Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Author: Shannon Dittemore Interview and Giveaway!

I'd like to welcome Shannon Dittemore to the blog today to celebrate and promote the most recent release in her Angel Eyes series! Welcome to Books à la Mode, Shannon! Let's get this interview started.

Will you please share a brief bio with us?

Shannon is a wife and mother. A sister. A daughter. A friend. She was raised in Northern California by her parents—pastors of their local church and constant figures of inspiration.

Angel Eyes was Shannon’s debut novel and the launch of a young adult supernatural trilogy. It was published in the summer of 2012 by Thomas Nelson. The sequel Broken Wings was released February 19, 2013, and the final novel in the trilogy, Dark Halo, will be available August 20, 2013.

Shannon is represented by Holly Root of the Waxman Leavell Literary Agency and is an active member of Inspire Christian Writers of Sacramento.

“I’m a firm believer that books open doors into the imagination and remind us that we should venture there often. We should dream. We should try hard things. We should be fearless. And while there are many obstacles that stand in the way, I hope my stories remind readers that life is to be lived. Pain is to be tackled. Mountains are to be climbed. And while you may fall into dark places along the way, light is as close as the prayer on your lips.”

What is the second installment of your trilogy about?

Brielle sees the world as it really is: a place where the Celestial exists side by side with human reality. But in the aftermath of a supernatural showdown, her life begins to crumble. Her boyfriend, Jake, is keeping something from her—something important. Her overprotective father has started drinking again. He’s dating a much younger woman who makes Brielle’s skin crawl, and he’s downright hostile toward Jake. Haunting nightmares keep Brielle from sleeping, and flashes of Celestial vision keep her off kilter.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s been targeted. The Prince of Darkness himself has heard of the boy with healing in his hands and of the girl who sees through the Terrestrial Veil. When he plucks the blind demon, Damien, from the fiery chasm and sends him back to Earth with new eyes, the stage is set for a cataclysmic battle of good versus evil.

Then Brielle unearths the truth about her mother’s death and she must question everything she ever thought was true.

Brielle has no choice. She knows evil forces are converging and will soon rain their terror down upon the town of Stratus. She must master the weapons she’s been given. She must fight.

But can she fly with broken wings?

What was your inspiration to write it?

When I decided to write a novel, angels were the most natural thing in the world for me to examine. I’m the oldest daughter of a preacher and I have a creative flair to boot. As a church brat, I was part of a travelling team that did drama and mime, puppetry and dance. I’ve played some sort of an angelic force in more ways than I can number. Angels and demons have always been on the backdrop of my storytelling experience and when I stumbled upon the concept of the halo, an entirely new door opened up to me. It was fun to push through and let my imagination fill in the blanks.

That's one of the most interesting backstories I've ever heard! And it seems like you were just meant for it. Tell us about your publishing journey—the hardships, unexpected obstacles, and things you picked up along the way.

You think you’re ready, you know? To have your characters and thoughts out there for others to pick through. But I don’t know that anything can prepare you for that. There are such highs and lows which is to be expected, I think, in a profession that keeps you locked inside your own imagination for such lengths. When I first signed that three-book deal, I felt like I could fly. Felt like I could do anything. And then ANYTHING showed up in the form of work. Lots of it. And time away from the world. And lots of opinions to process. These are sacrifices I was happy to make, but at times I understood just how unprepared I was.

Gah, the work never ends. Once you're in you're not really "in" because of the entire editing process! Are the characters from your book based off anyone you know in real life? How much else of your actual life gets written into your novels?

Not usually, although I did steal the identity of our door greeter at church and slip her into Broken Wings, sparkly heels and all. I cherry-pick traits from friends and family members on occasion and give them to my characters. I’ve given a character in Broken Wings the name of my youngest sister, and in Dark Halo my middle sister makes an appearance. It’s a fun way to immortalize them.

It's awesome how as an author, you can select which traits you've seen in real life are moulded into which character you create, isn't it? You create a whole new person. What do you consider your biggest strengths and weaknesses as an author? 

I think my biggest strength is that I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty. I like sitting in my office chair and creating worlds. I like hacking them to pieces when they don’t work and I don’t take for granted the opportunities I’ve been given.

My biggest weakness is that because I’m an all-or-nothing kind of girl; I tend to burn out quickly. One day, I’m loving my characters and the next, I never want to see them again. I’m working on balance. But balance is an elusive little dancer, isn’t she?

