"New Worlds Are Our Oyster."
Young At Heart
Spotlight on Young Adult Fantasy and Paranormal
Shawn P. Cormier
Shawn Cormier was born in the small town of Southbridge, Massachusetts. He found his love for words early, reading the likes of Jim Kjelgaard, Jack London and J.R.R. Tolkien. Finally, having run out of "good reads,” he put pen to paper and at age twelve wrote his first short story. He has been writing ever since, earning his Creative Writing degree from Long Island University, Southampton Campus in 1989. When not writing, he can be found in his family's jewelry store, repairing jewelry and studying gems. He currently resides in East Brookfield, Massachusetts with his wife and two children.
An Interview with Shawn P. Cormier
PNR: When did you first decide to become a writer, was it a childhood interest or something that came later?
Shawn C.: I knew I wanted to be a writer after I read Jim Kjelgaard's Big Red. In fact, the first story I ever wrote was for my fifth grade English teacher, Ms. Budzinski, and it was titled, "Old Majesty.” Old Majesty was the bear in Big Red, so I guess you could say there was a wee bit of plagiarism involved. But I was only 11, and I did get an A. After that I read The Hobbit and knew I wanted to write fantasy.
PNR: What role did books play in your childhood? Which were your favorites?
Shawn C.: Books played a major part in my childhood. I was a loner with few friends. I was not a sports fan, so my heroes were fictitious characters. The books I read taught me many of the virtues I still carry with me. While some kids looked up to and emulated the sports figure of the week, I looked up to and emulated the likes of Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings, Travis from Old Yeller, and Menion Leah (from The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.) I was a library rat. Some of my favorite books when I was a child were Old Yeller by Fred Gibson, Snow Dog by Kjelgaard, White Fang by London, everything Tolkien and The Sword of Shannara by Terry Brooks.
PNR: Which author(s) do you most admire? Who has most influenced your work?
Shawn C.: Beyond the authors I just mentioned, Ursula Leguin, David Gerrold, Madeleine L'Engle and C.S. Lewis are also among my favorites. As for who has most influenced my own writing, it would have to be Terry Brooks. The Sword of Shannara was like the Lord of the Rings on steroids. I read LOTR several times through before coming across Shannara. I loved how Tolkien's epic story floated on the surface of this wonderfully vast world, a world with far reaching histories and stories interwoven upon each other. But I often wished there was more suspense and action. I think that's why to this day I still like the Hobbit better than LOTR. Then came The Sword of Shannara, Brooks gave me what I craved! An epic page turner!
PNR: What are the greatest challenges to you as an author?
Shawn C.: The biggest challenge I face is time, or the lack of it. I manage the family business, have children to raise and play with, a wife that would like to spend more time with me, and a house with a lawn to mow. Those things must come first. My writing is a late-night affair. Nomadin was written from 10:00pm to 1:00am, five nights week for over a year. With NiDemon, I was able to finagle several hours off from work on Fridays, so the night hours were fewer. But what I wouldn't give for just a few more days off!
PNR: How do you approach a new story idea? Briefly describe the way you write a book from idea stage to finished product.
Shawn C.: The idea stage is where the majority of the work is done. On the outside, the idea stage looks like a great big period of inactivity. Hey! Look at him! He's mowing his lawn again? Isn't he supposed to be writing? But in truth, I am very much preoccupied with building the story. What is it really about? What do I want to say? The actual plot is secondary, because as we all know there are a thousand different way to get from point A to point B, and if you are a good writer, each way will be as compelling to the reader as the next. No, the idea stage is for big picture thinking. I mull and pontificate and mope around for weeks. Sometimes I take notes along the way. As this stage begins to wrap up, I begin making the connections between characters and events, deciding on point of view, background material, plot shifts, how to surprise the reader. With Nomadin, the first book in the series, I had LOADS of time for the idea stage. No one was expecting a book from me, so there was no point in rushing it. With the second book, the idea stage had to be shortened. Fortunately, I had done more than enough thinking for book one, so the idea stage for book two went more smoothly.
