Sean Coons is an author, screenwriter, musician, and educator living in Redondo Beach, California with his wife and son. Sean’s novel, Body, is an inspirational fiction comedy exploring body image and intuitive eating. Body offers readers a path to a healthier, more fulfilling life. Sean has written for The Atlantic, Salon, and The Christian Post, covering topics ranging from history to culture to Hollywood, and has toured the US and abroad as an entertainer. His work in the field of body image is informed by personal experience as well as his study of psychology and social behavior at UC Irvine and counseling psychology at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.
What inspires you to write?
Storytelling is a portal to transcendence and transformation. The fact that someone can read a story, vicariously engage in the protagonist's journey, and experience transformational change in their own, real lives is nothing less than magical. This is what inspires me to write.
Tell us about your writing process.
I benefit greatly from creating an outline for my stories. For fiction, I have combined and adapted a couple useful screenplay outlines I've come across over the years, one of those being the Blake Snyder outline as explained in his book, Save the Cat. What I especially like about using an outline is that it helps me develop strong plot points. These are the expected turning points in a story that provide the emotional energy for the next movement in the plot. Consciously crafting these elements as a writer helps me to make them dramatic, sharp, and unique. This, in turn, I believe, results in a more positive experience for readers.
I often write extended passages within my outline, including dialogue, as it comes to mind. This content often changes dramatically during the writing process when I get to that section, but every once in a while, I will get a gem during this outlining process that makes it to the final draft.
I think outlining also helps minimize writer's block. I always know what will be happening next with an outline, and if I get stuck in one section of the story, I can keep my momentum by moving on to another section and being productive there.
I also create character sketches early in the process. Characters need backgrounds, motivations, quirks, strengths, and weaknesses that will make their story compelling. A lot of the detail will happen naturally in the storytelling, but I find putting some thought into this up-front, treating my characters as real people independent of the plot, is helpful. This also makes the conflict they will eventually encounter with each other as the plot unfolds feel more authentic.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
There comes a point when I'm writing a story that my characters definitely come to life. I don't talk to them, but they do live in my imagination. Once the story is rolling along, there are often times in which I put no effort into dialogue and mannerisms. The characters act and speak, and I transcribe. Often this happens when I'm not even in the process of writing. I'm running an errand, doing a chore, falling asleep, and there's Lilith, for example, an especially sassy character in my novel, Body, saying something hilarious with a devilish sparkle in her eye. I love this part of writing a novel or screenplay.
Who are your favorite authors?
I'm a big fan of Moses, John, King David, King Solomon, and Paul of Tarsus and their corresponding books/letters/collections of aphorisms/songs. I also love Mark Twain, C.S. Lewis, Og Mandino, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Frederick Douglass, Benjamin Franklin, Victor Hugo, James Carse, Aldous Huxley, John Crowder, William Paul Young . . . And that William Shakespeare could really turn a phrase! For Body, my novel about body image and intuitive eating, I used a model provided by Og Mandino in his classic, The Greatest Salesman in the World: Teach specific, applicable lessons in the context of an entertaining story.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I wanted to partner with a publisher because of the expertise a publisher brings to a project — editing, formatting, placement, promotion, &c. I am thankful to have found that in Black Rose Writing, the publisher of my novel, Body: or, How Hope Confronts Her Shadow and Calls the Flutter Girl to Flight.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think it will continue to become easier to get a book to the marketplace (especially due to the growth in professional-grade self-publishing), which means it will become more competitive. More than ever, authors will need to learn to distinguish themselves not only in their writing, but also by means accessible to modern readers (e.g., social media, YouTube, speaking engagements). Also, it seems to be increasingly important to have books available in audio format, as more and more people are choosing books that can be consumed during commutes and in the midst of chores and other daily activities.
What genres do you write?
Inspirational Fiction, Christian Fiction, Middle Grade, Literary, Screenwriting
What formats are your books in?
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All information is provided by the author and is presented as it was submitted so you the reader get to hear the author’s own “voice” in their interview.