Monday, 11 March 2013

Author Interview: Irina Shapiro

Please welcome Irina, a fellow historical romance author (though in Irina's own words - with a twist)

What is your name and where do you live now?
My name is Irina Shapiro and I live in New Jersey, USA.

First off, how has your week been?
My week has been great, thank you for asking.  

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I have a Bachelor’s degree in International Trade and Marketing, which has very little to do with my writing.  I’ve been writing for a few years now, and have completed seven novels to date.  

Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I’ve always been a voracious reader, but I never thought I had what it took to actually write a book.   I think I surprised myself more than anyone else when I completed my first novel.  When I was a child, I fantasized about becoming an archaeologist.  I love history and thought it would be fascinating to sift through the past and unearth clues about the people that came before us.    

What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it what would you say?
My latest book is A World Apart.  It’s the third book in the Hands of Time Trilogy.  A World Apart is a tapestry of romance, adventure, and history, with a sprinkling of suspense and a dash of fantasy.   That’s all I can say without giving the plot away.

Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?
The original idea for the Hands of Time Trilogy came from a Katy Perry song.  I was listening to it in the car while driving and she kept repeating the phrase “in another life.”  I thought, “Hmm, what would I do in another life?”  It took off from there.

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
The first book is set against the volatile political climate of seventeenth century England, and the failed Gunpowder Plot.  The rest of the story is a product of my fertile imagination.  

Did you learn anything from writing your book?  What was it?
I learned that sometimes characters simply refuse to leave.  You think you are done with them and can move on to another project, but they have other ideas.  I had to write a sequel to the Hands of Time because the characters just continued to talk and plot in my head as if the book was still being written.

Are your books available as eBooks? Were you involved in that process at all? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
My books are available as e-books.  I used to love printed books until I got a Kindle for my birthday.  I will never go back.  

Did you have any say in the title / cover of your book?
All the covers were designed by me.

What does your protagonist think about you? Would they want to hang out with you, their author and creator?
I think my protagonist would love to hang out with me; after all, she’s my secret twin.  I based her largely on my own personality, and her responses to situations are derived from what I would do in her place.

How does your family feel about the book?
My family is proud of my book, but my husband refuses to read anything I write.  He’s terrified of finding out what really goes on in my head.  He might never recover.

When you started your book, did you plan on writing it as a series, or did it just grow into one?
I never planned to turn the book into a series, but as I mentioned in a previous answer, the characters simply wouldn’t be silenced.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I think the main message is that no matter what happens you have to just go with it and make the best of it.  You never know where it might take you, and it might be more wonderful than you ever imagined.

How long does it usually take you to write a book, from the original idea to finishing writing it?
I can write a book in a few months.  It’s the revisions and editing that take the longest.

What genre would you place your books into?
My books are historical romance with a twist.

What made you decide to write that genre of book?
I like stories with a hint of supernatural and fantasy.  I don’t discount the possibility that our spirit lives on or that some day time travel may be possible.

How do you come up with characters names and place names in your books?
The names of places are generally real, and the characters tend to name themselves.  It’s like a neon sign that flashes in my head with a name.  I might try a different name, but always come back to the first one.

Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
The characters develop as I go along.  I find that sometimes they turn out quite different from what I planned.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
It’s challenging to keep creating new plots and situations without unwittingly going back to certain themes and situations.


Irina Shapiro was born in Moscow, Russia, and immigrated to the United States with her family at the age of eleven.  She earned a business degree from Bernard M. Baruch College, and worked in Advertising and Import/Export before trying her hand at writing.  She has just completed the third book of the Hands of Time Trilogy, and is working on an idea for her next book.  Irina incorporates her love of history and travel into her books, and creates an exciting and textured backdrop for her characters.  
Irina Shapiro lives in New Jersey with her husband and children.
When a young woman vanishes without a trace from a quaint fishing village on the coast of England only one person knows the truth, but he remains silent allowing the authorities to search for her in vain.  
Meanwhile, Valerie Crane finds herself transported to the year 1605.  Terrified and confused, she turns for help to the Whitfield brothers, who take her in and offer her a home.  Both Alexander and Finlay Whitfield fall in love with the mysterious woman who shows up on their doorstep, creating a love triangle that threatens to consume them all.  Valerie must make her choice, deciding between the brother who will lead her down the path of destruction or one who will give her a love she couldn’t find in her own time.

Purchase The Hands of Time on Amazon and find out more about Irina on her Facebook page.

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