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Today’s Behind the Quill interview is with the mysterious Mastiff lover, Shannon Esposito, author of Karma’s A Bitch. She almost caught me throwing a black bag over her head so I could drag her to my secret hide out graciously accepted my request for a sneak-peek into her life as a mystery author.

Here’s what she had to say:

Me: How long have you been writing and do you remember what the first piece was that you completed? Did you let anyone else read it?

SE: I wrote my first novel at eight or nine. It was a fantasy about two waring planets, one inhabited by Unicorns and the other by Pegasuses. A rebel couple (one from each planet) fell in love, had hybrid twins and united the two planets. Seems even back then I believed

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love could conquer all. My mom kept it for a long time until it was lost in one of our moves. Probably for the best. 🙂

Me: What was it like when your first novel, Sahara’s Song, was published? And was it any less nerve-wracking when Karma’s A Bitch or The Monarch were released?

SE: When I published Sahara’s Song and Strange New Feet, it was more of a cleansing than a publishing. I put them up on Amazon as a way to let them go and move on from my love of writing speculative fiction. I had been trying to get them traditionally published for years and even had an agent at one point. E-books back then weren’t really a viable way to reach readers and not taken seriously so it wasn’t very exciting.

But fast forward three years later when I had two mysteries finished, it was a different story. This time, I didn’t even try the traditional route. The publishing game had changed. For the first time in history, the ball was in the writer’s court and I loved the idea of being in control. I hired an editor, cover artist and a formatter–determined to put out books that were as professional as a traditional publisher would. And yes, now I was invested–financially, emotionally, heart and soul. And it was nerve-wracking and thrilling!

Me: Does your significant other read your books? What about your parents? Your kids?

SE: My mom and daughter read everything I write. They’re both avid readers and I can trust them to tell me when its crap. My husband is super supportive of my writing, but he can’t sit still long enough to read. Fun fact: We have twin 6 year old boys, one of them loves to read and one of them is an adrenalin junkie like his dad.

Me: Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

SE: I’m sure real life experiences play a major part in shaping our imagination, but other than that, the stories are all from my head…and heart.

Me: If you could be a character from one of your books for a day, which one would you be and why?

SE: Definitely Darwin Winters. She’s living out my fantasy life in the magical city of St. Pete with a quirky paranormal gift, helping animals and solving mysteries!

Me: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

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SE: I really enjoyed writing the scene where Darwin literally runs into her love interest, Detective Blake, for the first time. It involves her spilling his hot tea and being her awkward, sheltered, sweet self. Also, every scene with Karma in it. I just love that dog!

Me: Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

SE: Actually, I’m itching to get back to Anne Serafini’s story. She’s the main character in The Monarch and I’ve left her in a bit of a dark place. But, I promised myself I would finish three books in the pet psychic series before I go back to do a sequel of The Monarch. I wish I could write faster!

Me: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

SE: Toughest criticism was that I write too much description. I’ve learned to cut out the parts I enjoyed writing the most because those are usually the ones that I’ve indulged my love of being wordy.

Best compliment? That would have to be every time someone takes the time to write a nice review or send me an email to tell me how much they enjoyed my book. There’s simply no better compliment in today’s busy world.

Me: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

SE: This is a tough one. I think my writing routine is pretty typical. I start in the morning after walking the dogs, making a green smoothie, drinking a second cup of coffee, lighting a candle and sending up a prayer to the muse.

Me: What are your three favorite forms of procrastination?

SE: Procrastinate? Who me? lol. I guess if I have to pick only three, they would be reading other people’s blogs, research (though a necessity, I do tend to spend way too much of my writing time on research cause it’s the fun part) and playing with my dogs.

Me: I know you are an animal lover like myself. So tell us how many pets do you have and what are their names? And tell us a little about the charities you have listed on your website as well.

Currently we have a twelve-year old Golden Retriever, Rainey, and a two-year old rescued Mastiff-mix, Abbey. Soon, we’ll be adding another Mastiff to our family.

Nowzad Animal Rescue captured my heart because they help both animals and our soldiers in Afghanistan. They not only provide a facility there for abused and abandoned animals, but they raise money to bring dogs to the US, reuniting them with the soldiers who often get attached to them as strays and form a bond.

Best Friends Animal Society is committed to getting animals out of shelters but also, they help with rescuing pets in disaster situations, like hurricanes (which being a Floridian, I’ve seen the devastation first hand) Their slogan is: “A better world through kindness to animals.” Amen!

Me: What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general? What do you want readers to see in your books?

SE: You sure know how to ask the tough questions! I guess it all comes down to the reason I’m obsessed with both science and the paranormal. Both involve a search for answers: Why are we here? What happens after this life? What exactly is the nature of reality?

In my own way, I try to answer these questions through my writing. Even writing something like a cozy mystery, I can’t help but use the story to work out thoughts on things like the power of love and the human mind; the connection all living things have to each other; the fact that everything is made of energy; the possibility of parallel universes and alien life. Besides enjoying the story, my hope is that my books will inspire readers to ask their own questions and keep an open mind about the answers.

Me: Tell us about your current or upcoming release. Will you have a new book coming out soon?

SE: Yes! LADY LUCK RUNS OUT( Book No. 2 in the Pet Psychic series) will be released in October. Darwin’s sister, Mallory, comes to St. Pete and they get involved in a murder via a black cat…just in time for Halloween! Also, more will be revealed about their family and what makes them so special.

Me: What is one piece of advice you would give to aspiring authors?

SE: There’s so much wonderful advice out there. The one thing that has always stuck with me is: Just sit your butt in the chair and write. Every day. You have to just do it because this is such an amazing time to be a writer! Readers are the new gatekeepers so we can be in charge of our own destiny by writing the books we would want to read, putting out a professional product and being brave enough to market ourselves.

Me: Great advice, and something I need to do more often! Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me, Shannon. Looking forward to your next book!

Here’s a little more about Shannon:
Shannon Esposito lives in a magical gulf coast town with fluorescent sunsets, purple dragonflies and the occasional backyard alligator. Her mysteries transport readers to Florida without the hefty price of airfare.

Although she knew from the age of five she wanted to be a writer, she briefly entertained the idea of being a scientist, until she found out it involved math, which gives her hives.

She shares this little corner of paradise with her husband, twin boys and dogs. If she’s not writing, you’ll find her coddling one of the above, hiding with a book or daydreaming with her toes in the sand.

Wanna know more about Shannon? Visit her online home here, and follow her on Twitter and Facebook, too!

So, what did you think? Do you have other questions for Shannon Esposito? If so, post them in the comments and I’ll see if I can get her answer a few of them for us.