Shannon Schuren: The Virtue of Sin
Yay June! A beautiful time of year for weather and for books! Dive into these brand new novels and get your summer started right!
The Virtue of Sin
by Shannon Schuren
Miriam lives in New Jerusalem, a haven in the desert far away from the sins and depravity of the outside world. Within the gates of New Jerusalem, and under the eye of its founder and leader, Daniel, Miriam knows she is safe. Cared for. Even if she’s forced, as a girl, to quiet her tongue when she has thoughts she wants to share, Miriam knows that New Jerusalem is a far better life than any alternative. So when God calls for a Matrimony, she’s thrilled; she knows that Caleb, the boy she loves, will choose her to be his wife and they can finally start their life together.
But when the ceremony goes wrong and Miriam winds up with someone else, she can no longer keep quiet. For the first time, Miriam begins to question not only the rules that Daniel has set in place, but also what it is she believes in, and where she truly belongs. Alongside unexpected allies, Miriam fights to learn–and challenge–the truth behind the only way of life she’s ever known, even if it means straying from the path of Righteousness.
June 25th, 2019
Introduce yourself and your debut novel!
My name is Shannon Schuren and when I’m not writing, I’m a children’s librarian, which means that among other things, I get to spend a good part of my time purchasing books! Talk about a dream job! I’m also the author of THE VIRTUE OF SIN, which is a contemporary YA novel about teens raised in a patriarchal cult who begin to question their faith after a botched marriage ceremony. It’s a book about standing up, speaking out, and breaking free, and it’s out June 25th with Philomel Books.
What’s the most surprising part about your debut journey so far?
Can I say everything? Honestly, I feel like such a noob on a daily basis, it’s hard to pinpoint any one thing. There’s quite a learning curve to being a debut author! I will say I am constantly surprised and grateful for all of the support I’ve received, from my own team as well as the writing community and my fellow debuts.
Give a shout-out to a fellow debut!
So many great books in this group, but I’m going to give a shout-out to Shana Youngdahl, whose AS MANY NOWS AS I CAN GET is gorgeously written and wrecked me in the absolute best way. I fell so in love with her story and those characters, I just wanted to crawl inside it and live there. I’ll be buying multiple copies when it’s out just so I can shove it at all my friends and family and yell ‘read this!’
How long did it take you to write this book?
I started the book in August of 2013 and sold it early July, 2017. It went through many, many revisions in those four years!
What was the hardest scene to write?
The ending! I rewrote it so many times, I’ve lost count. I’m not a big outliner. I always write linearly, even in revisions, which means as the story changes, so does the ending. But letting the story lead means I often wander down a wrong path—which happened several times with TVOS. In fact, I was about a month away from deadline and starting to panic when my critique partner gave me a suggestion that steered me in the right direction. Thank goodness for great CPs!
Describe your writing space.
Selling my debut meant I fulfilled not one dream, but two; a published novel with my name on it, and my own writing space! I now have a writing ‘she-shed’ in my backyard. It’s not huge – 8x10—but it has everything I need: desk, bookshelves, electricity, portable heater, teapot, and a tiny front porch for brainstorming. It is my happy place.
How do you select character names?
I have a weirdly intense process of name selection. A suggested main character name often pops into my head early on, and depending on the meaning, I often go with that initial instinct. But for the rest of the characters, it’s important to me that they fit thematically with the story. For THE VIRTUE OF SIN, they all had to be from the bible, and I tried to have the biblical namesake fit the personality of the character. I also don’t like reusing letters – you’ll never find a Miriam AND a Mary in one of my books. I find it confusing as a reader, so I try very hard not to do it as a writer. I keep an alphabetical list nearby and scratch out a letter once it’s been used.
If you could buy only one book this year, which book would it be?
This is a hard question! I am beyond excited to read Ruta Sepetys’ new historical YA, FOUNTAINS OF SILENCE, which is out this fall. I’ve loved all her books, and I am in awe of the way she weaves together history and narrative—it’s feels like a kind of magic. This time she’s taking us to Spain, to reveal some dark secrets about the Franco dictatorship and I cannot wait!
Share a favorite recipe!
Since this is the website for Bad Goats, I’m going to share one of my family favorites, Risotto with lavender goat cheese. 2 cups Jasmine rice, uncooked
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
½ cup white wine
32 oz chicken broth (vegetable works, too)
2 Tbsp butter or non-dairy spread
2-3 tsp each basil, oregano, sage, thyme
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup Pecorino Romano cheese
4 oz soft goat cheese with lavender (I use Cypress Hill, but if you can’t find it, any soft chevre will work)
Cook garlic in olive oil until soft, then remove and set aside. Next, add rice to same skillet and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the grains begin to look lightly toasted. Add the wine. Once that is cooked down, begin adding broth in ½ cup increments, letting each portion soak in before adding the next. Cooking time will increase with each addition. Continue until rice reaches desired softness. Remove from heat and mix in butter, herbs, salt and pepper. Mix in goat cheese. Top with shredded cheese and serve.
Share your favorite animal!
Thanks for interviewing, Shannon! I am SO JEALOUS of your writing shed!! And I can't wait to check out your book on 6/25/19!