Today we are welcoming Shawn Wickersheim to Flight of the Dragon, one of my very favourite Tweeps! Shawn lives in historic Woodstock, Illinois with his wife and children. You’ll have to excuse me if I gush a little (and I’m not usually prone to gushing) because Shawn’s book, The Penitent Assassin, is the best book I have read all year. Seriously.  

Thanks so much for joining us Shawn (long emphasis on the so – gushing, remember?). What genre do you consider your books? 

Fantasy. 

No, really?

Should I narrow that down a bit? I’ve been told The Penitent Assassin is ‘dark’ fantasy. Others have called it ‘high’, while still others have suggested ‘low’. Some have claimed it to be an ‘epic’. Eventually, it will become a part of a series, though it is a stand-alone book. Let me explain. I intend on writing a variety of fantasy novels all set in the same world and all connected to each other one way or another. Some will be “Mallor” books (Mallor is the main character in The Penitent Assassin), others will not, however when I’m finished there will be a completed story arc encompassing all of the books. I’m working on a series title right now and will likely reveal it when my next books are released.
Oh, I stumbled across the term ‘scoundrel’ fantasy last year after reading Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy. I like that term, but honestly, beyond ‘fantasy’, I don’t mind what people want to label my books, as long as they are reading them (and hopefully enjoying them!).

Oh, I’d just call it ‘high’ – or even ‘epic’ . I believe epic refers to the scale of the conflict and not, as is the common misconception, the number of books… oh wait, we’re here to talk about you, not my genre definitions. It looks like you have more than enough opinions already! (Psst! As for scoundrel lit, the Bloody-Nine wasn’t all that bad… No, really!).

Have you ever hated something you wrote? 

All the time. I am incredibly hard on myself when it comes to my writing. I often have to remind myself that it’s okay for first drafts to be crappy. In the past, I used to suffer from writer’s block after reading my horrible first drafts. I saw no way to make those early drafts better. But I pressed on. Now, I embrace the editing process. I love editing. I realize those crappy first drafts are just the means for me to get the basic story ideas out of my head so I have something to work on. I know, some people are probably reading this and thinking, “DUH!”, but I had to work past the idea of having to get it right the first time and just focus on getting it out. I truly love writing, but the real magic comes from the editing.

I’m not sure if we have the same problem or not. Possibly, but I think I take mine in a different direction – compulsive editing! 

What are your current projects? 

In The Rush of Betrayal, life should be good for foreign ambassador, Lord Ian Weatherall. He’s rich, he’s married to the local princess and their young son is heir to the throne. But all is not as it should be. Friends have mysteriously died, others have been financially ruined and his marriage is falling apart. There are rumors that many in the city are unhappy with the racial mix of their future king and some are calling for his removal. Suddenly, Lord Ian’s business ventures sour too. Is this all the work of one man bent on seeing him and his son destroyed, or is it a conspiracy by many to incite war against his native land? Will Lord Ian be able to uncover the truth in time, or will he fall victim to the worst kind of betrayal? Discover the answers when I release The Rush of Betrayal: Book One in June 2012 and Book Two later this year.
If you’ve read The Penitent Assassin, you’ll likely guess all is not as it seems and these books will also have quite a few twists and turns and surprises in them. (And if you haven’t read The Penitent Assassin yet, you still have a little time before the new books come out!) After these two books are released, I plan to begin work on a direct sequel to The Penitent Assassin. 

If you haven’t read The Penitent Assassin, you should go forth and read it immediately! Beg, borrow, or steal a copy (or even buy it, Shawn might prefer that), just read it! Say, where did this sword come from? Ahem *hides sword behind back*. 

You’re a tease, Shawn, waving the hint of two new books under my nose, like freshly-baked muffins recently gone from a room…. And I still find it ironic (or maybe it’s just convergent evolution) that my first book has betrayal in the title, and your second does, while your first has penitent and my second does! But Shawn’s are published and mine are not, so anyone reading this shouldn’t waste anytime looking for mine. Just go read The Penitent Assassin.  

