For my very first interview, I chose fantasy author and editor, Shawn Speakman. In addition to being a great writer, Shawn is also a really great person and very encouraging to people starting out in this business. In fact, this is actually the second time that I’ve interviewed him- the first being for my final class project a few months ago, when I was studying to be an editor. I also figure that we had all better be nice to him right now since, judging from this picture, he obviously seems very much at home on that Iron Throne!
Shawn, a native of Washington State, is the author of THE DARK THORN and the editor of the bestselling fantasy anthology, UNFETTERED. He is also the webmaster for Terry Brooks and Naomi Novik, a contributing writer for Suvudu.com, and the owner of The Signed Page, a specialty online bookstore.
And now, because I know you’d much rather hear from him, here’s what Shawn had to say for his Five Questions:
1. If you could have been the writer of any book that’s ever been published, what would it be and why?
THE SHADOW OF THE WIND by Carlos Ruis Zafon. It is hard to deny the power of this book. It is a love letter to the book community and book lovers everywhere, but it works on numerous different levels. It’s a mystery, a coming of age tale, a romance – all set against the backdrop of a ruthless dictator’s regime in 1940’s Spain. Couple those things with absolutely beautiful prose and having sold millions of copies – yeah, I’d want all of that!
2. What do you need around you when you start working on a new book?
I need an outline. And a clean house. If I have those two things, I can sit down and write through a hurricane if need be.
3. For some horribly twisted reason , you are forced to condense your book collection to just one shelf: What books would make the cut?
The Shadow of The Wind – Carlos Ruiz Zafon
The Elfstones of Shannara -Terry Brooks
Dune – Frank Herbert
The Mists of Avalon- Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Wizard of Earthsea -Ursula K. LeGuin
Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy – Douglas Adams
The Name of The Wind and The Wise Man’s Fear by Patrick Rothfuss
Red Rising, Golden Son, and Morning Star by Pierce Brown
4. What one piece of advice would you go back in time to give yourself when you were first starting out as a writer?
Work harder at doing more with less words.
5. If you could possess a magical object from any fantasy novel you’ve read, what would it be and why?
If I had the proper lineage, I would choose the Sword of Shannara. It has the magical ability to reveal the truth about people and force them to come to terms with the lies they’ve propagated. I would then take the talisman to the Congress of the United States and clean house.