We were able to interview our June Author of the Month, Shalaena Medford, about her books and writing process! Read below to find out more about this talented author!
“Writing is easy. Writing well is difficult. And writing an entire world with real people in it is an art.”Shalaena Medford
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
“I actually wanted to be a teacher, then it was a singer, then an actress. In middle school I started designing clothes and was actually accepted into the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Unfortunately, I was never able to attend.”
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
“Everyone that knew me knew I was going to be a writer, except me. After high school I began working on a book, but it sat abandoned for years. Then one day I buckled down and finished it, then somewhere along the way I realized it had a sequel. Once I had the first book done and was working through the second, I realized I wanted to do this forever. I wanted to share my stories with the world.”
When did you write your first book, published or unpublished?
“My first book (Fate) was started in 2007, but not continued or finished until the end of 2010. In 2013 it was the second book I ever published. I recently finished rewriting it and plan to re-publish it at the end of this year or in earl 2021.”
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
“It’s sporadic, chaotic, and all-consuming. I often stay up late writing in Google Docs on my phone until I start falling asleep and drop it on my stomach. I’ll keep Scrivener open on my Mac and turn in my seat to that side of my desk and write while I have down time when playing MMOs.”
How long does it take you to write a book?
“It depends on the length and the story being told. I wrote All That Glitters during NaNoWriMo, but it turned into something so much longer than one book. I wrote another in the same world another NaNoWriMo, and though I passed the word goal, that one is also unfinished. More recently I managed to write over 70,000 words in just over 2 weeks.”
Where do you get your ideas or inspiration for your books?
“Anywhere and everywhere. All That Glitters was a basic idea I woke up with one morning. Hamelin, my horror WIP, was a strange nightmare I woke up from several times to feverishly write down what I could remember. Doubleborn and War Machines are both books that different friends and I started together, mixing ideas and creating something great. The Worst Dyrkon was a daydream I was writing as a (really terrible) screenplay.”
How many books have you written?
“I have started and worked on 31 books, including a fanfiction series consisting of 8 full books; All That Glitters is 6 books; the Fate series is 3. Now, if we’re talking completed books, that’s unfortunately only 5 original works, plus one rewrite, and 7 fanfiction books. I should be finishing another rewrite in the coming months, as well as hopefully finishing book 3 in All That Glitters.”
What do you think makes a good story?
“A good story is one that when you close your eyes you can see it. The words on the page blur into a movie in your head. The characters are relatable with colorful personalities and fully fleshed out pasts. I love stories that aren’t afraid of being a bit controversial and will tackle subjects others might shy away from or allow others to tell them they’re not allowed to write about it—which is something I recently had to come to terms with. For example, all advice on writing about sexual assault says don’t use it as a plot device, a character backstory, or a plot point unless the story is about that. I didn’t know what to do, since it’s a major part of a story I’ve been working on. Then my sister said to me ‘Not writing about sexual assault unless that’s the entire book is like not being allowed to write gay characters unless the book is all about being gay.’ She went on to say that she personally likes how I tackled it because it feels authentic. (I should hope so, I based most of it off the description and story of a friend who was assaulted, and she gave me full permission to use those details.) Excluding assault of any kind from a character’s backstory, just so it’s more consumer friendly, removes the chance that an actual survivor would identify with that character. If you only include it if the story is only about that, makes survivors feel like they have no one in literature that represents them, unless it’s a book they probably don’t want to read, anyway.”
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
“A quirk I have in my writing process is that my initial rough drafts are all in my head. I will daydream the scenes until I know how it needs to play out before I put it into my computer. Sometimes I will rewrite them, other times they come out exactly how they were meant to.
“A quirk within my writing is the necessity for emotion, particularly sorrow. I’ve caused many readers to cry, and if I’m being honest, I see that as an absolute win. A friend told me that I made the sorrow of the main character feel so real that he almost felt like it was his own personal pain. Rest assured, though, I write those scenes with blurred vision and tissues nearby. I also really love curveballs and shocking surprises.”
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
“Writing is easy. Writing well is difficult. And writing an entire world with real people in it is an art.”
What does your family think of your writing?
“My family loves it! My mom and one sister edit for me, my other sister beta reads for me. I’m not sure about my half siblings or my other relatives, though. They never comment on it and I doubt they even read it.”
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
“I love playing video games, mostly MMOs, and watching shows or movies. Sometimes I’ll work on my digital art, though I don’t work on it nearly enough. I love listening to music and having it inspire parts for one of my stories or bringing new ideas to my mind.”
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
“I don’t have many readers, but those I do have are mostly people I know in some capacity. One of the most common reviews is how absorbed they became with the story. How they got sucked in and even became obsessed. Another comment is that my stories are unpredictable, taking a left when the reader expects a right. The number one aspect I get from nearly everyone is how they saw the stories as movies in their heads.”
Do you have any upcoming books?
“I do! Firstly, at some point hopefully this year, I will be refreshing All That Glitters books 1 and 2 with new cover art. I plan to have book 3 follow soon after. Also hopefully this year will be the grand re-release of Fate, which by all rights is an entirely new novel, just with the same plot as before.”
What is some advice you could give other writers to help them with their own writing adventures?
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you have to write a certain way with certain habits. What works for one writer does not work for another. If you wake up in the morning and are a brainless zombie, don’t force yourself to get typing just because someone said ‘good writers’ do it. Writing is not one size fits all. I know world-builders, outliners, people who write beginning to end, people who write end, then beginning. I personally just write out scenes as they come to me and then arrange them in an order that makes sense. The only two things that are true for any writer who wants to succeed are obviously first: to write. If you can’t write every day, that’s fine, but make it as many times a week as you can. Second, read. Don’t just read anything, though. Read stories that are in your genre and age group. If you’re like me and you write any genre and don’t care about sticking to one, then read only that genre when working on that book (trust me, noting knocks you out of your headspace like reading a deep fantasy when you’re writing a contemporary drama).
“Most importantly, don’t let anyone tell you what you can’t write. Research how to make it presentable so you’re being respectful to the subject. Research is, and always will be, your most important tool—researching thoroughly and properly should become one of your best skills.”
Is there any other information you wish for us to share with our readers?
“I’m an extroverted introvert with anxiety, so unfortunately, I often times fall out of touch with social media, though I try to be responsive.When I get reviews or messages about my books it makes my year and I will read over it again and again, often sharing it with everyone I know. Every author loves hearing from their fans. Honestly, leaving a review and recommending a book to friends and family are the best ways to support an author.”
There you have it! Another interview with another well-deserving author! I encourage you to head over to Shalaena’s Amazon and see what books she has to offer! They are well-worth your time.