Author Open MIC Welcomes ~ Shannon Eckrich

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I am excited to introduce Shannon Eckrich to Wicked Romance.  Her novel Other Side of Forever just released in January.  The story has gotten great reviews and I can’t wait to read it. For a reader and writer of paranormal romance, it wasn’t until this last year I started to delve into Young Adult stories.  Now?  My TBR is 50/50.  The genre captures something that seems pure and real.  I think all of us can relate on some level.  Heck, we lived through those years and probably have our own story to tell.

Born and raised in Delaware, Shannon Eckrich lives with her husband, two children, and chocolate lab, Chewy. She has always had an interest in the paranormal. Ghosts, angels, vampires, aliens, it doesn’t matter, she loves it all. When she’s not writing, you can find her consuming young adult novels. When she discovers an awesome book, one that has a huge impact on her, she has a hard time letting it go, even to lend it to a friend.

Along with reading and writing, she enjoys planting flowers with her daughter, going to the beach, or just hanging out with her family.

So, let’s get started.

Host:  Welcome, Shannon. Tell us a little about yourself and what inspires/motivates you to write YA.  Why do you think it is so popular?

Shannon: Hi, Jean. Thanks so much for inviting me to your blog today. It’s such a pleasure to be here.

I guess I could start out by saying I’m a bookaholic. I absolutely love to read. And it really doesn’t have to be YA. I’m just as content reading my daughter first chapter books as I am reading YA and adult novels. When I’m not reading or writing, I’m volunteering at the firehouse with my husband and my son, spending time with the family, or helping serve lunch to a room full of high school students through the school year.

Yup, I work in a school cafeteria. And it’s the greatest job I ever had besides writing. Watching how the students interact with each other really helps me out when I’m writing, and the teens I come in contact with are pretty amazing.

I enjoy writing YA because it takes me back to my younger years. My husband and I were actually high school sweethearts. We’ve been together since we were fifteen years old, and there’s nothing I love more than reminiscing the mixed emotions I felt the first time our eyes met or the first time we kissed. It was a time of innocence back then, and truly romantic. I think that’s why it’s so popular today with adults. I also think young adults enjoy these novels because they can easily relate to the characters, their emotions, and their problems. Not to mention that a majority of the male characters in YA novels are so freaking hot.

Host:  What are the challenges that young adults face these days?  How do you capture that in your writing?  Are there limitations to what you can or cannot write?

Shannon: Young adults face just as many challenges as we did when we were at that age. Well . . . at least as many challenges as I did in school. They still have the bullies, the peer pressure, and the need to fit in, to be accepted. They’re at that point in their life where they are trying to define who they are and what their purpose is. It can be confusing to them. And I think I captured a majority of these issues when I created Allie in Other Side of Forever. I know we don’t have any special powers (even though it would be super awesome if we did) but that’s what set Allie apart from everyone else. Her powers made her different even though she wanted to be normal. And normal to her was being exactly like everyone else. But as the story progressed we realized that being different isn’t such a bad thing. You know, since she really kicked some major butt in the end. And that’s the message I’m trying to send out to young adults. Be different. Be true to yourself, and just be happy with who you are.

Another way I captured some of these issues is with Becca. Becca is the mean girl, the bully we all had to deal with in school. And even today we’re still dealing with bullies. You see commercials on TV about it and schools claiming to put a stop to it. But the truth is, instead of dealing with it, some schools tend to look away and find it better to ignore the subject. I know this first hand, because my daughter was dealing with it in kindergarten and first grade. Yes, it’s hard to believe, but they start out that young. And even though most bullies won’t go to the extent Becca did, they still make us feel like crap.

Unfortunately, there are some limitations on what I can write. Parents aren’t happy if they find that their child is reading material which contains drugs, alcohol, or any kind of sexual content, so I veered away from that subject as I wrote Other Side of Forever, even though these are some major issues concerning young adults. I wanted this novel to portray the innocence of falling in love for the first time, that first kiss, the excitement and anticipation you feel just by being near that perfect someone, taking in their scent, the electric charge in the air . . .

Oops, sorry. I guess I got a little carried away.

Host:  What are the challenges to writing YA compared to Adult?  Any words of advice for other YA writers?

Shannon: The only challenge I had writing Other Side of Forever versus After the Rain (my adult paranormal short story available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble) is that I had to change my way of thinking. In Other Side of Forever, I had to think like a young adult and ask myself how I would have reacted if I were in the same situation as Allie. After the Rain was fairly easy for me. The story is about a mother, Janie, who runs to the store in the middle of the night and leaves her son with her sister. When she returns, her house is engulfed in flames and her son is trapped inside. Sadly, the story is inspired by a true event, but when writing that piece, I went through all the emotions I would feel, as a mother, if I were to face the same problem as Janie.

