Welcome, one and all, to today’s interview. Today, we’re joined by author and screenwriter Shara Godwinson.
Shara, welcome to the site. Before we continue, can you give a quick intro for readers who may not be familiar with your work?
Hello Matt. Thanks for having me. Dragon Fire, Angel Light is the first book I have ever had traditionally published. I do have an epic fantasy book, Tales of the Driss, Krystal Dragons that was my first baby and was self published. Also I have been working on the screenplay Harold Godwinson. It’s the story of King Harold II and his encounter with William The Conqueror. I decided to tell the story of his entire life in one film because just about everyone who has made a film about Harold has focused on The Battle of Hastings, and people might assume that that is the only important thing he ever did. That’s not true at all. He was the Earl of Wessex, the second most powerful man in Britain at the time. He fought two of his brothers, defeated Gryffyd Ap Llewlyn and had a life time romance with his beloved, Edith Swan Neck (Ealdgyth of Essex). He was a very powerful man who had a very interesting life that was cut short because the Witan (the council that decided on who would be king. At the time it wasn’t necessarily based on heredity as Harold was only related to Edward The Confessor through marriage. There were actually three women by the name of Edith who were very important in his life, Edith of Essex (his consort), Edith of Mercia (his wife), and Queen Edith who was wife to King Edward and his sister. This has nothing to do with Dragon Fire other than the book starts on October the 14th, 1066 which was the date of the Battle of Hastings. That was something I added, because for some reason, this has always been an interesting piece of history for me. It’s also obscure, but it shaped us in ways that are incredible. The time of the Anglo-Norman was where the language of English had its beginnings. Anglo-Saxon had mostly Germanic roots. It was not until it mixed with the French/Norman language that it began to change into English.
Your current novel, Dragon Fire, Angel Light was released in December last year. What I found intriguing with the premise was that it dealt with shapeshifters, but took a road less travelled insofar as the shifter lead being a dragon. There is no denying that dragons are cool, and their portrayal in books has seen some really varied characters stepping into the fray. What made you choose dragons as your shifter focus?
Dragons are interesting creatures and I have always been fascinated by them. The greatest influence is probably Smaug the dragon from The Hobbit. This is probably because he was a thinking creature who could speak and covet and manipulate. He’s a very interesting dragon in that respect, because most of the time when people think of dragons, they think of something more animalistsic. Smaug, he could almost be human given his some of his characteristics. Dragons, and other creatures like them, have been prevalent in folk lore since almost the beginning. Like the talking sphinx that Oedipus has to outwit on his journey to become king. *Spoiler* Even Beowulf was killed by a dragon in the end. I wanted to use dragons because, of all the shifters, they are just not used as often and I just love them. Always have, always will. Also I love mythology. I added things like gods and fairies and other varied creatures because dragons are not the only creatures in a world full of monsters and folk lore.
What can readers expect from your dragon, William? How does is dragon side manifest and interact with his human side?
William has a tough time trying to be human. He especially has a difficult time with relationships. In fact I think it’s stated right up front that he has a difficult time maintaining relationships. This is primarily because mortals die, which means if he falls in love, there’s only a limited amount of time to enjoy it. Also pretty much all relationship between dragons are in some way volatile. There’s sort of a range when it comes to volatile relationships. It doesn’t always mean abusive, but it does mean that there is that potential. If anything it means that the relationship is strained to a point. It certainly could become abusive, but it doesn’t always lead to that. I mean a stressful relationship could be anything from Leonard and Penny always arguing about the fact that she wants to be an actress in The Big Bang Theory to Lester Nygaard beating his wife to death with a hammer in the basement in Fargo. So in some ways the relationships he has are open to interpretation. If anything their they’re mostly dysfunction due to dragons being dragons and humans being humans. William and Mark had an abusive relationship, but the only ones who know it was abusive are William, Mark and Evyn because he chooses to tell Evyn. He doesn’t tell anyone else because he doesn’t want them to know. And the only ones he speaks to about the relationship being abusive are Mark in private and Evyn in private. In some ways, William is protecting several people involved, not least of all himself. That’s why he’s decided not to live with the dragons and to try and live as a human. He doesn’t live in the dragon den at all. He has his own place in Eugene and only goes out to the den for things like scale cleanings an meetings and things. Mark has invested 2,000 years in being a creepy stalker type. His purpose is he’s there to betray everyone because it’s the simplest way to get the evil Brotherhood of Eternal Vengeance from point A (needing to find the dragons) to point B (finding the dragons). The only way to resolve the issue is for one of them, Mark or William, to die. Their relationship will be revisited a bit in book two which takes off from where the last one ended. So it’s not over yet. There are several things yet to be explored like William having been a slave in the beginning and basically where William and Evyn go from there. Also there will be some new characters and some new surprises.
Dragon Fire, Angel Light is listed as a supernatural romance novel featuring a M/M pairing. Did you find it easy to combine the romance and the supernatural elements?
Fantasy and supernatural elements are my forte. Romance not so much. It took me a while to realize that this is not a romance. Which is probably why romance fans didn’t like it very much. If anything it’s a paranormal adventure story with kissing and sex in it. What it has is romantic elements in it. That doesn’t make it a romance. Just like not every book, play, film, or whatever may have tragic elements in it, but that doesn’t make it a tragedy. So I think, going forward, that the romance tag won’t be used on the books. I just can’t do the romance thing and I think that there were a lot of expectations that weren’t met. Which is fine. You live, you learn. So it goes. Driss has some very romantic elements in it, but it’s not a romance either. Just kissing and some fade to black sex. M/M pairing was also an interesting experience for me because I had never written it before. Driss has a bisexual elf in it, but that’s pretty much it.
