Interview With Debut Novelist, Danica Sheard

I recently got to interview Danica Sheard, author of Love Game her debut novella. Self described as “a dreamer, an explorer, a thinker, an analyzer, a slave to [her] inner child, and a total klutz,” Sheard has been writing since she was a teenager but only recently came to it for a career. We talk about ABC’s The Bachelorette, eReader vs physical books, and how the Love Gameseries will continue.

TRW: Tell us about yourself.

Danica Sheard: I love sushi, wine, traveling, Adele, Amy Winehouse, and a good cry every now and then.  I’m a middle child with two sisters, and my husband Tyler is the most amazing person I’ve ever met.  My weakness is baby animals, babies in general, and my guilty pleasure is watching reruns of Seinfeld.  I’m also in love with Channing Tatum.

TRW: What brought you to writing?

DS: My love life growing up was pretty dramatic, as I’m sure most people can say the same, and I used writing as an outlet for all of my feelings of either joy or heartbreak. That was my main drive for writing, just trying to express my feelings at the time for whatever boy I was crushing on, or in love with, or resenting.  It made me feel so indie, to have this little collection of verses that no one else knew about – and maybe they’d be sitting a few feet away from me, not knowing that there would be pages upon pages of my feelings for them written in a book inside my knapsack.

I began writing “scripts” for fun, in my spare time (this is a little embarrassing), of my life – how I wanted something to go, or how I wanted to interact with someone if I ever mustered up that type of courage.  They became little fantasies, and I would get so caught up in making everything realistic and accurate, putting ourselves in glamorous locations like Paris or Los Angeles, that I’d do a bunch of research to go along with it.  It was like living in a little world where everything went my way.  Of course after college, that all took a back seat when I got a job with the government, and I was sucked into this ridiculous routine of the same paperwork, the same people, the same office politics – basically, hell.  I hated it.  Luckily, I met Tyler during that time period, we fell in love, got married, and he’s been the best thing in my life over the past six years. […] I came across this website about something called the World Domination Summit.  It’s an annual convention about living your best life and changing the world.  Even though I didn’t go, it set me off on this new journey of self discovery and seizing every moment.  I knew if I started writing again, it would be my dream come true.  Being in the office every day made me feel so insignificant, and I knew I had so much more inside to give.  Writing takes me to different worlds, I feel like I’m constantly learning, and even though I write fiction, there’s truth in all of my work.  I decided I would focus on writing full time, so after careful deliberation, I finally quit my job and felt such an amazing weight off of my shoulders.

TRW: How did you get the inspiration for this story?

DS: I’m gonna let you know something that I hope doesn’t come back and bite me later, haha.  I’ve only seen two episodes of The Bachelor.  Ever.  It started with the second last episode of Sean’s season, where he went on dates with AshLee, Lindsey and Catherine.  I’m really proud to say that my first instinct after the end of that episode, was that I wanted him to end up with Catherine (I was right!)  I don’t even know why I started watching it, it just called out to me when I was scrolling through the channel guide.  Afterwards, they announced that the season finale would be in two weeks, so I wrote it down in my calendar.  I even remember being disappointed because they were airing the “Ladies Tell All” episode the next week, and all I wanted to know was who Sean ended up with.  
For some reason, I wrote down the wrong dates, because what I thought was the night of Ladies Tell All was actually the night of the finale.  I think I missed about half an hour, then freaked out when I realized it was on.  I was really shocked with my reaction, seeing as I only had about 45 minutes of my life invested into the show.  But I watched on edge, rooting for Catherine, and so happy for them when it all ended. […] I was thinking about the finale and remembered how upset Lindsey was, and I really felt for her.  Even though I was Team Catherine, I could have seen him going either way. For some reason, I thought  “wouldn’t it suck if he really did want to be with Lindsey?”  

That’s when it all clicked, it was kind of a “Eureka” moment.  Love Game isn’t modeled after any of them, but they certainly sparked the inspiration for the scenario.  I came up with the characters, and did very little research on The Bachelor to prevent myself from imitating any of the contestants subconsciously.  From the two episodes that I’ve seen, I took that and ran with it, took a break from my other book, and ended up with Love Game.  Now The Bachelorette has started, and I’m hooked, live-tweeting every Monday night!

TRW: Who are your favourites on this season of the Bachelorette?
My favorites so far are Brooks and Zak W.  I feel like Brooks is a really decent guy with a great sense of humor.  His hockey hair is also reminding me of when I had a crush on Stuart Townsend in Queen of the Damned, so that’s a big plus :)  

Zak, I think there are so many different layers to him and I can definitely relate to his type of personality.  You know, he shows up to the house with no shirt – funny – and he knows he’s got something to flaunt, so he does.  He’s got that impulsive, no-holds-barred kind of attitude, but he also wants to show that he has a serious, sensitive side, and that he’s not just the butt of some joke.  When he gave that journal to Des, it really touched me – I think that’s something more valuable than some jewelry or a bouquet of flowers.  First impressions aren’t the only impressions, and I think people should be allowed like, five impressions before anyone forms their “first impression” of them.  Look at how Ben is turning out.  We all loved him last week but now we know he’s just a huge doucher.

