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Interview with Shannon McNear

Shannon McNear gives new meaning to the word "busy" as she finds time to write in the midst of her duties as a military wife and homeschooling mom, not to mention sewing, women's ministry, and active ACFW volunteer. She's also in the midst of moving her household to North Dakota just in time for winter after 25 years of living in the South. She received her first-time author contract at the 2012 ACFW Conference for her historical romance novella, Defending Truth, which released in September as part of Barbour Publishing's A Pioneer Christmas. She paused to talk with us about the book, her writing journey, and her life. Welcome, Shannon!

Please tell us a little bit about this book and what was unique about writing a Christmas story.
Defending Truth offers the thinnest slice of Revolutionary War history from the perspective of a people who were considered lawbreakers by both sides of conflict: the Overmountain settlers. They embroiled themselves in the fight for independence, and the battle of Kings Mountain provided an unexpected turning point against the Crown, but the political and emotional turmoil surrounding it illustrates the complexity of the Revolution as a whole. A story about a patriot girl and a loyalist boy was the perfect place to explore a thread or two of that. :-)

I’d never purposely worked a story around a holiday before, but I enjoyed the challenge of creating that “Christmas-y” feel in an era and region where holiday celebrations tended to be very austere. It was interesting to find how deeply important faith and family remain, across all generations.

Reflecting back, what do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Coming to terms with the fact that it is a journey—and how I choose to view my place along the way is as important as becoming a good writer.

You are a busy woman; how many of your children are still at home? What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
Five. Oldest in grad school, next one down also in college, third down newly married. Balance? I’m not sure that exists. It’s a struggle keeping my head in the story so that when I sit down to write, it’s actually productive. Then I often feel that I’m neglecting other, more pressing things when I’m trying to scrape words together. :-) I think I have motherhood-induced ADHD.

How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
I know how trite this sounds, but my faith is as much a part of me as breathing ... I would not be able to separate my storytelling from who I am as a believer in Christ. It’s my aim to portray the joys and struggles of this life with honesty and transparency, while not beating people over the head with Scripture.

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
I often say that the craving to write is like an addiction with me. I write because I must—if nothing else, to hush the characters chattering in my head, demanding their stories be told. :-) My story and character ideas have come from all sorts of places, dreams and movies and other people’s stories, both fictional and not—and of course, sometimes my own life. Truth’s younger siblings in Defending Truth were inspired by my four youngest offspring.

What do you think makes your style of storytelling unique?
Ooh, that’s a hard one. I’m told I excel at narrative description, and at bringing a setting to life. I try to match that with emotional and spiritual depth, and I’m more of a moody storyteller than a comedic one. Not that I don’t enjoy the lighter moments, of course.

What writing projects are you currently working on?
I’m simmering the sequel to one of a pair of novels I recently finished, and in the meantime, working on a set of Christmas-themed devotionals for my spot over at The Borrowed Book and developing my next article for Colonial Quills.

What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
Sewing, reading, watching movies, listening to music, playing guitar, historical research ... really, I’m a geek.

What books are on your nightstand right now?
Allegiant by Veronica Roth. Also slowly working my way through the Bible study Gideon by Priscilla Shirer, for the second time. Just finished Five Days In Skye by Carla Laureano.

Any parting words?
In all, the road to publication has been an amazing one, if sometimes heartbreaking. I’ve grown more than I ever thought possible, and best of all have met some of the most wonderful people on the planet!

Thanks for sharing with us, Shannon!
Thank you so much for letting me share! :-)

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