Shelley Workinger's Solid Series

Let’s talk writing! My guest today is author Shelley Workinger who writes for young adults.

Readers can visit her:

Anne - When did you first realize you were destined to be a writer?

Shelley - It wasn’t so much my choosing to be a writer as it was a story presenting itself to me that demanded to be written! Yes, I did double-major in Writing and Sociology in college, and yes, I did write a genre romance at age 19 just to see if I could, but I never seriously pursued writing until the idea for “Solid” captured my imagination. By the time I wrote the final sentence a year and a half later, I felt compelled to write a sequel, then found I couldn’t wait to get through the editing phase to get to work on a third installment. Maybe my delayed entry into the publishing field was due to not knowing my destined genre; now I can’t stop looking ahead to when the “Solid” trilogy is finished so that I can work on a new idea for a thriller that just showed up at my door and started unpacking its bags. J

Anne – I love your description of a new idea showing up and just moving in! Tell us about your book. Is it part of a series? If so, include other titles.
Shelley - The “Solid” series (“Solid” – 2010, “Settling” – 2011, and “Sound” – due out 2012) is a Young Adult trilogy (at least it was intended to be; as I work through Book #3, I’m no longer sure I can effectively wrap it up in 3 installments!) It is built on the following premise: Teens who discover they were secretly genetically altered before birth are brought together at a classified site where they develop "super-abilities," while at the same time forging new friendships, finding love, and unearthing a conspiracy.
“Settling” (Book #2) continues the saga: Picking up where “Solid” left off, Clio and her friends realize that they aren’t ready to go home; they’re determined to stay on campus and continue their journey of self- discovery. But someone doesn’t feel the same way and will do anything to drive them away – even kill. Friendships will be tested, abilities will evolve, and more secrets will come out as the teens race to stop the killer before he sets his sights on one of them.
“Sound” (Book #3) will contain the most explosive action to date, along with the final answers.

Anne – It sounds like a fascinating series. What is your favorite thing about writing a series?
Shelley - I have to say, I never set out to write a series. I fleshed out my idea for “Solid” into a stand-alone novel, and its final pages sufficiently wrapped up that segment. It wasn’t even until that point that I realized Book #1 was only one piece of a series; that my characters had much more to say and do and that I almost owed it to them to continue the story.

Anne - Is there a message in “Solid” you want readers to grasp?
Shelley - Yes – that the secret of life is finding your own “super-ability.” Every person is different, but everyone has a purpose, and perhaps the greatest gift you can give is to help someone else find theirs.

Anne - Of all the characters you’ve created, does one hold a special place in your heart? Why?
Shelley - It’s no secret that Garrett’s my favorite. He’s my heroine’s closest guy friend and the whole package – fun and playful, yet also intelligent and thoughtful, and, most importantly, he knows which side to play up depending on what kind of day she’s having. He brightens every scene he’s in, for both Clio and me!
Anne - What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Shelley - Getting to everything else besides the writing! For me, writing is all-consuming. I get so caught up in unraveling the story that I can’t sleep and even lose my appetite, which is crazy for me. So, as much as I will miss the characters, I will be happy when the “Solid” series is complete and I get my life back.

Anne - What is the most surprising thing you’ve learned about yourself from your writing?
Shelley - Because writing takes up so much of my time, I’ve finally realized what’s most important in life. If I get so caught up in finishing a chapter that I run out of time to get to the store, I don’t cancel my plan to take my kids to the park after school so that I can get it done; I never drop fun time with them for the chores and errands that I used to see as priorities but really aren’t. So even though I’m busier than ever, I feel freer in that respect.

Anne - Tell us about the defining moment when you felt as if you’d finally made it as an author.
Shelley - The day I read the first review of “Solid”. The reviewer wrote, “I wasn't sure what to expect from Solid. On one hand, I hadn't heard anything about it or seen any reviews on the blogs I follow. On the other, the book had an intriguing premise that grabbed my attention right away. I'm pleased to say that I wasn't disappointed.”  Until that moment, that’d been my biggest fear: disappointing the readers. I felt I could breathe after that!
The second biggest highlight was when I stumbled upon a blog exchange between two readers where one said about me, “She is so super nice! Love her. :)”
Wow. To be known as a good writer AND a great person is all I could ever hope for! J

Anne – How true. Congratulations on both accounts! ;-)  Any words of advice for struggling, unpublished writers?
Shelley - Believe in yourself. From the moment you declare yourself a writer, there will be people who say, "Isn't that cute?" (And when you hand those same people a printed copy of your complete novel, they'll probably also say, "Wow, it's like a real book.") Don't let anyone belittle your effort, or you!

Anne - Outside of writing, of what accomplishment are you most proud?
Shelley - The phenomenal people my small children are becoming. I would never take credit for who they are away from them, since they’re the ones dong all of the grunt work of living and learning, discovering and evolving, but I feel so accomplished just to know them.

Anne - Quick. Your favorites – author, actor, movie, song and quote.

Shelley – Author: Marcus Zusak, Actor: Bruce Willis, Movie: Pirates of the Caribbean (#1), Song: The Star Spangled Banner, Quote: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. ~ Aesop

Anne – Thanks so much for dropping by today, Shelley. I wish you every success both at and away from the keyboard!
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Smoky said...

I have a question for Shelley: Although I love every character in my own books dearly, but the time I finish writing the book in which they appear, I feel ready to move on and make new character "friends." How do you feel about that? Do you ever get tired of writing about the same characters?

And Anne, great interview!

Anne K Albert said...

Hi Smoky, great question. I look forward to Shelley's reply.

Kelly Hashway said...

Great interview! Solid sounds like a really interesting series. And what a great defining moment. That's something any author would be happy to hear.

Shelley Workinger said...

Hi, Smoky - thanks for the question!
I think I have the opposite problem with these characters; they each have too much to say and too many possibilities for me to get to everyone. (My main cast is 8 kids, plus 4 not-quite-central-but-much-more-than-peripheral others.) I now see why so many authors (and producers) write spin-offs, because every character has a back story worth fleshing out if you're so inclined. I do think the cleanest way for me to handle this series, though, is to wrap it up in 3 books as planned :)
Shelley W.

Michael Ann said...

Anne, you do such great interviews, I really enjoy reading them! I have two teenage sons who I think would really like this series! Thank you for introducing me to the series and to Shelley!

Anne K Albert said...

Thank you, Kelly and Michael Ann. I enjoy meeting people, finding out what makes them tick. Discovering a great book or series along with meeting someone new is the icing on the cake!