Today, Author Shawn Lamb is visiting Layered Pages to talk a little about her writing and how she wrote a series for her daughter. What inspires you to write? Take it away Shawn!
Writing for my daughter
I fought to keep the surprise from my face when my 13-year-old-daughter asked me to write her a fantasy. I countered with the knowledge of her dislike for anything dark, grim and overly graphic, along with her detest for vampires.
“No, Mom. The good old-fashion hero- type like Narnia and Lord of The Rings,” she said in a very serious tone. “You wrote for cartoons before. You should know.”
Of course I’m familiar with Lewis and Tolkien, only I had not read those books since childhood. Yes, I wrote for animation in the 1980s, but scripts are different than prose. Besides, my passion is for historical fiction, not writing about trolls, dragons and faeries.
She insisted. What mother wants to disappoint their child? And what writer doesn’t like a challenge. So, I relented. Now where to start?
I reread Lewis and Tolkien. Lewis was more simplistic than I remember. Then again, he wrote children’s books. With Tolkien I learned how much he relied on mythology and history to craft Middle Earth. It struck me how my love for history could help in establishing a believable realm.
During the time of prep, I discovered some old writing I did at age 16. It was a fantasy story! In the folder was a map, the first chapter along with names of all the characters. Back then I called it “Shiloh”. This became the springboard for Allon.
In my daughter’s excitement, she spread the word at school that her mom was writing an “epic” fantasy. Really? I only completed two chapters. Kids came over after school to ask questions and pick-my-brain about the story. They were well versed in the world of fantasy, while I newbie in the genre, but seasoned story veteran.
To digress a moment about these kids: Nashville is a big immigrant/refuge city. Not a well-known fact outside of Tennessee. They came from Somalia, Laos, Kenya, Egypt, Iraq, so of various ethic and religious backgrounds. To them, America is a Christian nation and the land of hope and opportunity. Unfortunately, assimilation was not easy, and finding hope, very elusive.
The initial conversations about the story turned personal. They knew our family is Christian and began asking: Why do Americans think this way? Why do Christians believe this? I answered as best I could; yet the main thing these kids craved and desired was hope. Something inside me clicked. I feel a strong urge to illustrate for these kids that no matter how dark or bleak life may seem there is hope. The single book became a series.
Each story conveys different themes of culture, dealing with others’ beliefs, tension with parents, sibling rivalry and the consequences of bad choices. The characters illustrate these situations, as their mettle, courage and hearts are tested. Yet each book is replete with hope.
These kids graduated with my daughter almost ten years ago. I’ve run into a few over the years. Some are doing better than others in managing life, but they marvel when I tell them how our conversations shaped ALLON, leading to nine books. Of how the series has branched out to The King’s Children, a trilogy for ages 8-10. It contains the same themes as ALLON for older readers.
Today, I travel to conventions and events speaking on helping children through reading and writing. All this happened due to my daughter’s request and the conversations with her friends. For that, I thank them all, for the journey has been wonderful.
Author Shawn Lamb
To find out more about Shawn Lamb’s work and to take a look at the rest of her wonderful ALLON Series, you may visit her websites: