Shawn D. Robertson was born a Massachusetts (U.S.) native, and the New England weather and culture would forever influence his life and his writing. In fifth grade he got to write his first original piece of creative writing, as an assignment from a substitute teacher. Turns out the piece was pretty good, and the teacher called Shawn’s mother into the school. Mr. G. informed Missus Robertson that her son had a gift and that she should nurture it. She acted proud in the moment but never spoke of it again. Shawn, however, clung to it as a dream.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
The short answer is Dungeons & Dragons. I was introduced to D&D at 10ish and I was hooked. From there I of course started reading fantasy novels and running the games (DMing). I mean, I wanted to write before this, but D&D led me deeper into storytelling. This is when I realized it was a calling. As for the present story I’m telling (my first public effort), it has been about 7 years in the formation, the setting I actually birthing the story.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
Fantasy allows us to reach beyond the norm, and it allows me to put “common” individuals into uncommon circumstances. If I can take this a step further and speak about grimdark fantasy, it is the presence of enormous contrast that draws me to it. Contrast is where all true beauty can be found, and it is contrast I wish most to put on display in my work.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
The aforementioned contrast. There is great dichotomy within the overall tale I’m telling, and I find this heightens the individual elements. Read the first two installments and you’ll see what I mean.
4.If we reach beyond the written word into visual media, and you could choose how your story is consumed, would you want a television show, a movie series, or anime to tell the story of the book and the world it takes place in?
I would absolutely love to see my world brought to life in a high-quality television series. Outlander comes to mind as a great adaptation–granted it’s not fantasy, but it is a perfect example of novels being brought beautifully to life in our living rooms.
5.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
Anxiety is almost always present to some extent. That may not be the best word for it, but it’s what comes to mind. My breathing quickens, my body tenses, I lean forward slightly. Anticipation, maybe? I think you get the idea. I just let it happen and ride the wave. It’s a rush when you finally drop out of that zone and realize you’re pretty proud of what you just put on the screen.
6.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Write, no matter how shitty the circumstances of your life. Just get the words out.
7.Let’s talk about tools. Do you have a word processor that you would tell us to use? Is there a certain computer that has become your favorite? What do you look for in a keyboard? What would you absolutely have to have if you were to sit down and write your next book?
Scrivener; for long projects I have found there is no better piece of software. Google Docs helps me communicate and collaborate with beta readers with ease! ProWritingAid has also vastly improved my writing quality. My favorite computer is my HP Spectre x360 laptop I bought specifically because it had a quiet and fully-backlit keyboard–it’s also the best computer I’ve ever owned. I don’t plan on writing any future books without these four things. I’ve found my system!
8.Describe your workplace.
My workplace is pretty mobile these days, but my primary static workplace is an oak 1950’s roll-top desk. I plan on having it refinished down the road, but for now it is plain and simple and without the Funko Pops and books that grace many writers’ desks these days.
9.Describe your muse.
The woman I love has given me the happiest and most peaceful life I could hope for, and that has not only allowed me to do what I do but also inspired me to greater heights. One dream has enabled another.
10.If you could live anywhere other than where you are, where would it be?
This is Jennifer’s dream and I’d like to make it come true.
11.If you could choose any other writer, living or dead, to be your mentor, whom would you choose and why?
Robert Jordan. He was and is one of my greatest influences. The Wheel of Time series is a masterwork in my opinion–a great big thank-you to Brandon Sanderson for finishing it!
12.Do you have a uniform, a pair of shoes, a shirt, a watch or ring, that you wear every time you work?
Sweatpants and usually a long-sleeve t-shirt with one writerly saying or another on it, or sometimes one with a D&D reference (“She wants the D&D” and so forth).
13.Now that you have published your first book, do you have any dreams you have not reached? Goals for new books, series beyond this publication, or anything else that can tantalize the fantasy public?
The series of shorts is still in progress and will be collected into a single novel-length volume when it’s complete, but there is so very much more planned for afterwards. The Soul of the Blade series will act as an introduction to my setting, and as a sort of prologue to the greater story tale to be told in the series of The Elrathir Cycle. Once that series is complete (which will take years) I plan on writing several other series that take place at different points in the history of the world, so readers can see how things got to where they did. It’ll fill in a lot of blanks and provide adventures and hardship for a very long time to come. I’m very proud of Ahldir (my world). There are a labyrinth of layers in the story (and history), which means there are always new things to uncover.
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