Author Spotlight no.39 – Shannon Muir

Complementing my daily blog interviews, today’s Author Spotlight, the thirty-ninth, is of multi-genre author, story development consultant and animation producer Shannon Muir.

Shannon Muir knew she wanted to write since the age of ten, inspired by teachers who considered her elementary school work worthy of being displayed among the school’s best at local mall exhibitions. She learned to perfect her craft at both scriptwriting and prose, earning a double BA in Radio-TV and English from Eastern Washington University. Shannon moved to Los Angeles in 1996, where she worked on various animated properties. From those experiences, Shannon wrote the books ‘Gardner’s Guide to Writing and Producing Animation’ and ‘Gardner’s Guide to Pitching and Selling Animation’.

In 2005, Shannon Muir received her MA in Communications from California State University, Fullerton, where her thesis explored the effectiveness of animated characters as spokespeople, and its TV-Film Society gave honorable mention to her live action screenplay ‘Eternal Encore’ – now to be adapted as a novel. For a decade she’s been the co-writer of the webcomic ‘Flying Glory and the Hounds of Glory’; lyrics and history of the webcomic are covered in the book ‘Flying glory flashback’.

Her fiction includes novels ‘The Heart’s Duty’ and ‘Touch the Stars’, along with the short story and poetry anthology ‘Search for a Woman’. Shannon is a member of the Animation Writers Caucus of the Writers Guild of America West, and worked as one of two non-Japanese writers on the series ‘Midnight Horror School’. Her production positions on animated series include ‘Jumanji’, ‘Extreme Ghostbusters’, ‘Invader Zim’, and the ‘Say it with Noddy’ interstitials for the PBS version of ‘Make way for Noddy’.

And now from the author herself:

For me, writing means exploring other environments, and ways of living. I look at how a society’s culture, subculture, and sometimes even a counterculture shape and influence the lead character I’m following. Almost always, the story is a journey for that character’s sense of self-identity within whatever environment they are living in. The answer isn’t always assimilation to the influences around them; sometimes solutions do come in rising up and challenging things. The questions are when and how.

Most of my lead characters are female. Admittedly that’s just an easier perspective for me to get into as I am a woman, and am interested in exploring women’s issues. When I do write centering on men, they’re never the strong macho type, but rather like the description above – generally they are weak (or at least perceived by the world as such) while making their own identity quests. This generally results in pairing them with a strong female mentor of some sort.

I tend to write primarily on topics that interest me, not on what seems to be “selling”. I’ve written for animated series where I’m given guidelines and then produce based on that, as well as textbooks where requirements were laid out for me, so I’m no stranger to following others’ leads. Fictional prose for me is the place where I get to be myself and explore what I want, and have some fun. It is my hope that readers enjoy going along for the ride as much as I do.

My personal reading is very eclectic. I grew up on a lot of science fiction and fantasy and J.R.R. Tolkien is my favorite author. Interestingly enough, I write very little of it, and when I do it tends to be space opera or romantic urban fantasy. My English degree gave me a lot of background in areas of literary fiction. More recently, I’ve been exposed to the books that are clearly defined as romance. The best I can identify most of my work as is something that straddles women’s fiction (as I tend to deal with women specific issues on the personal quests for identity) and contemporary romance, but even then it’s not a precise label. In some ways I like to rise above labels, but in other ways it makes my work hard to find.

I also tend to like very epic storytelling, and having everything I do relate to each other in minute ways. The books ‘Touch the Stars’ and ‘The Heart’s Duty’ are both set in Hollywood, and (without giving anything away) happen at relatively the same point in time because of a crossover character who is “blink and you miss him” in one book but a major player in the other. The lead female character in ‘Touch the Stars’ grew up in a fictional town I plan to have a whole series of future books in. Building big universes is fun, whether in space, a fantasy world, or on Earth.

Morgen: Thank you Shannon. I too write a variety of genres which isn’t a problem when eBooking, and I love beefing up incidental characters in a later story as they so often surprise me. 🙂

You can find more about Shannon and her work via her website

The blog interviews will return as normal tomorrow with novelist Kate Long – the two hundred and fourteenth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, biographers, agents, publishers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks at Smashwords.

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