Interview With YA Writer Shanna Miles

Tell me about yourself.

My name is Shanna Miles and I’m from South Carolina, born and raised, but I live just outside Atlanta now. Everyone lives right outside Atlanta. I like to write speculative fiction, which means I like to write about Black kids from the South who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances. Sometimes those kids will have magical powers or hop throughout time.

Why did you choose to write for YA?

I love the possibility of the teen years and as for plot it’s also a great time to be presented with a lot of choices. Choices create drama and I may get flack for it, but as we get older I think many of those big choices should already be made. If not, it then becomes a character study as to what happened to keep you from this job or that life partner or kids or a house or settling into a city. All of that is beautiful and interesting, but when you’re 17 and are whisked away to space with a cool time traveler you’ve got a lot less to worry about than a 30-year-old with a newborn.

What are some of your favorite YA books?

I really love Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. It’s a heist! It’s a fantasy. It’s a slow-burn love story! I’m into it and the whole series. I also really love Lamar Giles’ Not So Pure and Simple. It is THE book for an exploration of toxic masculinity and how it affects boys not just girls. The main character joins a purity club at church to get closer to his crush. It’s also super funny and I think anyone would find something to relate to in the book. For poetry/prose I’d suggest Clap When You Land by Elizabeth Acevedo. It’s an exploration of death and family, privilege and immigration. Two sisters who share a father who has just died learn about each other and become friends.

What’s your editing process?

I tend to overwrite. In the first draft, I’m working out the character arcs and internal motivations so what I want to be 80,000 words may end up being 100,000. I’ll wait a week or more for the first draft to cool and I’ll read something to get me out of my own story. I’ll make notes throughout the writing process for editing in Trello so I can keep the momentum in that draft but also keep track of what needs to change. I may make three or four drafts or rewrites before I send it to my agent.

How do you squeeze time in for writing?

I use Google Docs so I can write anywhere. I can write on my lunch break or after work. I can write in front of the fire while dinner is cooking. I snatch time whenever I can. I know some people can stick to a schedule and get up early, but I’m just not able to do that.

Are there any books that stand out to you that helped you as a writer?

How to Read Novels Like a Professor is great for understanding symbolism. I also like Having and Being Had by Eula Bliss. It explores the relationship creatives have with money. It’s very interesting.

What’s your advice for other YA writers?

Just keep writing and keep all of your old drafts. I just had a request for some older versions of my manuscript for a special project and you just never know when those excerpted scenes will become useful.

Are there any upcoming YA books you’re excited about?

I was really anticipating Required Reading for the Disenfranchised Freshman by Kristen Lee and I highly recommend it. It’s about a college Freshman who attends a PWI (Predominately White Institution) with a racist past and that past comes to rear its head again. It just released on February 1st. I’ve also got Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle on my TBR so everyone should check that out too. It’s about a teen guy who has a radio show where he gives love advice and thinks he can make anyone fall in love with him in three dates. Big romcom energy. It comes out in May.

What’s your name, books, and best ways to reach you?

You can reach me on TikTok, Facebook, Twitter and IG at @srmilesauthor.

My current work is For All Time and is available as a book and audiobook wherever books are sold!

5.Get a critique group and feedback.6.Think it’s done!7.Send it to agents.8.Rejections! Turns out it needs more revision.9.Do more revision. Then more.10.Get an agent finally, hallelujah!11.Revise (Still not published.)12.Sub-club, for what seems like a hundred years.13.Write another book.14.Maybe book one gets published, maybe it doesn’t!15.Maybe it does!16.Write another book.At least, that’s approximately how it went for me. But what I will say about the process is that it’s long and only for those who intend to spend their lives writing. The most important thing to remember is that it’s not about one book, or even two books, or three getting rejected or getting published. It’s about the writing. It’s about persistence in writing, about loving the reward of writing stories, and about not worrying about the publication process so much. It’s very hard notto worry sometimes, of course, but letting go of the worry to enjoy writing is really the whole point of writing.

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