A Conversation with Syndra K Shaw (part two)
We continue to chat, Syndra and I. We’ve both popped open a yogurt — she in Paris, me in the States — and, at one point, I could clearly hear the telltale glug glug glug of her beloved wine being poured followed by her ubiquitous small sigh after her first sip.
But make no mistake: Miss Shaw is anything but a lush. Like most of the French, that one glass of wine will be coddled and cradled and sniffed and sipped over the course of an hour or more.
I also notice she’s loosened up. Has apparently forgotten she’s being taped and this will be transcribed. I’m getting more of her and less of her natural reticence and shyness.
Welcome to Part Two –
Jonathan: So, without giving too much away (for those who’ve yet to read it), tell me about writing the final chapters of Mikalo’s Flame.
Syndra: Oh my goodness, I was a mess. Seriously, I had to stop several times and take really big deep breaths to calm myself down. And I was crying so hard I just gave up wiping the tears away, you know?
I know. You called me and sounded like you were really losing it.
I was! I’ve never had a reaction like that.
Why is that? I mean, why now? With those chapters?
I think it’s because I so totally identify with Mikalo and Ronan and what was happening was so immense that I felt everything they were feeling.
But that’s a good thing, isn’t it?
I guess so. I’m just happy the house cleaner had left for the day or she would’ve thought I was nuts.
She already thinks your nuts, what with you asking her to pick up “penis” for you at the grocery store.
(laughs) She knows I meant peanuts! She still teases me about that, asking if I want the jumbos.
Well, do you?
Hey, you’re out of those!
What I loved about the ending of Mikalo’s Flame was how you took something so simple, in this case, making an omelette, and completely turned it into something so unforgettable. Almost magical.
Thank you. What’s funny about that is that I’m not quite sure I intended for the ending to play out the way it did. Or for that to necessarily happen. In fact, I know I didn’t.
Which is where having a map is good –
But it’s even better when you let it guide you instead of letting it tell you what to write.
Exactly. I knew what the ending was. What I didn’t know was, just by listening to those two and trusting them when they took me off into something different, something I didn’t plan, what I didn’t know was how we’d get to that ending.
And Ronan’s inability to speak?
I didn’t plan that either. But she just couldn’t say it!
(Syndra sighs dramatically)
I’m writing that you sighed dramatically.
Oh you –
Well, you did!
A couple of reasons. First, she’s really uncomfortable with change. She’s grown so used to things being just so, you know? And the introduction of Mikalo and her love for him has really been enough. But now this? It’s a lot to take on all at once. Secondly, if she had opened her mouth, the floodgates would have opened. She’d have been a crying, hysterical, ridiculous mess. And she just wanted to keep it together. She just wanted to savor the moment and not get too lost in the emotion.
But would have Mikalo minded her crying?
Of course not. But she, I don’t know, she just didn’t want to ruin, if that’s the word, she just didn’t want to ruin the moment by going on some huge ugly cry fit.
Yeah, ugly cry. It isn’t pretty.
And that’s where we are at the end of Mikalo’s Flame.
A crying mess.
Can you talk about Mikalo’s Fate?
Um, yes. Give me an exclusive, here.
As if you’re Barbra Walters or something.
We’ve established I’m not. So … ?
As it stands now, Mikalo and Ronan are off to Greece to meet his family. So we’ll get our first look at Mikalo’s brother Silvestro and Silvestro’s wife Caugina. We’ll met Mikalo’s lifelong friend Damen and his beloved Nonna, his elderly grandmother. The Byzans will be there as well.
So far, so good.
I do think Ronan will end up in Paris at one point.
Maybe not. But her experience there leads to what I hope will be a beautiful moment later with Mikalo in Greece. And Radek Byzan, Mara’s father, reappears in a very important way as well.
I do like how you bring back characters from earlier books.
I just fall in love with them and want to spend more time with them. And he is someone I really adore.
She’s there, but I’m not sure she’s as obnoxious as she had been. She’s starting to crack a little bit and her life is becoming a bit, I don’t know, out of control, I guess.
So no bitch in Mikalo’s Fate?
Um, there is Caugina. And she could give seminars on how to be a nasty piece of work.
No, there’ll definitely be a bitch in this book. They’re too much fun to write! And Abbie and Marcus aren’t done yet.
No, I’m not. I mean, it might change. But so far they have a place in the next book.
Well, except for Caugina and Abbie and Marcus, so far it sounds like a very “up” book.
But you’re assuming they actually walk down the aisle.
Who? Mikalo and Ronan?
Of course they walk down the aisle.
I don’t know –
What? Oh, that’s just mean.
I’m not saying they don’t — and I’m pretty sure they do –, but life has a habit of throwing curve balls and sometimes things change.
And the curve ball here would be?
That’s something I’m not saying yet. But it’s a huge one and completely derails everything, everything, they’ve planned. But I promise, I PROMISE, that Mikalo’s Fate will have a wonderful ending. I can’t write a book that doesn’t.
Okay, I can’t say I’m a huge fan of your genre –
I know –
But having read the first two books, if Mikalo and Ronan don’t get married I will personally come to Paris to bitch slap you.
Come to Paris anyway. She misses you.
I’m not joking here.
Neither am I.
What’s the one thing that you don’t like about writing?
Yeah, why not? It’s not all perfect, is it?
No, it’s not. I really find it rude when people return books. Unless it’s horrible formatting –
Which yours aren’t –
Right. I’m too obsessed to have them go out with mistakes. Or if they don’t like the writing –
But there’s a sample to read beforehand –
Exactly. If it isn’t one of those two things, I just find it rude to buy a book, read it quickly, and then return it quickly just to save a small amount of money. I could never do that.
And you spoke with Amazon about this.
Yes, but she didn’t care.
Did you make her cry?
I wish. (laughs)
Has this interview made any sense?
I hope so. It’s been a lot of fun.
I’m curious about something.
Whenever you say that, either you’re going to ask a tough question or you’re going to say something horribly inappropriate.
I was just wondering if you ever dream of being a bestselling author.
Really. I have absolutely no control over something like that. My goal is to write a good book. Something people look forward to and get excited about reading and race through in one day and then want to read again. That is what I can control. Whether or not people buy it or, in that case, a lot of people buy it and I end up with a high ranking on Amazon or something, well, that’s just something I have nothing to do with. It’s a waste of energy. I focus on what I can: writing as good a book as I can. Sometimes I succeed, sometimes I don’t. And if ONE person buys it, I get excited.
That’s true! When you sold your first copy of Mikalo’s Grace you called me in tears.
I know. Silly of me, but it was so touching to think someone actually spent their money on a book I wrote. I still celebrate each sale. I think I always will. And when people on Facebook write to tell me how much they like what I write, I just love that. I don’t think they realize how hard this is and how much work goes into it and how greatly we appreciate knowing that, at least with someone, our words are making some kind of mark. Are being enjoyed and savored and read again and again. There aren’t enough words to thank these people, those who read my books. There really aren’t.
Have I told you I adore you, my friend?
And I you.
We have to do this again.
Yes. I love these private chats.
Is that another dig at the lack of visitors to my blog.
Mais je t’aime toujours et pour toujours (But I love you always and forever)
Moi aussi, mon cour. (Me too, my dear)
So, there you have it. A funny, sometimes confusing, utterly enchanting conversation with a woman I am completely in love with.
If you haven’t already, go NOW and get her new book, Mikalo’s Flame.