Shawn stopped by the WIB office and we snagged her for an interview about ESCAPING THE VEIL, her short story featured in OFF BEAT: Nine Spins on Song!

1.What about music inspires you/touches you the most? The melody, the lyrics or both? What do you listen to while writing?

Connecting with a song is a personal thing. I like a wide variety of music. My mood on a particular day, or moment within the day, will dictate what I listen to that day. I always listen to music when I’m writing and plugging in my earbuds signals my brain that it’s time to write. For me, every book tends to require a specific style of music. While writing my Wish Makers series, I listened to a folk music and hippie era rock. My Gemi Kittredge novellas require slack key guitar music. My new mystery series is Appalachian-style folk music. I prefer instrumentals while I’m writing because lyrics distract me.

2. How has your taste in music changed over the years? If not, what makes you loyal to the same artists’ years later? What attracts you to new artists?

When I was young, I listened to primarily 80s rock. I appreciate more diversity in music now. I’ll listen to country one day, classic rock another, Spanish guitar the next. Again, it depends on my mood. I remember being little and suffering through the old country tunes my dad and grandfather would play. Now, listening to those same songs makes me happy and nostalgic. I can’t explain what attracts me to a new artist, I just know it when I hear it.

3. What other songs did you consider before making a final choice for OFF BEAT? Did they have similar messages? What made you choose the one you did over the others?

I knew from the start it would be a song from Rush because they tell such great stories with their songs. I printed out the lyrics from four or five of my favorites of theirs and Witch Hunt kept rising to the surface. There are two lines that stand out to me when I listen to that song. “They say there is strangeness too dangerous in our theaters and bookstore shelves” and “Those who know what’s best for us, must rise and save us from ourselves.” I chose to focus on that second line for OFF BEAT, but I may have to write another short story exploring that first line, too.

4. How would you compare your writing to the musicians that you listen to? Do you have similar messages or ways at looking at life, tragedy, love?

While I need music when I write, I don’t think it directly impacts the way I write or my themes. At least, not yet. I learned something while deciding on the song for this anthology that has my creative side twitching. Witch Hunt was part of a series of three songs that explore the emotion of fear – Witch Hunt (how fear feeds mob mentality), The Weapon (how fear is used against us), and The Enemy Within (how fear works inside us). Rush released one song per album from 1981 – 1984. I never realized that’s what they’d done and find it very intriguing. Now, I’m trying to figure out how I could do something similar with my work.

5. If you were asked to write another short story version of the same song, but in a different genre, what would it be and why?

I’d write it as a mystery instead of a speculative fiction story. I’ve moved from the fantasy genre to the mystery genre with my regular work. I love it and have found a very comfortable home there. Another option would be steampunk because I think that genre would be a lot of fun to poke around in.

It was fantastic seeing you again Shawn! For more insight into her other novels and work, visit

Written by Sue Duff

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