Interview with Jeff Shanley

Jeff Shanley

Interview Date: 4/6/2012

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I've been writing since I've been reading, which is very young! But as far as my major work goes, MATHION: BOOK ONE OF THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY and its forthcoming sequel THE LAST ASCENSION, I was about 13 and had begun working on what I describe as a "futuristic supernatural thriller" about a 300 year old werewolf hunter who was the focal point of a gang war between his clan of fellow werewolf hunters and a pack of werewolves. But around the same time I first read J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, and I was inspired to create a fantasy history that explained the origins of this feud. The end result was THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

I'd probably like to be able to fly. It'd save me a ton of money on gas, and I'd be able to appreciate seeing the world from a different perspective.

Kev's response:  You know, I just realized that a person who would want super-digging could use the same rationale?  Well, not the fuel savings, but the perspective thing.

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

Definitely Batman! I've always been intrigued by his psychology and motivations, and just the fact that he has no inherent superpowers is a fascinating thing. I guess we could group the Punisher in with him as well.

Kev's response:  I like Batman and all, but don't people realize he's not even a superhero?  Both of these guys are cool, however.  Too bad the last Punisher movie didn't warrant a series, I'd have liked that.


Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

Well a lot of authors are trying to bring something "new" to the table, especially in the fantasy genre. I myself take a major part of my inspiration from classic authors like Robert E. Howard, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and of course Tolkien. I see a need for classical fantasy storytelling to reemerge, where you as a reader can simply believe that what you're reading about could have happened at some lost point in history. Good fantasy doesn't call for a suspension of disbelief, it eradicates the need for it. Which is why I prefer high fantasy to urban fantasy, which is the popular trend today.

Kev's response:  Interesting.  I haven't gotten far past some world/creature/magic details of my fantasy world yet, but I can't say as I concern myself about what any other author does in their story, I'm writing my own.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

Both. I know where I want to start, and I know where I want to end up, but I like to take the journey with the characters, if that makes sense. But there are times where, for the sake of the story itself or for my own personal neurosis as an author, I feel the need to meticulously track the timeline of the story so I can keep track of all the different threads that spin off from the main plot.

Kev's response:  Spreadsheets!

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

There are times where I sit down and just go for it. But I write best when I'm inspired. Nothing can replace that one spark that gives you the fuel to just keep writing and writing, until you have something truly great in front of you that you didn't even know was there before.

Kev's response:  I tend to agree, although I'm more of a "freight train" writer.  Once I get started, I build up steam and power through the thing.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I've dabbled in a ton of genres, and thrillers are neck-and-neck with fantasy in terms of what I like to write most. Thrillers have the potential to be just so slick and frenetic in their storytelling. But in fantasy you're able to escape, both as a writer and a reader, into another world or period and discover something about yourself in the process. As far as reading goes, I just love a good story, no matter the genres. Except for romance novels, that's just not my thing.

Kev's response:  Aw, you aren't going to get into writing erotic werewolf fiction?  There's got to be a market for that.  People do dress up in costumes and party down, after all.  (I'm not judging that, it's perfectly cool with me, but since I never got a hold of that human-sized Sully costume from Monsters, Inc. I just couldn't do a party like that.)

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

Creating. Can't put it any other way. There is just something about the writing process that is very freeing, and anyone who writes would say the same thing, I believe.

Kev's response:  Hellz yeah!  I feel this burning NEED to create.  Had it since I was a teen, at the last.  (Blew a lot of years doing it on software development, however.)

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

Writers' Block. That is a cruel mistress indeed!

Kev's response:  Our nemesis!  That's it, I'm making a villain named Block.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

Something odd? I do hip hop on the side. It's not odd, I'd say, but definitely unexpected. But hip hop lyricism is a great way to keep my pen fresh, so to speak.

Kev's response:  Err....

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I plan several novels at a time, like I've done with THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY, but each one deserves individual attention.

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I don't think the printed book will ever go out of style. It's in our nature as humans to feel the true weight of a story in our hands. Turning pages is a natural thing, and although ebooks have allowed us to carry entire libraries in our pockets, there will always be those of us who prefer the printed word as opposed to words on a screen.

What are your current projects?

I just finished a major revision of my debut novel MATHION, and now I'm diving head first back into book two of THE MAVONDURI TRILOGY, called THE LAST ASCENSION.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

Go for it. If there's one thing ebooks have done for the author is that they've allowed us to get our word out with much more ease. And self-publishing through Barnes & Noble or Amazon is a great market test for new writers, and to also expose you to potential agents and publishers.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

I do have a blog, the Mavonduri Trilogy Official Blog where I talk about my writing. I also do movie reviews on there, and recently I've begun doing Author Interviews and Guest Posts!


You can find my book on Amazon:

Barnes & Noble:

and Smashwords:

and they're all $0.99! Also on Smashwords, you can find my FREE prequel novella to MATHION, HRÉOKAI: THE RISE OF AZGHARÁTH:

Kev's response:  Jeff, thanks for joining me, though I wish you'd have brought a werewolf to pet during the interview.  Good fortune on the trilogy and beyond!
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