Interview with Shona Snowden, Runner Up Essay Contest Winner
Shona Snowden lives with her husband and children in Sydney, Australia. She works as a freelance copywriter, squeezing essays and fiction in around paying clients. Her short stories have been published in several national magazines in Australia and 'The People's Friend' in the UK, and her humour has appeared in 'The Sydney Morning Herald'.
Shona loves writing for both adults and young adults and finds, sometimes to her own surprise, that most of her characters like to hurl themselves into paranormal mysteries. Maybe the spirits are trying to tell her something…or maybe Shona's characters are just braver than she is.
As well as writing and taking care of her family, Shona spends her time reading, cooking and learning to identify the many Australian spiders and snakes that would like to kill her.
More information on Shona's stories for young adults can be found at: http://www.shonasnowden.com
Shona placed as a Runner Up in the Fall Personal Essay Contest sponsored by skirt! books, with a prompt by Jill Butler, for her story Recreating Home. If you haven't done so already, read her story and come back for the interview!
Interview by Debbie Delgado
WOW: It sounds like you have a full plate of family, freelancing, fiction writing and writing for fun. How on earth do you fit it all in?
Shona: Well, my house is a mess... I admit that life is easier now that both of my children have started school, which gives me about six hours or so a day for work and writing. Until they get sick and then the whole thing falls apart!
WOW: I hear ya! Besides that challenge, what was the most challenging part of writing this essay?
Shona: Getting started, because the events that kickstarted this period in my life--being stalked--were so awful. You'll notice the lack of detail! I did write more detail on the stalking originally, but decided that wasn't at the heart of the story. This story was about what happened afterwards. However, a couple of my friends have asked me to write more about the stalking at some point, and I will when I feel ready.
WOW: That's a tough subject. But it sounds like you created such a warm and wonderful place for yourself in Amsterdam. What is your space like now that you reside in Sydney? Does the thick green china and the bubble tumblers still have a special place in your home?
Shona: My home in Sydney is so different from the one in Amsterdam. It's a large house, with open views and a swimming pool--impossible things in Amsterdam. I still miss my home in Amsterdam, even though it has been about fifteen years since I left. That space was so totally mine, and went from nothing to being such a wonderful home. As for the china and the tumblers, I wish I still had them. I have almost nothing from that time, because when I did leave I had to travel light. I went to Canada, but that's another story...
WOW: Ghost Boys Give Cold Kisses is such a fun title for a Young Adult novel. Where do you find your inspiration for your paranormal mysteries?
Shona: It is still a surprise to me that I write paranormal mysteries. When I first started writing, I thought I was writing about awkward characters with family issues! I guess I still am, just in a different way. Ghost Boys Give Cold Kisses was my attempt to submit to the voices and write a straight out ghost story and I had a ball doing it.
WOW: Do you have any writing rituals?
Shona: I have a thing about the number 13 and I won't stop reading or writing on page 13, or reading on chapter 13, it has to be 12 or 14. I'd miss chapter 13 out altogether in my own writing if I could, but even if I skipped it, or used titles instead of numbers, I would still know it was there. I just write really fast when I get to that area! I’m not great with multiples of 13, either. I know. Weird.
WOW: How do you "switch hats" from freelance to fiction?
Shona: I've learned to do that pretty fast, because sometimes I'll find I have an hour left at the end of a day of commercial writing and if I don’t make that head switch quickly then the hour will be gone. I'll usually visit a few blogs for a five to ten minutes just to clear my head, then jump in.
WOW: Lastly, do you have any advice for those just getting started in their own writing adventures?
Shona: The biggest mistake I made at first was not to write unless I had at least two hours available. Now I try and write even 100 words a day. It might not seem like much, but it keeps you in touch with the progress of what you are writing, so when you do get a bigger chunk of time you can jump right in, rather than spending time reminding yourself of where you are in your story.
The Spring '09 Flash Fiction Contest is Open, with guest judge literary agent Wendy Sherman. Deadline: May 31, 2009. http://www.wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php