Five Compelling Questions with Shawn
By Shawn Reilly Simmons
Five Compelling Questions with ShawnJul 07, 2023
EP109: 5CQ for Amy Young, Author of THE WATER TOWER
Shawn and Amy chat about comedy writing vs. novel writing, great dialogue, being Midwestern, debut novels, shifting careers, and the importance of supportive partners for creative people.
EP108: 5CQ for Jane Loeb Rubin, Author of IN THE HANDS OF WOMEN
Shawn and Jane talk about surviving and thriving after a cancer diagnosis, healthcare for women over the years, the bandwagon effect, what history was actually like, and the magic of teamwork.
EP107: 5CQ for Ali Hazelwood, NYT Bestselling Author of LOVE, THEORETICALLY
Shawn and Ali chat about Ali's Fan Fiction origins and her path to traditional publishing, the role that luck plays in our lives, the best writing advice you can give or get, how stories help us deal with difficult times, finding your community, and a billion-dollar idea.
EP106: 5CQ for Libi Siporin, Author of IF TWO OF THEM ARE DEAD
Shawn and Libi chat about Ben Franklin quotes; professional storytelling; living and traveling in Italy IRL and in your mind; elegant murder; and beautiful book covers.
EP105: 5CQ for Sidney Karger, Comedy Central, MTV and SNL writer, and author of BEST MEN
Shawn and Sidney chat about gay characters who aren’t just sidekicks, the lasting appeal of rom-coms, their mutual distrust of outlining stories, a roller-coaster of words, writers on strike, and being culture vultures.
EP104: 5CQ for Ore Agbaje-Williams, author of THE THREE OF US
Shawn and Ore discuss her debut novel, THE THREE OF US, what it's like being a debut author, writing short and long fiction, pandemic novel writing, friendships and love, juggling on Zoom, and eavesdropping on someone's worst nightmare.
EP103: 5CQ for Sarah Bewley, author of BURNING EDEN
In a very Florida episode, Shawn and Sarah discuss her new book BURNING EDEN, the state they’ve both called home, the ability to listen well, falling oak trees, how we’re all a bunch of weirdos post-pandemic, and murdery comedy.
EP102: 5CQ for Buzzy Jackson, author of TO DIE BEAUTIFUL
Shawn and Buzzy chat about her new book, TO DIE BEAUTIFUL, on being 52, writing fiction based on real people and events, writing non-fiction vs. fiction, Murderino Nation, the importance of hope, cool first names, and the impact of history on our current day lives.
EP101: 5CQ for Juan Gabriel Vásquez, author of RETROSPECTIVE
Shawn and Juan chat about how lives are shaped by revolution and ideology, writing novels as opposed to non-fiction when dealing with true life events, working with a map vs. a compass while writing, the novelist Javier Marías, idolizing writers and aspiring to greatness.
EP100: 5CQ for Laura Hankin, author of THE DAYDREAMS
Shawn and Laura chat about falling off of treadmills, 1990s nostalgia, how scandal impacts men and women differently, writing strong dialogue, and the art of the twist.
EP99: 5CQ for Paige Toon, author of ONLY LOVE CAN HURT LIKE THIS
Shawn and Paige chat about Paige's American debut, Indiana, Paige being the daughter of an INDY 500 driver, immersing yourself in your work, method acting to develop characters, a love of dialogue, finding the sweet spot, and how everyone loves pie.
EP98: 5CQ for Lisa Scottoline, NYT Bestselling Author of LOYALTY
Shawn chats with one of her idols, Lisa Scottoline, about her new book LOYALTY, the concept of justice, being Italian American, the mafia, historical fiction and thrillers, what kinds of people pantsers are, how food is everything, and important advice for writers, especially women.
EP97: 5CQ for Julia Argy, Author of THE ONE
Shawn and Julia chat about mathing things out, reality TV, how we find ideas, mining our normal lives for entertainment content, statistics as it relates to fiction writing, social media and the role it has in our lives, and more math tips.
EP96: 5CQ for Chanel Cleeton, NYT Bestselling and Reese's Book Club Pick Author of THE CUBAN HEIRESS
Shawn and Chanel chat about choosing fiction writing as a career, Chanel’s Cuban-American experience and intergenerational family stories and how that influences her writing, choosing favorite characters, and not persevering through rejection in your writing career.
EP95: 5CQ for Ramona Ausubel, Author of THE LAST ANIMAL
Shawn and Ramona chat about the concept of de-extinction, writing realistic youthful voices, grief and loss as it relates to hope, taking a while to write a novel, writing short vs. long fiction, and inspiring words from an expert crafter of words.
