Mississippi Native Now Known As Masterful Storyteller:
Shane Etter's Rise As A Novelist
A Q&A with BAMSouth Chief Client Officer/Founder Jack Criss (PART I)
BAMSouth: Shane, thanks for agreeing to do this email interview. You're a Jackson, Mississippi native: tell us a bit about your background and what, in that background, led to your becoming a novelist?
ETTER: Thank you for the honor, Jack.I was born in Natchez, a very historical and creative small town the day after the great Welsh poet and writer, Dylan Thomas died from drinking himself to death in NYC. So, I’m convinced his soul flew on the wind from New York to Natchez, where I was born the following day and that’s the reason I’m a writer. At least that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!
Truth is, I became a writer after I had a stroke and started writing to improve my brain. Seven novels later it appears to have worked. But I have to say I think there’s something in the water in MIssissippi since so many of the world’s greatest authors call it home.
BAMSouth: Tell us about your first novel, how long it took you to write it, and the subsequent works you've penned since--and which of those has been your personal favorite? Conversely, which has been the most successful commercially?
ETTER: Bottom Dwellers, which was my first, is about green mutant people living on the bottom of Lake Lanier, the largest manmade lake east of the MS River, in north GA. It took me one year to complete the manuscript and it is probably still my most successful and has received film interest.
BAMSouth: How do navigate in the publishing world today? Do you handle all aspects yourself such as publishing, promotion, PR, editing your own work, etc--or do you have an agent?
ETTER: I am fortunate that two small publishers saw something in my manuscripts and made the decision to publish them. I have had two professional editors who I pay (not unsubstantial amounts) to edit my second drafts of my manuscripts.
BAMSouth: To follow up, does a writer today have to be both an artist AND a businessperson do you think?
ETTER: Publishers today require writers to have a substantial social media presence and be the point person for your own promotion, doing things like I’m doing with you.
BAMSouth: Any movie deals forthcoming? Have you ever been approached by a film producer to take one of your books to screen?
ETTER: As I mentioned above in the case of Bottom Dwellers I cowrote a screenplay and have had interest from three different film companies. I’m hopeful something will happen in the near term.
BAMSouth: Do you write every single day? What is your normal routine?
ETTER: 365 days a year, Christmas and birthday included. I start writing every morning, might take a break for a light lunch, start again in the afternoon and then begin another session after dinner.
BAMSouth: You were born in Mississippi, you currently live in Atlanta--here comes the obligatory question: do you consider yourself a Southern writer?
ETTER: Then I’ll give you the obligatory response. I’m not a Southern writer. Three of my seven books are set in Atlanta, but in my mind modern Atlanta is more like an east coast city, as much as any other. One other novel is set in NYC, and my most recent, Devils Sympathy, has an international theme set in Oxford, England, Japan, NYC and Napa Valley, California.
BAMSouth: Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, Shane. A follow-up will be coming up soon. But leave us with a little bit more personal information if you would. Are you not a black belt? Does that enter into your creativeness at all?
ETTER: Thanks, Jack. Great question. It absolutely does. Karate is a martial ART and requires creativity, itself.