Friday, July 17, 2009

Author Interview, Shawn Grady

Shawn Grady signed with Bethany House Publishers in 2008. He was named “Most Promising New Writer” at the 39th Annual Mount Hermon Writers Conference. Through the Fire is his debut novel

What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?

My debut novel, Through the Fire, officially released this month through Bethany House Publishers.

Tell us about your journey to publication. How long did it take before your novel was published?

I started writing with a novel as the focus about nine years ago, but particularly since 2004. I signed with Bethany House early in 2008. The biggest key for me was networking with editors one on one at Mount Hermon Christian Writers Conference. There I had the opportunity to show my writing and give editors a chance to know a bit about me as an author. I also made it a point to enrol in the fiction mentoring groups with established writers. I learned a tremendous amount in those groups and had the opportunity to hone and refine my craft and to get to know some great writers.

What mistakes have you made while seeking publication?

The first year I enrolled in a Mount Hermon fiction mentoring group we had to submit a single-spaced two page synopsis of our work in progress. I had a six page synopsis at the time, so I cut out as much as I could and then modified every single thing I could to make that synopsis fit on two pages. I had like .5” margins all the way around, size 11 font. It’s pretty funny when I look back on it. But the group moderator was full of grace about it.

What’s the best advice you’ve heard on writing/publication?

Write what you know.

What is the worst piece of writing advice you’ve heard?

There are all sorts of systems of thought. Some work for others and some don’t. I think it’s important to be discerning and to trust your gut.
What would advice would you give someone just entering this business? How should they maneuver the publishing life?
First and foremost, write. Don’t worry if you don’t have a plot outline or character sketches on three by five cards. Just write. Write one simple true sentence like Hemingway strove for.

Then read a few well-respected books on writing. Attend writers’ conferences. Get connected with others in the business. Understand how the business of getting books published works and then find the best route and mode for you as an individual writer to navigate that.

What is something you wish you’d known earlier that might have saved you some time/frustration in the publishing business?

Contrary to the common system of thought, I found that I personally worked best when I could interact one on one with editors rather than through a third party agent for initially breaking through the publishing barrier.

What's a good novel to read in regards to study of the craft?

Hands down for me it was Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast. I knew after reading it that I could be a writer. I just need to write. So nine years ago, on a napkin in a coffee house, I started.

Will you give us a view into a typical day of your writing life?

Sure. Starting a midnight. I may run two or more calls on the fire engine before getting off the twenty four hour shift at eight a.m. The mornings I spend with family and then the afternoon (often bleary eyed) at the library or a coffee house typing away.

If you could choose to have one strength of another writer, what would it be and from whom?

I don’t know. That’s a hard one. It’s like coveting a super power. If you’re Green Lantern, you dig being the Green Lantern. You don’t really want to be Hawkman or Aquaman. As cool as talking to fish is, he can’t make a giant green hammer out of his ring. -They all have their own unique giftings with which they serve.

If anything, I want to continue to grow and hone my craft as a writer. And there are authors that make me go, “wow”- whose writing transcends the page and resonates with my spirit. Leif Enger comes to mind. Marilynn Robinson. Those are a couple of my literary heroes.

Do you have a dream for the future of your writing, something you would love to accomplish?

My wife and I have many dreams for it. We trust that the Lord will continue to grow and bless it according to His will.

What is your favorite and least favorite part of being a writer?

Simply, I love to write. It’s a wonderful privilege to be able have what I’ve written be read, and to hear back how people enjoyed it and were impacted by it. The hardest part is the discipline of sitting down and doing the hard work of crafting a novel, even when I’m really tired.

How much marketing do you do? Any advice in this area?
Bethany House has an extraordinary marketing team that I’ve been very fortunate to work with. I stay very involved at the local level to build grass roots support. I would encourage others to enjoy the process of connecting with other writers and people in the business.

Parting words?

Thank you, Jessica, for the opportunity to speak with Novel Journey. I’ve had a great time. Readers who are interested can find out more about Through the Fire at
What book or project is coming out or has come out that you’d like to tell us about?


Tina said...

Congratulations on Through the Fire, Shawn. I enjoyed reading about your journey.