Agreed, sometimes my enthusiasm about my own make-believe characters fizzles out way too quickly! Name the top five novels that have made the biggest impact on your life or on your writing.

So many novels have made an impact. Let’s see if I can narrow them down:
  1. The Hunger Games. I read this one at a very important time in my writing journey. I was working on Angel Eyes but was struggling with a passive voice. The Hunger Games introduced the idea of first-person, present tense to me and I knew immediately my novel needed that immediacy. 
  2. Harry Potter. JK Rowling’s world is really what brought me back to children’s and YA fiction. I can’t thank her enough for that. And her world building? Amazing. 
  3. The Count of Monte Cristo. I read this one with a couple friends. We took turns reading it out loud to one another at random coffee houses, bookstores, and parks throughout the Portland, Oregon area. Some of my very best memories are wrapped up in my love of that book. 
  4. On Writing. Stephen King has a way of making things very real, very personal, and very applicable. I think the magic of this book is that he has everyone nodding along, saying to themselves, “Hey! That’s what I think too!” 
  5. Showdown. This was my first Ted Dekker novel. It spoke to me on so many levels, but the nitty gritty of it was that I could, in fact, write novels with a Christian worldview that are different, that are not the traditional romance. That revelation freed me.
Thanks so much for sharing with us! I haven't tried Ted Dekker yet but you've convinced me too, and the rest of them, I SO agree with. How do you react to a negative or harsh review of your books?

I don’t really read reviews anymore. Occasionally, someone will send me a review or post it on my FB wall and I do feel the need to give those a look, but I don’t trawl Goodreads or Amazon looking at reviews. Because I’ve learned! Reviews, even the good ones, don’t help me write. In fact, they can screw with my head if I’m not careful. My deadlines have been so tight, I don’t need anything, good or bad, to distract me from writing the stories in my head.

It's great you've figured that out early on. Reviews aren't necessarily editorial critique, and sometimes, even the good ones, don't really help with the writing process. What would you say are the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Settle in for the long haul. Publishing is notoriously slow. Stop refreshing your email inbox and go out for a latte. Breathe, observe the world, write, love your family and friends. Don’t stop living just because you’re writing.

All wonderful advice :) What’s the most interesting comment you have ever received about your books?

Someone just told me they’ve got a countdown on their phone to the release date of Dark Halo. That’s the first time I’ve ever heard that. I accidentally read the title of an Amazon review that said Angel Eyes was dangerous fiction. Not really sure what that means, but live dangerously, peeps!

LOL! It can either be very good or very bad... but come on, it's YA fiction. What are they trying to get at? What are your goals as a writer?

​Regarding the Angel Eyes trilogy, I want readers to close my books feeling like they just experienced a really great worship service. That means some will be uncomfortable and I have to be okay with that. But I hope others will be reminded of the light and life that is our Savior. And in those cases, all the glory goes to my Creator and King. My words are His anyway.

Where can you be found on the web?

Follow the Tour

Gillian Adams // Julie Bihn // Jennifer Bogart // Beckie Burnham // Pauline Creeden // Janey DeMeo // Theresa Dunlap // Emma or Audrey Engel // Victor Gentile // Nikole Hahn // Becky Jesse // Jason Joyner // Karielle @ Books à la Mode // Carol Keen // Emileigh Latham // Shannon McDermott // Meagan @ Blooming with Books // Megan @ Hardcover Feedback // Rebecca LuElla Miller // Joan Nienhuis // Nathan Reimer // James Somers // Kathleen Smith // Jojo Sutis // Steve Trower // Phyllis Wheeler // Shane Werlinger

It was a real treat having you over at the blog today, Shannon! Thank you so much for joining us, and good luck with your future endeavors.


Here's a quick message from Shannon about a fantastic giveaway her publisher has generously agreed to host at Books à la Mode. Anyone who comments with an answer will gain EXTRA entries!!!
I’d love to know what everyone else is reading these days. Recommend a book to me, friends.
Keep track of the rest of your entries through this Rafflecopter form:
Rules and Disclosure:
Giveaway ends 8 May 2013 at 11.59 PM (your time).
Open to US readers only. Sorry, rest of the world! Check out my sidebar for giveaways that ARE open internationally!
Winners have 48 hours to claim their prize once they are chosen, or else their prizes will be forfeited.
Although I do select winners, I am in no way responsible for prizes, nor for shipping and handling.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤ Please follow Shannon or Thomas Nelson in some way, as they have been kind enough to provide the wonderful prize!
Good luck!