Name: T.D. Shields
Where are you from:
I am in the U.S.A., specifically Colorado (the name of my town is actually Lochbuie. No idea why we have such a Scottish name here in the middle of Colorado, but it’s fun to confuse people when they ask where I live J )
I am a non-fiction writer by day; I get paid to write exciting training manuals and elearning modules. Sadly, they don’t often appreciate imaginative flights of fancy as part of the instructions for using a software package. So to satisfy my creative urges, I write fiction at night … usually very late at night. In addition to my full-time job, I’m also a full-time mom to four kiddos and five kitties, which keeps things constantly chaotic at my house. Luckily I am a bit of a habitual insomniac, so after everyone else in the house has gone to bed, I stay up all night writing.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
The latest from me is the release of Into Light, which is the conclusion to the story begun in Into Shadow. Finishing this book was a long road peppered with computer crashes (which ended in my re-writing the ENTIRE book when it was almost complete) and various family crises … So I am very happy to have it done at last!
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
Well, I’ve been writing stories in my head for as long as I can remember. I always entertain myself in boring moments such as waiting in line or lying in bed trying to sleep (remember the insomnia thing?) by writing stories. I’ve tried writing them down a time or two over the years, but it just never came out the way I wanted. I gave it another one of my sporadic tries about two years ago and this time it finally clicked and I found my style. Now you can’t stop me!
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I don’t think I really thought of myself as a writer until I’d finished this second book. After all, one book could be a fluke, but two books seemed more meaningful to me.
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
I remember just looking at all the skyscrapers of downtown Denver and randomly wondering, what would it be like if that was all just empty and abandoned? The rest of the story developed around that tiny beginning.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
Definitely first-person is my style. When I try to switch to third-person, I just don’t connect with the story as much. And I stick to YA as my audience because I love that genre. You have so much drama and emotion to work with that are just inherent in the teen and young adult years. Plus I like to keep things clean (no sex scenes in my stuff J ) and that fits nicely in the YA niche as well.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
The titles Into Shadow and Into Light refer to Poppy’s journey during this story. In the first book, Poppy’s whole world changes and she has to go on the run. She ends up in hiding, which is kind of a shadowy prospect. And in literal terms, the abandoned city of Denver is overgrown and broken down and very much a place drenched in shadows. Transitioning to the second book, Poppy is focused on setting things right, which takes her out of hiding, out of the shadows, and stepping out into the light of day again in order to correct everything that has gone wrong. (Whew! I think I managed that without including spoilers!)
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
There’s not really a message in these books; I’m just shooting for an entertaining story! But at the same time, I hope that readers take away an appreciation for strong, self-reliant and yet loving women. You can be tough without being hard.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
Other than the fact that this book is set in the future and therefor speculative, it’s really quite realistic. I did a lot of research on the tech aspects included to be sure that they are based in actual science. The vac-trains, mag-lev transportation, and other innovations already exist in some form, and could very conceivably evolve into the technology described in the books. (I am crossing my fingers for slide-walks in my lifetime!)
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Nope. All made up in my own head except for Poppy’s love for Pepsi.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I don’t think I could possibly choose a single (or even a couple) of books that have had the most impact on me. I love them all SO MUCH. That being said, one of my earliest loves and obsessions when it comes to books was The Belgariad series by David Eddings, which I can (and have) read again and again.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right this minute I am finishing up House of Whispers by J.L. Bryan. Spooky fun!
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I joined a writer’s group last year and I have discovered so many wonderful new books through the writers in that group! You should definitely check out the list on our website because you will find some fantastic new reads! http://yaarendezvous.com/
Fiona: What are your current projects?
My new work-in-progress is called Bump In the Night. It’s about a girl who is being haunted and the ghost-hunting team who help her deal with the malicious ghost. It will introduce you to several characters who will recur in later books.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I met Patrick Hodges through a writing contest in which we were both finalists and he has been a great new friend. He founded the writer’s group Young Adult Author Rendezvous and he and the group have been an enormous support.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I would love to have enough success to make writing a career, but at the same time, I really enjoy my day job so I’m happy to stick with it. If I can make writing into a second career that would pay for little luxuries like family vacations, I would be thrilled.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
That’s a dangerous question to ask! I think that there will always be things that you might change, depending on your mood at the time. Every author I know agonizes on when to stop tweaking and call the project done. So while I can’t think of anything off the top of my head, I’m sure I could find something to change if I looked for it. I’m not going to go looking though!
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I can’t remember a specific incident that sparked an interest in writing and storytelling. I have a lifelong addiction to reading good stories that fuels my desire to write something fun and interesting.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
From Into Light:
At my suggestion we headed for the old part of the city. I had the beginnings of a plan in mind and it was hugely dependent on finding out if the old pharmacy where I’d hidden after my escape from the White House was still empty.
My friends didn’t ask for an explanation, they just followed my directions as we walked with studied casualness, doing our best to look like nothing more than a group of friends on a night out. All of us had enough street smarts to know that scurrying through the crowds would draw more attention than a careless stroll. To further cement our casual demeanor, Lucas dug around in the plasticene to-go bag he was carrying and handed around snacks to eat as we walked.
“We don’t want these to go to waste,” he told us, “and they’ll be better warm.”
