Interview with Shawn Hopkins

Shawn Hopkins

Interview Date: 5/25/2012


Shawn Hopkins is an independent author who lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and daughters.
Fascinated by humanity's mysterious past (and future), his first four novels find their inspiration via some of history's stranger instances of the unknown. Paranormal and conspiratorial, Shawn's writing has been called "an action-packed thrill ride." He is currently working on a sequel to Progeny and a prequel to The Solomon Key.
His first novel, Noahic, was published in 2005 and is a YA action adventure story that served as the inspiration for Progeny. His other book, Even the Elect, is the first edition of The Solomon Key. It's a much longer version that pays special attention to a futuristic America that has been deceived into setting up a One World Government, resulting in a continuous police state rather than the freedom promised. Conspiratorial in its design, action-packed in its delivery, and theological in its application, ETE has made for some sleepless nights... The Solomon Key is a streamlined production of the same story, though with slight modifications to the sociopolitical climate of the day (being implied rather that scrutinized), has gone through another edit, and is repackaged for a broader audience.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I took my first serious shot at writing a complete “something” when I was 16. A friend and I decided to write a prequel/spinoff to the STAR WARS saga. We actually finished it and tried submitting it to George himself… Yeah, that didn’t happen. I’m not sure where that book is right now, but it sure was fun to write. As for what prompted us to write it? I can’t remember a defining motivator other than we both loved to read, and we both loved Star Wars…

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

One superpower? I think I’d like to have a super memory, able to remember and recall anything I ever read, saw, or heard. That would be pretty helpful. I know it’s not what you’d typically consider a “power” in a superhero sense, but…I wouldn’t need to study or take notes or read things more than once. It would save a ton of time.

Kev's response: To be eidetic? Hmm, I suppose it would be useful for some things. Definitely not on my list, though!

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

Hmm… I always liked Gambit. I’d have to say Wolverine though…if I’m going off the movies.

Kev's response: Gambit's got a pretty cool power. Can't argue too much with an extremely high level of regeneration as well, although it has much more limited applications.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

What inspired me to write an actual novel (beyond the Star Wars adventure) was my deep desire and dream to make a movie. I was a huge movie buff, and I often dreamt of filming my own one day. I had all these scenes in my head that I wanted to manifest in some way. So, when I was a freshman in college, and without the means (or knowhow) to do anything movie-wise, I decided to write my movie instead of film it. That “movie” was my first novel, Noahic. Now I’ve learned to separate the two and write as a novelist rather than as a director (not feeling the need to give the reader an exact description of every frame). What motivates me to write now is just the undying, unrelenting need to write. I can’t describe it any other way. It’s like an itch that needs scratching, an idea that needs flushing out, a character that needs birthing… And I can’t relax unless I’m in the process of creating it.

Kev's response: If you're like me, it's a deep need to create. Took me a while to figure that out.

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I started out as a seat-of-the-pants writer. I just loved staring at a blank screen and knowing that I could make it whatever I wanted at any time. And I loved the journey, not knowing what was next. In fact, that was the best part of writing, to find out for myself what the heck was going on! But now I’ve become a planner. Taking the time to plan helps me write faster and better. I may not know exactly where things are going, but I usually have some general idea. I hate editing and rewriting, and I’ve found that the more I plan, the less I have to rewrite.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

Both. In the time that I’m not writing (most of the day), I’m trying to imagine my next scene. Once I have it, I usually feel the urge to write it. Then I’ll try and make time to get it down before too much time passes and I’m left with trying to remember what it was. But sometimes my mind is so open that I have trouble settling down and pulling everything together into a single scene. In those times, I have to just start typing and let the scene create itself as I type. So, I try to write whenever inspired, but I also need to schedule time to write or I won’t write. The trick is to find inspiration prior to my scheduled time so that my scheduled time is inspired For myself, most uninspired writing eventually gets rewritten. And I don’t like rewriting!

