Joyce Shaughnessy lives in Midland, Texas with her husband, Dennis.
They have two married daughters and four beautiful granddaughters, ages 4 through 16. They own a large collection of WWII books, and Joyce used many as a reference, even adding to them during the research of her books.
She has recently become a writer of short stories which will be published in anthologies and a novella.
Interview with Joyce Shaughnessy
|Author Joyce Shaughnessy|
Joyce Shaughnessy: I have written and published three historical fiction novels in a series. The third is The Unsurrendered, which came out in February, 2013. The first two are A Healing Place, published in 2010 and Blessed Are the Merciful in 2011. I have since written three short stories which will be published later this year in anthologies. They were a complete release for me because they required no research. One is horror and the other two are humorous. I have also participated in a Round Robin YA time travel book, just published, Some Day, Some Time, Some Where. It’s difficult giving up complete control of the finished piece, but I love writing, so how could I say no to the opportunity?
Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Without question, my favorite writer is Nelson DeMille. He combines mystery with compassion and humor. A close second is Herman Wouk. I love Up Country by DeMille and Wouk’s War and Remembrance. I think Wouk and DeMille have both influenced my writing. I admire Wouk for his determination to portray historical facts with interest and empathy through fictional characters. DeMille is obviously determined, no matter what, to portray his characters with compassion. I hope he writes to an old age. I would hate to think that I couldn’t read another new book of his. I think that the reader can see whether the writer is dedicated to and loves his/her craft. I confess to loving James Patterson for pure escape, although I haven’t read anything in the last year except for research or for my blog. When I have a breather, I intend to sit down and read Up Country for the fourth time.
"Once I had published my first book, I knew I was hooked and would never stop trying."
When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
I know that I’ve wanted to write for years, but I never had the confidence in myself to try it. Once I had published my first book, I knew I was hooked and would never stop trying. I like to think I grow after each writing project. I heard an interview with Herman Wouk who is in his late eighties and is still writing and publishing. I hope to be doing the same.
Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
My husband and I rise early, and I love to have breakfast and then sit down at the computer, sometimes as early as 7 a.m. I will start writing, look at the clock and it will be 10 or 11. I have found that I love writing so much that I squeeze it in whenever I have the chance. I also love to write on quiet Sundays. I have a room which is my office, and I have most of my research books in it. I think I spend more time in it than anywhere
" I cried a lot with them [my characters] and laughed sometimes."
What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest?
The hardest thing for me is forming the idea about what I want to write. It’s also hard for me to read the latest published book because I’m afraid I’ll want to change something that I can’t. The easiest thing about writing for me is just after I have formed the idea in my head. The words usually just come pouring out of me. With my books I felt the emotion of all of my characters as I wrote. I cried a lot with them and laughed sometimes. I felt like I was living through them vicariously. They come alive for me and talk over my shoulder. I’ve never suffered from writer’s block.
Joyce, please tell us a little about your Historical Fiction 'The Unsurrendered.
It is based on the partisan group of Filipino and Americans that formed in the Philippines during WWII. I knew I had to write about them the minute I read a little about it. There were over 250,000 men and women spread across the islands. They organized into a cohesive movement that not only fought the Japanese behind the lines but also aided tremendously in the return of the Americans to the islands. My main characters are an American G-2 officer, Jacob, and the woman he loves, a Filipina, Carla. We meet him in pre-war Tokyo in 1934 where he operates as a spy. He is then sent to Manila, where he and Carla meet and fall in love. They join the group, The Unsurrendered, in Mindanao, where they fight behind Japanese lines. When Jacob is captured and imprisoned, it is Carla who must find a way to make it to Luzon to save his life. I take the war and Jacob and Carla’s participation in it, through the triumph over the Japanese in 1945.
|Click to Read an Excerpt|
What inspired you to write the book?
After I published my second book, Blessed Are the Merciful, I was looking at some of the research books I had collected and came across a picture of an actual female guerilla in 1944 who was credited with killing seven Japanese. She became the epitome of Carla and also the front cover of my book.
Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
I hope that the younger audience will be attracted to the action scenes and also the love story of Jacob and Carla. Obviously, I see an older audience being my main target – those who were either in the war or had a loved one who was.
How would you describe the success of your book so far? (Sales, Awards, Reviews)
It just came out in February, so I’m not sure about sales so far. I’ve gotten all four and five stars out of five on Amazon. I have a 4.20 star rating on Goodreads. I have not received a professional review yet.
