Don’t you just love it when your friend introduces you to a friend, who introduces you to friend? Before you know it, you have more friends than you can count. That’s one of the things I love about writing and meeting writers.
After my post about Katherine Stone and her novel The Reappearance of Tom Ferris, I met Shanier Souffrant and learned a bit about what inspires her to write fiction.
Shanier is 46 years old and lives in Miami, Florida. Her novel, Secretly Broken got published September 2016; at almost the same time as my novel, A Ship of Pearl. (See how I slipped that shameless plug in for myself?) Sharier’s novel is available anywhere books are sold, including Amazon and Kindle. An autographed copy can also be purchased by contacting: www.brokensecretly.com
Like me, Shanier remembers her first day of school in detail. “After all of these years, I vividly remember my first day of Kindergarten. I experienced serious separation anxiety that day. Wearing my two-piece, patc
hwork jean ensemble, I remember my mom walking me to the door of the classroom. Someone, who I assume was my teacher grabbed my hand at the threshold and lead me to my desk. Instead of sliding into my desk like the other kids, I slid under the desk and cried. I let out one of the loudest, silent cries ever. You know those cries that you’re too prideful to let anyone hear. That was me. Even at six years old, my pride wouldn’t allow me to be seen acting like a big baby. Believe it or not, I had these exact emotions. I don’t think that I could articulate what I felt back then, but I remember how I felt and pride was there wagging its finger. Everything else was a blur from there, but I do recall my decision to move from under the desk just in case my mom came back for me. “She wouldn’t be able to find me if I stay here,” I remembered saying.”
I love hearing people recall their first day of school. The story always tells me a lot about the person. Shanier knows how to break through her fears and come out of hiding. Her pride serves her well.By high school many of us get a little more introspective. During Shanier’s freshman year, sh was quiet and very laid back. Her sophomore through senior year were pretty much the same, except for the two hours a day spent in Chorus. Singing or just being on stage became infectious. “I discovered altered ego,” she said. She joined a traveling chorale and entered every local talent show that she could find. “To this day, I’m still known as Shanier, the girl that sings.” I love to sing, too, but if I’m know as the girl that sings, it’s not a good thing. I do love playing my flute at church, though.
Here’s a few more questions I asked my new virtual friend, and of course, her answers. I mean, how interesting would questions be without the answers?
- Tell me a little bit about your writing process: “When I began writing Secretly Broken, I didn’t have a set schedule. Aside from the script that had only taken three months to finish, there wasn’t much direction I would sit around and wait for “inspiration” to hit which rarely happened and I became frustrated. Because of that, it took almost five years to complete. I had a better sense at what I needed to do when it was time to start writing my second novel, Pieces United, which is a follow-up to the first. I woke up every morning at five a.m., meditated for fifteen to twenty minutes and then I began to write. I’d write until noon, take an hour break and start again, finishing around three in the afternoon. I would also make sure that I knew or had an idea of what I’d right about the following day. An outline was in place, but most days, it was just there. Something to make it look like I was legit. One of the most interesting things that began to happen a quarter into the second book was that I started having random dreams about the characters or a clear visual of certain scenes. Uncertainty set in more often than not, however I didn’t let it stop me. I wrote my dreams out as best I could remember and the story actually flowed perfectly. Even the random pieces fell in place. I happily finished book two in less than six months. (Pieces United will be released Summer 2018.)” That’s how I started writing my follow-up novel, May His Tribe Increase, but somehow I’ve foundered. I better get back to a schedule.
- Tell me what attracts you to the genre: “Being able to step away from the seriousness of life or the weight of reality. Diving into a great story is sometimes what’s needed when a breath is being held too long. The other great think about writing fiction is I get the opportunity to ease the truth in on the readers, still. I hear so many stories from the readers, telling of how they were able to relate to a certain character or how the storyline helped them understand someone better. It’s rewarding.”
- How/when did you get started: “I’ve written since grade school, mostly poetry and songs. Nine years ago, I decided to try my hand at a screenplay. Once it was complete, I had a table read with a few friends and didn’t feel satisfied. I felt there was so much more to say which led me to changing that same script into what is now Secretly Broken.”
- What’s your biggest challenge: “Being able to write in the presence of chaos. I have to be in a completely quiet place so that I can hear what my characters have to say. On a more serious note, I’m challenged with promoting my brand. I’m an introvert with a lot to say. Go figure. However, It’s sometimes a task to leave home. I literally have to give myself a pep talk each time I’m given the opportunity to speak or present my work to others. Now, once I’m out, it’s not feat to interact (I actually love that part of it). Taking the first step is what gets me.” I hear you, Sarnier. I’m getting more comfortable with the promoting part, too. I just wish I could write and promote at the same time.
- Why should we read your story? “Although I write fiction, its still someone’s reality. My stories are honest, my characters are relevant, and I’m sure if writing about them is therapeutic for me, the same holds true for the readers. Readers love authenticity.” We sure do.
- How can someone else do what you do? “Aside from being a writer, I’m a mother, sister, wife, friend and community activist. I desire to be great at each of these, so I’m intentional with each hat that I wear. Desire should drive a person to do what makes them happy and at peace alongside the willingness to do the work. If a person understands that easy is not at the forefront of their journey, their half way through. The only easy thing about doing what I do or whatever you’re passionate about is the idea. The idea is always fun and we remain hopeful in that state, but we can’t forget to step away from the idea, put strategies into place and take one step at a time to make things happen. That goes for anything your mind sets to create.” I’m inspired by this woman.
Keep up with Shanier on Social Network: Twitter: @ChynereS; Instagram: @Shanier; Facebook: Facebook.com/SecretlyBroken/ ; and her websites www.relativelyspeakin.com and www.Brokensecretly.com. Clicking this link: Secretly Broken: Finding Pieces will connect you with Amazon. (It’s part of my Amazon Affiliates program, so I may receive a few pennies, too.)