Today I got the awesome chance to interview Author Shawn Kirsten Maravel. I recently read and enjoyed her newest release, Know Thy Neighbor. Below you can find the cover and blurb for this book and a link to check out a sample or ratings on amazon. (I definitely recommend it.)
Evangeline has already lost everything once. She’s no stranger to reassembling the shambles of her life and trying to make peace with the outcome of the greatest tragedy that she’s ever had to face. But when a life of selling antiques in the Lower East Side proves to be less than enough to maintain her meager lifestyle, she turns to the pages of her thriller novels for distraction.
When a mysterious new tenant moves into the apartment above hers, she indulges her desire for danger and adventure by trying to figure out exactly who the stranger in 6C is. In time, the intrigue about a neighbor she has yet to actually see, isn’t enough to keep her distracted from the threat of having to close down her shop and start from scratch for the second time. Just as she tries to refocus her attention to breathing life back into her business, she meets the handsome stranger for the first time and she loses sight of everything else.
Soon her life takes on the exciting appeal of her novels and she can’t seem to get enough. But as she draws closer to the mystery tenant, she discovers that the danger is real and her life is left in the hands of a dangerous killer.
Read my review of Know Thy Neighbor here
with Shawn Kirsten Maravel
1. Know Thy Neighbor is different from your other novels. How did you come up with the idea for the story and did you find it easier or harder to write?
The idea for Know Thy Neighbor came to me as any of my stories do: unexpectadly. The thing is, I don't go out trying to come up with a certain type of story. I never know if the story that comes to me will be paranormal or contemporary, suspenseful or more realistic fiction. My idea to write Know Thy Neighbor was sparked when I was headed back up to our apartment back in Germany. We lived on the third floor in a stairwell appartment. The idea of running into a complete stranger, a man of course, good-looking and mysterious popped into my head. I jotted this little blip of an idea down and started writing shortly thereafter. I kind of tackled the story clumbsily to be honest, it took me over a year, close to two, to actually pick it up for the final time and finish it. I'm not sure that it was harder to finish because of it's differences from my other works per se, though the action scenes were definitely new teritory for me and I turned to my husband a great deal for help in that department.
2. The main character, Evangeline, has a beautiful name, not very common. When choosing names for your characters, do you just pick them randomly from a list, choose them because of the meaning of the name, or have a different reason all together?
I chose Evangeline because it has been the name I've wanted for our future daughter for years now. For about a year my husband and I AGREED on the name and when I got pregnant (almost 10 months ago now--due any day) he scrapped the name and I was totally deflatted. I LOVE Evangeline for a girl and I'm just stuck on it. As an author, however, I have the rare opportunity to use names that my husband and I don't agree on in my fiction. My "fictional children" if you will. In fact, that is where I came up with the name Landon for my Rider series novel The Wanderer. At the time, my husband swore up and down that he didn't like the name for a boy. Again, I was heart broken because I just LOVED the name. When I became pregnant and we found out that we were having a boy, despite the fact that I'd already used the name on one of my fictional children, I still fought for the name and--after picking names from a hat--I got my way and my husband has grown to like the name too. So, long story short, ideally, I choose names I would choose for my children that my husband scraps. Not only does this make my work a tad more personal, but I can have those names that I love in my life forever, even if they can't be for my real children. Based on how Landon turned out I am still holding out hope that Evangeline will re-enter the scene when we have a girl.
3. Your main character has her own business. If you could own a business what would you do?
If I could own my own business it would probably be a book store. I know that it's probably the worst business to go into but I just think I could make such a cute little book store and I'd love to be surounded by books and to share them with people. I'd try and have something in my store that no other stores had so that I could have a niche that would keep me in business. Who knows, maybe some day.
4. You often write books using everyday heroes as the characters, policemen, army men, etc. Do you think this is because your husband is in the army?
I use every day heros because I'm a total romantic about anything everyday that others might walk past without seeing. Yes, living in the military community has opened up my eyes quite a bit to that stuff but even before my husband enlisted I was exposed to it. My uncle is a retired NJ Trooper and we had season tickets to West Point football games for years where I would see soldiers doing things that just put a smile on my face, like watching a football game and celebrating that, even if they rarely won a game. My best guy friend was a Marine right out of high school and is now in the Air National Guard reserves. He has plans to some day become a firefighter. So in one aspect or another I'm surrounded by these "every day heros" and their work and acts performed by those like them always pulls at my heart strings. Not only that but I love to see men in uniform doing everyday tasks. For some reason, for me at least, it's like watching Batman help a kid tie his shoe or Captain America buy groceries. The Wanderer and the Rider series ultimately was inspired by my girlish fascination with a man in uniform on a motorcycle. It had nothing to do with his story or his job...just that image. That ordinary act made extraordinary by his uniform. I can't get enough of it.
5. As an army wife moving is inevitable, but it can make it hard to settle down and make a place feel like home. How do you cope? Is there anything you have to have with you whenever you move, no exceptions?
We just moved in early December, by choice, to live closer to post. No doubt we'll be moving in another year or two and in some ways it certainly isn't easy but we cope where we can. If I have my husband and my pets I can make home anywhere, even in a hotel room for as long as I have to. The key to feeling at home for me though once we get to where we're going is setting everything up as quickly as possible. Some people theorize that if you leave stuff packed up that you don't need it's less you have to move next time. I don't agree. I worked like crazy to unpack our house in a little over a week, despite being 8 months pregnant at the time, because I wanted it to feel like home as soon as I could. And it does. And that makes all the difference.
6. You currently have out five novels. What novel has been your favorite to write and why?
Each book that I've written has a specially place in my heart and a different connection, so it's hard to say which one is "more special". Writing Volition and Severance got me through my husband's year-long deployment and there's just no taking away from what that means to me. The Wanderer was written in the honeymoon stage of his return. I started jotting down notes for it while we were in Ramstein, Germany getting ready for my husband to have eye surgery and the feelings I had during that time, of being reunited, of starting a new chapter, it's all tied into the book for me. Shifting Gears I wrote when we moved to New York. It was a way of coping with no longer being in Germany and missing it so much. I had started taking my dog for walks in the cemetary and that's where the idea sprang from and it helped me find my footing in our new home and find purpose for myself. Know Thy Neighbor was a combined success story and celebration of my pregnancy. My last hoora before becoming a mom for the first time. Not only had I rescued the book from my archieve pile, but I managed to actually finish it, and in the timeframe I'd hoped to. So, really, each book stands alone in why it's important to me. Character and story wise though...if I had to pick one, I'd have to say The Wanderer wins out. Landon and Max are two of the most real and raw characters that I've written and I just love the story that they told, a story I was lucky enough to capture on paper.
7. And last but not least, Evangeline immediately thinks the name of her new neighbor “John Smith” is false. (And can we blame her?) If you could change your name to anything, would you? And what would you choose?
I used to want to change my name when I was younger. I got a lot of crap for having a boy's name and sometimes I just wanted to avoid the ignorance of others and have an easier name for people to wrap their heads around. Now though I've come to fully embrace my name and I wouldn't change it for the world. It fits me too perfectly to want anything else.
Well there you have it everyone, my first author to author interview where I am the one asking questions... (it sort of makes me feel like a journalist or a reporter or someone cool like that ) I can't wait to see what Shawn has up her sleeves next. As an author of five novels already, I'm sure we can expect only greatness :)
Thanks again Shawn. :)