Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Conversations Magazine, March/April 2024

Friday, December 20, 2019

Author A. Shane Etter: 'Writing' Each Day by Pursuing His Passion

by Cyrus Webb

This year I had a chance to sit down with author A. Shane Etter who now lives in Atlanta but will always be one of Mississippi's own. As we are saying goodbye to 2019 he is celebrating another great read called DEVIL'S SYMPATHY.

I have fallen in love with his way of storytelling, and the great thing about him is that you NEVER know where he will take readers next. In our most recent chat we talked about his career and what it's like to show others what Mississippi Success looks like.

Shane, what has this experience been like for you doing what you love as a storyteller and now to share it with all of us?
If you had told me a long time ago that I would be doing this, I would have called you a liar. Probably this is the best experience of my life, too. I mean, I work harder probably than I ever have. I write every day of the year, but some people--my closest friends--would say you don't work at all. You just write they say. Nevertheless, to be able to do that, just to let my brain go where it wants,and you can tell from what I write that it does, and then be rewarded for that in so many ways. I just feel like I'm living the dream.

Well, I'm definitely a fan and not just because you're from Mississippi, like I am. (laughs) I love the fact that you have not put yourself in a box. One of the things I love about your writing is we really never know what we're going to get with you. Whether we're talking about A War in the Bronx and even A Brain in Third Person. You have other books like Bottom Dwellers. Is that part of the fun for you that you get to do whatever you want to do?
It is. I do like series of books. My Dwellers were a series. I liked the supernatural or the out there on the edge element. I like just going wherever my brain takes me and not being led by anything. In fact, there's two camps in writing fiction. I think those who outline and those who don't. I just write and what I like to say is I like to be surprised just like the reader, letting the story take me where it wants to go. I don't outline therefore I'm surprised as much as the reader are many times..

Shane, in your work there's so many different types of conflict. There is internal conflict with the Brain in Third Person books. The conflict spills out outwardly in like A War in the Bronx. Do you find that conflict is one of those motivators for you as you are addressing the "What if?" question when it comes to your characters?
Well, that's one thing I had to learn in writing. I didn't have a plan or anything. I had to learn that if you make a character all good, he's boring. Or if you make your character all bad, he's boring. Even in A Brain, in a certain person went bad. So I had to learn that you have to make good characters, have some flaws, and have fun as well as have flawed characters that have some good traits in them. That's what I try to do in everything.

Shane, we have become good friends, but the funny thing is that this trip makes just three times that we have even been in the same room. Can you believe it? I use that as a transition to talk about the power of social media. That is the way we have stayed connected, right? What has it been like for you to use the internet to build your community?
I always invite people to reach out to me whether on Facebook or Twitter or even LinkedIn, because I hope it's the start of something with new people, and I enjoy it. Without social media I would not know you today. And we have become friends because of social media. That just shows the power it has to bring people together and form real relationships.

Definitely glad to call you a friend. Last question. What advice would you give to aspiring authors and creatives about the importance of starting based on your experience? 
That's easy. Start today. That is the best advice I can give anyone. You'd be surprised how many people I meet in the course of a day whether I go for coffee in the morning or have lunch or go to the mall or whatever. They see me and ask what I'm doing. When I say I'm a writer you'd be surprised how many tell me they always wanted to write a book. I tell them well start today. Go home and start writing. And I know that's easy for me to say, but I wasn't a writer when I started and neither was John Grisham and others. Everybody had to start someplace.

My Amazon Review of DEVIL'S SYMPATHY by A. Shane Etter

"He was already thinking he might have to decide, make a choice, about whether he wanted to live a normal life---albeit a boring,unfulfilled life---or continue to live the life he's already pursued for forty years.."

And with that passage the book that is DEVIL'S SYMPATHY unfolds into a book not just of good versus evil but the passion and pursuits that are part of life. With the character George Albert Frederick Drummond we are able to see how anyone can change, transform and even deceive---covering up who they really or and what they are capable of. And with Holmes we are able to see how life can change quickly and having something to fight for can definitely change your approach to life.

I love the themes in this book, mainly because it has something that all of us can relate to: choices. Who will we choose to listen to? What will we choose to do with our lives? Are we aware of the consequences?

As this book unfolds we see the main characters wrestling with these very things. What the reader gets in the process is a book that moves quickly, keeps you engaged and curious about what's to come.

Get author A. Shane Etter's books on Amazon.

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