I guess the only advice I can give YA writers is to make sure the pacing of their story is fast. And that they end and start a chapter with some kind of action taking place. Young adults are busy these days with cell phones and video games, so it’s our job to keep them reading. And the only way to do that is to give them a reason to keep turning the page.

And to those of you who are aspiring YA authors, my advice to you is to never give up.

Host:  How do you reach out to your audience?  How many of your readers do you think are adults?

Shannon: The fastest and easiest way for me to reach my audience has been the internet. I’m a member of many writing groups and websites and a few critique groups. I also have a Facebook author page and I do have a website. I’ve also been featured in the local paper, attended a book signing at my local library, and shared my novel with the schools.

I think a majority of my readers are adults. There are so many problems in the economy right now that I think adults are looking for a way to escape their everyday problems, and the best way to do that is to be taken back to our youth. Teens and tweens can’t seem to grow up fast enough to their standards. But adults, we want to go back to where we didn’t have to worry about whether or not we might go into work and lose our jobs, deal with those annoying bill collectors, or even worry about whether we bring in enough income to put food onto the table for our families.

It’s really hard out there right now, so we need something to take us away from reality. Even if it’s only temporary.

Host:  What do your kids think of their mom, the author?  Did they help you develop the characters?  What about Chewy? 🙂

Shannon: My daughter, who’s only seven, thinks it’s great. She made sure she told all of her first grade teachers, and I had to set up the computer so she could begin her own story. It’s actually pretty cute watching her type and think about what she wants to write. My son, on the other, could care less. He’s eighteen, so he’s out doing his own thing.

I actually developed the characters myself, but I did run the names by my daughter for approval. 🙂

Of course, Chewy helped me, too. I do a majority of my writing on my laptop while I sit in our recliner, and Chewy, who is about 65 to 70lbs and feels he should be a lap dog, jumps up and squeezes in next to me. He gives me that extra burst of inspiration, if you know what I mean.

Host:  Your cover is so powerful.  Can you tell us what the orb signifies?

Shannon: Thank you, Jean. I think CMP and Taria Reed did such an amazing job bringing Allie to life on the cover of my novel. The orb Allie is holding in her hand is her energy and the energy around her. Once she learns how to control her powers, she can draw in energy and form it into the shape of a ball. It’s really powerful stuff.

Back Cover Blurb

What if your life finally seemed to make sense? But, what if–in an instant–everything is taken away? How far would you go to get your life back?

Seventeen-year-old Allie Anderson’s telekinetic powers are anything but useful–she can’t bring her father back, can’t stop her mother’s downward spiral into alcohol, and can’t keep her from falling in love with Ethan Bradley. Loving Ethan is easy, but it comes with a hefty price: Ethan is prohibited by his people from interacting with mortals–because he isn’t mortal himself.

When Allie and Ethan’s love is discovered, there’s someone who will do anything to keep them apart. If Allie can’t learn to control her powers and fight to save Ethan, this dark entity will make every attempt to stop her beating heart. And if that happens, not even the energy of an immortal can bring her back.

Host:  There is nothing I love more than forbidden love.  Tell us about the world you created in Other Side of Forever and how does it affect Allie and Ethan.

Shannon:   The world I created in Other Side of Forever affects Ethan and Allie in several ways. They’re in the mortal dimension, so if a mortal happens to find out about Ethan, this could be potentially dangerous for him. He has powers that heal, powers that can manipulate objects, and powers that could actually kill a human instantly if he really wanted to. The scientific community would love to get their hands on someone like him. And he knows this, which is one of the reasons why he has to be secretive about his life. Of course, this is one of the things that really bugs Allie.

It’s bad enough she’s confused about the emotions sweeping through her every time Ethan is near, but to have him wanting to be with her one minute, and then completely pushing her away the next, gets pretty overwhelming for her. Ethan knows this, but he’s caught in a fine line. He views Allie as fragile, since she’s a mortal and can die so much easier than he can. And this frightens him. He’s afraid of not only what the other immortals would do to her if they found out about their relationship, but he also fears that the Darkness, or dark entity, the immortals have warned him about will discover Allie and harm her.

Allie, on the other hand, could care less about her safety. She’s used to taking care of herself, and she sometimes gets a little bothered when Ethan just pops up out of nowhere and saves the day, giving her some lame excuse as to how he managed to get there so fast. When she finally discovers what and who Ethan really is, she goes to every extent to protect his identity, including lying to her friends. This eventually leads to a few confrontations, but Allie and Ethan are determined to be together, no matter what the consequences may be.

