Shannon L. Brown read and read as a kid, particularly every mystery she could find. She didn’t plan to be a writer though. Although she earned a degree in journalism & communications then a second degree in education, she didn’t end up working in either field. Shannon wrote her first book, a clean romance, shortly after earning those degrees in the 1980s. Submitted to a publisher, when it was rejected she changed directions. Fast forward to a day some years later when she was driving and an image of a briefcase filled with feathers popped into her mind. She knew it was the idea for a children’s mystery and “The Feather Chase” was born. Shannon wrote the book while working in unrelated fields. She also began writing magazine articles on the side and gradually moved to doing that full-time. Now an award-winning writer, she has sold more than 600 articles for local, national and regional publications and, until resigning to finish the book, was the contributing editor for a jewelry publication. (This goes to show you, you never know where life may take you.) “The Feather Chase” was published in February of 2014. It’s a fun mystery and the first in the Crime-Solving Cousins Mystery series. Shannon’s now using those earlier courses in communications to write and those in education to speak to children about writing. Originally from Alaska, she currently lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with her professor husband and adorable calico cat Evie. The second book in the series will release in the summer of 2015.
Hello, Shannon! I am delighted to be chatting with you and congrats on the B.R.A.G. Medallion for your book, The Feather Chase. First I’d like to say that I love the title of your book. Could you tell your audience a little about the premise of your story?
Thank you on the title. I went through many possibilities before I settled on The Feather Chase. The story begins when twelve-year-old cousins Sophie and Jessica find a briefcase full of feathers while hiking in the woods. They’re spending the summer together in Sophie’s small town of Pine Hill and city-girl Jessica isn’t interested in much there including helping with what might be a mystery. When they realize someone is following them, they work together to solve the mystery of The Feather Chase.
Are there any characteristic similarities between Sophie and Jessica, besides their age, that your readers can relate to?
Readers often feel one of the girls is more like them. Sophie loves the outdoors —she’d rather be hiking or camping than almost anything else. She’s also a fan of jeans and sneakers, and an average student. Jessica’s a big city girl who currently calls London, England, home. She’s a very smart girly girl who likes to dress up and wouldn’t leave the house without makeup.
What is an example of how they work together to solve the mystery they stumble upon?
I’ll answer this without giving too much away. (I’m one those who covers her ears when someone talks about a book she’s read or movie she’s seen that I haven’t gotten to yet.)
Sophie promises still-doubtful Jessica chocolate if she’ll help her sort through a pile of debris to find something she’s sure is there. They find it and from then on face danger and find clues together.
Could you please share an excerpt?
Here’s a scene from page 3 that begins with Sophie speaking:
“Maybe the outdoors will grow on you. Pretend we’re on a great adventure.”
“I think twelve’s a little too old for that.”
“I’m twelve too, and I don’t think so. My dad says you’re never too old to use your imagination.”
“Okay. We’re on a great adventure.” Jessica lowered her voice to a whisper. “We’re going to find a bunch of spies around that bend in the path.”
Sophie seemed startled, then grinned. She must not have known Jessica had a sense of humor.
As they rounded the next bend, Jessica pointed to the ground. “Look. There’s a briefcase.”
Sophie giggled. “You’re really getting into this.”
“No, I mean there really is a briefcase.”
Sophie looked in the direction Jessica pointed. “There is!”
A black leather briefcase, something like her dad used to carry papers to meetings, lay on its side, next to a big pine tree. Jessica knelt beside it.
“No!” Sophie shouted when her cousin reached for it. “Don’t you watch all those spy movies? The briefcase is booby-trapped.”
“You must be kidding.” Jessica poked at it with her finger. Then she picked it up off the ground. “Gee. Nothing happened.” Setting it on a boulder, she pushed on the
latches. “It’s locked up tight.”
“We’d better take it to the sheriff’s office.”
Will there be other mystery stories involving these two?
The second book in the Crime-Solving Cousins series will release in the next few months. This time Sophie and Jessica are searching for a missing treasure and they find themselves in danger once again.
I find it interesting that your book is contemporary with a fictional location but you have written non-fiction articles about your story. Could you tell me a little about that? I am curious.
I’ve written more than 600 non-fiction articles so I’m comfortable with fiction and non-fiction. I’m always curious about what’s behind the scenes so I enjoy sharing things such as the evolution of my book’s cover or looking at what makes a character tick.
What is the age target for this book?
Ages 8-12 are the target audience. I had thought my readers would be mostly girls, but boys are also enjoying it. There is a 12-year-old boy who enters the story about halfway through.
Who designed your book cover?
The amazing Jeanine Henderson illustrated and hand-lettered my cover.
How long did it take for you to write your story?
I normally write quickly but this story developed over a decade. At the time, I also worked full-time and had a lot going on in life. The next book in the series will be out soon and has been a much shorter process.
Where in your home do you like to write and what is your process?
I have a home office painted in a pretty light lavender. But I also like to work in coffee shops and libraries. I’m writing this from a great coffee shop in Nashville called The Well.
How did you discover indieBRAG and what has your experience been like with self-publishing so far?
I believe I discovered it in an article on ALLi’s website, The Allliance of Independent Authors. After writing for others for years, it’s both fun and challenging to have the final say in what I do. Indie authors have the obligation of putting out a product that is equal to that of a traditional publisher so we have extra work to do with hiring editors and cover designers. And then there’s marketing. A writer, any writer, could work 24/7 on marketing.
Where can readers buy your book?
The Feather Chase is available in print from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and local stores in Nashville, Tennessee. The ebook is a Kindle and Nook, and also on Kobo and ibook.
Thank you, Shannon! It has been lovely to chat with you.
It’s been a pleasure spending time with all of you.
A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Shannon Brown, who is the author of, The Feather Chase, our medallion honorees at indieBRAG . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Feather Chase, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.