Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Review and Author Interview - Shifting Gears by Shawn Kirsten Maravel

Shifting Gears (The Rider Series)Shifting Gears by Shawn Kirsten Maravel
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
274 pages
Published by Createspace
Release Date: 1st July 2012
Source: Author for review

'Wesley Pierce, a Virginia State Trooper, is in search of the perfect log cabin to settle down in. After losing his brother and doing his best to care for the family he left behind he decides, a year after Nathan’s death, that he’s finally ready to move forward.

Olivia Michaels, a realtor in search of her own dream home and a way out of her parents’ attic, takes on a client who can help get her that much closer to affording her freedom. Little does she know that it isn’t the perfect home that she finds but through Wesley Pierce she manages to find herself. And maybe, if she’s capable of taking the leap, she might even manage to find love.'

My Thoughts:This book is another of what I would call a 'real' romance. By this I mean that there is no 'love at first sight' or other unrealistic relationship declarations that can occur in the majority of romance novels out there.

The story revolves around two main characters, Wesley and Olivia. Throughout the story they are portrayed as two very realistic and determined individuals who meet and subsequently develop feelings for each other at what I would call a natural and consistent pace.

Wesley is a very likeable state trooper who lost his brother a year ago and now has to live with his grief over that incident plus help his sister-in-law and her young daughter deal with theirs.

Olivia is an ex law student turned realtor who has just come out of a lengthy relationship and is now in the process of finding her own feet and building her new career.

Wesley decides to start looking for his dream home and when Olivia becomes his realtor they end up realising that there may be more between them than just house hunting.

Similar to The Wanderer, the first book in the series, I really enjoyed Shifting Gears and feel that it is an engaging and feel-good story that has great character development and an ending that leaves you content and happy.

Author Interview:

I was lucky enough to be offered the opportunity to interview Shawn Kirsten Maravel in conjuction with reading her books The Wanderer and Shifting Gears. Please find this interview below:

What was your inspiration behind ‘The Rider’ series?
Originally I wrote The Wanderer and it was going to be a standalone novel. I tried writing a few books in between The Wanderer and Shifting Gears and nothing seemed to stick. Then one day after putting my pen down for a while I realized that I wasn’t done telling the story of men on motorcycles and their journeys; both physical and emotional. I ended up writing Shifting Gears in a little over two months and I knew that I’d made the right decision to keep with this type of story for a while longer.

Would you like to share one piece of advice you would give to other aspiring authors?
Don’t give up and don’t let negative feedback discourage you. Writing is a process. With every novel you grow and improve and it’s important to use the feedback you get to become a better author, not to be discouraged from continuing to pursue writing as a career or pastime.

If you weren't a writer, what else do you think you would you be doing instead?
That’s hard to say. With my husband in the Army and us moving around a lot, writing is the ideal career for me right now and I happen to love it. If I wasn’t doing this I am certain it would greatly affect my life, not only in feeling as if I have a purpose, but being able to stay strong when he’s away. But if I were to change passions it would probably be geared towards interior design or something along those lines. With us moving around so much and having to make a home out of apartments and not so great town homes it’s in the decorating and personalizing of our current home that helps make us feel truly settled even if only temporarily. I like the idea of helping other people find that feeling as well.

Do you have one particular special ‘writing place’ or are you fortunate enough to be able to write anywhere?
I write at my dining room table for the most part. It’s not really about where I can write but where I’m allowed to, haha. My husband worries a lot about things like putting my laptop on my lap, so apart from the dining room table I’d have to do that so it kind of limits me. Not that I mind of course, I like working in a part of the house that is kind of in the middle of everything.

Are there any authors that have inspired you along the way?
I’m inspired by authors like Nicholas Sparks and Jodi Picoult. They both write stories that fit more-or-less into their own categories. Nicholas Sparks writes novels that, yes all seem like near or distant cousins to one another, but have heart. He writes very often to deal with the struggles in his own life. I am very much the same way. Jodi Picoult writes a varying degree of touching and heartfelt novels that I believe really connect with an audience.

Do you have a favourite scene in the book ‘Shifting Gears’ (without giving the story away too much)?
I have a few. I really like how they first “meet” one another and then the next two meetings after the first. I also enjoy a certain scene where Wesley is trying to convince Olivia to do something and in order to do so he must go to a bit of an extreme. In general I enjoy how I wrote these characters to play opposite one another to be honest. In The Rider series love isn’t instant, it’s something that grows and is discovered, I like how I portrayed that in this novel. And I hope my readers do as well.

Do you have any pets?
Yes, I have a three-year-old Rottweiler named Nahla and a little black cat around the same age named Sookie; my two little girls.

What’s your favourite way to spend your spare time?
I’m very easily pleased. I like to go on walks and play board games. I like to travel and explore as well. We lived in Germany before moving to Upstate New York and we did a lot of exploring there. A lot of walking as well.

What’s one thing that most people wouldn’t know about you?
People I know and went to school with know most things about me because I’m a pretty open person but some interesting facts that readers might not know is that my husband and I have only dating one another and started dating when I was fifteen and he was seventeen. I also have a twin sister which is usually a pretty fun fact. And I’m a lefty, haha.

What’s one of the most surprising things you’ve learnt about yourself since writing?
I started writing seriously when my husband deployed to Iraq for a year. I wrote my first novel Volition and most of its sequel Severance during that time. I was living in Germany for the entire year away from my family and friends and writing helped me cope with the daily struggles. I learned first and foremost how strong I really am as a person.
I also learned that I have perseverance. Once you put your work out there for others to read and judge you’re exposing a nerve that links directly to your heart. Some people rate your work as if it has no connection to you or as if it isn’t painful in a nearly physical way to receive a bad review. Because of how important Volition and Severance were for my sanity and emotional wellbeing it was hurtful to read bad reviews in the beginning. But at the same time you can either understand that it’s not personal or you can let it slowly break you down. I enjoy writing and growing through my work. So I chose a long time ago not to take it personally and to use it as a tool instead of letting it hinder me as a writer.

Do you have any new works in the pipeline which you care to share any details about?
I am working on the third novel in The Rider series. I’ve put it aside for a little while so that I can focus on a few things going on right now, including the release of Shifting Gears but I do hope to have it out within the year. I really like the characters so far and I think that it will be a nice addition to the series as a whole.

I'd like to give a big thank you to Shawn for allowing me to review her novels and conduct an interview.

Shifting Gears is the second instalment in The Rider Series, a series which focuses on men who ride motorcycles. You can find my review on the first instalment, The Wanderer, here.

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