So happy to welcome Shannon Bruno this week to the blog for the interview!!!
Shannon Bruno is a coffee, book, and DIY addict who got her first library card at age 7 because she already read books too fast to keep buying them. She lives in Arkansas with her husband, daughter, and three stinky dogs.
- What literary pilgrimages have you gone on? It’s a book/movie hybrid, BUT, when I was in St. Louis a few years ago I drove through Dogtown. For fans of the excellent book ‘White Palace’ by the late, great Glenn Savan this was where the female antagonist/love interest, Nora, lived. The movie is one of my favorites, so I wanted to drive by Nora’s house when I had the chance; it’s been torn down, but I was still high on that experience because the block still looks the same. The next pilgrimage is going to be to Tulsa to see the house from ‘The Outsiders’; Danny Boy O’Connor from House of Pain turned it into an Outsiders museum, and I am desperate to go.
I go to Tulsa all the time as my youngest goes to school in Oklahoma, I think I might have to follow Shannon on her literary pilgrimage to see The Outsiders house. I love that book!
- If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? Keep at it; you’re better than you think. And worse, so, the same thing applies- just keep writing, all the time.
- What is the first book that made you cry?
‘Where the Red Fern Grows’ by Wilson Rawls; right in the middle of 3rd grade English class, while I was taking my turn to read out loud. It still makes me cry.
- What was your hardest scene to write? A difficult birth experience in my forthcoming novel ‘More Than You Know’; it was my experience with my daughter, and I was shaking when I finished writing it. I still get angry when I think about it. I almost rounded off its edges but decided to leave it as is.
- What do you do to get inside your character’s heads? I create details about their personalities; likes and dislikes, weird secret single behaviors, past beefs with other characters from other works in the same universe. Then I take all of that and I keep it to myself. It helps them speak to me.
I use a chart like this to get started with character development, it’s about five pages of questions that I answer and some of it’s pretty deep including what were the characters doing the week before the book begins.
- Do you believe in writer’s block? No. I think sometimes writing is easy and sometimes it feels like a term paper about the invention of liquid soap and every word is a battle. I think those moments probably account for the passages in books where it drags a little and I also think it’s ok. Not every scene is the windows being blown out of a building, nor should they be. That book would be ridiculous and only guys would like it. JK.
- What is the most difficult part of your artistic process? Distraction. When I sit down to write I suddenly want to clean, fold laundry, make coffee, browse Amazon prime for towel warmers. Who has two thumbs and is their own worst enemy? This guy.
- What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Not making them into caricatures of men; as funny as it would be to have them say “huh?” every other sentence, scratch themselves, and chaw, it isn’t believable, nor is it romantic. Men have feelings, emotional IQs- they cry, they feel shame. Accurately writing them without making them sound effeminate is hard and I am always asking my husband to help. He is good about telling me what shame can look like (anger) and what crushed feelings can look like (gruffness, desperation to flee and be alone) when they’re coming from men. If he shrugs at a question, I ask my brother, who is absolutely awesome with those kinds of questions as well.
- What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer? A.M. Kusi definitely makes me write bolder sex scenes; reading their books empowers me and then Ash is right there in my comments and messages, telling me I can do anything and encouraging me and telling me I deserve the whole world. Renita McKinney tells me like it is and trusts that she won’t hurt my feelings and makes me grin when she reads something I wrote, and makes it clear that she loved it. Willow Aster tells me that sometimes she doesn’t love her own stories, either, by the time she’s done, and I feel seen. I have had a lot of sounding boards that weren’t writers, as well, and some of the most passionate lovers of my writing have been people in my life just listening to me.
- Can you share a snippet that is in your WIP that isn’t the blurb?
I step into the Rowdy Beaver Den and the onslaught of warmth, the vibration from the music in the trunk of my body, and all the bar smells are overwhelming for a minute.
I feel a little disoriented and there is so much ambient sound that it makes the temporary disorientation even worse.
I almost want to disconnect my cochlear implants and be plunged into total silence so I can get my bearings, but I decide to power through.
I probably won’t stay long anyway.
I look around and see my sister dancing with her friend, Ailani, the two of them gazing at each other intensely and scan quickly for Fawn or Bran or Maggie.
Maggie, Brierley, and Fawn are dancing, and Bran is sitting at the table uncomfortably trying to not watch them drape all over each other like we’re in a club in Vegas, not a bar in Northwest Arkansas.
It’s ludicrous for them to be acting this way.
Then I notice how amazing Fawn looks in this tiny white lace dress with her long legs going on for miles and am taken over by a feeling of jealousy and hurt that it would be difficult to forget if I lived 5 more lifetimes after this.
She wore that white dress for Bran, not me.
Before I can stop myself, I cross the room to her where she is dancing with Maggie and grab her.
She looks surprised and so happy to see me that I pull her against me and kiss her long and deep with my hand fisted in her hair, like I own her, or like she is wearing that white dress for me and this isn’t a totally unacceptable moment.
Like I didn’t just burn her life to the ground.
- Describe yourself in three words.
- Name three of your favorite things.
- Café bustelo, perfume oils, true crime podcasts
- Name three of your least favorite things.
Being too warm
When people stand too close to me
The word moist. It is so unnecessary.
You can connect with Shannon in the following places!
Was so happy to have Shannon over. Please leave us a comment or a question about the interview.
Happy reading and don’t forget to review!!!