Our Author of the Week series kicks off this week, and for our first interview Shelby K. Morrison offered to be our guinea pig, putting herself under the spotlight. So a massive thank you to Shelby for agreeing to start our series off. Her debut novel Shattered, a psychological thriller, was published at the beginning of May and has received glowing reviews.
Tell us a bit about yourself
Honestly, the interesting bits are in the novels, not about me. I’m your average girl. I would think my life has been pretty normal up to this point. My parents were divorced. Isn’t that how most writers start out? Typical deadbeat dad, hard-working mom that somehow kept three mouths fed. I’m the middle child. Another tendency with writers. So far so good right? I was a bit of a clown as a kid. I suppose that’s a gross understatement. I was the definition of a ham. You know the middle child, always vying for attention. Then something happened in 6th grade and I started really focusing on my studies. So from then on through graduating high school I was super into my academics. I was involved in a ton of clubs, senior council, newspaper, debate. I have an addiction to accomplishment or something and I just couldn’t seem to stop. I was voted “Sr. Favorite Brainiac” and “Most Likely to be President” even though I can swear to you, I’m no brainiac. I’m terrible with math and science. Terr-i-ble. I really just wanted trophies and ribbons and to plump up my college application. Only to stop attending college when I realized what I wanted to do.
You don’t need a degree to be an author. I’m sure this came as a shock to not only my classmates but also my mother and siblings. But why go $30k in debt for a degree I wouldn’t use? So I did some freelance editing and writing, got my certificate in Copy Editing, even a certificate in Medical Coding, anything that I thought could support myself working from home as I wrote. Then it just came down to not procrastinating and just writing. I didn’t want to write SEO or edit. I wanted to write fiction, to let the stories pushing and shoving around in my head be poured on paper. So that’s what I did. And here we are today! I’m married with two shih-tzus and a brain full of stories waiting to be written.
If you could describe the story line of your latest novel to someone in just a few sentences how would you entice someone to want to read it?
Shattered is a psychological thriller where we follow alongside Alex Bowen, a college student from Oregon, who discovers she’s being watched. Her searching for answers will take her from her hometown in Oregon, to dangerous jungles, to abandoned buildings with dark histories and beyond. Alex learns she’s part of a conspiracy theory and her digging threatens to destroy everything she knows.
When and why did you begin writing?
The writing bug bit me in 8th grade, at least the “novel writing bug”. I was reading books by the wheelbarrow load and writing poetry and songs in my spare time, until I finally decided to write my own story. It was pathetic and short, but from then on I couldn’t stop. It’s what I did every night. I’d write about 100 pages of one, think it was garbage or get bored, and start another. And that continued till I’d have 4 stories with no finished piece. But every chapter I’d have my younger brother sitting on the floor beside me listening as I read what I’d just written. With his encouragement I kept writing, because if he liked it, surely others would too.
What do you enjoy most about your work?
I enjoy reading what I’ve written. Most of the time I’m shocked about what I write. It isn’t terrible! I like to get to know characters, take myself to knew places, experience new things, have total control over what happens. The writing part is hard, gruelling even. But standing back and proudly looking at your story—can’t beat it. That and when someone tells you it’s actually good.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
As any writer will tell you, writing is a very lonely hobby/art/job. Especially for a novelist. They will spend weeks, months, years holed up all by themselves with only their clacking keyboard or scrawling pen to keep them company. Unless they happen to have a fluffy dog who is perfectly content sleeping on your feet, as I do. It’s hard leaving my spouse to lock myself in my office. It’s also extremely difficult giving your writing—your baby—to another. Your tears (hopefully no sweat or blood) have gone into this mass of writing, your sanity hanging on their approval. Not gonna lie, kinda terrifying.
What inspires you to write?
There are stories that need to be told. Ideas in my head that refuse to be ignored. It’s reflex, I have no control. That’s what inspires me. That, and it’s my dream to be a bestselling author. As a child, it was my dream to be an actress, to see my name in lights. Now it’s a little different. But I want people to know my name, to know my characters, to fall in love with my stories as much as I do. I just know in my gut this is what I was born to do. What more inspiration can you ask for?
When working on a new novel, what is the first thing you do?
Brainstorm like crazy! Most of my sentences I scrawl down start with “Perhaps..” or “Maybe…” I have to get all my ideas on paper before I start picking out the ones I like best and stringing them together. It’s the only way I can be sure I’ve explored every avenue, possibility, twist and outcome.
Which Writers do you admire and can you name a favourite book?
I get this question a lot and I should probably have a better answer, being a writer and all, but I don’t. I honestly don’t have a particular writer that I admire. I admire all of them. We are all in this together. The torture that is stringing together coherent words that will make your reader beg for more. I admire all those before me. I admire authors like Tolkein and Rowling and the hundreds of others who didn’t let dozens of rejection letters stop them. I admire writers that have me flipping pages, losing sleep at night and make me fall in love with their characters. That is what I aspire to be. No favourite books or authors though. I try to read a wide variety of authors, never sticking to a few that I love. There are so many writers and so little time, I try to give as many a shot as possible. And I’m terrible with names.
What advice would you give to an aspiring writer?
Don’t give up. If you feel that this is what you were meant for, then keep writing. I’m no bestselling author so I can’t say it will pay off just yet or give any solid tips. But what I can say is, famous yet or not, I feel fantastic having readers enjoy my writing. It makes it all worth it. I know my first book isn’t that great, and the next book won’t be either. But eventually they’ll be great, than fantastic. But practice makes perfect. And no one understands writers other than writers. Your family may laugh, your teachers may shake their heads, and others may tell you it’s a fruitless endeavour and throw the words “starving artist” at you. But you have to shake it off and know that if you keep writing, you’ll be doing something you love and getting paid for it. That will shut ’em up.
What are your plans for the future?
More books! Honestly, it’s just to write, write, write. And read when I get a breather.
You can find our review of her debut novel Shattered here: https://www.travellingbookjunkie.com/shattered
Disclaimer: The Amazon link to the book in this post is an affiliate link. That means that if you were to purchase a book by using it we would earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Income earned this way is used to keep Travelling Book Junkie up and running.