A Peek at the Creative Space of Shallee McArthur

Joining us today for Creative Spaces is YA author Shallee McArthur. Shallee’s debut novel, The Unhappening of Genesis Lee, was published last fall by Sky Pony Press: 



Seventeen-year-old Genesis Lee has never forgotten anything. As one of the Mementi—a small group of genetically-enhanced humans—Gena remembers everything with the help of her Link bracelets, which preserve memories perfectly. But Links can be stolen, and six people have already lost their lives to a memory thief, including Gena’s best friend.

Anyone could be next.

Which is why Gena is less than pleased to meet a strange but charming boy named Kalan who claims that they’ve not only met, but that Gena knows who the thief is.

The problem is, Gena doesn’t remember Kalan, she doesn’t remember seeing the thief, and she doesn’t know why she’s forgetting things—or how much else she might forget. As growing tensions between Mementi and ordinary humans drive the city of Havendale into chaos, Gena and Kalan team up to search for the thief. And as Gena loses more memories, they realize they have to solve the mystery fast.

Because Gena’s life is unhappening around her.


Kirkus Reviews said, “It’s the sensitive handling of emotional details and the trauma of too much connection that make this a story of interest. . . . For anyone fascinated with thoughts of omniscience and total social connection—and who isn’t?—McArthur’s debut suggests fascinating and chilling possibilities.” 
To learn more about Shallee, visit her website or follow her on Twitter @ShalleeMcArthur.

DESCRIBE YOUR WORKSPACE.

I have a whole office to myself, which is a recent development I’m VERY grateful for. I’ve got my desk, bookshelf, and rocking chair for reading and relaxing. I have pictures and knick-knacks that inspire me, including things I’ve brought back from traveling and all my “nerd cred,” like a Tardis and an R2D2 on my desk. I also have a pair of zebra finch birds who keep me happy!


DESCRIBE A TYPICAL WORKDAY.

I’ve got two young kids, so it varies! Some days, I can get work done in the morning while they play, and sometimes I play with them or (gasp!) do housework. One thing that stays consistent, though, is that when the toddler naps and the preschooler goes to school, I write. That time is SACRED. After that, I may or may not haul my laptop into the kitchen in the evenings to write near my husband.
LIST THREE OF YOUR MOST FAVORITE THINGS IN YOUR WORKSPACE AND WHY THEY ARE MEANINGFUL. 

1. My birds! Fred and George are zebra finches, and I LOVE those little guys. They actually are doctor-recommended therapy birds. I struggle with anxiety, but I also have multiple sclerosis, and side effects from anxiety meds don’t work well for me with my MS. So my birds are there to help me through panic attacks and keep my general anxiety low. They actually help a lot more than I expected– they are low-maintenance so they don’t add to my anxiety, and their cheerful chirps and energy help reset my brain when it’s anxious.
2. A painting of a cabin on a lake done by my great-grandmother. It used to hang in my grandpa’s cabin, where my entire extended family would gather every Fourth of July. It keeps me near to beauty and to my wonderful and supportive family– it hangs right next to my desk.
3. My “praying woman” carving. I bought it from a craftsman in Ghana, West Africa, so it means a lot for that reason alone (part of my heart still lives in Ghana!). I’m also a very religious person, and it reminds me to pray– not just to ask for help, but to offer thanks to the God I feel has given me so much! 
DO YOU HAVE ANY RITUALS IN YOUR WORK HABITS? 

Um…no, actually, now that I think about it! I just open my laptop and get to work. 🙂
WHAT DO YOU LISTEN TO WHILE YOU WORK? 

I don’t like to listen while I work, but sometimes I listen to specific songs that fit the book I’m working on before I work.
WHAT IS YOUR DRINK AND/OR SNACK OF CHOICE WHILE YOU’RE WORKING? 

None! It distracts me too much.
WHAT KEEPS YOU FOCUSED WHILE YOU’RE WORKING? 
I have to get in “the zone.” If I force myself to not jump around on tasks and just focus on one at a time, I get so zoned in on what I’m doing that hours pass before I even realize it!
DO YOU WRITE LONGHAND, ON A COMPUTER, OR ANOTHER WAY? 
Computer. I have TERRIBLE handwriting, so writing long-hand isn’t a good idea for me!
HOW DO YOU DEVELOP YOUR STORY IDEAS? DO YOU USE AN OUTLINE, LET THE MUSE LEAD YOU, OR ANOTHER TECHNIQUE? 
Usually I get an idea, play around with it and toss a bunch of ideas in a document, and then start a plot outline.
IF YOU WERE FORCED TO SHARE YOUR WORKSPACE BUT COULD SHARE IT WITH ANYONE OF YOUR CHOOSING, WHO WOULD IT BE?
My friend Chersti, who’s one of my crit partners. We tend to work really well together, and when we distract each other, it’s fun and often even productive!
WHAT IT THE BEST PIECE OF WRITING ADVICE YOU’VE HEARD OR RECEIVED?

My freshman creative writing teacher in college told us there are only two things that matter in writing– have a take, and don’t suck. It reminds me that as long as I’m writing a story that’s got my unique take on the world, and as long as I’m writing something that doesn’t suck (which takes practice and a crit group!), that’s all that matters. The millions of other “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” about writing don’t matter as long as I have a take and don’t suck!


 

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the interview, Jenn! 🙂

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