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An Interview with Sharon Shinn

If there’s one author that Jane, Jayne and I have all enjoyed reading, it’s Sharon Shinn. So when I floated the idea of interviewing her, it was met with great enthusiasm and it quickly grew into Sharon Shinn week here at Dear Author. Of course, the whole thing hinged on the author herself agreeing to be interviewed. Luckily for us, Sharon Shinn said she would be delighted to do the interview. So we sat down togeth– well, no, not really. We sat down at our computers to send the questions and answers back and forth. The result was this interview, here for your enjoyment. — Janine

Sharon Shinn casualTell us a little bit about how you got started writing and how you came to be published.

I wanted to be a writer from the time I was about 8 years old. I wrote my first novel the summer I was 20 and working at a pretty slow-paced government job. Every time one of my co-workers asked me what I was doing, I said I was writing a letter. All summer! But that book was unreadable, and the next few were unpublishable. I finally started hitting my groove in my early 30s.

Still took a while to get anything published. I sent out a few unsolicited manuscripts–one of them languished for two years in the slush pile before it got rejected. Finally found an agent, and it was still three more years of sporadic rejections before my first book sold. But since then, the sales have been pretty steady. So I always tell people I’m the poster child for perseverance.

Which books and authors are your personal favorites? Which books do you feel have influenced your own writing?

Georgette Heyer was my first major influence. I still know a few scenes in her books by heart, and I can tell when newer Regency romance writers quote one of her lines. In the sf/fantasy field, the authors I loved before I started writing were Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley (lot of Mc-authors), and Peter Beagle. More recently, I’ve discovered Juliet Marillier in the fantasy field, and a few in the romance field: Suzanne Brockmann, Jennifer Crusie, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

All three of us who write for Dear Author are avid romance readers, and we’ve all enjoyed your books and think that many of them would appeal to readers of that genre, so I want to ask you a few questions about the romantic aspect of your books.

Several of your books have a strong romantic thread or storyline. What is it that inclines you to write about romantic love?

You know, I write the kinds of books I like to read. I read fairly widely, but I always enjoy a book more if a love story is part of it. So while I try to layer on a lot of the fantastical elements of sf/f, and I certainly hope to provide a compelling plot, I usually think the love story is the core of the book. To enjoy the romance again is why I tend to re-read the books I bother to re-read, and the romance is often the part that’s the most fun to write.

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Janine Ballard loves well-paced, character driven novels in historical romance, fantasy, YA, and the occasional outlier genre. Recent examples include novels by Katherine Addison, Meljean Brook, Kristin Cashore, Cecilia Grant, Rachel Hartman, Ann Leckie, Jeannie Lin, Rose Lerner, Courtney Milan, Miranda Neville, and Nalini Singh. Janine also writes fiction. Her critique partners are Sherry Thomas, Meredith Duran and Bettie Sharpe. Her erotic short story, “Kiss of Life,” appears in the Berkley anthology AGONY/ECSTASY under the pen name Lily Daniels. You can email Janine at janineballard at gmail dot com or find her on Twitter @janine_ballard.


  1. msaggie
    Oct 09, 2006 @ 09:54:07

    Thanks to Janine, and the two Ja(y)nes for organising this interview with Sharon Shinn. It is so comprehensive that I can’t think of any further questions which need answers for the time being! I am just looking forward to Reader and Raelynx – oh – one question – is there a way I could get an advanced reader’s copy ? (How do these work? I have never had ARCs before, but have heard and seen that they exist)

  2. Janine
    Oct 09, 2006 @ 11:20:56

    Thanks to Janine, and the two Ja(y)nes for organising this interview with Sharon Shinn. It is so comprehensive that I can't think of any further questions which need answers for the time being!

    You’re welcome! Our big thanks goes to Sharon Shinn for being gracious enough to answer this many questions, and answer them so thoroughly.

    I am just looking forward to Reader and Raelynx – oh – one question – is there a way I could get an advanced reader's copy ? (How do these work? I have never had ARCs before, but have heard and seen that they exist)

    I’m not sure if this question is for me or for Sharon Shinn. Please post all your questions for her in the comment section of the post titled “Sharon Shinn answers your questions.”