EP94: 5CQ for Nick Medina, Debut Author of SISTERS OF THE LOST NATION
Shawn and Nick chat about musicians who become writers, the past its impact on the present, content warnings in novels, working closely with editors, and debut author excitement.
EP93: 5CQ for Anissa Gray, Award-winning Journalist and Author of LIFE AND OTHER LOVE SONGS and THE CARE AND FEEDING OF RAVENOUSLY HUNGRY GIRLS
Shawn and Anissa chat about the concept of someone disappearing and the resulting emotions for those left behind, following up a blockbuster novel with the next book, having goals at a young age to write, having to pay for rent and food, and a joyful rapid-fire quiz where we learn so much more than we thought we knew about Anissa.
EP92: 5CQ for Becky Chalsen, Film/TV Development Executive and Debut Author of KISMET
Shawn and Becky chat about what it’s like to be a quadruplet married to a twin, beach reads, high school sweethearts, the work that goes into life, how film development work has influenced Becky’s writing, weddings and wedding drama, and being extroverts in the writing community who found each other.
EP91: 5CQ for Ling Ling Huang, Grammy Award-winning Musician and Debut Author of NATURAL BEAUTY
Shawn and Ling Ling chat about musicians turned writers, nameless main characters, Starbucks names, the concept of beauty as self-care, discovering love, and having a very busy creative schedule.
EP57: 5CQ for K.J. Dell'Antonia, New York Times Bestselling Author of IN HER BOOTS and THE CHICKEN SISTERS
Shawn chats with K.J. Dell'Antonia about her new book IN HER BOOTS, fear of becoming our mothers, how we are perceived in the world, listening to inner voices, easy first drafts, and what it's like to be one of Reese's Book Club Picks.
EP56: 5CQ for Ashley Poston, author of THE DEAD ROMANTICS
Shawn chats with Ashley Poston about her book being named a Good Morning America book club pick, Fan Fiction and how it has influenced Ashley's life and career, finding your identity in someone else's writing, killing off loved ones in your stories, and being wise in your early years.
EP55: 5CQ for Linda Norlander, author of the Cabin by the Lake Mystery Series
Shawn chats with returning guest Linda Norlander about the newest book in her series, wanting to be a cowgirl, the importance of having an editor in your life, messy middles, New Yorkers, and snow-driving skills.
EP54: 5CQ for Louise Hare, author of MISS ALDRIDGE REGRETS
Shawn chats with British author Louise Hare about writing, mentoring and working with other writers, Black people in historical fiction, addressing racism in different forums, solving problems while drunk, and how boring office jobs can inspire creativity.
EP53: 5CQ for Lucy Clarke, Sunday Times bestselling author of ONE OF THE GIRLS
Shawn and Lucy chat about living near the sea, what makes a great thriller thrilling, turning books into movies, what movie sets are really like, and how it took Lucy only seventeen days to write the first draft of her newest novel.
EP52: 5CQ for Nancy Cole Silverman, author of PASSPORT TO SPY
Shawn chats with Nancy Cole Silverman, author of The Navigator's Daughter, the first book in the new Kat Larson historical mystery series about history inspiring current day and writing, being a military wife, the power of words, working in radio, and their mutual love of wine.
EP51: 5CQ for Susan Van Kirk
Shawn chats with Susan Van Kirk, author of the Art Center Mystery series, about her new series, art in everyday life, going from academic writing to fiction, being from the Midwest, banned books, and a special interaction with Kurt Vonnegut.
Ep50: 5CQ with Don Bentley, NYT Bestselling Author of ZERO HOUR
Shawn and Don chat about writing in the Tom Clancy/Jack Ryan Universe, juggling multiple jobs, writing more than one series, writing a new book every five months, creative sulking, comparing writing to giving birth, and the value of networking with other writers.
EP49: 5CQ with Fabian Nicieza, Author of THE SELF-MADE WIDOW
Shawn and Fabian chat about writing across mediums, anger & insecurity as motivating factors in careers, writing for yourself, doing your own thing, and the coffee habits of exhausted suburbanites.
About the Author:
Fabian Nicieza is best known as a comic book writer for Marvel and DC, and as the co-creator of Deadpool. He has also written X-Men, X-Force, New Warriors, Cable, Thunderbolts, and many more. He developed the story world and created the characters for the 2021 animated series, Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten. Suburban Dicks, Nicieza’s debut novel, was published by Penguin Putnam in 2021.
