We met Shawn Speakman back in Seattle in 2010. At the time, I learned that he was a writer, and I’ve been eager to find out more about his work ever since. In our interview, Shawn discusses writing about subjects that are relevant to our surroundings, but placed in fantasy, and how that juxtaposition can lead to a better understanding of the present reality. In the past few years, he’s published his book THE DARK THORN and a fantasy anthology he edited, UNFETTERED – and has recently been busy responding to requests for more literary work. We’re excited to have Shawn Speakman’s voice contributing to the Collective!
Every story that I write comes from a “what-if” seed that takes root and grows.
– Shawn Speakman
Leading off with some basics, where are you from? And where are you at?
SS: I grew up in the wilds of Washington State, near the southern base of the volcano Mt. St. Helens. It is a heavily conservative [area] and I fled, to Seattle, as soon as I was able. I have lived in the Emerald City ever since. Although I am just flippant to the second part of your question with, “I live in denial, as all writers do.”
What does Reflection and Response mean to you?
SS: I am a fiction writer. In order to write believable fiction, it takes reflection. It is important to write about subjects pertinent to our world — to put those subjects in a fantasy world, add a bit more pressure, and see what happens. In this way, I gain a better understanding of my world. It costs less than therapy, I assure you. And I hope when someone finishes one of my stories that it leaves them thinking.
How do THE DARK THORN and your other Annwn Cycle tales fit in with that definition?
SS: Every story that I write comes from a “what-if” seed that takes root and grows. For THE DARK THORN, I thought “What if the first Christian crusades were not against the Middle East but, instead, against very real Celtic fey creatures in Britain?” Most of my work is influenced by the dichotomy in my mind between religion and faith. They are very different, in my opinion, and I like to explore that in my writing. Answering the “what-if” question is my response. I took a look at the good and the evil inherent in the Catholic Church as well as the relationship between a broken man, his past, and the faith it requires to overcome such hardship.
What else have you been working on recently? What are you looking to work on next?
SS: Since the publication of THE DARK THORN and my fantasy anthology UNFETTERED, I’ve received a number of other short story anthology requests from other editors. I have written a short story and a novelette in the last month for those books. THE UNLOCKED TOME is the short story and its seed grew out of: “What lengths would a 10-year-old boy who has lost his family go to in order to assert some kind of power over his life?” It was a fun short story, featuring a character I will use again in a future novel. For the moment though, I am working on THE EVERWINTER WRAITH, the sequel to THE DARK THORN.
Who or what inspires you?