It’s time for another great interview. Today Shana Figuera has stopped by to share a peek into her life and books.Welcome Shana!
Lets start with a bit about your new release, Reckoning
Reckoning is the third book in the Valentine Shepherd series starring Val and Max—the same couple from the first two books, which I know is rare for a romance series. The first two books focused on the initial relationship between Val and Max, and how they overcame both internal and external obstacles to grow as people and be able to love one another. The third book jumps ahead five years to find the couple settled into marital bliss with two children. The story explores how they’ve changed, and what happens when their bond is tested to its limit.
That is a great concept in following one couple and their entire journey as they change and age. As a first time reader which book would you recommend to start with and why?
For my own series, start with Vengeance. It’s the first in the series, and you’ll figure out pretty quickly if it’s your cup of tea or not.
Sounds like a good idea. What comes first in your writing? The world, the characters or the plot?
Characters, always! Without interesting characters, nothing interesting happens. The world comes after that; even if the story takes place in contemporary times, I need to decide if I’m writing noir, or sweet, or quirky, or whatever because it will bound the character’s actions. Then I throw in a problem for the characters to tackle, and there’s my plot!
Where do you see the genre a year from now? Ten years from now?
Maybe this is wishful thinking on my part, but I see the genre becoming more feminist. The unfortunate fact is there’s still an undercurrent of sexism, and sometimes outright misogyny, in many romance novels. It’s not nearly as bad as it used to be, but it’s still there. However, I’ve seen a lot more women speaking out about it nowadays, especially this past year when the cost of silence on the issue became painfully clear. I think readers will become less tolerant of sexist tropes in their stories.
Interesting thoughts; Personally I have not read much of this genre. What’s the strangest inspiration you ever got for a story idea?
My original idea for Vengeance, the first novel in the Valentine Shepherd series! It went like this:
Before Vengeance, I wrote and self-published a romantic comedy novel called Spice of Love, about a woman who goes on a reality dating show and ends up falling in love with the head producer while wacky hijinks ensue (available now on Amazon!). In that book, there are two fairly tame sex scenes. One day I told my friend how the parts of the book I enjoyed writing the most were the sexy times, and how I should write a whole book of mostly sex scenes. So we started spit-balling ideas about what kinds of situations would put a heroine in the position of having lots of sex for some plausible reason that didn’t involve BDSM, sex work, or sex addiction. Then it came to me – WHAT IF when you had sex, instead of having an orgasm, you saw the future? That would be pretty cool, right? Maybe??
At first it seemed like a dumb concept, but then it occurred to me – if you saw the future at climax instead of the big O…that would suck. You’d have problems maintaining intimate relationships, no one would believe you if you told them, and those who did could take advantage of you, you might grow to hate sex or think of it as a tool rather than an act of intimacy, and you’d feel alone and like a freak. Your life would probably be kind of a mess…Now THAT’S a story!
Yes it is a story!Lol. It sounds a bit crazy yet intriguing at the same time. When you write, is atmosphere important? For example, do you use mood music or candles? Do you need complete quiet to concentrate?
Heck no! I have two young daughters who are little tornadoes of energy. If I needed peace and quiet to write, I’d never get it done. I’m more productive when I’m not distracted, but I can write pretty much anywhere.
Wow sometimes background noise can make us more productive. What character in your books do you relate to the most?
Probably Max from the Valentine Shepherd series, weirdly enough. None of my characters are based off myself or anyone I know, but there are pieces of me in each character. Max is the kind of guy who keeps is feelings very close to the chest because he doesn’t trust people not to take advantage of him, which I relate to a lot.
So each character is their own person; Cool. Do you like your books/stories when the are finished or are you overly critical of your own writing?
I have to admit – when I’m done writing a story, I think, “Wow, this is really good!” I should probably be more critical, but in truth I’m my biggest fan. I’m kinda terrible that way. 😉
Lol we should always be your own best fan. What where your favorite books growing up?
I loved the Sweet Valley High books when I was a kid. My best friend and I even had the board game! We played it all the time!
They were popular books to read. How about we switch to a few personal questions so that readers can learn a bit more about you. You mentioned you are an active duty military member, as well as a writer. How do you manage doing both?
Due to the long hours I keep at my primary job, I have to do almost all of my writing in the evenings. For me, the key to finishing a manuscript is to work on it a little every day, with few exceptions. My usual quota is 300 words a day. I also have my husband to thank, since he tackles most of the child-rearing duties while I go to work and then come home and write.
Great juggling it is always great when family and even friends are very helpful when our plates are full. If you could be any animal what would you be?
A red dragon. I wouldn’t be evil or anything, but I wouldn’t put up with sh*t from anyone.
Awesome. I have never heard of anyone wanting to be a dragon. Great choice. Is there a place you have never been to that you always longed to go?
I’d really like to go to Fiji and stay in one of those cabanas on stilts over the water. That’s my dream vacation
Oh sounds so inviting! You’ve decided to throw a dinner party. What will you serve and will it be an intimate affair or a wild one that the neighbors will still be talking about next year?
There will be elaborate desserts, because I’m all about fancy desserts. And it will be drunken and wild, because I’m all about that, too.
Yum. I hope to be invited.Lol What are some of your hobbies?
I like martial arts a lot – I’m working on a 4th degree black belt in Taekwondo, and trying unsuccessfully to get my daughters psyched about the sport, too (bummer). I’m also trying to teach myself how to draw. I also enjoy embroidery.
They are a varied interests and a 4th degree in black-belts!- Are you a morning person or a night owl?
More of a morning person, but only by necessity. They tell you in the military that there are 24 hours in a day to get stuff done, but for some reason they do everything in the wee hours of the morning.
Ugh. That is tough if your not a morning person. What do you like most about living in the Northeast?( I too live there in Northeastern Pa!)
I like how there are a million things to do. Living in a major city like Boston, you never get bored.
True living in a place like that they have something for everyone to enjoy. Personally I love living in the mountains. They are so beautiful in the fall. Did you growing up have a nickname? Do you still use it?
No, but when I was in ROTC they gave me the call sign of “Postal,” because I was “weird,” they said. Kinda mean to people working in the postal industry, but that was back before we became collectively woke on such things.
Lol that is different. Favorite Color: Food: Smell:
Blue; Salmon, in all forms; fresh baked cookies
Great answers.. If you weren’t a writer you’d be…?
A politician. I just might be a writer AND a politician, once I retire from the military.
Uh oh it would be a 50?50 percent that you would be like or hated!.to finish up are you working on any writing projects right now?
Yes! I’m almost done with the first draft of a totally new novel, a science fiction YA(ish) story about two battled-hardened soldiers from the future who are thrown back in time into their teenaged bodies in our present day. As they try to figure out what’s going on—and grapple with their growing attraction to each other—they begin receiving orders to kill. Should they obey like the good soldiers they’re supposed to be, or resist and risk destroying the future?
That sounds like a great book. Readers watch out for its release. How can your readers contact you?
I’m most active on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/shanafigueroaauthor. I’ll also answer any and all e-mail I receive at shanafigueroaauthor.com. But the best place to interact with me is on my website at shanafigueroa.com.
Shana Thank you so much for stopping by and answering a few questions. We here at Coffe Time Romance & More wish you much luck and success in your writing.
Reviewer & Interviewer
Coffee Time Romance & More