When the ideas are to my satisfaction, I begin to sketch things out. Some call it outlining, but for me it's more like heavy note taking. I begin to get all those ideas on paper. I'm still not worried about the actual writing at this point. I want to flesh out character motivations, especially the bad guy's. I explore scenes that I find emotionally crucial such as the darkest moment, the climax. Then I begin writing. If I've done enough mulling and note taking, the writing is the easiest part of the process, and the most enjoyable. Since I haven't truly outlined and haven't set anything in stone, I can be flexible, and often the writing surprises me.
Finally, there comes the rewriting process. This is where the work of writing really begins. The first draft is a non-stop frenzy. The second and subsequent drafts (3-4 usually) are all about the words - sentence construction, dialogue, description, how to create that picture in the readers mind. It's all about the words. This final process is the most tedious, but also the most rewarding.
PNR: Nomadin and its sequel NiDemon feature an intricately crafted world; could you tell us about the development of the land of Nadae?
Shawn C.: The development of Nadae actually began many years ago, when I was in high school. I loved maps, and would spend hours photocopying atlases to use as templates to draw my own maps. I didn't realize it at the time, but as I was drawing these imaginary maps, I was world building. I would imagine how the land looked where the rivers met the plains. I would picture the types of trees in the forests, the topography of the land. I peopled my maps and named countries and cities and rivers and forests. Many of the places in Nadae were dreamed up in the public library some twenty years ago.
When I developed the story for Nomadin, I naturally turned to the world I had imagined years before. And as Ilien began to explore Nadae in book one, I discovered aspects of it I had not dreamed of. Now in NiDemon, book two, he and I are at it again. So you can see, Nadae is definitely a work in progress. There are vast unexplored tracts of land that I'm dying to explore!
PNR: As a reader, I was thoroughly caught up in Ilien's plight and journey of self discovery; could you tell us about the development of his character?
Shawn C.: I knew Ilien from the moment I set eyes on him. I was in my sophomore year in college when I began a story about a young boy who lived with a crotchety old wizard. I wasn't planning on going anywhere with the story. It was just a bit of writing for the fun of it. I had no idea for a plot. I just saw this boy in my mind. He never knew his father. His mother was absent much of the time, and he had this deep rooted desire to be noticed by someone, anyone. He felt so real. I managed three chapters and put it away. I didn't know it then, but those three chapters would later become the first three chapters of Nomadin. Nearly ten years later, after finishing a novel that will never see the light of day, I picked up those three chapters and felt that connection again. Only this time, Ilien refused to be put down.
PNR: What is your favorite genre to write? Is there any style or genre of book that you’d like to try but haven’t yet? Age group?
Shawn C.: I am a young adult author. At the moment I write fantasy, but I have many more stories to tell, and most are not fantasy. When I was young, books were my lifeline, something to hold on to amid the ups and downs of childhood. I am still grateful to all those authors who wrote for ME, made ME feel better, and helped ME forget the bad days. That's why I write what I write. I wouldn't want to write anything else.
PNR: Can you tell us about your next project?
Shawn C.: I am currently in the idea stage for Necromancer, the sequel to NiDemon. I am mulling, pondering and moping even now!
PNR: As we close, please tell us about how we can learn more about you, your books and future projects.
Shawn C.: You can visit my website, www.pineviewpress.com to learn a bit more, read some sample chapters, contact me or buy the books!
NIDEMON - Ilien survived the ordeal at Greattower. He defeated the NiDemon, destroyed the Groll, and rescued Princess Windy. But the shadow remains.
NOMANDIN - Young Ilien knows nothing of the dark tales told around late-night fires, or of the legendary Nomadin Wizards and the prophesy that haunts them. But all that is soon to change. For a shadow touches the peaceful land of Nadae. An ancient evil is stirring. Already a NiDemon has crossed from the land of the dead. And now Ilien must run - from a monster of unimaginable cunning and power, toward a fate more frightening than that which hunts him. But he cannot run forever. Eventually he will have to make a stand. Sooner or later he will have to face what even the legendary Nomadin cannot ... himself.
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