Weariland by Mary Shotwell Author Interview

Hey guys! Another author interview here… I realized I haven’t been active lately on anything or any of the blogs I follow. Things have been hectic for me in the past couple of weeks with my AP tests coming up in the next few months and having to “buckle down” and prepare for all of them. :O Anyways, enjoy reading this! I’ll try to get a discussion post up by Friday.

  • Title: Weariland
  • Author: Mary Shotwell
  • Genre: YA
  • Release Date: May 10, 2016
  • Publisher: Merge Publishing


For fifteen-year-old Lason Davies,
it all started with a text.


The last words of her murdered grandmother haunt Lason as
she travels to England with her sheltering mother for the
funeral. The crime is a sensation, but the clamoring reporters
and news photographers aren’t the only ones interested in
their arrival.

As her mother’s behavior borders on erratic (on a good day),
Lason encounters a stranger from Weariland, a dreary world
once known as Wonderland. He petitions Lason’s help in
finding a secret family heirloom, a key to saving his land—
and to Lason’s past. Lason is swept in an adventure through
Weariland’s unpredictable realm, encountering colorful,
fantastical characters and discovering her family’s elusive
history. But if she isn’t careful, she may never return…

  1. Did you ever experience writer’s block while writing this book?


I don’t believe I experienced writer’s block. I did, however, take long breaks between writing. At that point in my life, I didn’t schedule time to write every day or every week. I had the story in my head, and always knew where to take it, but didn’t always have the discipline to sit down and write.


  1. What was your favorite part about writing this book? 


I enjoyed coming up with the backstory for Queen Ira. It’s dark and horrendous, but it really helped me plan out who she was and how the story will shape up beyond this book.


  1. What was the hardest thing about writing it? 


Finishing it! It was hard to finish because, like I said before, I didn’t take writing time seriously enough. I would go through spurts of writing and long periods of no writing. The story would weigh on me in my head, and I kept telling myself to finish, but I dedicated time to other endeavors. I know now the fault of my ways.


  1. How did you come up with the cover design? Did you design it yourself?


I could give a seminar on this, but I will try to be brief. There were other cover ideas presented, but none of them reflected the feeling and imagery I wanted. I ended up going with an acquaintance of mine who came up with the design. I told her covers of other books that I liked in YA, and that I wanted something more abstract yet attract Alice fans. I loved it immediately.


  1. Who are your writer “idols?”


Michael Crichton is my all-time favorite. He wrote 10,000 words a day, which is crazy. I can do that in a day, but not every day. After finishing my first novel, I have a deeper appreciation for authors that can produce a book a year or more.


  1. What do you think about book trailers? Do you think they are useful?


I like watching book trailers if they tell me more about the book than the blurb. If they simply repeat the back cover with photos, they don’t really impress me. On the other hand, I’ve seen some that are pretty outlandish. I’m not sure if they help in selling books, but having one for Weariland impressed my students!


  1. Who did you first show your book to? 


My mom! She was a champion of my work. She read several drafts, and (of course) provided zero negative feedback. I think I needed that to finish it, but then sought critical friends and family to get to the points that needed improvement.


  1. When did you first come up with this book idea?


While I was attending graduate school in Charleston, SC, I had a poster in my room of Alice and the major characters of Wonderland. I was a fan of Gregory Maguire and wondered if he would ever take on the story retelling (he has since then). I thought, instead of waiting for him to write it, why don’t I?


  1. If you are currently reading any books, what are you currently reading?


I got an advanced copy of Irena Brignull’s The Hawkweed Prophecy at BookCon last year. I haven’t finished it yet, but I like the premise of a witch and ordinary girl switched at birth.


  1. Do you have any tips for any aspiring writers or authors? 


I hated hearing this when I was starting out, but you must write—every day, or at least every week if you want to take writing seriously. I’ve learned the hard way to go through the process of James Patterson. I have an idea, make a beginning/middle/end, then write a detailed outline of each chapter. I force myself to write out what will happen in each chapter before writing full sentences of the manuscript. I need to know everything about my characters—appearance, traits, flaws, conflicts they encounter, and their resolutions. I map out my settings.  Writing “off-the-cuff” slows me down considerably. I do come up with new points to add as I’m writing out the outline in manuscript form, but for the most part, all the major pieces are formed and intertwined the way I want them to be before writing.


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