Hello, everyone! It’s wonderful to see you all this fine Monday morning, and while I’m at it, I’ll add that it’s wonderful to have a special guest with us today as well: Shirely Gibson Coleman! Shirley is a published author of six novels including Mersoon Rising, a science fiction novel, but she’s been writing her whole life. Please stay a while and help me welcome her to Dropped Pebbles.
Oh, and for more information on her and her work, you can check out this excellent newspaper article .
It’s so good to meet you, Shirley. Can you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I live with my husband of many years outside of in Michigan just. I work full-time at a district library. I don’t read books as often as I used to or would like. More often I listen to mysteries. Writing and preparing manuscripts for publication; editing both my work and at the library, there’s little time for anything else but online communications such as this. Thanks for having me. My life is quiet. I enjoy various kinds of music (jazz, rock, classical, gospel, Celtic, new age) Japanese anime, fancy sports cars, Sci-fi movies and action movies, period films like Jane Eyre and PBS mysteries and Masterpiece Theater. I’m a Dr. Who loving, Syfy channel watching, homebody with few friends. We go walking in various parks but rarely go to the movies or anywhere else. It will be a big change for me to go off signing books and talking to a bunch of people I don’t know.
Oh, I knew you were special! I love anime as well 🙂
Are you interested in other forms of artistic expression besides writing?
I’m a fair artist and can create clay sculptures, watercolors, and acrylics. Used to do vocals in a band and my husband played bass guitar but not anymore.
Where does writing fit in, and why are you drawn to it?
I love to make up stories and I don’t remember not making up stories. I find the possibility of alien life fascinating and I believe God created other worlds with living beings.
What keeps you motivated/inspired?
Life and the people I observe or read about, motivate me to tell versions of their stories. Watching the news and hearing reactions from people I don’t know, stimulates stories. I eavesdrop a lot— story-lines or plot scenarios come about from brief encounters in everyday life. I also remember vivid dreams. One of my books came from a vivid dream.
It’s amazing what you can learn from people-watching
What forms of writing and genres do you prefer and why?
I’ve written short stories but few are very good in my opinion. But writing them is good practice. I write poetry just for myself, friends or family. I’d rather write novels. So far, I’ve completed six novels including Mersoon Rising. If you Google Shirley Gibson Coleman, reviews I penned for Library Journal should pop up. I wrote and illustrated a children’s book that was considered by Golden Books but eventually turned down.
What can you never see yourself writing?
YA books. Books about zombies, werewolves, shape-shifters or fairies.
As a reader, what do you think makes a good story?
I enjoy stories with male protagonists. I’ve grown weary of tales about contemporary women looking for Mr. Right or who have been wronged by someone. I prefer third person and have often put down a book that’s in first person. And yet I want the story to reveal secret, perhaps unsettling thoughts of the characters. I like stories with happy endings and hate it when the main character dies at the end. I read a book by a famous author once. The story was great and he had me to the last chapter. Then he killed the main character! Never read any of his other books! And it ruined me, Dyane. I’m now a spoiler reader. That is, I choose a book but I read the end first to find out who dies! That’s awful…
Um, I’ve been known to skip ahead and read the end of a few books myself…
What’s one thing a ‘bad’ book taught you to not do in your own writing?
Try with all my might not to write a tale with predictable scenes. If my readers do have an idea how a scene will end, I try to make the journey unique as possible. It isn’t easy and I’m not sure yet if I’ve accomplished it but I’d love to hear what readers think.
Okay, Readers! That’s your cue!
As a writer, what elements do you find are the most crucial to include in your stories? What are your strengths and weaknesses?
I like complicated love relationships, love triangles, and hidden or quirky character flaws. I have the greatest problem with point of view. I tend to get in the head of too many characters at once in the same scene and have to do some deep editing to fix it. I think I write dialogue pretty well but I struggle with tag lines or describing movements and gestures- what characters do when they’re not talking. You know what I mean? Great writers master these little fillers and they’re seamless. I often wonder do great writers fuss over every word as I do.
Who/what are the biggest influences in your writing? How do they influence what your write?