Previously, you released the novel Tales of the Driss: Krystal Dragons. Can you tell us a little about this title?
Tales of the Driss was my first attempt at epic fantasy and it is far from perfect. I couldn’t afford an editor because I wasn’t working at the time, but I decided to go forward with it anyway. It’s still not perfect, so I decided that when the Kindle Unlimited time is up on it, I will be taking it down. It’s getting some editing and probably a new cover and will be back up as a second addition. Hopefully in a few months. I originally based the characters on Fili and Kili from The Hobbit, but they’re actually more of the Sam and Dean Winchester of the fantasy world. They quibble and argue about what’s best for their family, because they only have each other. They make bad decisions for each other, have arguments, are forced to save each other constantly, and would do anything for each other. I write very realistic characters. There are no idealic relationships, only human relationships. Perfect relationships don’t exist in the real world. Also I will never write a character who is absolutely broken by trauma. That’s not realistic and it’s not a healthy representation. While people certainly don’t “get over it,” they do move on with their lives. Evyn still has nightmares about his childhood abuses. William has been witness to 2,000 years of human misery, war, pain, suffering and torture, but he’s decided that it’s far better to live than to be incapacitated by grief. If people did that sort of thing three quarters of the world would be non-functional. Anyway, that’s just an opinion.
Did you learn any valuable lessons from this book that you were able to apply when writing Dragon Fire, Angel Light?
The fact that I don’t write romance has made things difficult, but that’s just the way it is. I have a tough time with human relationships myself. Sometimes they baffle me. I communicate far better in writing than I do when I speak, and human interaction makes me endlessly nervous. I think that I’ve learned that you have to write a story that you want to tell, and if you as the writer are happy with it, that’s fine. The only place where I really want the recognition is when it comes to screenwriting because I would really like to see Harold Godwinson make it to the big screen. It deserves to be out there and seen. Other than that, I’m just telling stories. I hope to have my vampire detective story out sometime this year. People already seem to like the character Kris Kellman who is just kind of an average Joe vampire who still loves chocolate and is pessimistic because his lovers continually cheat on him. He’s bisexual and at the moment is totally smitten with the human coroner Lily. As a woman of color and a person with disabilities, sometimes even I struggle with diversity. This is primarily because it’s still the norm not to promote it and it’s sort of been ingrained in writers which is not at all good. I can see it slowly changing in books and especially in television, but film still needs a hand in this.
Growing up, perhaps unsurprisingly given the scaly nature of your stories, you were a big fan of fairy tales and fantasy. What drew you to fantasy over other genres?
Fantasy is fun. It allows your mind to wander to strange places. It helps to facilitate creative and abstract thinking. I think that if we hadn’t created genres like fantasy and science fiction that we would not be as developed as a society as we are. Fantasy can also connect the reader to the natural world and the concept that there is great wonders in the world that are worth exploring and understanding. I love fairy tales, especially some of the more obscure ones. I have always been meaning to do come retellings, especially of Grimm’s Hans My Hedgehog and The Girl With no Hands. They explore such interesting subjects. Some of them are extremely taboo, like cannibalism, self-mutilation, incest, torture. So many of the stories have been sanitized to be more palatable to modern audiences, but if you look at the original stories, it’s just amazing how truly dark they are.
If you had to name the five most influential books on your work, what would they be?
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien has always and will always be an influence to me. Also the Shannara series by Terry Brooks, Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert Heinlein, Dune by Frank Herbert, The Shore of Women by Pamela Sargent, and Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. That’s six, but…(shrugs). Also I’m very influenced by films. Willow, The Dark Crystal, Krull, The Fifth Element, Leon: The Professional, Dune (1989), The Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit, Harry Potter, More recently Logan, The last Samurai, The Twilight Samurai, Seven Samurai, Yojimbo. The list literally goes on forever, not to mention the games. Suikoden is a favorite RPG series.
Is there any advice that you can give to aspiring authors as it pertains to how to get a footing in the industry, or how to approach the dreaded realm of marketing?
Keep working and keep trying. Submitting things is always difficult. Rejection is tough to deal with, but you’ll live. Know that there’s probably always room for improvement. Find and know your audience, no matter what genre you’re working in.
Moving away from writing for a moment, your home with an assortment of animals. What can you tell us about your fuzzy and feathered companions?
I now have three cats, a dog and three birds. We’ve got one Indian ringneck parakeet (Pretty) and two little budgies. Also two orange cats (the ginger twins, Marmalade and and Mandarin), our Chihuahua Maisie, and our elder cat Isabella. I have always lived in a magical menagerie of animals. When I was a kid, we had emus (large flightless bird from Australia), Rheas (large flightless birds from South America), parrots, horses, pigs, goats, sheep, peacocks, and a tarantula that lived for 17 years. Thing refused to die. Magnificent creature. It was fun to watch him eat. They don’t always get along, but they’re good creatures. In the end, they all settle in. Except for Mandarin and Isabella. They don’t like each other at all, haha.
Finally, I wanted to thank you for taking part in this interview. Do you have any final message for readers? Where can they go to find out more about you and your work?
Thank you so very much! I’m happy for the opportunity. I have a blog; there a link to it on my Twitter page. Sometimes I post bad jokes there just for the fun of it. Also I play around with ideas there every so often. I’m very active in Twitter, not so much on Facebook. Almost not at all on Instagram, I only created the account to follow other people. I have a Youtube channel also. I always put a cast to mu books and make videos about it. There’s one for Dragon Fire and for Driss as well as Harold Godwinson. I will give links. Anyway, thank you all for reading. I appreciate it. Keep writing!!