For this month’s YA-NA Parley, we have with us author Shannon Leigh Rivera.
Shannon is a graduate of Southern New Hampshire University’s Creative Writing program and a YA/NA fantasy author. She graduated Summa Cumme Laude in June of 2016, and plans on returning to finish her MFA in Creative Writing in the near future. For now, she is working on her own publications.
Her work can be found in YA Seven Deadly Sins Anthology– Envy and Gluttony editions available on Amazon and at shannonleighrivera.com.
Without further ado, here are a few snippets of our conversation.
Krisna: What would be your hero’s favorite real-world book? Your villain’s?
Shannon: If Talshae lived on Earth, she would probably be a huge fan of Joseph Campbell because he was a scholar of myths and legends, which is something she considers herself in her own world. The villain, not to give away too much about my antagonist, he would probably love anything that had to do with weapons- Jane’s Military Digest or anything that had to do with tactics or war.
Krisna: Are there themes you’re trying to bring out in your YA/NA that you feel are underrepresented?
Shannon: I believe that my writing really focuses on the importance of learning to love oneself. I want my characters to learn how to rely on themselves, rather than feel that they need to have another person love them in order to see their own worth.
However, I also focus on purpose over things, finding purpose over chasing things, which also plays into that. And the theme of duty, honor, and sacrifice, which isn’t something people really like to write about these days. Most YA/NA is about rebellion and breaking from traditions, while I explore the importance of traditions and the reasons for rebelling against the right things, or standing up for the right things, even if they are unpopular.
Krisna: Loving oneself, duty, honor and sacrifice – wonderful themes that are much needed in this world. It’ll resonate with a lot of readers. Speaking of readers, what can you tell us about your imaginary reader? Do you write with a specific reader in mind?
Shannon: I suppose this would be more like my imagined fan base. I suppose when I write, I am hoping that male and female readers will be able to relate to my characters and the world they live in. I tend to write more for a female audience, probably on the mature end of YA/NA, but I certainly don’t feel like the younger end would be turned off by the themes or mood of the story. Guys might not like the lead, Talshae, but they will certainly be able to get behind the male characters, especially Kaji and Lord Yu.
Krisna: If you could live in any fictional world, which would you choose? Why?
Shannon: I would live in the world of Earthsea (Ursula Le Guin’s brainchild). Why? Two reasons- first- lots of water and islands. I am a sailor at heart. I love the ocean and I love being near the ocean. The water culture in her book appeals to me. Second- dragons.
Krisna: LOL! I’m a great fan of dragons too. *glances at clock regretfully*
We have time for one last question. Who was your favorite author as a child? Do they influence your storytelling now?
Shannon: The one author that has really stuck with me since my youth has been Anne McCaffrey. I remember the first time I read Dragonriders of Pern, I was just blown away. She was the reason I started writing fantasy, but also the reason I started reading more fantasy. I still branch out and read from every genre, but she is the one that introduced magic to me in such a way that I knew “this is it, this is what I want to do.”
Krisna: Thank you so much, Shannon, for taking the time to be with us and sharing insights into your writing.
Shannon: It was my pleasure…
CONNECT WITH SHANNON:
When Shannon isn’t teaching writing classes or homeschooling her four children, she is writing serialized short stories for her fantasy blog. In addition, she is working on her first full-length novel, Of Rebels and Ruin, due out later 2017.