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Author Interview with Shannon Heighton Hicks!

I had the wonderful pleasure of speaking with Shannon Heighton Hicks about her books and her writing process. She has a fantastic MC Romance series that you should totally check out! Keep your eyes peeled for more blog posts reviewing her series. Read on and get to know this amazing indie author, and be sure to check her link at the end so you can follow her on social media!

When did you first start writing?

In third grade! We were given spelling lists and had to write stories using all of the words from the lists. My third grade teacher who was never very nice to me actually complimented my story and said I was really very creative!

Why did you start writing?

Being an only child, I was lonely and didn’t have a lot of friends who lived close by. I was at my grandparents a lot because I was raised by a single mother. I read a lot and watched a lot of TV. I began writing in notebooks making up my own stories and still do to this day.

What or who inspires your writing?

So many people. I read so many genres and ideas intrigue me, from concepts to true life incidents. My mind always goes to but what if and I go from there a lot.

Is writing a therapeutic process for you?

How does your writing help you? It can be. When I had my children, I stopped writing and dreaming for a long time. We had our first child when we were very young and my mother died shortly after that. Responsibility and paying bills took over any creativity I may have had. My job still does that at times so finding time to write is a challenge. The stories are always in my mind, just getting them down is the challenge!

What is the most difficult part of your writing process?

Finding time and then feeling like it isn’t a piece of crap.

Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Yes. lol

What comes first for you – the plot or the characters – and why?

The plot and the characters. For Blind Love, Priest was front and center the whole time and everyone else formed around him.

How do you develop your plot and characters?

I have to say it is organically at least to me. I will have an idea or concept. A beginning, middle and end and then the characters develop the story from there. Sometimes I think they can make the changes on their own and completely change it and other times I realize because I know how, especially with this series I have to be pretty determined because I know how it will end so I have to be very clear on the path.

How do you use social media as an author?

I am still learning. My first group was a complete failure. I try to keep my current reader group as a fun and safe place. My brand is inclusive and I allow any and all authors to share their work in their as I have a broad group of readers who have joined the group.

How do you handle writer’s block?

Not well. I tend to walk away. I have not found the magic to getting past it. I am very slow at writing as it is. Those that churn out books at a fast pace, I would love to know their secret!

How do you process and deal with a negative book review?

At first, of course, they hurt my feelings. Now I reflect on what is being said. What are they saying they didn’t like. My style of writing? The actual story? Did they want more? Did they feel I didn’t do enough? Were they right? I am still new to this so there can always be truth in an opinion. It can also be that the person is just a troll or jerk.

What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?

Find a really good editor. Ask for feedback from others. Join author groups on facebook and read what others are saying. Other authors are not your audience. It is natural to want their feedback but the reader is who you want to reach out to for feedback. Finding your tribe can be tough. It can be heartbreaking but hang in there. Do not compare yourself to others and never look at another’s success against your own no matter how hard it is to not do so. Just don’t do it to yourself.

What is your favorite part of publishing?

What is your least favorite part? My own decision making. I hate marketing and do not understand it at all!

What do you think is the most important part of publishing after you finish writing your manuscript?

Editing and understanding how important a cover is for your genre. It may seem superficial but it can make or break a perception at first glance.

Did you choose to write MC romance or did it choose you?

I chose it! I fell in love with the genre because of the brotherhood it represents not necessarily the crime element that it can have but that is a large part of most series.

Which book is your favorite that you have published so far?

Blind Love

Are the books in your Iron Back Warriors a series or standalone? If a series, what order should they be read in?

Definitely a series.

1. Blind Love

2. Baron

3. Romeo’s Prospect

4. Behind the Lies

Do you base your characters on real people?

No, though I do have what they look like in my mind. Oddly enough, I am the type that cannot picture things in my mind if someone describes it. Weird but I can see people.

Which of your characters do you relate to the most and why?

A combination between Claire and Cass. My husband swears that Claire is me and he is the dead husband. He is obviously alive so how can that be? Lol Claire and Cass are both fiercely strong and love their families. Being strong independent women and strong matriarchs was important to me. Whereas this will remain to be seen for Cass, I think the audience will come to understand it with her.

How much research do you need for your books?

With this series, not a lot. We have vacationed a lot in Myrtle Beach and the concepts that I have mentioned and will be approaching I am familiar with. Others I have researched but I have purchased resources that have helped me flesh out ideas and to better understand why the characters have made some of the choices they have made.

What was the hardest scene to write, and why?

That is one that is coming up that I can’t talk about. Actually two. They are very personal. One because it hits very close to home for me. They both will change the series as they head into a darker direction. Some will ask darker than it already is? Hold on to your seats folks.

