Today I am interviewing Sharon Ledwith who is the author of middle-grade/YA series The Last Timekeepers, available from Musa Publishing, and is represented by Walden House (Books & Stuff) for her teen psychic series, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls. When not writing, researching, or revising, she enjoys reading, yoga, anything arcane, and an occasional dram of scotch. Sharon lives a serene, yet busy life in a tourist region of Ontario, Canada, with her hubby, one spoiled yellow Labrador and a moody calico cat. I want to thank her for taking time out from her busy schedule to let me interview her today. Not only that, but if you stay tuned you can enter the contest to win a copy of one of her eBooks.
Welcome, Sharon, and thanks for agreeing to the interview. Let me begin by asking you when did you first realise you wanted to be a writer?
In my mid-thirties—only a few years ago. Wink. Honestly though, I have to admit I was a late bloomer when I decided to jump ship from my life as a graphic trade business owner into the murky waters of the writing world. I didn’t start writing seriously until 1995. That’s when I took two college courses that changed my life. The first one was called Planning your Novel, which was an introductory workshop for, Writing your Novel. I met a couple of wonderful would-be writer gals, and we formed a writing circle after the classes were done. Years of practice, patience, and perseverance has beamed me up to where I am now, and trust me, it’s a pretty awesome place to be!
I know the feeling, Sharon! So tell us, what made you choose this genre, and why Young Adult? Have you plans to write in another genre?
Actually, I started out writing for another genre until I was pulled into the middle-grade/young adult world. My genre of choice was paranormal romance. I wrote a whopper of a novel between 1996-98 about a shapeshifter and a detective—a modern-type Beauty and the Beast so-to-speak. Then one night, during my writer’s circle, one of my writing girlfriends said something that floored me. She mentioned that I hit the twelve-year-old voice bang on. This got me to thinking—how hard would it be to write a young adult novel? It was a stupid question. Of course it was hard! But, boy, it was fun. And BTW—that paranormal romance has nabbed the interest of my agent enough for her to request the manuscript. So to answer your question—I’m open to ALL possibilities.
There are always possibilities! Do you recall the moment you got the idea for your first book?
Both the idea and inspiration came to me through a dream I had around 1998. In this dream, I saw seven arches, and there were seven people (five kids, two adults) with crystals in their hands, walking up to these arches. It definitely had an Indiana Jones feel to it. At that time, I was writing a paranormal romance (before there was a distinct genre) and had no intention of writing a middle-grade/young adult book like The Last Timekeepers. But this idea kept growing in my mind, and wouldn’t leave, like some mystical force pushing you from behind. So, I thought I’d challenge myself and write a novel—a series—that would appeal to my son, who at the time was the target age of my audience. I’ve always loved the time travel genre, so I imagined the arches I saw vividly in my dream as time portals. It was a no-brainer for me.
In The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis your characters go back in time to meet Robin Hood. Being British myself, I wondered why you chose this legendary character and location.
I believe the original reason why I chose to write about Robin Hood was because he was based on a legend that the whole world is familiar with, that the whole world knows about. That was my hook. There are so many stories circulating about Robin and his famous band of merry men, I thought I could take these characters, transform them into teenagers, and run with some of the information I gleaned from my research. Having the setting in Nottingham just made sense seeing as most of the stories about Robin Hood originated from that area.
Assuming time travel is possible and you could invite four guests of your choice from any time period, who would be at your next dinner party, and why?
Anne Frank —the young, innocent voice of the holocaust, Ann’s infectious kind nature and honesty through her journaling during one of the most horrific periods of our history touches my heart in a way no one else can. Her diary survives to this day to teach us lessons in tolerance and understanding. She is truly the most famous holocaust survivor by virtue of her intimate writings.
Abraham Lincoln—not the most handsome, but definitely one of the most dignified men in history. Strength through adversity must have been Lincoln’s slogan. A self-educated man, who fought for the rights of others, ended slavery, and stood for what he believed in. I would have loved to have heard him reciting the Gettysburg Address.
Saint Francis of Assisi—born into a wealthy Italian family, Francis had a short stint as a soldier before taking a strict vow of poverty, and adopting a simple, faithful lifestyle. Effigies of Saint Francis have him surrounded by birds and animals. So was he the original animal whisperer? Could he have talked to the animals better than Doctor Doolittle? My enquiring mind wants to know.
Walt Disney—meeting Mickey Mouse’s creator would be the icing on the cake. He not only created a family-friendly empire, but managed to leave a legacy behind that will live for generations to come. Disney was a true trailblazer in every sense of the word.
That’s some dinner party. I wouldn’t mind an invitation myself! You know, Sharon, it is said of writers, don’t make them angry or you will be parodied or horribly slaughtered in their next novel. So I wondered, have you taken revenge on anyone in this way?
Actually yes! There was a girlfriend my son was dating at the time who hurt him really bad. Um, yeah, the mother bear instincts kicked in and had their way via my fiction. It was satisfying to say the least, and let’s just say that character got her just desserts. LOL!