My husband is my muse. I pick his brain and seek his opinion and often rewrite troublesome paragraphs, passages or chapters I’ve asked him to read. I’m a big fan of life science. How insects, aquatic species and animals live, survive and procreate is fascinating. I like to apply traits from nature to aliens and invent characters almost like us yet other worldly because of the traits of Earth creatures. Examples used in my book: Changing eye colors like chameleons or sea creatures; Fathers caring for children; Birth from and egg or pods; Spiders, scorpions, snakes and other creatures sting and use venom to master their prey. The other big influence is my belief in a Creator of the universe and the very disturbing world we live in. If my writing causes someone to look inward and find compassion for other humans no matter their origin, then I’ve done well.
What draws you to your preferred genre? Why do you think it’s so popular? (Or less popular than it could be?)
Science fiction predicts the future and promotes creative speculations of every aspect of human life and existence. I like to mix action, sexuality and imagine what aliens could be like. People, especially those who grew up with high-tech gadgetry, may not realize their world is full of science fiction items that are now science fact.
Can you tell us about your books? What other projects are you working on?
I have two manuscripts (sci-fi/paranormal) to edit for publication. And I’m working on a third book regarding Mersoon. I just submitted to the publisher the proposal for the second book. I write adult books with large casts, steamy sex, male leads, strong women and multiracial characters.
That sounds fascinating! I’m intrigued by stories with multi-racial characters and worlds. Everyone, here’s the blurb. I know you all want to find out more:
“Welcome to Mersoon, where the food is free, the water pure, and the drugs are good. War is constant, and the inhabitants mix with the Descendants of Earth. Long ago, the Descendants of Earth traveled on generation ships to a dual sun solar system called Rodrigo’s Suns. Now, they dominate the human-occupied planets within the System Alliance and live with alien and mixed races both friendly and hostile. Vintori Jymirr Erroc is a living legend, and the head of the Erroc and Jymirr Nations on the planet Mersoon. Throughout the System Alliance, this powerful and mysterious leader is considered to be a king of diamonds, but his dwindling Jymirr race teeters on the verge of extinction while another conflict begins with the Firfwaat Nation and its ruthless leader, Lon. As war erupts on Mersoon following a series of cyber attacks, ground and aerial invasions, and bloody clashes, an election for the new System Alliance Overseer reveals an intricate and flawed political system brimming with extortion, deception, and rebellion. Against this backdrop of bloodshed and espionage, terror and the fight for survival, Vintori and the Jymirrs struggle with relationships and temptations that will test the bounds of love and shape the future of their race-if Lon does not wipe them out first. Mersoon Rising is a riveting adult sociopolitical space opera that chronicles the lives and loves of the Jymirr race during an epic battle for the fate of a planet and an entire solar system.”
Yes, that does sound pretty sweet. Looks like I’ll be adding that to my reading list
Do you have a blog, and if so do you promote other writers on it?
I don’t have an answer for this yet. I’m just getting started in the being published role and hope to get to the point where other writers would benefit from a promo on my site/blog. Right now, I’m not certain what readers think. Hello… I’m listening….
What do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing and how do you cope with it?
Insisting on uninterrupted time. It’s just me and my husband but for some reason I seem to have less time to write. 🙂 Oh to write all day… I cope because I need my day job to well… eat and stuff. 😉 And I like spending time with my husband just about as much as writing. As the dedication says, he’s my hero.
Who are your favourite writers and why?
James Lee Burke because his characters are never perfect good guys or bad guys. Anne Rice because her words go together like poetry and she can make the impossible seem true. My favorite of her books is The Feast of all Saints which is not about vampires. Joyce Carol Oats because her characters intrigue me with their horrid ways. Samuel Delany because he’s at once classy and outrageous. Lolah Burford for the same reasons as Delany (Edward, Edward is the most uniquely despicable story I’ve ever loved reading). Susan R. Matthews because the organizations and character she created is magnificently twisted. I’ll end— but I could go on –with Stephen Donaldson for the hideous man who was then redeemed and a heroine like no other in the Gap Series of five books.
What advice would you give to new writers?
Just write what you like until you enjoy reading what you wrote. I’m on this journey too and I have blisters on my feet. We’ll all limp along and try to find a smooth path.
How can readers get into contact with you? Comment on the blog or email me. firstname.lastname@example.org Put “Mersoon Reader” in the subject so I won’t be reluctant to open it. I’m on twitter #mersoonmoon.
Shirley, it was great to meet you today, and I’m confident the Readers enjoyed getting to know you as well. Thank you so much for stopping by. Readers, please let Shirley know how much you appreciated her visit by writing a message her or email her–and check out her books!
Have a great week!