If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?

I would probably be a little tongue tied around Priest and Romeo. Ranger and King are both pretty quiet so getting them to talk would be a challenge. Pretty, Baron, and Otter would be the easiest to talk to as they are the most approachable. I would ask Vicious to train Cletus Earl, my dog, to not want to eat any stranger that comes to our home. It would get pretty wild from there because all bets are off when it comes to Bigs. How long do we have?

What is your favorite quote from one of your books?

Always and ever only you. Otter to Romeo

What tropes are in each book?

All in the MC genre. Blind Love is starting over with MMF, Baron is the same with single dad falling for the Nanny, Romeo’s Prospect is MM with close proximity. Behind the Lies is about family lies and betrayal and getting past it to healing

What is your favorite trope to write?

Right now, I still love MMF and MM. I would say I don’t write alpha males perse but strong male and female characters that work well together.

How long did it take you to write each book?If one book took longer to write, why?

Blind Love was 1 year. Baron 6 months. Romeo (ROO) 6 months. Blind Love only because it was bits and pieces because it was only Priest and Claire at first but it felt incomplete and then there was Ranger. I thought oh. There you are. Where you been east Texas? That quiet man just shrugged and grinned. Jerk.

How would you describe your book’s ideal reader?

My books come with content and trigger warnings. The MC is not one that deals in crime but there is violence against women and men. There are elements that can be triggering and that explore human trafficking, abandonment, stalking, and other darker themes. I list them on my website with the disclaimer that it will also give away plot points.

Are your books wide or only in Amazon?

Amazon only at this time. They are on KU

Tell us a little about each book?

1. Blind Love – I wrote this after reading so many books about perfect 20 year old bodies. Claire is a widow and close to 50. Her body is not perfect but she is starting over in Myrtle Beach and meets King, the president of the Iron Back Warriors after helping his grandson, Nate. From there she meets his brother, the VP of the club, Priest. It isn’t love at first sight, at least on her behalf but he is a determined man. The thing is, he already has a relationship with another club member, Ranger. Priest is also a widower and isn’t really over the loss of his wife. Claire gains a stalker and life will never be the same for this club.

2. Baron- Remember me mentioning Nate? King’s son is Baron. Nate is Baron’s son. Baron has been stationed overseas. While he was away, his wife, Jade ran off, leaving Nate behind. But that isn’t all, she had a baby, leaving it at the hospital. (She’s a real peach.) Alone with 2 kids, Baron realizes he can’t do it all alone. He needs help. Welcome Cass! She falls for Baron’s kids. Hard. But she is running from something too. What can it be? Oh. Claire’s stalker is still in the picture and is after Cass and Baron’s kids. The club is in even more peril.

3. Romeo’s Prospect – We take a pause from the prior stories to focus on these two guys. Their back stories are hard to bear but their love for each other is a beautiful thing to see grow. Otto (Otter) is the sweetest guy you will ever meet with a heart of gold with the biggest crush on Romeo the former stripper turned nurse. When Romeo has a life altering injury and Otter is tasked with caring for him, could this be his chance to win him over? Or will their pasts get in the way of their happily ever after?

What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?

Crazy enough I like to write when football is on!

What is your favorite writing snack or drink?

Nothing in particular. Whatever is on hand.

If you could spend a day with another author, whom would you choose and why?

I am not sure. I now work for a company based out of Maine and all I hear about is when Stephen King comes into the local shops they all shop in. Sometimes meeting your heroes isn’t all it is cracked up to be?

How do you celebrate when you finish your book?

I haven’t in the past but my husband took me out to dinner for ROO.

What risks have you taken with your writing that have paid off?

No risks so far. Just being indie in itself is a huge responsibility as you pay for everything.

What has helped or hindered you the most when writing a book?

Lack of time. I am in a new job and it is kicking my butt. Finding the time to write and manage my social media, etc has been the biggest challenge. I can’t afford a PA at this time so it is all on me.

What advice would you give to help others create plotlines?

I have found that planners that I have purchased are useful but it is a personal preference. Some use online plotting tools, some use dry erase boards. Joining author groups and seeing their ideas and trying them out to see what works best for you.

How many hours a day do you write?

My plan has been to at least put 1 hour a day in. It doesn’t always work out that way. Most of the time it is only on the weekends.

What are your favorite or most helpful author resources?

The Thesaurus sets (emotion, occupation, etc.) so many websites like canva, and places to make my posts. Get Cute Creative for post ideas. Novel planners and Author groups for resources for discounts for end of the year or throughout the year.

Do you love MC romance? Are you looking for a new author or do you know Shannon and just want to stalk her because she is so amazing? Make sure to follow her! Find all of her links here:

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