Shari Lopatin tells stories that matter. An award-winning journalist in her earlier years, she now writes complex and stimulating suspense novels that tie into modern-day social issues. Shari has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine writer, public relations professional, social media manager, and earned the title of “Cat Mom of the Year.” Her debut novel, The Apollo Illusion
, is coming out May 19, 2018. Digital copies are now available for pre-order. Learn more at www.ShariLopatin.com/books
The Apollo Illusion
The year is 2150, and bullied nineteen-year-old Flora can no longer ignore the burning curiosity to learn what’s behind the towering Wall surrounding her home state of Apollo. Citizens still read books, discuss philosophy, and send text messages, but questioning The Other Side is forbidden.
Who are your influences?
When Flora’s naïveté accidentally reveals a dark secret about Apollo, she’s forced into an isolated web of truth, lies, and survival. Fearing for her life, she leaves behind a clue for her childhood friend, Andrew, placing her last hope in their special bond.
My primary influences in creative writing have been George Orwell, Aldous Huxley, Margaret Atwood, Judy Blume, and more recently, Junot Diaz.
When did you begin writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember! I wrote my first short story when I was seven years old about a group of aliens who befriended a girl on earth; they all had names of food items, such as "Butter." However, I began writing professionally in 2005, after I graduated from college with my bachelor's degree in Journalism. I started my career as a daily newspaper reporter.
How do you come up with your stories, characters, character names, POV, etc?
I tend to write about things for which I feel passionately, or a topic that really gets my blood flowing (in either a good or bad way). For example, I came up with the idea for my current book, "The Apollo Illusion," while having dinner with my mom, sister, and boyfriend. My mom commented on a news story she'd watched that reported how babies are learning the swiping motion of a tablet before they learn to speak. We started discussing the societal repercussions of a generation brought up with that foundation, and the idea for my book sparked. I'd been watching the effects of social media on my beloved profession of print journalism as well, and had been contemplating issues around the rapid advancement of technology. That conversation with my family was the prompt I needed to finally start writing. On the other hand, I developed the idea for my second book, which has been completed but not yet published, after years of working in healthcare communications and witnessing certain scenarios that upset me.
Do you work from an outline?
No! I cannot work from an outline. I always have a general direction that I'm running toward as I'm writing, and I may have some plot points in my head, but I let the characters (and therefore the plot line) develop organically. Sometimes, my characters surprise me by their actions or the things they say! I've actually come up with some exciting plot twists this way. I need to allow my creative energy to flow without too much structure. I can always fix things later, perfect the character development, or improve the story arc during the editing process.
Tell me about your favorite scene in your novel.
My favorite scene in my novel, "The Apollo Illusion," is actually one of the surprise plot points, so I cannot talk about it! But it's a very emotional discovery in the book, one that I cried while writing. Without giving away spoilers, this scene deals with a theme that I value deeply: family. And I think in a way, I was writing a "wish" that I have for someone in my life who I love, and this was my way of waving my magic wand and giving this person something in my story that I know will not happen in life.
Can you tell us a little about your writing philosophy?
Maybe it's the journalist in me, but I aim to tell stories that matter. I like to say that a great story can change the world, and I think solid writing should aim to convey a higher truth and prompt readers to think deeply about their views on a subject. I like reading books that are not only entertaining, but explore aspects to life or issues that help me understand them from another's perspective. I like writing and books that challenge me, connect me to their characters, and force me to think on a multidimensional level. For these reasons, I prefer to write about topics that tie into modern-day social issues.
Have you ever tried writing in any other genres?
I sort of fell into writing suspense by default, but my second book is closer to a literary/contemporary suspense or dramatic work, than to a dystopian suspense/science fiction. So I guess the answer to this question is yes!
Do you have any interesting writing-related anecdotes to share?
Hahaha! I don't think so; I probably "talked" my head off with anecdotes already, in my answers above. I just really appreciate the opportunity to talk about my writing and share the love of this craft with other fellow writers!
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