About the Author
Shannon Symonds currently works as an Advocate serving victims of intimate partner or family violence. Shannon responds with law enforcement to the scene of domestic or sexual assaults, works with victims, accompanies them to the hospital and provides follow-up care. She is a trained trauma and recovery specialist, has completed the Oregon Coalition training as a professional advocate, has completed training as a parent educator, Head Start Teacher, early childhood education certification and one year program, an Associates Degree with an emphasis in Social Services, has worked and trained as an advocate for over 15 years total. She is the recipient of the Oregon Trial Lawyers award for her work to change housing for victims of domestic violence. She is a confident trainer and speaker, and is comfortable working with the public.
1. What is your favorite dessert?
I live in a small town on the Oregon Coast. My favorite dessert is really an entire family ritual.
In my little town, along the ocean, there is a seawall and promenade which locals call the Prom. For as long as I can remember, on summer evenings our family walked together on the Prom to get ice-cream or gelato.
We are an odd bunch. Due to Heaven’s sense of humor and a serious genetic mishap, many of us are gluten free, dairy free, nut free and fun free! Our local gelato store carries gluten free waffle cones and 6 or 7 creamy non-dairy flavors for some of us. It also has wickedly fattening flavors like “S’more,” and “Confetti Cake” for the rest of us.
Although I love the gelato, it is the ritual of walking with my family along the ocean to the gelato store that makes it wonderful. Now if only they made black licorice, gluten free, dairy free, calorie free gelato!
2. What is your favorite beverage?
Well! Here is an indication of my inner oddball. If I could have anything I wanted it would be a coconut milk, banana, peanut butter, protein powder smoothie with spinach and a tiny bit of raw ginger. But, since I am a writer and often find myself up until all hours of the night creating, I often resort to a drink that you can also clean your driveway with, diet coke. If I could just stay on the wagon and give up caffeine I know I could write and not be weary, but movie popcorn simply screams for diet coke.
3. What is your favorite movie and/or TV show?
I would love to say something cerebral and show my massive I.Q., but the truth is, I love anything BBC or British Broadcasting Company and Harry Potter. I love the BBC so much, some of my children have perfect British accents.
I choose clean entertainment and avoid anything graphic, which is a constant challenge because I do love Sherlock Holmes and a good murder mystery. Lately, I have been stuck on, “Father Brown.” Growing up, I loved anything from Masterpiece Theatre or Dr. Who.
4. Where is your favorite place to go on holiday?
I love to travel and was privileged to go to castle hopping in Germany and France. But I actually live in my favorite place on earth. The truth is, if I can’t go to Europe on my monthly starving author’s entertainment budget, my favorite thing to do is drive about two hours down the coast, check into one of my favorite beachfront rentals, (which I get on amazing deals) and go deep sea fishing. Fishing, crabbing and being on a boat on the ocean are some of my all-time favorite things to do and brings home my all time favorite food, seafood.
1. Whom or what inspired you to become an author?
I totally blame all the teachers in my family for encouraging me. When I probably only deserved 1 gold star, they always gave me 5.
The teachers, who were my grandmother and great aunts, read to me and listened to what I wrote. I remember being very young and reading Ozma of Oz at our family beach house on a rainy day. I felt absolute anguish when the book ended. I decided to carry the stories on. Every night at bedtime I spent hours making up stories, which I still do when sleep escapes me.
I wrote my first stories and poems in elementary school. I read everything to the family teachers, my grandmother and great aunts. I would mail them poems, and as they were teachers, they would return them to me with red pencil corrections. I loved it!
When I was 12, our young women’s leader had us write down a list of long term goals. Publishing a book was on my list. I never forgot my list or goals, even when I set them aside to change diapers and cheer for 6 little people for several years. The only thing left on my list is hang gliding.
2. What did you want to be when you grew up? Did becoming an author ever cross your mind?
Becoming an author seemed like an unattainable dream. More than once I heard I would starve. Life and my need to support my family consumed me. My children grew, time passed and one day, the money didn’t matter to me anymore, nothing mattered. It just had to be. It was finally the right time to take a leap of faith and put my dream into words.
3. What authors do you enjoy? Do these authors inspire your own writing?
I love a wide variety of authors, but J.K. Rowling, Charles Dickens and Agatha Christie are my lifetime favorites. They all inspire me. I relish their ability to have multiple characters in a story which takes you away, immerses you in another universe, and then magically brings the characters all together in a happy ending, unless it is Dickens.
4. When you are not writing, what other "hats" do you wear?
When I am not writing, I am spending time with family and friends doing anything outdoors like walking the beach, crabbing or kayaking.I can’t go without running at least 3 miles a day, going to church, and if I am very lucky reading!.
My day job is as a manager in a national nonprofit organization. I still work a few nights a week as a domestic and sexual assault advocate answering the crisis line and responding along side law enforcement.
In addition, I love volunteering. I currently volunteer at church as the compassionate service leader. I am donating a portion of the proceeds from Safe House to Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.). It is an organization dedicated to ending sex trafficking and providing aftercare to survivors. I write for their volunteer newsletter and am working with a group on a small awareness event.
Book Related Questions
1. What inspired the idea for Safe House?
I am very passionate about the need to support survivors and create awareness. I honestly spent some spiritual time struggling and wondering how I could bring more awareness to the issue of abuse from my small town world. Safe House was my answer.
Statistics or news stories can’t tell you what it feels like to listen to a 12-year-old boy worry about a parent who has just gone to jail, or what it feels like to listen to that same boy feeling guilty because they failed to protect their mother during an assault. I had to write Safe House, like I will write other stories of hope and healing, like I need to breathe.
I want the world to know the true story about what is going on right next door. I want survivors to know they aren’t alone. Other’s have experienced the same feelings and thoughts as they have. There is hope and safety for survivors, and the world cares.
2. What do you want readers to take away from Safe House?
I want readers to be swept away in a Pacific storm, hope for love, cheer for the good guys and possibly gain insight into the guys who make bad choices. I want them to be so involved in the story, they don’t even realize they are experiencing something entirely new. They are seeing the world through an advocates and survivors eyes on the treacherous road to hope.
3. What is your current WIP? What can you tell us about this project?
Currently I have an outline for another story involving some of the same characters, but in a stand alone novel.
I am donating a portion of the proceeds from Safe House to Operation Underground Railroad to help end sex trafficking and provide aftercare to survivors. I am also volunteering some of my time to the cause. I have seen this very issue in my own small tourist town. I plan to write a story that explores some of the challenges….well you will just have to wait and see what they are!
Book & Utah Photographic Artist Collaboration
I collaborate on with a Utah Photographic Artist, Haley Miller of Captures Photography. Haley and I wanted to create some informative memes that would tickle the book at the same time as bringing messages of hope to survivors.
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