Shaunn King was born in Gretna, LA, and spent her childhood in Harvey, a city on the Westbank of New Orleans. Shaunn was considered an early reader, learning to read before the age of four, and has been an avid reader ever since. When she was ten years of age, she read “Gone with the Wind.” It was around that time she discovered different writing styles and decided to explore her own style of writing, beginning with poetry and short stories. After she won a poetry contest in junior high, and was published in a national poetry book, she gained the confidence to pursue her desire to become an author. As she exceled in her writing, Shaunn, at the age of 15, was one of many affected by Hurricane Katrina, and moved with her family to Birmingham, AL. While there, she still dabbled with her writing skills and joined the Drama Club at Homewood High School as well.

At the age of 29, Shaunn decided to turn her dream of becoming a published author into a reality. She signed with Cole Hart Signature Novels in July 2020 under the pen name Shaunn Aryande. Cali Dreamin’: A West Coast Love Story is Shaunn’s first novel, but she has guaranteed that it is only the beginning… she has much more.

1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me!  When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?

Thank you for granting me this opportunity! I have tethered back and forth between writing for some time now. I have always written poetry as a way of expression. I was even published in a national poetry book as a prize for winning a contest. Even though I knew I could write, my dream was always to be an actress. I was in drama in high school. I was so set on being an actress that I ignored the fact that I had a true talent in writing. I would always have these stories in my head. I thought I was crazy because I would constantly think of stories. It got to the point where I could no longer keep these stories in my head and I had to write it down on paper.

I love the feeling I get when I write. It’s a feeling that it is indescribable. The thing that frustrates me the most is when my creativity is at a halt. Some people refer to it as writer’s block.

2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you? 

Cali Dreamin’ is a series about a Kingpin wanting to get out of the game and live a normal life. He meets a “good girl” that he falls deeply for, which only inspires him more to leave that world behind. The twist is everybody is not who they really appear to be.

All my books are on Amazon, available on kindle and paperback.

3) Where do you draw your inspiration from for the stories that you manage to weave together and the characters that you create?

I draw my inspiration from music. Music makes me feel. And when I listen to certain songs, certain storylines are created in my head. I also draw inspiration from certain people. It’s weird…lol. Like, sometimes I am able to look at a person and create a story just by looking at them.

4) Do you have a schedule for when you write?  Do you outline your novels?  How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?  What projects are you currently working on?

I don’t have a strict schedule for my writing as of now. I write when my creativity is “alive”. I do outline my novels. It usually takes me about 1 month to finish a novel.

I am currently working on writing different genres.

5) What’s the first book you ever read that really moved you emotionally?  Who is your favorite author to read?  What book are you currently reading?

Gone With the Wind was the first book to move me. Up to this day I can’t tell you why…lol. I fell in love with the book. I read the book when I was ten years old, and it was different from everything that I had read. It explored all of my emotions. I laughed, cried, got mad, and read about a love that is still highlighted today. I had read plenty of books before this book, but this book made me want to explore more. My favorite author is Ashley Antionette. I love her books, even the ones that she published with her husband. Her writing style is so authentic to me.

I’m currently working on writing another book, so I am not reading anything as of right now.

6) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?

My most significant achievement has been to get my first book published. The accolades and making it to the top ten charts have been great. And it is a great motivation. But, achieving my first book published has been a high that I will forever chase. It’s one thing to know you have a talent. It’s another thing to say you are going to write a book. But, when you have the talent and you do what you have been saying that you are going to do for years, is a different type of success that one will only know once it is achieved. 

In the next five years, I aspire to be writing for the big screen. I want to do it all. I want to write TV series, movies, songs, and books. I want to conquer the writing world.

7) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career? What is your advice for other writers to better be able to cope or navigate their way through the publishing process, be it traditional or self-publishing?

Although I have never been rejected by a publishing company, I have dealt with rejection from writing contests that I have entered. I have entered several contests to try and get exposure for TV series and movie ideas that I have. So far, I have not been successful in winning any, but God knows the perfect timing, so I keep the faith. That would be my advice to other writers, keeping the faith. If you know your work is good, and it is your true passion, don’t give up. Whatever opportunity is there for you will present itself.

8) Do you find it hard to juggle the creative side of being a writer against the business side of being a writer, in terms of marketing and promotion and things of that nature? How hard has it been (or easy) for you to build up your author platform?

I think me being in the business world before entering the writing world has better prepared me for the business side of writing. It does sometimes get heavy to promote your own books while writing as well.

9) So many writers say that they hate reading their own work. Do you ever enjoy reading your own work back to yourself after it’s out there for the rest of the world?

Initially, I do not. It’s not until about a month afterwards that I go back and read it to enjoy.

10) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry?  Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?

I don’t believe there is ever a time where it is too late for anything.

11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally.  I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity?  How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?

One of the things that inspire me as a writer is music. I think anyone who reads my books will be able to feel the music behind my creativity and thoughts. I also put a lot of dialogue in my books. I have had feedback from readers that say my books make them feel like they are watching a movie rather than reading.