“I develop many of my stories using a short question: what if?” said author Joe Shumock. “What if I start with a nine-year-old who is blind? And what if she wants a dog for Christmas and her parents insist that she take care of him? And what if the dog has a disability too?”
Briana and the Dog is a young adult novel aimed at ages 8-12, but is lauded as a “children’s book for all ages.” With the lead character and conflict in mind, Shumock researched people, places, and circumstances to develop a unique plot, while creating the book’s setting from memories of his rural upbringing grounded in the town near where he currently lives. Foley, Alabama is a stone’s throw from the Gulf of Mexico.
“I love writing. For me, it’s great fun to develop the story and the characters. And every word should be the best one possible for its place in the sentence and the story.” His process lasted about nine months, but Briana was one of several projects on his desk, including a fifth entry in his published thriller series, the first story in a new family trilogy, and the second entry in the Briana trilogy while he also worked on publishing details for The Shepherd’s Crook, a spiritual story scheduled for publication later this year
Very grateful, Shumock couldn’t do without his readers. “I think of myself as a writer in the southern tradition, caring about family and community. And everyone from family to friends to my high-school classmates and neighbors is aware of my writing.” He enjoys the questions when someone finds out he’s an author. Some are about writing, and some are about him as a writer
After serving as editor on his recent novel Sacrifice of the Lambs, this story’s tone was very different yet still exhibited his signature style while writing complex issues and thrilling acts. Shumock said, “Through our work, the lesson for me was to see how my writing could be better with your help, to see my novel through new eyes. Working with you, Barry Hodgin (designer), and others has made this ‘work’ pleasurable.”
To those who want to write and publish, Shumock advised, “Don’t let the unknown overwhelm you. Dig in everywhere possible and learn all you can. And this goes for marketing the book too. It’s a challenge, but like the writing, it must be done. Use social media, schedule book events, and create new ways to spread the word. Stay at it a little every day.”