    But I can tell you what I know about ARCs. Usually they are only given to reviewers, booksellers, and others who get the word out about books (We sometimes get ARCs at Dear Author because we are a site that reviews books, but even so, we don’t get many).

    ARCs are labeled “Not for sale”, but sometimes people who get them do sell them, and generally speaking, readers almost always get them by buying them. The author gets no royalties from such sales, and there have been some discussions of this on blogs and romance sites, with some authors speaking out against the sale of ARCs.

    On rare occasions, readers have also obtained ARCs otherwise, either by winning them in author contests, or through a publisher program to promote the book by sending readers ARCs to review and spread the word about.

  3. AAR Rachel
    Oct 09, 2006 @ 22:13:35

    Great interview! And thanks for the review of Dark Moon Defender. I’ve got to go get that one. Maybe tomorrow. I enjoy Shinn’s writing so much.

  4. Kailana
    Oct 10, 2006 @ 13:37:48

    Wow, what an awesome interview! I just started reading Shinn, so perfect timing for me to read all about her.

  5. --Deb
    Oct 10, 2006 @ 17:16:33

    Thank you so much for this interview! Sharon Shinn has been one of my very favorite authors since I discovered Archangel when it came out. It’s a rare month that goes by without my reading one of her books. (Yes, I’ve read all of them multiple times, except for the most recent.)

    I haven’t read your review for Dark Moon Defender yet because I only just started reading it. (I had to re-read the first two first.) But . . . the interview? Wonderful!

  6. --Deb
    Oct 10, 2006 @ 17:27:13

    Oh, and I do have a couple questions that I’d love to ask Sharon.

    The music in the Samaria series is always so beautifully written–I want to HEAR it! Obviously, that’s not possible, but are there any choral works that you particularly like that would be reminiscent of the Magnificat, or any of the other Glorias? Or, just that you like, yourself?

    I wondered, when Samaria invented its own sound-recording and scoffed that Rachel’s voice could have compared to Hagar’s . . . does Jehovah have recordings of all the Gloria’s in its memory banks? That could somehow be transmitted? It would be such a shame for Gabriel’s and her voice to be lost to the void.

    And, not a question, but, a possible novella in the “Heart of Gold” world? Be still my heart. That book is one of my absolute favorites. The world is so similar to ours in a way, and yet so different in its hierarchy–it’s a world I would gladly visit again. I also always feel like it has such a Jane Austen kind of vibe, in the Indigo’s aristocratic world of manners and balls . . . I really just want to know more!

  7. Mary Katherine
    Feb 18, 2007 @ 21:48:10


    thanks for the interview! it was wonderful to read.

    are there any plans to issue the first three books in the Samaria series in hardback? I have often wished to have them in hb like the other two. If there is anything we as readers can do to encourage this, please let me know.

  8. Angela
    Oct 22, 2007 @ 20:02:35

    You’re a cruel, cruel woman, Sharon Shinn. To state that two of your favorites of your books are unpublished and that you don’t intend to rewrite them any time soon to publish as books or e-books seems terribly unfair!

  9. My First Sale by Sharon Shinn, Every Sale Is Cause for Celebration | Dear Author: Romance Book Reviews, Author Interviews, and Commentary
    Oct 26, 2007 @ 04:00:17

    […] Shinn is one of our favorite authors here at Dear Author. Given the diversity of our tastes, its amazing that we can come to any […]

  10. Chappysmom » New Arrivals
    Mar 23, 2008 @ 09:57:01

    […] if you’ve read any of her books, there’s an excellent 8-page interview with her over here. (Thanks, Kelly, for letting me know.) Really, I just love her […]

  11. Joanna Muccigrosso
    Oct 14, 2011 @ 15:41:09

    I am no longer sure where you are getting your information, but great topic. I needs to spend some time studying much more or understanding more. Thank you for excellent information I used to be looking for this information for my mission.

  12. aravis
    May 29, 2012 @ 05:42:36

    This interview is much too short! Just three questions?!

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