Shawn Lamb is a multi-award-winning fantasy author. As a former television scriptwriter during the 1980s, she uses her experience to craft fast-paced stories with interesting characters. Shawn travels the country as a guest of comic conventions and book festivals. As our Author of the Day, Shawn tells us all about her book, The Great Battle.
Please give us a short introduction to what The Great Battle is about.
“The Great Battle” shows the beginnings of discontent in a kingdom where mortals and immortals live in harmony. It explores complex relationships between individuals, belief, family, and faith.
Which of your characters was the most challenging to create?
In many ways, the Guardians are challenging. Through them, I give a different perspective of the eternal. Although they are powerful and immortal, I established parameters in how they interact with mortals. They don’t simply exist to supernaturally get people out of trouble. This is often frustrating since their primary duty is to protect and serve – similar to angels in that respect.
The imposed limitation creates tension within the Guardian ranks, and the stories, which is good. They are trying to figure it out alongside the mortals, and navigate the best resolution.
You are a former screenwriter - has this influenced the way you write your novels?
Oh, definitely! The demand to produce a first draft in 1 week helped to quickly hone my skill. By week 2, 3 at most, you need a polished script. There is no such thing as “writer’s block” in Hollywood. You either complete the assignment, or you don’t get another one.
“Plotting” taught in fiction writing classes, is nearly non-existent in professional screenwriting. Yes, there are creative sessions to hash out details and direction. Perhaps, even a few storyboard panels, but it’s mental storytelling. I carry this cinematic style into my fiction books.
Is there something that compels you to write? And do you find that writing helps you achieve clarity about yourself or ideas you've been struggling with?
“Compel” is an accurate word since I can’t recall a time I didn’t write. Or as I’ve told many people – I cannot not write. (Yes, a double negative) Not so sure I would use the word “clarity” when struggling. I have a clear picture of direction in my mind. Rather, the flow of words brings release, a catharsis. Then, I can relax.
Besides writing, what other secret skills do you have?
Cooking. I love to cook. In fact, during the pandemic lockdown, I made short videos of recipes linked to each book in the Allon series, I put them on my YouTube channel – Shawn Lamb. Many of them are Elizabethan recipes or adaptations of such.
Most authors set epic fantasy books in the Dark Ages, but for Allon, I chose a similar time to the Elizabethan period. This way there are knights along with gunpowder for sea battles. Castles more grand and not stark. The Elizabethan was age of discovery, including an expanding spice trade. Elizabethan cuisine explored various flavors combinations. Fun stuff.
Why fantasy? What drew you to this genre?
A request from my daughter when she was 13. She loved “Narina” and “Lord Of The Rings”, but there weren’t many books back then for kids her age. So, she asked me to write a good-old fashion hero-quest story. BTW, She’s now 33.
At that time, I concentrated on historical fiction, and certain exactly what to do. I re-read Tolkien and Lewis. I enjoyed both as a kid, but took on a different tone as an adult and writer looking for inspiration and technique. Tolkien proved most influential in discovering his use of history and mythology. BINGO! I could incorporate my love of history to create a kingdom, its inhabitants, caste system, and surrounding kingdoms. From that moment on, the stories flowed quickly. I completed 4 books of 100,000 words each in 14 months.
Do you have a favorite line from the book, and can you explain what that line means to you?
Actually, my favorite quote is from the book “Struggle for Allon”, as it describes situations throughout the series: “Anything less than a clear choice is as difficult as maintaining your balance on a fence. You may survive for a while, but at some point you will fall to one side or the other. It would be best by choice rather than by accident.”
Life is about choices, why we make them, and ultimately, how it impacts our life and those around us.
In “The Great Battle”, choices have serious consequences for the entire kingdom.
This is book 1 of a series. Can it be read as a standalone? How do the other books in the series tie in with this one?
All the books are “complete”, meaning the story is wrapped up by the end. However, they build upon each other in chronology order. For example, many years can pass between some books, while others, only a few months. Mortal characters come and go, while Guardians remain a consistent presence. Family and heritage link mortals. The rich complexity, is best read as a series
Does writing about surreal worlds and enigmatic scenes present any particular problems?
Not really. I set parameters and use the “ordinary” to anchor the “extraordinary”. The key to a good fantasy, is establishing the everyday life of the characters. This gives a basis for the reader to become grounded prior to introducing fantasy elements.
When I teach writing, I tell novices not to neglect basic set-up. Too often newbie writers rush to the exciting part of fantasy. This exuberance often leads them to write the story into a corner and unable to figure out how to escape. They solve this with a sudden unexplained use of magic or supernatural. It becomes a contrivance rather than integral part of the story.
What are you working on right now?
My new project is the 3rd book in the Eldar saga, another fantasy series.
Where can our readers discover more of your work or interact with you?
My books are available everywhere in either paperback or digital – Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, etc. They can even buy signed author copies directly from me on my website Allonbooks.com. On the website, they can sign-up for a newsletter, and/or join me on Facebook at LambsEnd. This Facebook page is for both myself and my husband, Robert Lamb, a former scriptwriter and storyboard artist for “He-Man” and “She-Ra”. We travel the country as guests for comic cons, book festivals, and personal appearances.
I will be appearing at two upcoming events. The first is FarleyCon, a comic convention August 14th, 2021 at Camp Jordan, East Ridge, TN. The second is Next Chapter Con, an author and book event October 2, 2021 at the convention center in Dalton, GA.