Host:  What do you love most about Allie?  About Ethan?  Is there a Hollywood couple that would best represent them?

Shannon: Allie is strong and hardheaded, and I think that’s what I love the most about her. She’s been through a lot; being abandoned by her father, taking care of her alcoholic mother, putting up with Becca, and dealing with these strange powers that she can’t seem to control. But through all of this she continues chugging along. And I think pairing her with a sometimes overly protective immortal really highlighted these traits.

Ethan values Allie’s life over his and he will go to any extreme to make sure nothing happens to her, physically or emotionally. I know that’s definitely a plus on my list. Especially, since he’s so darn good looking.

As of right now I can’t think of a Hollywood couple that would be best to represent them. If something big comes up (which would be so freaking awesome) I would probably leave the casting to the professionals.

Host:  Your blurb makes me curious, (without spilling any secrets) what is the dark entity?

Shannon: Ooh, the dark entity. This is definitely going to be tricky to explain without spilling any secrets. All immortals, or Asterians, have come to believe that a Darkness, or dark entity, is roaming through the mortal world. And that this entity is the cause for war, pollution, and everything else that causes people or mortals, to lose their humanity. The Asterians were so terrified that this entity would make it into their world that they completely closed off the portals to the mortal dimension. The Asterians believe that the dark entity has the ability to jump from mind to mind, leaving nothing but death and destruction in its aftermath, and that it constantly searches for a way into the immortal realm. The only way for it to make it into the immortal realm, however, is for it to attach itself to a mortal who is close to an immortal, and use that mortal as a host to take it through the portal once an Asterian reopens it.

Sorry, guys, but that’s about all I can reveal about the dark entity without spilling any secrets.

Host:  Where can readers find you?

Shannon: I’m normally always online. My readers can find me on facebook, on my website (which I really need to update soon) shannoneckrich.weebly.com, or they can email me at shannoneckrich@gmail.com.

Host:  Where can they buy your book?

Shannon: Other Side of Forever is available at Amazon.com, Barnesandnoble.com, and at crescentmoonpress.com.

Other Side of Forever
by Shannon Eckrich

Purchase e-Book
Purchase Print
Genre: Paranormal
ISBN-10: 1937254372
ISBN-13: 978-1937254377
Length: Novel
Publication Date: January 23, 2012
Cover art by Taria Reed

Seventeen-year-old Allie Anderson’s telekinetic powers are anything but useful–she can’t bring her father back, can’t stop her mother’s downward spiral into alcohol, and can’t keep her from falling in love with Ethan Bradley. Loving Ethan is easy, but it comes with a hefty price: Ethan is prohibited by his people from interacting with mortals–because he isn’t mortal himself.

When Allie and Ethan’s love is discovered, there’s someone who will do anything to keep them apart. If Allie can’t learn to control her powers and fight to save Ethan, this dark entity will make every attempt to stop her beating heart. And if that happens, not even the energy of an immortal can bring her back.

Prologue Excerpt

“There’s always a beginning and an end, Allie,” my mother told me, the poison slurring her words as it wrapped around her tongue. “Nothing lasts forever; not life, not even love.” She slammed her glass of vodka down on the table, venom sloshing up and raining down, beading into small puddles on the linoleum floor. “It all fades away in the end. That perfect little world everyone always dreams about—it never happens.”
Mom spooned this crap to me all the time after Dad left. Big heaping mounds of it. I never knew what it meant because at ten years old, everything seemed to go on forever. The ocean, rainbows, the sky—they never ended to me. They always went on and on with no end in sight.
I mean, really, has anyone ever found that pot of gold at the end of the rainbow? I think not. And I already had my perfect world I’d made with my best friend Jeremy, a world constructed out of branches, logs, leaves, and anything else we could forage from the forest floor.
But as I grew older, I found meaning in her words. Mom wasn’t talking about what goes on inside a child’s head, inside that world they create where fire-breathing dragons are around every corner and fairy princesses wave their wands to tuck you into bed each night. She was referring to what it was we blossomed into when we reached adulthood. The stuff I would have to prepare myself for, even though some of them would never pertain to me. Marriage (which would never happen), divorce (can’t get ditched if you don’t get hitched), bills (well, yeah), the repo man (her problem, not mine). That kind of stuff.
But more than that, Mom was talking about love (yeah, okay, not a chance). An emotion that turned to dust and got sucked up into our vacuum cleaner a long time ago.
I hated my life. I hated Dad for abandoning me, hated Mom for drinking all the time, hated the fact Jeremy had to move away and leave me.
But most of all, I hated the fact that God had cursed me.

Share with us your thoughts:  Why do you think ADULTS read and/or write YA?

Have questions for Shannon?  Please post below!

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