How long did it take it to write the book?
It took me about five or six months to write it, but I spent six months prior to that just reading and organizing research and background material. I read about thirty books cover to cover before I ever wrote a word. I love research, too.
Please, tell us where you self-published the book.
Xlibris. I published all three books through them.
"[...] doing the self-promotion is a full time job by itself."
How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues? What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
It went pretty smoothly. I think the most important thing to look for is whether or not the publisher provides line-by-line editing, which Xlibris does. I think every writer needs to get a good editor, even if he/she pays for it. Without question, that is my biggest advice. Xlibris doesn’t help with promotion and I’ve since found some smaller publishers who do. It’s key to have some kind of promotion in mind, otherwise your book will die on the vine. If I ever self-publish again, I think I will look for a smaller publisher who at least helps with promotion and is determined to put out a good product. I’ve been very happy with my books from Xlibris, but doing the self-promotion is a full time job by itself.
Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
As I said, Xlibris has professional editors. They also do cover designs, but I was emphatic about wanting the cover of the female guerrilla on the front of The Unsurrendered, and that was fine with them. Without a doubt, this cover is my favorite.
"I say follow your passion and get published anyway you can."
Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
As far as writing, I say follow your passion and get published anyway you can. I also belong to a tremendously supportive writers group in our area. We’ve kept it small so that we can bring in any work and have it read by the other writers and critiqued. They are all extremely talented writers and always have offered good advice. I suggest every writer find a writer’s group like mine because your work will only improve. I will say it again, there is nothing as important as a good editor and I firmly believe that every writer can benefit greatly from one. I have no idea how much an independent editor costs but she will be worth it in the end. I would also recommend having some kind of promotion in mind once your book is finished. It’s a tremendous amount of work, and I wasn’t prepared for it.
Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I am now participating in two Round Robin novels. The first is a fantasy based on Norse mythology and the other is a Murder/Crime mystery. I sometimes feel pushed and pulled in different directions, but I love to write, so I couldn’t say no to the chance to write with other writers who love this business as much as I do. I’m glad that I didn’t say no because I discovered that I can write everything from fantasy to mysteries. I would love to find a good book project on my own, but I just don’t know if I’m up to the dedication it takes. When I’m writing a book, I focus nearly all my waking hours on it. I’m lucky that my husband is very supportive. He has read every page of my books. He is always my first editor.
Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
I would love to have a book traditionally published if I can find an agent, which I believe it requires. First, however, I need to find that “elusive idea” for another book, something I’m passionate about. Maybe I will soon.
Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I’ve been saying that there will be only e-books someday, but I’ve recently read a lot from traditional and self-publishers who totally disagree. I do think that e-books will dominate the sales. They probably already do. I do wonder if there will ever be any bookstores other than used ones. Amazon already dominates the market.
Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
I write full-time. I don’t have time for much else lately.
How can readers connect with you?
I have a blog at http://jshaughnessyauthor.blogspot.com. I would love for them to contact me there and read about some of my books and projects. I don’t mind giving my email address that I use primarily for my books. It is email@example.com I can also be found at: http://facebook.com/joyceshaughnessyauthor and on twitter as @authorjoyces. I also am a member of Goodreads and LinkedIn.
Thank you very much for the Interview, Joyce.
About the Book The Unsurrendered
The author, through intense research, manages to bring many colorful historical characters to life throughout the book with their interaction with Carla and Jacob. The author manages to bring to life part of WWII which has only been mentioned but not publicly expanded upon. There were over 260,000 Filipino-American partisans who fought behind Japanese lines, and along with the aid of such patriots as General Douglas MacArthur, Lt. Commander Chick Parsons, Colonel Wendell Fertig, Captain Ray Hunt, and Dr. Emigdio Cruz, helped to bring the Allies to victory. These patriots struggled and won against tremendous odds, and it is their patriotism and spirit that the author manages to convey through The Unsurrendered.
- "The writer, Joyce Shaughnessy, creates a tale of a historical romance novel that will not only take you through lessons to be learned, she develops wonderful characterization and accurate places and events. Her writing is so life-like that it makes the reader, me, feel as if I'm right there in the story while she is magically creating it. I suggest anyone interested in this genre should run as fast as they can to purchase it. Excellent writing. " - Reader Review
Links to the Book
Link to the Paperback The Unsurrendered with Excerpt on Amazon
Link to the eBook The Unsurrendered with Excerpt on Amazon