Monday, May 5, 2014

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Shelby K. Morrison, Author

Shelby K. Morrison, Author
Shelby K. Morrison just released her debut novel, SHATTERED, described by reviewers as “a captivating...thought provoking...action packed psychological thriller!” full of surprises. The novel tracks a college student from Beaverton, Oregon, who senses she is being watched.

Morrison currently lives in Utah, but was born in Oregon and grew up in California and Utah.  She plans to try on multiple genres and is currently writing a fantasy story. She says she is addicted to doing research, but also enjoys DIY projects, and especially “hanging out” with her husband and two shih-tzus.

Q: In what genre[s] would you place SHATTERED? Mystery, thriller, or SciFi? Or all three? Who will enjoy reading SHATTERED the most?

Shelby K. Morrison: After doing some thinking, listening to my readers and learning about genres, I'd actually place SHATTERED among the psychological thrillers. The sci-fi aspect is so small that those that aren't sci-fi fans would steer clear when they really shouldn't. No spaceships, no aliens. Readers that enjoy a good thinker and some fast action will enjoy SHATTERED, no matter the age. If they are tired of the traditional who-dun-it mysteries and want something fresh to nag at their thoughts, SHATTERED is the book for them. Also, any readers fascinated by conspiracy theories should definitely pick up SHATTERED. It could also be categorized as an action adventure.

Q: What are the attributes of an engaging mystery? Is a mystery also a thriller? If not, what makes a thriller? How did you create a “thriller/mystery” or “psychological thriller?”

Shelby K. Morrison: For a mystery to be engaging, I feel the reader should want to find the answers as much as the protagonist. They should get frustrated when they reach dead-ends, they should be concerned about the looming deadline. A mystery can be a thriller if there is the possibility of death, if you are not only absorbed in the mystery but also the safety of your characters. I've created a thriller/mystery with SHATTERED because the reader is learning with Alex, yet also afraid for Alex. They know just a little more than she, but just a little. They are curious, frustrated, anxious to find the answers in time. A mystery with a deadly deadline. Was that redundant?

Q: How do you entice readers to care about your characters, especially your protagonist, Alex Bowen? Do you base your characters on real people?

Shelby K. Morrison: SHATTERED is a particular story, where the readers might not connect completely with Alex until mid-way through the book when a large secret is revealed. Might. However, I try to allow my readers to understand Alex bit by bit as the story progresses. Apart from that, I strive to make my protagonists as human as possible, with annoyances, bad habits, flaws, weaknesses. Alex, for example, is very naïve in the beginning of the book, very trusting. Ian, a secondary character, hates riddles. And on it goes. Characters shouldn't be the perfect person, they should be real. Sometimes the reader may want to slap them and other times they may want to hug them. I don't base them on real people because, honestly, book characters need to be larger than life. Real, only better. They are real people in my head, for whatever that's worth.

Q: Does the concept of “heroes” vs “villains” apply to SHATTERED? Do you need a villain to produce a hero?

Shelby K. Morrison: SHATTERED doesn't have a strong obvious villain. Certainly you will know who the villain is meant to be, but that doesn't make them a true villain. If that makes sense. It's all perspective. To some, the villain in SHATTERED is no villain at all. Some could venture as far (very far) as to say that the villain could technically be viewed as a hero. But to Alex, this is her villain, the dragon she must slay. You don't necessarily have to always have a dragon to slay, to find a hero. You just have to have a character who stops at nothing to do what they feel is right.

Q: How or what inspired you to conceive of your story about a college student being watched? Is it based on a real event? 

Shelby K. Morrison: Haha! I would certainly hope not! No, most of the story is my imagination. However, large, and I mean LARGE, chunks are based off of true life. Strung together, a complete work of fiction. Broken up, huge truths. This might be scary to readers. And it should be. That's the point. Mainly the tiny bud of the idea (it's altered much more into what it is today) started when I thought "What if everything you knew was a lie?" I can't say much more, lest I spoil it. However, if you visit my website, I do go into more detail about the inspiration of SHATTERED. Only read after you've read the book.

Q: Did you write SHATTERED purely to entertain, or did you also want to deliver a message and/or educate your readers? 

Shelby K. Morrison: I wrote SHATTERED to entertain. Yet, as it grew into the story it is today, it became plump with a message. But, to make it clear, I didn't write it with a message in mind. The message came with the territory. A message that the world is moving at an alarming rate. If we don't put our foot down, draw the line somewhere, it will swallow us whole. We need to take a step back and ask ourselves, "Is this really what we as humans want? Or are we just drifting with the tide, accepting the world as it morphs into something our ancestors wouldn't recognize?" But the message isn't a glaring one, just one that will probably dance through most readers’ minds as the book comes to a close.

Q: How relevant is setting—in Oregon or at a college—to telling your story?

Shelby K. Morrison: College and Oregon are just to relay the life Alex led before tragedy struck. The real setting is the island. Oops, spoiler! But SHATTERED didn't always take Alex to an island. It originally took her to France. But that was boring, difficult to convey, not ripe with danger. An island, though. That is dangerous, mysterious, threatening. Setting is key for the emotion you want your readers to feel while reading. It's like asking if the set to a play is important. Always. Sometimes that one little (big) tweak can totally transform your story from okay to great!

Q: Do you control your characters when writing, or do they lead you to write what they want?

Shelby K. Morrison: I'd say the control goes 30/70. I can't make my character do something if their character just wouldn't. It's like someone writing a story about me and writing that I picked up a crab. Sorry! Nope, no crabs. Even if it would help the story, my character wouldn't do it. So I can only encourage my characters, not force. If I desperately want them to do something out of the norm, I need a different character. This can all be avoided by designing the character you want from the get-go so they always do what you hope. That's my method, anyway. 

Q: What’s next?

Shelby K. Morrison: I'm currently working on a Fantasy title. Gasp! I know, genre leap. But I'm just starting out and haven't found my niche yet. The goal is to have it published by the end of the year or early 2015.

Q: Tell us about Shelby K. Morrison. What do you do when you’re not writing?

Shelby K. Morrison: When I'm not writing, I'm researching. It's an addiction. When I'm not doing that, I enjoy DIY-projects, bargain shopping, taking up a random artsy hobby for the month or hanging out with my husband and two shih-tzus.

About Shelby K. Morrison

Shelby K. Morrison was born in Oregon and grew up in California and Utah. SHATTERED is Shelby's debut novel, with many more to come. Shelby plans on exploring other genres down the road before claiming a specialty. She currently lives in Utah with her husband and two dogs. When she isn't writing or reading, she enjoys researching, crafting, bargain shopping, and DIY-projects.


What would you sacrifice to learn the truth? That is the question Alex Bowen, a headstrong college student from Beaverton, Oregon, must ask herself when she learns she's being watched. But who's doing the spying? And why have they chosen her?

Thrown from her world of comfort, yet determined to discover the truth, Alex soon finds herself cut off from family and friends and forced to make allies wherever she can find them. With dead ends at every turn, and more than one pursuer closing in, she quickly learns some questions are best left unasked. Now, with her life and sanity on the line, Alex must resist her enemy's mind games if she wants to expose every dark secret.  To succumb would result in her true identity being lost forever and countless others suffering the same fate. But to succeed, would shatter everything she knows.



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