to interview a writer every two weeks after reading his / her book.
Morgen: You’re very welcome. It’s great that you get to read your interviewees’ books. I interview two authors a day on my two main blogs ( and so that’s sadly impossible for me. Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Joyce: Is there a reason why you decided to devote so much time to your blog?  Do you enjoy it?
Morgen: I do, although I do sometimes get discouraged at how much time it takes away from my own writing but there are so many authors who want to be involved that I do feel it’s worth it. I just need to find a better balance. I re-started my 5pm fiction slot last Friday which means I get to write a short story every day (and post them at 5pm UK time daily) which does make me feel better. :) Thank you, Joyce.
I then invited Joyce to include a synopsis of one of her books…
UnsurrenderedThe Unsurrendered is a romantic historical novel about a partisan group in the Philippines during WWII.  Jacob, a secret agent, and his wife, Carla, a Filipina, join the forces to fight behind enemy lines. The name comes from the soldiers sent by MacArthur during the fateful battle of Corregidor, which he knew would be lost.  He sent them as “unsurrendered soldiers” to aid the Filipinos in their fight to save their islands.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on the mixed blog but everything else (see Opportunities on the main blog) is free.
Alternatively, if you’d like a free Q&A-only interview, I now have this blog,, on which I’ve rerun the original interviews posted here then posted new interviews which I then reblog here. These interviews are Q&A only, so I don’t add in my comments but they do get exposure on both sites.
If you go for the interview, it’s very simple; I send you a questionnaire (I have them for novelists, short story authors, children’s authors, non-fiction authors, and poets). You complete the questions, and I let you know when it’s going to go live. Before it does so, I add in comments as if we’re chatting, and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know.
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