Please welcome Sharon Van Orman, author of Lykaia and its sequel, Erato, and co-author of Season of the Dead–all are available in paperback and Kindle on Amazon.com.
Sharon lives in Nebraska with her family and a collection of animals, including ones that were chosen and others that did the choosing. After the birth of her third child, she left her job as a commercial risk manager to be a fulltime mom. In between soccer games, hosting the neighborhood children and taking in stray animals, she finds time to write.
Sharon: Hi, Phil!
To kick things off with the age-old question, why did you become a writer?
Sharon: Writing is something I have to do. Art, of all forms, is an outlet. I have to get all these stories and words out of my head so I can function. It’s cheaper than therapy. I draw a bit and enjoy that…I can’t sing–well, I can sing but I suppose you want to know if I can sing well. And…no. Just, no.
So how and when did you discover that creative writing was your art of choice?
Sharon: It was just something I’ve always done. I enjoy it immensely, even when I hate it.
If you could go back in time to when you started writing your first novel, what practical tip(s) would you give your younger self?
Sharon: I would tell myself not to worry so much–to just let it happen. The story is there…it will show you.
Before we move on to questions about your books, are there any odd quirks or anecdotes about you as a writer that readers ought to know about or might find interesting?
Sharon: Odd quirks. Oh, there are plenty. Where to start? Wait, how many signatures does it take to have a person committed?
42, I think. Though, it may depend on the merit of those providing the signatures.
Sharon: Yeah, some things should be left a mystery then–in this case, my ‘quirks.’ 🙂 I am, however, both impressed and curious as to how you were able to answer that so quickly.
…some things are best left a mystery. Anyhoo…tell us about your books: Lykaia and Erato!
Sharon: I found the myth of King Lykaonas when I was researching another novel. The idea of it being the genesis for Lycanthrope lore fascinated me. Sadly, I had no idea how to use the myth. And yet, it stuck with me. I entered a flash fiction contest on a writer’s site. The contest was Halloween themed. Finally, I had the chance to use my story. The prologue for Lykaia is actually the flash fiction piece I used from the contest. Shortly after that, Sophia Katsaros (the main character of the novels) made her presence known. I’ve just been along for the ride since then.
Book 2, Erato, picks up seconds after book 1 ends. In this story, Sophia is dealing with the aftermath of book 1. She has learned that magic does exist and the things that go bump in the night have teeth and fur. She also learns a bit about herself. As the story goes on, we get a glimpse of the scope of her story and what is to come.
I torture Sophia mercilessly. I have no idea why she puts up with me, but for as long as she is willing I will continue to write her story.
Is there a character or aspects of a character in any of the books you wrote that you most relate with?
Sharon: Sharon from Season of the Dead, a novel I authored for charity along with three other writers, bears my name and some resemblance to me–but she is a zoologist, has a PhD and is much more composed than I am. I can relate to Sophia; she has the same dry, sarcastic sense of humor that I have but, again…she’s a doctor, and I don’t think I would be so cool under stress as her when she discovered the wolves.
I felt a kinship with Accalia from Lykaia. I had never planned on her, but she showed up and I can’t imagine Lykaia without her. Her story of love and loss was very poignant, and her heartbreak over the king’s betrayal was very profound. I learn things from my characters. The depth and breadth of their feelings is always a surprise.
I assume you have some new projects in the works. Care to share what they are?
Sharon: Of course. I recently finished my first science fiction novel. It’s called Lazarus Code and is book 1 of The First Family Saga. Ryder is the main character and is the captain of the starship Serendipity. She returns from deep space to find the earth devastated by a plague. Then things get interesting, dark and bloody.
I am also editing Eve, Book 1 of Eden’s Exiles. It’s the story of Eve after she leaves the garden. There are fallen angels, Nephilum, and an embittered nemesis. My mother wanted me to write a love story. This is as close as I’ll ever get.
What was the toughest bit of criticsm you ever received from a reader/reviewer–something valid, not from a flame review lacking credibility?
Sharon: That commas don’t go where I think they go.
Not bad at all, considering that’s an easy fix. So what was the best compliment?
Sharon: That my story moved them.
If you had to perform an a self assessment on your writing (which I suppose you do, because I’m asking for it), what would you say is your greatest strength in fiction writing?
Sharon: Characters…though I can’t really take credit for them. They just show up. I write what they tell me. I take dictation, really.
Anything you’d like to say to readers/fans?
Sharon: Thanks for going along on this journey with me. All novels are really just the author exploring themselves, and I hope that the time you spend in my world is time well spent.
Any tips you’d like to offer to others attempting to write novels?
Sharon: Write. Write. Write some more. Anything you do with passion and perseverance will grow in quality. And, will help you to grow. I’d say have a tough skin, but I think that is counterintuitive to being a writer. To write well, you have to feel. So, when you send your novels out in the world, don’t take the critics heart. Just kill them off in your next novel.