Today I am happy to give you my interview with a very special guest…Shawn Mihalik! Here is the interview with him!
Hi Shawn! It is a pleasure to have you as a sort of guest on Reader, Writer, Critic to talk a little bit about your writing career, publishing experience, and your new book Brand-Changing Day
. Thank you for taking the time to do this! Now let’s get this party started!
First off, tell us a bit about yourself and your new book!
I was born in San Diego but grew up in Youngstown, Ohio. I studied journalism at Youngstown State University, and while I loved (and still love) journalism, I realized that I would rather write fiction.
Brand-Changing Day is my second book but my first novel. It’s literary satire about the world of casual American chain restaurants.
How and why did you start writing?
I started writing short stories and things like that when I was pretty young, maybe thirteen or fourteen, but of course I wasn’t very good. In high school I became interested in journalism, winning a few awards both as a writer for and then editor of my school paper.
Where did the idea for your book come from?
I worked in restaurants (as I think a lot of people do) a lot. When I was sixteen I got my first job at a Bob Evans, and in the years after that I worked for three other different restaurant chains. But the entire time, I hated the experience. I hated the policies, mentality, and what chain restaurants typically stand for. So when I wrote my first novel, it seemed natural that it would take place in and be about restaurants, exploring what makes them, and the people who work in them, tick.
Are there any parallels between Brand-Changing Day and its characters’ lives and your life? What are they?
Several. As I said, the book takes place in a restaurant, and I worked in restaurants for years. But the book also takes place in Youngstown, Ohio, where I group (and which is a city a love). Additionally, the main character spends some time living in Pittsburgh, PA, which I did as well.
Are any of your characters the types of people you would be friends with in your life? What characters and why or why not?
Some of them are, yes. Some of the characters—for example, Lori, Kara, and Mike the Bartender—are wonderful people. Other characters, on the other hand—like Geoff McCree, R.J. Fredickson, and of course, the black bear—aren’t very good people at all, or at the very least, they’re complacent people, content to live very boring, menial existences, and that doesn’t appeal to me in a friend.
And then there’s the main character, Scott, who I also probably wouldn’t be friends with, which is problematic because he’s a lot like me.
What was your publishing experience like working with an indie publisher?
It was wonderful. There are some amazing things happening in the indie publishing world, and Asymmetrical Press is doing a great job of taking advantage of them.
The best part of indie publishing is having a significant amount of control over the process: I got to work directly with editors, approve layout and covers, and things like that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when writing and/or publishing Brand-Changing Day and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was releasing the book into the world. I have a very conservative family, but Brand-Changing Day is far from a conservative book—it has a lot of controversial, subversive elements, and I new my family wasn’t going to be happy that I’d written something like that. And they weren’t. But I had to release the book anyway.
What was your favorite part of the writing and publishing process?
My favorite part is creating. Creating a world, a sandbox, and then creating characters to play in that sandbox. It’s exhilarating when it all comes together.
Do you have any special playlists, writing habits or rituals” ect.? What are they?
I’d like to say that I do, but not really. When I wrote Brand-Changing Day, I went through periods of time where I was writing every single morning, but then there were other periods where I was writing every single evening instead. And then there were periods were I would go a few weeks having written barley a thing.
Even now, as I work on new projects, my processes are different. If I had to pick out any sort of pattern, I’d say that silence is important to my process. I have to be alone when I’m writing, with no music or background noise of any kind, which I think is why I like early morning or late evening the best most of the time.
It was been lovely having you and thank you again for your time!
You can buy brand changing day through Liberty Bay Books by clicking the hyper-linked title under the cover and remember to add it on Goodreads!