Wednesday, May 9, 2007
George D. Shuman - Former Washington D.C., Undercover Detective Turned Bestselling Author Of Murder Mystery "18 Seconds"
Welcome to “Up Close & Personal.” For every interview I will be introducing a literary personality discussing his views and insights, as well as upcoming literary events around the world.
Today’s interview is with George D. Shuman, author of the highly imaginative novel, 18 Seconds. The first book in the 'Sherry Moore' series, an explosive thriller—brutally authentic in detail novel.
E.I. Would you please tell your fans what were you like as a teenager? And tell us more about George Shuman -- the man behind the author?
GDS: My High School could best be described as a farm school. We were the Future Farmers of America or soon to be coal miners, steel workers and trades people. You didn’t move far from home where I came from, you didn’t dream beyond the confines of your county, there were clear lines drawn between races and choices of music and dress and you were suspect if you crossed those lines. I wasn’t a great student, hell I wasn’t a good student. I daydreamed a lot. I was far more interested in the music of Ricky Nelson and Neil Sedaka and later of course the Beatles than sports or academics. And yes I had a guitar and played in a rock and roll band and never made it to college, though I did well in law enforcement and later private industry. I was one of those people who had to meet education on my own terms.
E.I. What is your response to the public perception about your creative insight with your book?
GDS: My number one thrill is reading fan mail from around the world from people who have emotionally connected with my characters. I love to hear I have made them cry, or have kept them up all night, or worried them over what is going to happen to Sherry Moore in the future. That connection was what motivated me to read in the first place, and it is so very cool to realize I am moving others.
E.I. Can you share with us some of the challenges you faced to publish your first book ‘18 Seconds’? Is there anything about you that you would do differently, knowing what you do now?
GDS: Simply put, I ended up doing it the hard way. Fifteen years of rejections, emotional ups and downs, rewriting and rewriting and rewriting every time someone in the business made a suggestion to improve my manuscripts. I was living, like many authors, for those scraps of hope penciled on the margins of form letters that read “Not for Me.” I found hope in comments like, “compelling read, needs editing, punctuation, character development…” because I knew some human had actually read three of my chapters and taken the time to give me advice. We are pathetic beings who save our marked up form letters, who wait impatiently to be rejected again and again.
Were I to do one thing different, it would have been not to have altered my manuscripts for every Tom, Dick and Jane who had an opinion about my work. You learn that once you get published, everything you scribble suddenly becomes genius. And let me add that I absolutely cry for the wonderful stories out there in bottom drawers of dresser bureaus that will never see the light of day.
E.I. What surprised you most about the publishing process from the writer’s perspective?
GDS: For me, it was the speed of which the industry, my publisher and so many well established authors embraced me. I am humbled by it all and ever so thankful.
E.I. You are well known in the writing community as a twenty-year veteran of the Washington D.C., Metropolitan Police force and that you also served as an undercover narcotic detective. Are any of the character in your books actually based on real people in your life?
GDS: No, and I can’t say this loudly enough. I LOVE to write fiction. The residue of my years in law enforcement can’t help but bleed through the pages, any more than my years farming or sticking rivets in the steel mills, but I have no interest in dredging up history. Everything I write is of my imagination, that’s what makes writing beautiful to me.
E.I. If your book is purely fiction what was your inspiration for the book?
GDS: Setting. My family vacationed in Wildwood New Jersey when I was a young teen. I was impressionable. I never forgot the “anything could happen here” kind of feeling the boardwalk had at night. I was also interested in writing a story (certainly because of my experience in law enforcement) about crime interrupted. This happens all the time in real police work. A series of heinous crimes suddenly stop leaving the cops to wonder if the perpetrator is dead, in jail, or moved to other parts of the country.
E.I. Now... let’s shift gears and talk about new book, ‘The Last Breath’ which I understand is to be published by Simon & Schuster August of 2007. Can you give us a hint as to what it's about?
GDS: LAST BREATH is the story of a man who witnesses something as a boy that drives him to obsess over human breath. Or should I say a human’s last breath? This is a terrifying read.
E.I. What challenges or obstacle did you encounter while writing and creating your blind psychic protagonist ‘Sherry Moore’? How did you overcome these challenges?
GDS: Purely half the fun of writing is researching for me. I am no longer the disinterested student. I can’t get enough knowledge in my head and my research leads me on long pursuits that I sometimes have to reign in to get back to my writing. I’m still learning about the blind and can only say I hope to do better in the future. It has become important for me not only to do it right, but to open the seeing world’s eyes to the amazing accomplishments of the blind. Google Erik Weihenmeyer if you have any doubt.
E.I. How did you develop ˜Sherry Moore?" Did you work it out in advance, or did she evolve as you wrote the story?
GDS: Sherry Moore evolved and slowly. In fact she started out as Jack. First she had this unusual gift based in science, not the paranormal. Then I thought what if she was orphaned and didn’t have sight? What if she was beautiful and self possessed. I liked all the contrasts.
E.I. Readers and fans often like to get behind an author's writing routine. Would you like to share with them your typical writing day schedule?
GDS: I’m all over the place and part of that is because of my love of research. I get distracted. I tend to binge at whatever I do. Long long stretches of reading, followed by long long stretches of writing. I wrote the better part of LAST BREATH in six weeks. I don’t recommend it as a style.
E.I. Was there anyone who really influenced you to become a writer?
GDS: I remember first being moved by the genius of writers like LaCarre, Ludlum, Forsyth, McMurtry… but in all honesty, it was the books I picked up that were dull, witless and bereft of emotion that made me believe I could write. If anything the masters would have scared me away. I must thank those unnamed authors whose work should never have been published in the first place. They are the reason I thought I could do this too.
E.I. Would you call yourself a plotter?
GDS: That would be a definitive no. I have no idea, whatsoever where my characters are going to lead me from day to day.
E.I. What’s up next for your fans?
GDS: I am way excited about the book I’m working on now. Let’s just say Sherry meets her match in more ways than one. We have a former dictator’s Secret Police commander operating one of the most inhuman criminal organizations in the western hemisphere in a terrifyingly exotic setting. There is something for everyone in this thriller.
E.I. Mr. Shuman, thank you for contributing to my blog. It has been a pleasure for me to get to know you, and your work a little better. Would you like to end your interview with a writing tip or advice for young aspiring writers?
GDS: Oh, yes… in a word I would tell you to believe! You know if you can write or not. If you can, your worst enemy is not the industry, but self doubt. You must believe in yourself in spite of the odds. You must believe in spite of what other people tell you, even at times the professionals. For every hugely successful author out there, there are a dozen agents—and or publishers—who wished they hadn’t turned them down. Ask the ones who had a shot at J.K. Rowling’s manuscript.
To learn more about George D. Shuman, please visit him at:
Posted by E. I. Johnson at 11:24 AM