I like your style and your honesty! Being an author does have its good points but writing is also a very time-consuming business, requiring concentrated effort, and then comes all the editing, rewriting, blogging, networking, interviews, etc. It can be relentless. How do you switch off? What helps you to recharge your batteries?
Not sure if I ever switch off, Carol, but single malt scotch sure does help! Wink. Okay, you probably want a serious answer, so I’d say have to say hanging out with my family, learning a new skill, walking the dog, exercising, reading for fun, and watching TV with my hubby at night. I’ve recently purchased a book on learning how to speed read so I can tackle my massive TBR list. I’m such a slow reader!
Many of your young readers may have been inspired to want to become writers themselves but don’t know where to start. What advice would you give them?
I always offer this advice: Never stop investing in yourself. Invest in the best. That’s in yourself, and in your readers. Your readers deserve the best of what you have to offer them. Surround yourself with the best possible team. Never stop learning. As you grow, so will your readers, so be prepared for this. Oh yeah, and never give up. That’s a given and should be part of any author’s credo. I will also add that it’s important to be authentic, be true to the writer you want to be. People can spot a phony a mile away. Follow your heart, and write what you want.
Excellent advice, Sharon. I agree especially with what you say about never giving up. If someone were to ask you for one tip to improve their writing, what would you say?
Listen to the way people talk to each other. What you’ve written may not come off as authentic and can make readers close your book. Authors need to develop their own voices, and this is done through practice, practice, and more practice.
Is there a work in progress you would like to tell us about?
Definitely! So far, I have two novels out in ebook format—the first book, The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis, and the prequel of the series, Legend of the Timekeepers. I also have the second book in the series completed tentatively called, The Last Timekeepers and the Dark Secret, but there’s the fun job of reworking it into another character’s point-of-view. I’ve planned for a total of ten books, plus the prequel for the whole series. I have also signed on with literary agency, Walden House (Books & Stuff) in December 2012 to represent another young adult series I’ve created about teens with psychic abilities entitled, Mysterious Tales from Fairy Falls, which is in the hands of at least five traditional publishers. Oh yeah, and there’s that pesky paranormal romance I’ve been tinkering with the last two months…. I want to thank you for sharing my voice on your blog today, Carol. Loved all your questions, and believe it or not the hardest to answer was the switching off/recharging my batteries question. So here’s a BONUS for your blog readers to help charge their batteries: I’m offering a FREE ecopy of either one of The Last Timekeepers books! All you have to do is leave a comment along with your contact information, and your name will be thrown into a time portal. Whosever name comes back to me in a week’s time is the winner! Good luck and happy time travels!
Blurb for The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis:
When 13-year-old Amanda Sault and her annoying classmates are caught in a food fight at school, they’re given a choice: suspension or yard duty. The decision is a no-brainer. Their two-week crash course in landscaping leads to the discovery of a weathered stone arch in the overgrown back yard. The arch isn’t a forgotten lawn ornament but an ancient time portal from the lost continent of Atlantis. Chosen by an Atlantean Magus to be Timekeepers–legendary time travelers sworn to keep history safe from the evil Belial–Amanda and her classmates are sent on an adventure of a lifetime. Can they find the young Robin Hood and his merry band of teens? If they don’t, then history itself may be turned upside down.
Blurb for Legend of the Timekeepers:
Lilith was a young girl with dreams and a family before the final destruction of Atlantis shattered those dreams and tore her family apart. Now refugees, Lilith and her father make their home in the Black Land. This strange, new country has no place in Lilith’s heart until a beloved high priestess introduces Lilith to her life purpose—to be a Timekeeper and keep time safe. Summoned through the seventh arch of Atlantis by the Children of the Law of One, Lilith and her newfound friends are sent into Atlantis’s past, and given a task that will ultimately test their courage and try their faith in each other. Can the Timekeepers stop the dark magus Belial before he changes the seers’ prophecy? If they fail, then their future and the earth’s fate will be altered forever.
The Last Timekeepers and the Arch of Atlantis Buy Links
Legend of the Timekeepers Buy Links:
Amazon Author U.S. Page: http://www.amazon.com/Sharon-Ledwith/e/B0084DUHJO Amazon Author U.K. Page: http://www.amazon.co.uk/-/e/B0084DUHJO Goodreads Author Page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5821744.Sharon_Ledwith Goodreads Book Page: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13613004-the-last-timekeepers-and-the-arch-of-atlantis Google+ Page: https://plus.google.com/116758820349834035390#116758820349834035390/posts Tumblr: http://sharonledwith.tumblr.com/ . Check out THE LAST TIMEKEEPERS TIME TRAVEL SERIES Facebook page. BONUS: Download the free PDF short story The Terrible, Mighty Crystal HERE. Thank you, Sharon, for a great interview. Now, everybody, let’s see those comments!