Today I introduce my readers to author, Shawn Lamb! Shawn writes fantasy books (like me!) and YA historical Christian fiction.
So, tell my readers about yourself and your books!
My name is Shawn Lamb and I write in 2 genres: The YA fantasy series Allon and Christian historical fiction The Huguenot Sword. I used to write for the children’s animated series BraveStarr. The show was produced by the same studio responsible for He-Man and She-Ra. I won several awards for screenwriting, including a Certificate of Merit from the American Screenwriters Association. Last year I was named one of 50 Great Writers You Should Be Reading 2011.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember; short stories, poem, scripts, anything. In fact, The Huguenot Sword is the first novel I ever wrote and I was 16 at the time.
What genre(s) do you write and why?
YA fantasy and Christian historical fiction. Fantasy was not my choice, in a way. I’m a die-hard historical fiction lover, but when my daughter was in high school she asked to write her a fantasy. She didn’t like anything too dark, rather the good old fashion stories like Tolkien or Lewis. As her friends learned about “mom” writing her a big epic fantasy, they became very interested and came over to talk about the book.
What started off as character and story discussions, turned more personal. They began asking me life questions. The planned single book became a series in response to their questions, but more importantly, to answer their need for hope.
With Allon established, I returned to my first love – historical fiction.
What challenges have you faced since becoming a writer?
Oh, by far marketing and promotion. I was stunned when my published sent me a long list of things I needed to do for promotion. I thought this was part of what the publisher did. After all, they have the distribution, sales teams, connections, etc. Authors just show up for books signings and events. Not that I expect the royalties to come pouring in, but I never thought I would be doing ALL the marketing and promoting. Although I was surprised again at my publisher passing on the rest of the Allon series, I learned enough that I wasn’t too fearful of being on my own as a self-published author.
What sort of workshops do you teach and why?
This year I’ll be teaching a workshop on using Spiritual discernment in choosing fiction. I’m doing so in a response to requests from parents at various homeschool conventions I attend. In fact, I just published the Parent Study Guide to Allon Books 1-4 as part of fulfilling their request. Many homeschool parents use fiction as part of their lesson plans. So the study guides includes an overview of the Biblical themes in each book, how the main characters portray those themes and suggested questions to reinforce the themes.
How important is it that you have the Christian worldview in your stories?
Very important. As a Christian I do not compartmentalize my life. Writing is a talent God has given me and I use it as an extension of my life and Christian walk.
Why have you written Christian historical fiction?
If we forget our past and those who sacrificed for the faith we will lose a part of our Christian heritage. We enjoy our freedoms today and the easy access to Bibles and preaching due to the unwavering commitment to the Truth by our forefathers and foremothers in the faith. I feel I owe them respect and gratitude, for I could not imagine suffering what they did for Christ.
What is your favorite Bible story and why?
There are so many. But one person who stands out to me is David, a man after God’s own heart. He was such a paradox of faith and failure. No one should pattern a life after his bad side, but David’s life shows God can work even when people fail. God both chastened and forgave David. He blessed David, but didn’t shield him from the consequences of his failures. I take comfort and warning from David’s life.
How do you utilize your blog to help market your brand?
Branding isn’t just about getting the word out about my books, so I don’t push my books too hard on my blog. I do make announcements, etc. But branding is also about building a reputation. People know I’m a Christian, as I don’t shy away from that. However, to become credible as a knowledgeable author, I use my blog to give tips and insight into the world of publishing and writing.
How important is it for a writer to create a brand?
I think it’s critical, and for the reason of reputation. When someone first gets published they launch into marketing and promotion, either singularly or by hiring a publicist. But what some fail to recognize - or even consider - is what reputation or image they need to create as an author. I write in 2 genres, so which am I? A YA fantasy or historical fiction author? Neither, I’m Shawn Lamb, award-winning author, speaker and authority on my subjects.
Due to my blog, I’m constantly fielding requests from agents about their clients, questions from publishers about book to movie options, scriptwriting, which producer to contact, and aspiring authors wanting tips or asking about the difference between traditional and self publishing. This ‘branding reputation’ gives an impression about me even before a reader picks up any of my books.
Why should writers use social media to market themselves?
They need to learn to use it wisely, not just scatter shot and hope people will buy their book. Think about how to use FB or Twitter effectively. What is theme to their blog?
For example, when I started the FB fan page for The Huguenot Sword, I decided to post snippets from history about the Huguenots and life in 17th century France. I include a picture or illustration with each post. This encourages people to visit the page on a regular basis for interesting updates and generates discussion, as told by the analytics on the page.
What are your predictions regarding the eBook craze and the impact it will have on traditional publishing?
E-books are having a dual effect, positive and negative. The negative first: due to the ease of the format, anyone can publish a book, and at no cost if they do the formatting and upload to Kindle or Nook. However, the recent rush to join Select put tremendous pressure on the industry as a whole in the fact of making ‘free’ downloads a standard. Such a glut of unsupervised e-books by new authors with little to no experience makes it more difficult for established authors to market and present their e-books. The competition has turned into a feeding frenzy, and one I don’t believe is good in the long term. In fact, it has already proved damaging to traditional publishing, and isn’t good for readers or authors. E-books and e-readers aren’t proven technology, as told by all the recalls by Amazon of Kindle Fire.
The positive is the format makes books available to others in various countries where the print version either isn’t available or costs too much. The idea of e-readers replacing print books is not one I believe will happen, or be good for the industry. We shouldn’t lose our publishing heritage simply to advance technology. I think a happy medium needs to be struck.
Thank you, Shawn Lamb, for visiting my blog and telling us about yourself, career, and writing process. I wish you the best of success in all your writing projects!
You can visit Shawn at her web site: http://www.allonbooks.com
and her blog: http://allonbooks-
And you can purchase her books at: Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Shawn-