Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chatting with YA author, Shannon Mawhiney

Today's guest is YA paranormal author, Shannon Mawhiney.  She's talking about her latest release, The Death of Torberta Turchin.

Please tell me how long you've been writing, and why you decided to become a writer.
Technically I’ve been writing since I was about five, when I finished my very first story about a girl named Kristen who became friends with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Unfortunately I never had that one published :), but as far as my first novel goes, I’d been working on that for about five years before publishing it.

I decided to become a writer when people seemed to enjoy my short stories that I wrote mostly in college, and I soon after came up with an idea for the much longer story of Torberta Turchin.

Are you a full-time writer or a part-time writer, and how do you organize your writing time?
I’m a part-time writer, full-time librarian/archivist. I’m working on organizing my writing time better, but currently I try to set aside time most evenings to sit in a room with a notebook and pen, plugged into Thomas Newman on my iPod.  Dreary, emotional music puts me in a writing mood better than anything.

What influences your writing?
Honestly, I don’t know. The music I listen to probably does, and I’m sure the types of stories that I like to read and the movies and television shows that I like to watch influence it to some extent. So I suppose what influences my writing is just whatever I like.

Is this your first published work?  What other types of writing have you done?
This is my first published work, but I have also written several short stories, one of which is also available on Kindle, called Abnormality: A Short Story.

What was the process of creating this book from the first idea to the final published book?
Long and drawn out!  I started this book about five years ago, and the story morphed several times. Compared to what it started out as, The Death of Torberta Turchin is not recognizable as the same story. But that just leaves the door open for another book series down the road. I’m currently working on the sequel to Torberta Turchin, but I don’t anticipate it taking nearly as long as the first one.

What are your thoughts on traditional versus self-publishing?
I know this can be a touchy subject for a lot of people, but I’m content to say that each has its ups and downs. I’ve only done self-publishing myself, so I may not be qualified to answer; but I’ve read some great novels that have been self-published, and some absolute trash that’s been traditionally published (and vice versa to both). Despite how anyone feels about it, it will be interesting to see how both traditional and self-publishing fare in the future.

Describe your writing space.
Anywhere with as few distractions as possible, with my notebook and pen or my laptop in front of me, and my giant, silly-looking headphones covering my ears. I usually prefer to write at home, but as long as I’m without a lot of distractions, I can get into the writing mood just about anywhere.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I like to spend time with my husband mostly, watching television (we’re getting caught up on “Supernatural” now), geocaching, video games (Left 4 Dead 2 and Portal currently), and searching for garage sales. I also enjoy reading, crocheting, and spending time with family (and with our kitten).
Which of your characters do you love/hate/fear/pity the most and why?
Love: Charlie, the ghost watching over Torby. He may be dead, but he’s like a protective older sibling. And who doesn’t love an overbearing big brother with a big heart?

Hate: Mrs. Henrickson, Torby’s guardian. I can’t stand to be blamed for things I haven’t done, and Mrs. Henrickson does this to Torby constantly.

Fear: Erik, Torby’s cousin. Selfishness genuinely scares me.

Pity: I’d have to say Torby. Her parents are dead, her best friend is dead (though Charlie does still speak to her), her living relatives hate her, and so do some of her dead ones. She’s picked on in school, and even her living friends think she’s going crazy. And since the book is about her death… I have to feel sorry for her. But generally speaking, she makes the best of all of it, so I can’t pity her too much. Just enough to feel bad about the world she lives in.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’m on Facebook ( and Twitter (!/shammawhiney), and I run a blog ( where I mostly review books that I’ve read.

Please give us a brief synopsis about your current book and when and where it will be available.

The Death of Torberta Turchin is a YA paranormal novel that I hope also appeals to adults. It’s about a 14-year-old girl, Torberta (or Torby), who communicates with the dead. She can’t see them; she can only hear them. Because of this, her relatives sent her to a boarding school for mentally ill children, after her parents died in a car crash when she was five. Ever since then, her best friend has been a man named Charlie, a ghost who died in the 1930s. Charlie does his best to guide and protect her, acting as an invisible big brother. But he can’t do much for her if he can’t figure out who’s trying to kill her.

AUTHOR: Shannon Mawhiney     
BOOK TITLE: The Death of Torberta Turchin
PUBLISHER: CreateSpace


  1. Nice interview, lovely cover. Best of luck to you, Shannon. Thanks, Penny!

  2. Joylene, as always a pleasure to see you here.