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I read mostly everything, though I rarely dip into sci-fi and fantasy. Which probably sounds weird considering it was the Star Wars universe that I first wrote in. I can’t explain it. I read historical fiction, mysteries, thrillers, action and adventure, horror, suspense… I’m not picky. I can appreciate a good story no matter what genre it’s in. As for writing, I think I like writing supernatural thrillers the best. I like trying to spook readers. Not the horror “chop-you-up-with-an-hole-puncher” type spook, but just getting the hair on your neck to stand up a bit. The things that go bump in the night rather than the scream of a chainsaw. However, I also like to write suspenseful action and conspiracy-themed fiction. I once thought I’d try my hand at writing every genre. We’ll see what comes of that. So far I’ve got a supernatural thriller (that I guess could be considered borderline sci-fi/fantasy since it takes place in “another place” complete with creatures from ancient mythology) and a conspiracy action-thriller. I’m working on a novel that will combine those two (a supernatural spy thriller) as well as a mystery novella and a work of non-fiction.

Kev's response: Hmm, now you have me wondering how one would chop someone up with a hole puncher....

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

The creation. It’s just amazing to be able to create a story and characters that other people will experience for themselves. I love the good reviews (and hate the bad ones) that come from people that enjoyed walking in the world I created and understood the message I was trying to convey.

Kev's response: Heh, I'm fairly certain that 99% of authors would agree with your comment on reviews!

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

Yeah, rewriting and editing. I hate it. HATE it. Well, I guess I don’t really hate it that much. It’s something that I do because it needs to be done. There’s no inspiration at play there. It’s work. And I’d rather be writing my next story than laboring through commas and hyphens and tenses and…yeah.

Kev's response: I feel like a psychologist now. So, you thought you hated it, but not so much now. Tell me about your mother.... I'm totally with you, however. I'm all about the creation of something new. Rehashing "old" material, even if it's just in the edit phase, gets to me.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

Something odd? Well, my wife thinks I’m an odd person in general. I don’t think I have any strange habits. I don’t chew my toenails or braid my armpit hair or anything like that… I wish I had something like that though, something interesting, but the only thing that I can come up with is my love of the rain. I love cloudy, stormy days. And if it were up to me, the sun would only shine when I needed to plan outdoor activities. I find it soothing and inspirational. I’d love to move to Seattle. Oh…I do debate with myself. I guess that’s odd. I have pretend arguments with people that I know don’t agree with me. Though I actually found that it helps nail down my position and better make my point when the debate actually does come about. That’s weird. It’s usually in the shower that that happens.

Kev's response: *makes a note: subject argues with self in shower*

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I have several in the works at the same time, but at some point one of them will start to assert itself over the others, at which point I’ll concentrate solely on that one until it’s finished.

I'm looking to advertise for evil minions for my plot to take over the world, any suggestions?

I’d say an ad campaign in Washington, but the powers that be would probably view you as a competitor and take you out. Something more subtle. I’ll have to think on that.

Kev's response: Oh, definitely. Far too much competition there!

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I think there will always be paper books, though clearly not in the same capacity. I think it’s obvious that digital books have usurped the paperback now. And though there will always be a market for physical books, the market for digital is now way bigger and will only continue to grow. If it weren’t for the e-book, many of us indie authors wouldn’t have a chance.

What are your current projects?

I already mentioned a couple. I’m working on completing a mystery/thriller novella called, A MAN OVERBOARD (whether it remains a novella is yet to be seen). I’m also working on a sequel to my novel, PROGENY. That’ll be a supernatural, action adventure story. I’m working on a prequel spinoff to THE SOLOMON KEY which will be a paranormal/cloak and dagger thriller. As of now, its working title is KING OF DEMONS. I’m working on a non-fiction book on western Christianity that I’ll probably put out under a pseudonym to keep from confusing my audience. I have a fantasy/sci-fi allegory in the works, and I’m kicking around a dozen other ideas. So we’ll see which stories finish themselves first!

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

My experience has taught me to do as much as I can on my own before resorting to paying someone else to do it. Before I found Createspace and KDP, I was paying self-publishing companies thousands of dollars to publish my books. I’ve since learned (the community is awesome and there are many authors who will help you along the way) to do my own formatting, both for paper and eBook, make my own covers, set up my own website, etc… all basically for free. And the results of my KDP books are light years beyond the ones I published through a publishing company. Don’t hand over a ton of money for something that you can do yourself and get better results with. It just doesn’t make sense.

Kev's response: Aye, with the search engines, and the will to dig, we can do a LOT on our own! The one thing we can't, is to somehow let people see that we even exist. (Thus the reason for interviews like this one....)

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

Sure do!
My website:
My Amazon site:
Independent Author Network:

Kev's response: Shawn, I appreciate your time in joining me. It sounds like you've got a full plate, good luck on the variety of novels!

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