Today I’m thrilled to feature author Shawn McGuire on my blog. Shawn is a fellow Colorado writer and also one of my dearest writer friends. You know when I talk about all those awesome brunches and writing retreats–well Shawn is always there.
Shawn recently released the 10th book in her Whispering Pines series. But for new readers, I’ve included links to the first book in the Whispering Pine series, Family Secrets, below.
Author Interview: Shawn McGuire
Q: What inspired you to write your Whispering Pines series?
A: I wanted to create a place where I would love to live. Someplace small with people who cared about each other. A house on a lake sounded good to me, too, so I threw that in there. It had to be a place that wouldn’t get overcrowded when people heard about how great it was, so I made Whispering Pines a place that anyone could visit, but only people who didn’t fit in anywhere else could live. Finally, I was curious about Wicca so decided to throw that into the mix. Turned out, my readers were looking for the same kind of place.
Q: Do you have to do any particular research for these books?
A: I do. First, these are murder mysteries and I like to find creative ways to kill people! While the books aren’t gory, I do like to give a bit of medical detail, so I research to make sure I get that right. Second, almost every book takes place during a Wiccan sabbat or holiday. The Wiccan details are the most fun for me, so I spend probably more time researching than is really necessary to make sure I can bring that to life.
Q: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
A: I’m a baker so you’ll find me in the kitchen a lot. I love to hike and go on long motorcycle rides with my husband. Of course, I read a lot. I also do yoga and crafts. When not in quarantine, I love to travel.
Q: What does your writing routine look like?
A: I’m blessed to be able to write fulltime. My day starts around 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. That quiet time before the rest of the world wakes up is like magic to me. I take breaks for meals and to get either a walk or some yoga in every day.
As for taking a book from the first word to publication, that routine generally takes me about 4 months. The first draft is my least favorite part, so I try to get that written as fast as possible, which means 2 or 3 weeks. Then I do a revision to add all the fun details. That’s when the story really comes alive. After my beta readers take a peek, I do another revision, put the manuscript through a grammar checker, and then hand it off to my editor. After making her corrections, I let Word “read” the manuscript to me to find any final awkward sentences then it’s ready for publication.
Q: Can you tell us a little bit about your journey to publication?
A: Like many authors, I wrote as a kid. English was always my best subject. I have a degree in English but never thought of being a novelist until many years later. I was a stay-at-home mom and when my youngest son was about 18 months old, I needed something to exercise my brain, so I started writing again. Soon the once-a-week exercise while he napped turned into an obsession. I tried going the traditional route, but self-publishing turned out to be a better fit for me. I can release books on my schedule the way I want them to be. And I’m finally using both my English and my Business degrees!
Q: Any advice for new writers?
A: Don’t be afraid to step out of your genre comfort zone. My first series was a young adult fantasy, and I thought that’s where I’d stay. On a whim, I gave mysteries a shot and it turned out to be a perfect fit. I had to learn the rules of the genre because not only had I never written mysteries I hadn’t read all that much either. I enjoy quilting and look at writing a mystery kind of like putting together a quilt. You have to take all these little pieces (clues) and put them together in the right order (plot) to create a beautiful image in the end (bad guy in jail).
From the publisher: Brown Bag Books
Welcome to Whispering Pines, Wisconsin. A place for those who don’t belong.
Sixteen years after a family feud drove her from the cozy Northwoods village of Whispering Pines, Wisconsin, former detective Jayne O’Shea returns to prepare her grandparents’ lake house for sale. Once there, not only does she find that the house has been trashed, her dog discovers a dead body in the backyard.
Jayne intends to stay out of it, but when it becomes obvious the sheriff isn’t interested in investigating the death, Jayne can’t stop herself. Her list of suspects grows faster than the plants in the commons’ pentacle garden. Could it be the local Wiccan green witch with her stash of deadly plants? The shopkeeper who slips into trances and foretells death? The visitor determined to practice black magic?
What Jayne knows for sure is that the closer she gets to solving this crime, the more the sheriff wants her to back off. And when a local fortune teller provides a crucial clue, Jayne knows it’s up to her to solve this murder.