About the Book:
After mother of five and former FBI profiler Andie Stern solved a murder—and unraveled a decades old conspiracy—in her New Jersey town, both her husband and the West Windsor police hoped that she would set aside crime-fighting and go back to carpools, changing diapers, and lunches with her group of mom-friends, who she secretly calls The Cellulitists. Even so, Andie can’t help but get involved when the husband of Queen Bee Molly Goode is found dead. Though all signs point to natural causes, Andie begins to dig into the case and soon risks more than just the clique’s wrath, because what she discovers might hit shockingly close to home.
Meanwhile, journalist Kenny Lee is enjoying a rehabilitated image after his success as Andie’s sidekick. But when an anonymous phone call tips him off that Molly Goode killed her husband, he’s soon drawn back into the thicket of suburban scandals, uncovering secrets, affairs, and a huge sum of money. Hellbent on justice and hoping not to kill each other in the process, Andie and Kenny dust off their suburban sleuthing caps once again.
EP48: 5CQ with Debut Author Davida Breier
Shawn chats with Debut Author Davida Breier about her new book SINKHOLE, surviving childhood in Florida during the 80s, power dynamics in friendships and in life, selfishness in younger years turning into malignant behavior when we get older, and unique aspects about Florida that tourists don't always see.
About the Author:
Davida G. Breier was born in Miami, FL. She's spent the last two decades in various roles within the book industry and currently works for Johns Hopkins University Press. Davida lives in Maryland with her family, a pack of wee rescue dogs, a rescue tortoise, and two companion chickens.
About the Book:
“The final showdown between them is destined to shock; the electric denouement more than justifies the tension throughout.” -NYT Book Review
A mesmerizing, darkly comic coming-of-age novel immersed in 1980s central Florida. Lies from the past and a dangerous present collide when, after fifteen years in exile, Michelle Miller returns to her tiny hometown of Lorida, Florida. She’s forced to confront the death of her best friend, but what if everything she remembers is a lie?
EP47: 5CQ with Fiona Barton, The Sunday Times and New York Times bestselling author of LOCAL GONE MISSING
Shawn chats with Fiona Barton about her new novel LOCAL GONE MISSING. They also discuss fresh starts, the unique perspectives of household staff, not panicking while writing, what writing isn't always, and the benefits of allowing your writing self to think.
About the Author:
Fiona Barton has been a journalist - senior writer at the Daily Mail, news editor at the Daily Telegraph, and chief reporter at The Mail on Sunday, where she won Reporter of the Year at the National Press Awards, gave up her job to volunteer in Sri Lanka and since 2008, has trained and worked with exiled and threatened journalists all over the world.
But through it all, a story was cooking in her head.
The worm of a book infected her long ago when, as a national newspaper journalist covering notorious crimes and trials, she found herself wondering what the wives of those accused really knew – or allowed themselves to know.
It took the liberation of her career change to turn that fascination into a tale of a missing child, narrated by the wife of the man suspected of the crime, the detective leading the hunt, the journalist covering the case, and the mother of the victim. That book became The Widow, which went on to be a bestseller, garnering rave reviews around the globe. Fiona followed that book up with The Child, and now her most recent is Local Gone Missing.
About the book:
Elise King is a successful and ambitious detective—or she was before a medical leave left her unsure if she'd ever return to work. She now spends most days watching the growing tensions in her small seaside town of Ebbing—the weekenders renovating old bungalows into luxury homes, and the locals resentful of the changes.
Elise can only guess what really happens behind closed doors. But Dee Eastwood, her house cleaner, often knows. She’s an invisible presence in many of the houses in town, but she sees and hears everything.
The conflicts boil over when a newcomer wants to put the town on the map with a weekend music festival, and two teenagers overdose on drugs. When a man disappears the first night of the festival, Elise starts digging for answers. Ebbing is a small town, but it's full of secrets and hidden connections that run deeper and darker than Elise could have ever imagined.
EP46: 5CQ for Author Annabel Monaghan
Shawn chats with Annabel about her first adult fiction novel: Nora Goes off Script, their mutual love of Steve Martin, the humorous absurdity of domestic life, magical tea houses, great places to write great books, and how Hallmark Channel movies are both addictive and inspirational.
EP45: 5CQ for Author Lane Stone
Shawn and Lane chat about her new book The Collector, the first in The Big Picture trilogy, art heists, the art of leaving clues, how long it takes to drink a beer, cheap dates, and upcoming author events. Recorded live from ThrillerFest in New York City!
EP44: 5CQ for Debut Author M.A. Monnin
Shawn and M.A. discuss being a debut author, the importance of not giving up, General Hospital, the movie Soapdish, and international travel as an inspiration for mystery writing.
