Today on Paws4Thought we continue our Shades of Fear series with teacher, author, and playwright, Shannon McLoud. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Shannon.
Why is this always the question that stumps me? My husband David and I have an amazing five year old boy. We live in Rhode Island, a place I fiercely love. I am a certified Secondary English teacher, and I also run a drama program at an Early Learning Center for kids ages 4 through 10. Through the drama program I am able to write the plays that I design and direct. It’s a lot of fun! I’m also the Creative Director for 3heARTS Productions. We are a small nonprofit theatre in RI that uses the power of theatre to raise money for charities. It is where I also produce my plays. We’ve raised around $5,000 for charities and I just love that my writing has been a part of that! I have a chocolate and coffee obsession, I am newly into running, and I am not a great cook! I am in the MA program at SNHU for English Language and Creative Writing.
How did you get involved with Shades of Fear?
Through a group on Facebook that was associated with school, I joined a NaNoWriMo support group. From there the prompt was posted and I wanted to give it a shot. I was overjoyed when my story was accepted!
Who are your favorite authors?
Wow…loaded question! There are so many! Starting with classics; Tolkien, Charlotte Bronte, Shakespeare of course, F. Scott Fitzgerald, L.M. Montgomery. Oh, how could I forget Louisa May Alcott? More contemporary; Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Weiner-I feel that they are an influence over some of my work and I love how accessible they are to their readers. Cassandra Clare, J.K. Rowling, I really enjoy P.C. Cast especially because she was an English teacher. Sherman Alexie is amazing. I could go on, but I’m sure we’re limited on space!
Tell us a bit about your story T209?
It’s a story about a woman walking into a classroom after many years of not being a student. It doesn’t sound scary, but if you’ve ever been in that situation it is terrifying!
What inspired you to write this story? Is it based on your personal experiences?
Yes, it is absolutely a true story! I received my BA online with Southern New Hampshire University. It was a great experience, but in order to teach I had to either sign up for Teach for America, which I didn’t feel was a great choice, or register with an approved Rhode Island school. I began looking a year before I graduated and decided on Providence College. I didn’t realize how scared I was until that first night! The story is actually a combination of two of my nights on campus. My very first one of course, but the room I modeled everything on was a class I took a week later. I had to miss the first class because of a work commitment that I was supposed to have completed months prior, but couldn’t since my father had died. So that was weighing on me as well. Making the choice to go back to school absolutely terrified me. I was afraid that after all the sacrifices we had made-especially financially-that I would let my family down by not being able to find a job.
What are your own greatest fears and how do you deal with them?
Well, I’m a Mom so do my fears ever end? But honestly when things get overwhelming I write. It doesn’t even have to be about what fear or worry is nagging at me, just a way to get the junk out of my head and onto the page.
What advice would you give to a student who wanted to be a writer?
Well I am still a student who wants to be a writer! However I do tell my students to, of course, write, but just as equally important-to read. And read everything and anything you can get your hands on. Reading not only improves your writing skills as far as conventions of language, but it also helps shape the writer you want to be.
Tell us about your plays?
I feel that my plays go in stages. (No pun intended!) When I first started writing plays and producing them, they were short politically fueled satires. When I returned to writing they seemed to veer into what I am calling my “nerdy phase”. My first full-length was called Carol’s Christmas and it was based on the idea of Charles Dickens having a bad case of writer’s block. To write it I researched his life and times. My newest, I wrote with a partner, Stephen Nani, is called Mac…Beth?! It is a comedic adaptation of Macbeth. I also have a play called Therapy where fictional characters meet for group therapy. So there is a lot of nerdy humor in the three plays, history jokes, jokes suited for English teachers, and of course a Doctor Who joke here and there!
What are you currently working on?
I am currently working on a few short stories for other anthologies, and another play with my writing partner. I have a full length YA novel that I am hoping to self-publish, but I need to work with an editor first. I am hoping to have that out summer/fall.
How can readers connect with you?
I have a blog. I should blog more often! www.shannonmcloud.blogspot.com