TRW: What are some of your favourite books you own?

DS: One of my all time favorite books is Around The World In Eighty Days by Jules Verne.  I aspire to be just like Phileas Fogg.  He’s just this calm, confident, no BS kinda guy, and the way he takes on the challenge is kind of reflective of how I’m living my life right now.  I’ve obviously received some criticism about quitting my full time job to pursue my writing career, but I know I can do it, and any obstacle that gets in my way, I’ll just have to find a way around it.  They’re kinda like the guys at the Reform Club – they haven’t exactly said I can’t do it, but there are definitely little “doubt sparkles” being sprinkled around.  Except this time, I’m the only one who’s placed a bet.  

Also, Tina Fey’s “Bossypants”.  She’s a freaking genius.

TRW: What genre do you normally pick up when choosing a book?

DS: I’m so all over the place, but the genre I’ve been into as of late would have to be dystopian science fiction.  I don’t read or watch horror – *that* is my horror.  That stuff scares me, I love it.  I think it’s because I really really really want to live until I’m like 200 years old, just because I’m so curious to see what the world will be like then.  Except I would hope people weren’t modified to live a maximum age, have ridiculous procreation laws, or be subject to post-apocalyptic dictatorship rule.  Whatever it will be, I know it won’t be anything like life right now.  Think of how far we’ve come along in just 100 years.  We went from telegram boys to the iPhone, and Google Glass.  It’s terrifying to think of what’s coming next.  

TRW: Do you prefer using an electronic tablet like Kindle for reading, or a physical copy of the book?
DS: Even though I love my tablet, nothing beats holding a physical book in your hands.  They have a life and personality to them.  The weight, the texture, even the thickness and smell of the paper – I gotta go with book.  
TRW: You’re allowing readers to influence whether Madison ends with Avery or Dylan. What gave you the idea to make Love Game a series, and one that allowed audience input?

DS: I’ve always been a fan of the cliffhanger.  You know, you’re reading, and you’re about to run out of pages and you think there’s no possible way this could be tied up in the short time that’s left, and then a big twist comes out of nowhere and there’s nothing left but for you to wait.  I love that!  You get a little frustrated but deep down inside you’re thinking “Man, that was good.  I can wait to see what happens.”  Just like in relationships, there’s always that element of the chase.  If there’s no chase, it’s too easy, and it gets boring.  That’s what flirting is.  Flirting is exciting, suspenseful little cliffhangers – you’re not exactly sure what it’ll lead to, but you hope it’s something good.  I think the series is just that.     

Allowing audience input is something that was without a doubt something that I’d always take into account.  If fans want desperately for Madison to end up with one guy over the other, then that’s something I’d seriously consider.   

TRW: Do you have it set on who you like better, and who you want Madison to end with?

DS: I have an idea of who I want Madison to end up with, but as I continue writing, there are so many different ways that it could go.  I think it’s changed twice already.  I like to think these guys are metaphors to some of the relationships we encounter in real life – whether it’s romantic, or with work or with friends – we will always have to make big decisions where you’re not sure what’s best for you.  You have to weigh the pros and cons, and in some situations, the best or only thing you can do is just follow your gut instinct and hope it pointed you in the right direction.  The story is definitely still evolving, and it will until that last moment when the series ends and I hit “Publish”.   

TRW: Where do you expect Love Game to go plot-wise, and how many do you think you will make in the series?

DS: Plot-wise, I know that book will end up in many different parts of the world, and there’s still a huge chunk of time between when the characters left Huahine to when the series needs to air on television.  Keep in mind that the cameras have seen and heard way more than Madison has, so there could be a little bit of controversy there when everything gets laid out in the open.  There is also definitely a live reunion coming up, and you can imagine how heated that might get.    

I’ve always intended for Love Game to be a trilogy.  I think that’s a nice, clean little package that will hold the story without overdoing it.  If I end up doing a spinoff with one of the characters, then that would become an entity on its own.    

TRW: Where do you hope your writing will take you?

DS: I want to change lives.  Like I said, I quit my job to pursue writing, so at the very least I hope to make a decent living out of it.  But I’m not looking to be the next Suzanne Collins or E.L. James – I mean, I put celebrities in my head that play the different characters, so it would be hilarious (uh, amazing) if anything I wrote turned into a movie – but the end goal isn’t blockbuster fame and fortune.  I just want to leave behind my own legacy, my own little contribution to the world.  If I knew that even one person decided to follow their gut, to take a chance, to eradicate any chance of regret simply because they read Love Game, I’d be so overjoyed.  Having someone read your book is like them giving you their complete, undivided attention for however long it takes them to read it.  Whatever you teach them in that short amount of time is either gonna stick, or it’s gonna float away.  I want my messages to stick, and I want to make a difference.           

TRW: Will you continue to write romance stories, or do you want to branch out to other genres as well?

DS: I’m a hopeless romantic at heart, so if and when I do branch out to other genres, they would definitely have underlying themes of romance.  I say “when I do” because the next project I have after the Love Game series is a dark 180 degree turn, leaning towards mystery.  I’m definitely branching :)

Follow her on Twitter to get the latest about her books @DanicaSheard, and buy Love Game for the Kindle here!

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