Q&A: Shannon Dittemore
WHAT WERE YOUR GOALS WRITING ANGEL EYES?
With Angel Eyes, I wanted to write the kind of story I like reading. I wanted a little romance and a lot of adventure. Mostly, I wanted to write characters that are easy to fall in love with. I’m a character person. While I can’t always remember the plot of a story I’ve read, compelling characters stay with me and I wanted that for this story.
WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING PART OF WRITING THE STORY?
One of the hardest parts of writing is being honest with myself about what’s working and what isn’t. Cutting scenes that are full of awesome character moments is difficult, but for the sake of pacing and continuity Angel Eyes has gone through several self-imposed edits. I’ve added and deleted points of view. I’ve changed the tense. I’ve cut a bad guy and his entire family. And while hacking away at my story was no fun, in the end I know it’s stronger because I was willing to take a hatchet to it.
WHAT ARE SOME EXAMPLES FROM THE STORY WHERE YOU DREW ELEMENTS FROM REAL LIFE?
It’s mostly the fun details that I stole from real life. For example, Brielle’s dad wears two pairs of socks at all times. He gets that from my dad. And Jake’s fascination with doughnuts, also stolen from my father. Brielle has my son’s crystal blue eyes and Jake has my husband’s killer hazels. I love Greek food, so I gave Kaylee’s aunt a Greek heritage and a penchant for pairing everything with gyros.
On a more serious note, this story talks a lot about fear. I understand fear. It’s something I dealt with for a season and something God continues to help me battle. I hate fear. Hate it. Hate what it does to me. Hate what it does to others, to young people. But, I know it’s present. And I know that if we’re going to do the right thing—the brave thing—we can’t let fear keep us frozen where we stand. We have to learn to fight it.
WHAT DO YOU HOPE READERS GET OUT OF YOUR WORK?
If readers walk away with the truth that they’re not alone in this world—even when they most feel it—I’ll be happy. If they dare to question the reality they see around them, I’ll be elated. And if Brielle’s journey casts a little bit of light on the doubts and fears readers face daily, I’ll consider my job done.
WHY DO YOU THINK STORY SUCH A POWERFUL WAY TO COMMUNICATE TRUTH?
Such a loaded question! In all honesty, I think story is one of the most powerful ways to communicate truth because it’s the mode I respond to. I’m a writer, yes, but before that I’m a reader. I need story. I crave story. I go looking for story. And when truth is attached to compelling characters who walk a compelling road, I can’t help but see the world through their eyes. I see truth walked out and that’s an engaging, inspiring thing.