1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
I’m not so sure there is an easy answer to that question. I honestly feel like I’ve always been writing. When I was a kid, my parents bought me a typewriter, and I would use it to practice spelling—asking my mother how to spell the biggest and most complex words my young mind could muster. As she recited the letters, I would peck them out on the clacking keys. I remember writing stories and putting them in those folders with the three tabs down the spine. I would even draw covers and glue them to the front. In short, writing and stories have always been a part of my life, and I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t doing something at least adjacent to writing.
2) What inspired you to write your book?
This second novel, The Smoke in His Eyes, grew out of a thought-experiment inspired by my first novel, A Year Since the Rain. When that first novel was published, I had a real serious bout with imposter syndrome. I became fascinated with the creative impulse. I was asking myself what it is that drives some of us to make art and a smaller group of us to find ways to share that art with as many people as possible. This line of questioning led me to this book and these characters. I explored the different reasons why we create through the different artists in the book. Some of us want financial gain, some of us are in it for the pursuit of craft, some of us just want to make art with no desire to share it with the world. These different worldviews are explored in the novel.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
I think I want people to come away from the book with a curiosity about their own creativity. I think we all possess some kind of creative spirit, and as much as the book explores creativity through the lens of visual art and music, I think the exploration of creativity can be applied to any creative process.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I studied magical realism extensively in college. I wrote my master’s thesis on Salman Rushdie’s fiction, and I just spent a large chunk of my life reading those works. I think we tend to absorb the things we consume into our own styles, so when I started writing long-form fiction, it just drifted into the realm of magical realism/ contemporary fantasy. I’m drawn to the unique ways the genre can explore human experience by contrasting realistic characters and settings against the unexplainable.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I would probably sit with TJ and ask for guitar lessons. I learned to play the guitar while I was writing the book so I could approach something of a genuine description of that experience, but he’s still a better player than me. I could learn a few things from him, for sure.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
I think I’ve probably poured more time into Facebook than it’s worth, but it’s so good for promoting events, and live events is really where I’ve been able to develop readership. In terms of straight-up readership growth, though, I’ve probably done the best with Twitter (@thatshanewilson).
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
Your book or story or poem or song will never be done until you finish it. If you toy with the idea of writing, and you are no absolutely compelled to do it, you probably shouldn’t. I think of how Rainer Maria Rilke addressed the young poet who wrote him for advice. Essentially, he told the young man that if he could imagine a life wherein he was not writing, then he should not write. In short, artists cannot imagine a life without their art, and if you can, then you should find something else to do with your time. Writing or any other kind of creative work is hard work. It has to be a passion that you pursue in a serious way. So, park your ass in the chair and get to work.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention my new album of original music, Of All the Things I’ve Ever Said, I Mean This the Most. It’s from my little acoustic bad, Sequoia Rising, and it’s all singer-songwritery/ folk/ Americana goodness. The songs are personal and thoughtful and reflective, and it’s streaming wherever music streams. I hope people check that out. I’m pretty proud of it.
Otherwise, it looks like a new novel might be out in 2022, so I’m not saying much about that right now. If anybody wants to keep up with what’s going on with my, I’m all over the socials at @thatshanewilson and my website is http://www.shanewilsonauthor.com.
About the Author
Born in Alabama and raised in Georgia, Shane is a child of the southeastern United States where he feels simultaneously at-home and out-of-place. He graduated from Valdosta State University in south Georgia with a Masters in English. He taught college English in Georgia for four years before moving to North Carolina in 2013.
No matter the temperature outside, there is always an iced coffee in his hand when he walks into class in the mornings. He tends to chase the day with a whiskey and a re-run of The Office.
Shane has published poetry in Tethered by Letters and the Stonepile Writers’ Anthology, Volume III. He is currently at work on a new novel as well as a collection of short stories based on the mythos of and set in the same town as A Year Since the Rain.