As a child, Shannon L. Brown was a voracious reader, but she never planned to become a writer. Years later, an idea for a children’s mystery popped into her head. That story would become her first book, The Feather Chase.
Shannon started writing magazine articles on the side, gradually moving into full-time work. She is now an award-winning journalist, having sold more than 600 articles for local, national and regional publications.
She lives in Nashville, Tennessee with her professor husband and their calico cat, Evie.
This book represents a change for you. Your debut was middle grade, but Falling for Alaska is adult fiction. Was this project a Divine Detour or a planned career path?
A Divine Detour! Years ago, I honed my writing skills by writing several romances, but thought that was my past. None of my ideas (and writers have many ideas) was for that genre. Then this spring I learned of a writing contest by a romance publisher and wondered if I should enter. I asked two people I trust to pray about it, and within days I not only knew in my heart that I should enter, but I had elements of the plot and the main characters’ names, something that I often spend hours researching. I made it past the first level of the contest, and although I didn’t take first prize, I feel like I did because I fell in love with this story and knew I had to publish it.
Then came Detour #2: The book was set in a fictitious small town outside of Nashville. Within a 24-hour period, three different people told me I should write a book about Alaska, the place where I was born and raised. When I shifted the story to Alaska, it all fell into place.
Let’s talk about Falling for Alaska (Sienna Bay Press, November 2015). Please tell us about it.
Falling for Alaska is a fun book with some serious moments. It takes place in Palmer, Alaska, a real, small town outside of Anchorage, the state’s largest city. Jemma Harris inherits a house from her great-aunt. Wanting to escape her corporate job and start her own business, she leaves Atlanta and moves to Alaska. Jemma’s dream is to have a retail store selling the furniture and accessories she rehabs or “flips.”
Her neighbor, the oh-so-gorgeous Nathaniel Montgomery, doesn’t enjoy the sounds of a workshop coming from her garage and tells her so. Their relationship begins on a rocky note that isn’t helped by baggage from his childhood that causes him to hold people at a distance. When they find a stray puppy, he has little choice but to take it into his house, and his life begins to change. It isn’t long before Jemma and Nathaniel also find their relationship starting to change.
What was the catalyst for this particular story?
I’d discovered HGTV’s series Flea Market Flip with Lara Spencer and had recorded a bunch of episodes. As I watched them, a character came to life, one who enjoyed taking old furniture and turning it into something new. That character became Jemma Harris in Falling for Alaska.
What’s next for you as a writer?
I’m editing the second book in the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series, The Treasure Key, and am working on the sequel to Falling for Alaska. The Treasure Key continues with characters Sophie and Jessica who, along with some friends, search for lost treasure. The sequel to Falling for Alaska (as yet unnamed) takes Jemma’s sister Bree Harris to Alaska’s far north, up near the Canadian border, an area of Alaska most Alaskans never see. Creating characters and working on the plot are so much fun!