The SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS column on Mondays and Wednesdays is a place at Shannon Muir’s author website showcasing books from a variety of fiction genres, with an emphasis on interviews and guest posts from other authors. One thing Shannon firmly believes in for readers not only to learn about new books available, but about those who craft the tales behind them. As its name implies, SHANNON MUIR’S INFINITE HOUSE OF BOOKS weekly column features writers from all genres of fiction who want their potential audience to get to know them, and their works, better.
Today, we look at EVERYTHING I KNEW TO BE TRUE.
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About the Book
Everything I Knew to be True
by Rayna York
Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: May 12th 2019
It was never easy for Cassie and her mother, struggling to make ends meet in their tiny apartment in The Bronx, but they had each other and that was enough. When her mother dies suddenly from an aggressive form of cancer, Cassie is forced to finish high school in California while living with the wealthy family of her mother’s closest friend—a women she never knew existed.
Living with the Stantons is the complete opposite of what she’s used to—the massive house, a father figure, and Cody, the spoiled, insanely good-looking son with the bedroom across the hall.
Broken with grief and struggling to fit in, Cassie meets Mila, a female powerhouse that helps her cope with a hidden past, the overwhelming present, and a shared experience no one should have to endure—a nightmare they both thought was over.
Warning: Although this book is classified as Young Adult, I recommended it for mature readers due to explicit language.
Interview with the Author
What initially got you interested in writing?
I started writing poetry when I was fifteen, then about ten years ago I had a dream about my first love. It was incredibly vivid, with a complete storyline that I felt needed to be written. The type of creative process was new to me, but I found it therapeutic, an escape from what I was dealing with at that time in my life. The novel was completed, but never published. Everything I Knew to be True is my first published novel.
What genres do you prefer to write in?
I like to write contemporary young adult fiction. Being a teenager is a tumultuous time, to say the least. For me it was awful. My parents were hippies when I was growing up and we moved a lot. I was always the outcast–the new kid–a weirdo. My mother became a single parent after her and my father divorced and worked all the time, so I was my own a lot. Reading was my escape, since friends were few and far between. I dealt with a lot during my developmental years and can identify with the teenage strife, making it easier to write. I wish I could write fantasy or an awesome post apocalyptic novel, but unfortunately, my brain doesn’t create that way.
Are there any authors you prefer to read and why?
I read books from a variety of authors and genres. Nothing specific. I’m driven by what looks good at the time. I love Sarah Dessen and have read a good majority of her books. I was a big fan of Twilight, House of Night, and Divergent series. Right now, I’m reading Caraval and just finished The Night Circus. One of my favorite books is Mosquitoland, by David Arnold. It is unique and it reminds me that there are no rules when it comes to writing.
How did you make the move into being a published author?
Honestly? I just did it. I’ve always been that kind of person. I made up my mind and made it happen. I knew nothing about the process. I just figure it out as I went. Learning something new is never easy, but the adventure is the fun part.
What do you find most rewarding about writing?
Reading over the finished manuscript and being amazed that all those words came from me. As with any subjective-based career, there are always doubts. Am I good enough? There are so many better than me, why do I even bother? I have days when my brain doesn’t work, and I sit at my computer and wonder why I ever thought you could write. But then I’ll be on my bazillionth rewrite, and I’ll come across a scene and be like, “Damn that’s good.” So far . . . that’s the reward. I suppose when someone other than my family thinks the novel is amazing, that’s a pretty awesome feeling as well.
What do you find most challenging about writing?
I love to write and get lost in the characters. They have their own personalities, and I never know what they will do or say next. Dialogue comes easy to me. It’s narratives and descriptions I find challenging–making dialogue tags not sound generic, but not so descriptive that it detracts from what’s being said. And the editing process . . . Ugh! It’s so boring.
Do you have any tips for writers who find themselves experiencing writer’s block?
Walk away and don’t give it another thought. It’s just not there at that moment and that’s okay. Come back later in the day or the next and try again. It’s either there, or it isn’t. I find if I force it; The writing is worthless, and I get frustrated, wasting valuable time. Life it too short.
What advice would you give to people that want to enter the field?
Just write. Don’t worry about the details until after the book is written, just let it flow. Find your own style. Don’t listen to people who tell you when you should write, how you should write, or even how much. Do what comes natural and what works best for you. When it’s done, then do your research. Sometimes all that googling can take away your natural creativity–left brain information jamming your creative mojo. I was on my second book when I listened to my first online course. It was by Judy Blume, and I was so surprised to find out how many similarities we had with our creative processes. It was a wonderful confirmation from a writer I admire.
What do you want readers to take away from reading your works?
That it’s okay to make mistakes as long as we own up and learn from them.
We all deal with varying degrees of trauma. It’s important for people, young or old, to know that they are not alone; There are so many resources available if you have the courage to look.
Life is a learning process that continues until the day we die. It’s important to know that every kind of relationship, from parents, to friends, to the affairs of the heart, are important. They all have value and should be treated with respect.
Is there anything else about you that you think readers might find interesting?
Everything I Knew to be True is also based on a vivid dream. As soon as I got my eyes working, I pulled out my computer and quickly wrote everything I could remember. After getting up, going to the washroom, and getting some water, I read it over, then wrote the basic outline for the book. In the back of Everything I Knew to be True, I have added the original journal entry for the dream. I have two more manuscripts that I am finishing at the moment, one that is completely written and is about to go to my editor and another that is about fifty percent written, those are also based on dreams. Also, I love art and photography and still write poetry. My Instagram page @rayna.york is a combination of all of it. You should check it out.
About the Author
Rayna York grew up with hippie parents that liked to adventure, so being the new kid was always a challenge. Where change was the norm, books were her constant–a way to escape. As an adult, many careers came and went, but writing has always been her passion. Everything I knew to be true is her first published novel.
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