What books are you reading now? 

I just finished Scott Lynch’s “The Lies of Locke Lamora”. I’ve been aware of this book for a while and it sat in my mental ‘to read’ pile for a good year and then in the span of a week, I had three or four people insist I read it. I’m glad they did. I truly enjoyed the world and characters Scott Lynch created and I just ordered the sequel from the bookstore where I work. I’m currently reading a couple of books right now, “The Sour Lemon Score” by Richard Stark and “The Fall of Billy Hitchings” by Kirkus MacGowan.

That’s right, I added it to my ‘to read’ list because of the discussion we had with Kirkus. And it’s still there… because I’m here, doing this interview, instead of reading. 
What do you do when you’re not writing? 

Think about writing . . . 

Hmm, is that better or worse than using one’s free time to interview people who think about writing?  

I am a stay-at-home dad with two young children and they keep me busy during the day. I work part time at a local independent bookstore most evenings and I drive for a bakery at night. In between, I write. That’s not to say I don’t have fun too. In my free time, I enjoy biking, reading, watching movies, fixing up my house and hanging out with my family. 

Oh gosh, is this how exhausted people feel when I tell them everything I do around writing? Oh, no, wait, that’s just sleep deprivation, never mind. Is there anything of you in any of your protagonists? I’ve read the Penitent Assassin and I’m kind of hoping maybe no… 

Mallor, from The Penitent Assassin, is a determined, stubborn and often single-minded man who hates to lose and refuses to quit until he gets what he wants and according to my wife . . . well . . . let’s just say when I set a goal for myself I can ‘sometimes’ get a little determined . . . and stubborn . . . and single-minded.

Also like Mallor, I’m fiercely loyal to my friends, very protective of my children and deeply in love with one woman. Fortunately for me, I’m married to the love of my life and she accepts me for who I am . . . even if I am ‘sometimes’ just a little determined . . . and stubborn . . . and single-minded. 

Thankfully you chose some of Mallor’s less violent qualities. I’m not sure if our protagonists would get along like a house on fire or try to kill each other.

Okay, how about a few fun questions and answers?What is your favorite color? 

It’s changed over the years, but lately, my favorite color is green. I find green to be a very relaxing and yet mentally stimulating color and since I’m remodeling my tiny home office this summer, I figure it’s time to paint it a color I like. 

I’m afraid to ask what the colour is that you don’t like that’s currently on the walls of your office. I’m thinking about some of the colours they always seem to paint hospitals… 

What is your favorite drink? 

Mt. Dew. Or milk. Wait, was I supposed to name something alcoholic? Some sort of cool mixed drink? Beer? Sorry, I work too often to really enjoy anything alcoholic anymore. 

Nope, non-alcoholic drinks are acceptable. It just means you’re not going to raid my liquor cabinet, which means more for me! 

If you were a car, what kind would you be? 

Probably some sort of sports utility vehicle or maybe a pick-up truck. I used to drive a big green Dodge Ram pick-up truck years ago, but gas got too expensive and I traded it in for something smaller. 

I always say a Lotus Elise. Don’t ask. I like the pick-up truck notion. We call them ‘utes’ here. We even have ‘ute musters’. 

Finally, do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 

Thank you!

Like any author, I need fans and while I already have some great supporters, I can always use more. A lot more! So if you enjoy my books, please tell all your friends. You can also connect with me on-line on Twitter. You’ll find me @STWick. Or you can send me a friend request over on Goodreads. I’d love for you to add my books to your ‘to read’ list (Okay, I’ll admit it – I’d much rather you actually read my books and then add them to your ‘read’ list).

But in all seriousness, I appreciate you reading my books and I promise, I’ll try my best to keep writing the best books I possibly can.

Happy Reading! 

Thanks for joining us, Shawn, it was a pleasure. You can find out more about Shawn and his books on his blog (which he occasionally updates!) The Ink-Competent Writer (God I love that name!). His books are for sale at many online ebook sources including: Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble.
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