EP43: 5CQ for Annette Dashofy
Shawn and Annette chat about the words they can't say, writing a long running series, smelling gross things for work, random passwords, the honor of being nominated for awards, and Annette's big interview with James Patterson.
EP42: 5CQ for Author Teresa Trent
Shawn and Teresa chat about women's roles throughout the years, writing a good series with believable characters, keeping things moving while writing that first draft, vomit drafts and Patrick Swayze, writing on the go, and transitioning from being a self pubbed author to being traditionally published.
EP41: 5CQ for Author Tina deBellegarde
Shawn and Tina discuss women's fiction and stories worth telling, being good enough to write, believing in your writing self, luxuriating in words and processes, memorable quotes from Shawn, their mutual love of film, and many random things they have in common.
EP40: 5CQ for Author Mark Levenson
Shawn chats with Mark Levenson, author of THE HIDDEN SAINT, about colorful family history, being shot at in South Florida early on in Mark's journalism career, Jewish folklore, wanting to be an astronaut, grandma magic, and regional coffee drinking championships.
EP39: 5CQ with Author J.C. Kenney
Shawn and J.C. chat about what it's like to be from Indiana, surviving rejection, their love of music, High Fidelity, and J.C.'s new web series TheBookishHour.com
EP38: 5CQ with Author Sarah E. Burr
Shawn and Sarah chat about writing multiple series, their mutual love of editing, celebrating progress, the art of the perfect witty comeback, a John Cena and Miranda Priestly character mashup, and Sarah's new venture TheBookishHour.com
EP37: 5CQ for Author Jeff Houlahan
In the Season Two opener, Shawn chats with debut novelist Jeff Houlahan about the writing life, if in fact writers are different than other human beings, listening as an art form from a musical perspective, not being a sociopath, and baseball.
EP36: FQC with Debut Author Jennifer Bee
In the season one finale, Shawn and Jen talk about Holiday Mysteries, Christmas music, Planet of the Apes, negative reviews, dealing with the jitters that come along with knowing others are reading your work.
EP35: 5CQ with Author Libi Siporin
Shawn and Libi chat about travel, finding time for creative pursuits, the joys of being an early riser, and the power of the word "cougar."
EP34: 5CQ for Author Clea Simon
Shawn and Clea talk about Clea's new book HOLD ME DOWN, their mutual love of Rock and Roll, the joys and challenges of writing a series and of writing as a career in general, believing in yourself, how being a reporter makes you very good at meeting deadlines, how reading and writing helped both Clea and Shawn "escape" tumultuous households growing up, and criticism as a conversation starter.
The author of 29 books (and counting), Clea Simon is a regular contributor to the Boston Globe, and her writing pops up occasionally in such publications as American Prospect, Ms., the San Francisco Chronicle, and Salon.com.
EP33: 5CQ with Playwright and Thriller Writer Lynn-Steven Johanson
Shawn and Lynn chat about being from I states (Iowa and Indiana...not Idaho!), raising dogs, writing prequels and sequels, staying safe in crowds, maintaining creativity, and a good partner who supports your writing career.
EP32: 5CQ for Returning Guest Mystery Author Lori Robbins
Lori and Shawn chat about writing, catering, what not to eat when you're a professional dancer or actor, spending time with characters, and maintaining a mystery series with an amateur sleuth who is not too stupid to live.
EP31: 5CQ with Historical Author Paul Martin
Shawn and Paul chat about their shared love of music, wine, and books, and how the music of the sixties has influenced them both.
EP30: 5CQ for Returning Guest Author Cathi Stoler
Shawn and Cathi chat about things they have in common including writing radio commercials, living and working in New York City, working in the bar-restaurant world, and writing culinary mystery series.
EP29: 5CQ with Author Carol Pouliot
In a very spooky episode, Shawn and Carol chat about spirits, crazy exes, wine, how the French get it right, how different people process things in different ways, and the ghostly encounter that inspired Carol's time travel mystery series.
EP28: 5CQ with Debut Mystery Author Gregory Stout
Shawn and Greg chat about writing a mystery after writing over twenty non-fiction books about trains, how everyone has a book in them, the joys and challenges of being a night owl, and finding time to write while working other jobs.
EP27: 5CQ with Debut Author Judy L. Murray
Shawn and Judy chat about real estate as a career and inspiration for murder mysteries, famous fictional detectives, sharing a name with a famous person, talking to ourselves, and the unique joy of seeing your books on library shelves.