Today, I am pleased to present an interview with 2010 Page Turner Winner, Shauna Soukoreff Dolan. Join me as I chat with Shauna about her writing, her family, and how it felt when she learned she took first prize in this exciting contest.

LYNDA: Do you remember the first time you fell in love with writing?

SHAUNA: Yes. I was in Grade 7 when I first became passionate about writing. It was then that I discovered the powerful impact the written word can have on its readers. I was vying for the first place in my English class with another student named Lucy. We took turns being first and second all year. Whoever scored the highest on the weekly essay or short story had to read it out loud to the class. Lucy was a wonderful writer and I loved hearing her stories. I was almost disappointed to take the highest mark because I so loved listening to hers! I had a slightly more animated delivery in reading what I had written and became hooked on writing as soon as I saw the response my stories invoked from my classmates. There’s nothing like it, really.

LYNDA: Is writing a hobby or a potential career for you?

SHAUNA: I have far too much I want to write (such as a course on exploring and utilizing our giftedness) that ideally this Page Turner win paves the way for me to continue writing as a career.

LYNDA: Speaking of the Page Turner, congratulations on taking first place! What was your reaction when you found out you were this year’s winner?

SHAUNA: Overwhelmed. I was completely and utterly overwhelmed and a little lost in disbelief. I have a tendency to take Second Place finishes a lot in life, and this was something I wanted so badly and for so long that I found myself in denial initially. I ran upstairs to my bedroom, fell on my knees and sobbed vehemently for twenty minutes! Writing this story was such an emotional roller-coaster that I was flooded with a sense of relief and clarity that this is indeed a story that God too, feels should be told.

LYNDA: What is your book about, and where did the idea come from?

SHAUNA: I truly believe this is a story that needs to be told. It is about my life as a Jehovah’s Witness, and the journey it has been to leave that faith community in pursuit of ‘the truth’. It is a fascinating tale that takes the reader from Canada to Ireland and back with an unwavering conviction that such truth would be found – even if it meant paying a price that was almost impossible to bear. I have planned to write this story my entire life but it was only within the last year that I found the conclusion I needed to complete it.

LYNDA: So your manuscript is complete? Do you plan to be pursuing publication?

SHAUNA: Yes it is complete. I would like to insert a few more photographs here and there, but plan to do so through the editing process. This book will absolutely be published – I have no doubt whatsoever.

LYNDA: How did you find FaithWriters and what made you stick around?

SHAUNA: I was looking for Christian-based websites to answer some of my questions when I stumbled upon FaithWriters. As soon as I saw the 2009 Page Turner contest, I knew I wanted to enter. I sneaked my husband’s credit card out of his wallet and applied for the Gold membership, at once. I wrote my first chapter and entered only to find out that it was a Fiction-Writing Contest! Mine of course, is auto-biographical. So, I just continued to write. I never took my eyes off the prize for a moment!

LYNDA: What types of books or genre to you prefer to read?

SHAUNA: The older I get the more I prefer non-fiction. In fiction, however, I am a huge John Grisham fan. And my favorite book of all time is A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaleed Houseini. Non-fiction: I love the Bible and faith-oriented or inspirational reading of any kind.

LYNDA:  Tell us about your family.

SHAUNA: I am a wife and mother of four boys. I have a small female dog, named Scampi. I would love a cat, but my husband refuses to indulge me there!

LYNDA: What do you like to do for fun?

SHAUNA: Well, I am a big reader and very blessed to consider reading and writing to be fun and not arduous. I love to run, and play tennis with my boys. I am a self-taught artist and love to teach! But above all, I love to spend time (when I can find it) in a coffee shop visiting with a good friend – or just hanging solo reading the newspaper!

LYNDA: Do you make New Year’s Resolutions? If so, what would you like to accomplish in 2011?

SHAUNA: I don’t typically make New Year’s Resolutions but am breaking that rule this year. I have noticed a dire need in my verbal communication skills to finish one thought before I start a new one. My Pastor dubiously told me that this will be very difficult for me to do. I intend to at least try!

LYNDA: LoL…well, good luck with that! And much success to you as you pursue publication for your book. Again, congratulations on this huge win. Looking forward to seeing your book on store shelves very soon!

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