I gladly accepted one of the little doughnuts he’d ordered. I was suddenly starving and more than willing to have dessert before dinner. The gritty sugar coating clung to my lips as I wolfed it down and looked for another, which Lucas thoughtfully had at the ready. I made that one disappear in a few bites also and then licked the last grains of sugar from my lips and fingertips to savor every trace of the sweet treat.
Sharra chatted amiably as we walked: an additional bit of disguise, since a group stalking through the streets in grim silence was more attention-grabbing than a casual knot of friends engaged in quiet conversation. I listened with half my attention, responding a little here and there but unable to really concentrate on her words. Lucas was mostly quiet, lost in his own thoughts.
I didn’t know what Lucas was thinking about so deeply. Maybe he was pondering the meaning of life and death after the horrible events of the day. I probably should have been considering that, or refining my plans for confronting Cruz, or even just focusing on our surroundings and making it safely to our destination; but I could think about only one thing.
I hesitated to even bring it up. Given everything we’d been through in the last twenty-four hours, it was ridiculous to be so focused on something petty and personal. I honestly tried to hold back, but when the silence continued to stretch tautly between us, I couldn’t take it any longer.
“Lucas, I need to ask you something.”
He turned to look at me, caught by my serious tone of voice. “What is it?” he asked.
I could see him bracing himself for the next blow, and I almost didn’t follow through; but I really needed to know.
“Are you … going to eat that last doughnut?”
Lucas just stared at me for a long, long moment, and then he started to laugh. He laughed much harder than I thought the question warranted. I was serious, after all. I really wanted the last doughnut. I was glad to see him laughing though; I wasn’t used to such a serious version of Lucas, and I much preferred his usual cheerful demeanor.
When he finally got his laughter under control, Lucas slung one arm across my shoulder and pulled me against his side in an affectionate hug. “It’s all yours, sweetheart.”
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is always time. I have no shortage of ideas, but finding the time to turn them into words on a page is tough sometimes. For my current work-in-progress I’ve challenged myself FIND the time somewhere in my day (or night) to write 30 chapters in 30 days and knock out my first draft quickly. Fingers crossed!
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Wow, I cannot narrow it down to a favorite author; I love so many! For urban fantasy, I guess I would pick Patricia Briggs. Contemporary Romance, Nora Roberts. Police procedural/mystery, J.D. Robb. Middle grade fiction, Patrick Hodges. No other genres are popping into my mind right now, but you could pretty much name any genre and I can come up with a favorite (or favored) author in that area. I love them all!
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
Since my first book was set in Denver, only a few minutes from where I live, I didn’t have to do any traveling. I spend plenty of time in Denver and know the geography. The second book of the series is set in Goodland, Kansas – though it’s not the Goodland of today, there are still parts of the giant new city that are left from current time. My family did take a trip to current-day Goodland so I could get a better feel for the layout and features of the town which are included in the book. The new work-in-progress (and the series that will follow) is set in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is a place I love to visit. I’ve been there many times, but I think I will need to make a few “research” trips for good measure. 😉
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I designed the covers for Into Shadow, Bump In the Night, and another book in progress (part of the Bump In the Night series), Catbird Seat. I just couldn’t get the cover for Into Light to turn out like I wanted it, so I did end up hiring a cover artist to help with that one.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
The hardest part for me is grinding out the first draft. Everything from there usually moves pretty quickly, but the first draft is a lot of hard work.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I’ve learned the importance of outlining and having a clear picture of where I’m heading from the beginning.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
To steal from Nike, “Just do it!” The hardest part of anything is getting started, so just commit to getting it done and dive in.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am so thrilled that people have been reading and enjoying my books. It’s an incredible feeling to know that others like to read the stories that I write. And I would LOVE it if you connect with my on social media. I am a Facebook fiend and adore chatting with readers on my page.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
Absolutely not… I can barely remember my schedule for the current day or my kids’ birthdays. I read five or ten book a week, so remembering when I read any particular book isn’t going to happen. J
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
Everything. I laugh a lot and I cry really easily.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
I have a group of online friends from around the world that I connected with when I was pregnant with my first child 13 years ago. A couple of them I have met in person, but most of them I only know online, yet they are very close friends. I have also made some great online friends in my YAAR writing group. I would love to have a big get-together where I can meet all of my virtual friends in person!
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I want it to say that I lived to a ripe, old age and enjoyed every minute.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
My main hobby other than writing is reading. I dabble in things like crafting or sewing occasionally, but I’m not really very good at it.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
My favorite TV show is The Big Bang Theory. I also love cooking shows and home renovation shows. I like to see movies based on favorite books, even though the books are still always better.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
My favorite food would have to be pizza; I’m sure I eat it at least once every week. Favorite color is sunny, cheerful yellow. My tastes in music are much like my taste in books – I like a wide variety and have favorites in all kinds of different areas.
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
If I weren’t spending my spare time writing, I suppose I would have to focus on those craft projects that I’m so mediocre at. It’s a good thing that I’ve found writing, because the world doesn’t need any more mis-counted cross-stitch projects.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
You can find my blog and author website here: http://taradon.wix.com/tdshields
Links for the books are here:
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/T.D.-Shields/e/B00RY8WWES/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_1