Q&A Feature: Shannon Ahn

ShannonI met this author a year ago at the La Femme Nikita Reunion Convention in Toronto, Ontario. A friendship blossomed through similar articulate discoveries inspired by the one show we all are known to love. I want to take a moment, put a spotlight on, and get to know this up and coming author.

Right off the bat, can you give the audience an elevator speech to sell them on who Shannon Ahn is?

Shannon Ahn: I’m a genre-blending author who combines science fiction, action, romance, and mystery in my books to create entertaining stories that readers can get sucked into and escape reality for a little while.

Can you tell us the synopsis of your Crossing Realms series?

SA: Crossing Realms is about Nina Adler, a young woman who discovers that her dreams are a window to another world. When Nina begins to have intense, action-packed dreams about being an FBI agent, she dismisses them as nothing more than fun distractions from her mundane life, but when she falls in love with a man in her dreams and he appears in her real life, she finds out that her dreams contain deeper meaning than she first thought and that she possesses incredible powers.Crossing Realms Part One Amazon Cover

*ALERT ALERT* You can download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

What inspired you to become a writer in the first place?

SA: My dad was a writer. He was a journalist for many years, and he also wrote a novel that won an award in South Korea. He told me his dream was to write a memoir, but unfortunately he passed away before he could do that. So I’ve always thought maybe I should be a writer too, but I never considered it seriously until a few years ago when I was at a crossroads in my life and had the opportunity to pursue my interests.

What is your favorite genre to write?

SA: Apparently I can’t decide because I mix different genres!

One advice out there is that to be a great writer, you need to be an avid re

ader. Are you an avid reader when you aren’t writing, or are there other interests that spark your writing and creativity?

SA: I’m an introvert, so I love being alone and lost in a good book or a TV show. I’m definitely a bingereader/watcher. I try to read as much as I can, but when I’m in a writing phase such as when I’m working on a first draft, I tend to focus more on watching things because I get inspired by visuals. Before I write anything, I have to see it in my head first like a scene in a movie. A cool song can also help me come up with characters and scenes.

What is your go-to genre to read when you aren’t in a writing spell?

SA: If I can pick any kind of book to read just for fun, I’d go for chick lit, something light and funny.

LFN TRIBUTEAs I started reading the first part of Crossing Realms, I immediately noticed how “Nikita-esq” the details are. Has the show inspired you to write this particular story?

SA: Some parts of Crossing Realms were definitely inspired by La Femme Nikita, one of my favorite shows of all time. In fact, there is an Easter egg for La Femme Nikita fans in all three parts of Crossing Realms. But the original inspiration for my series was my dreams. I’ve had many dreams where I fell madly in love with a man and became completely immersed in another world, and when I woke up, I was disoriented because the dream and my emotions in it felt absolutely real. So when I decided to try writing fiction, I wanted to write a story about a woman who finds out that her dreams are special. What if your dreams are more than just dreams?

You just published the third installment for Crossing Realms. Will there be a fourth part? How many parts total do you have in the works before this story-line is complete?

SA: Crossing Realms has three parts total. Later this summer I’ll be publishing a “box set” of the complete trilogy as one eBook and also a paperback which I’m really excited about. I’ll finally get to hold my book in my hands! There will be a sequel to Crossing Realms that continues Nina’s story, but I’m going to expand the scope of the story and tell it from multiple characters’ points of view. After that, I don’t know if there will be another book in this series. I’m going to see where the story takes me and stay true to the characters.

Are you working on any other stories, or just focused on the series you currently have?

SA: My main focus is writing my current series, but I’m also interested in writing short stories. I plan to take some time this year to learn more about writing short stories and maybe enter a short story contest.

What’s something you would like to share about the writer’s life that many probably wouldn’t know in general?

SA: Hmm… Well, I used to think of being a writer as something romantic and kind of glamorous, like an interesting and intelligent person sitting in a chic café typing away on their sleek laptop and effortlessly coming up with gorgeous sentences that magically flow together to create a moving story that changes people’s live, or something like that. But that’s not how it is for me at all. I write at home because I wouldn’t be able to concentrate anywhere else. I write very slowly and agonize over every sentence. And rewrites… There are so. many. rewrites. I didn’t know before writing my books just how much editing and proofreading need to be done before publishing.

Can you share the most highlighted moment in your life currently?

SA: My husband and I recently booked a trip to Paris for September to celebrate our 10-year wedding anniversary! It might seem kind of cliché, but Paris has a special meaning for me. I went there in the summer of 2006 with a friend. I’d been dating my now-husband for about two years, and I was trying to decide if I should continue our relationship because it was getting serious and I wasn’t sure if I was ready for that. But when I went to Paris and saw the Eiffel Tower for the first time, all I could think was how much I wished he was there with me. That was when I realized how important he is to me and that I want to spend the rest of my life with him and see the world together. So I’ve been dreaming about going back to Paris with him since then, and it’s going to happen this year!

Outside of writing stories, what are your other interests and hobbies that you invest your time in?

SA: I love traveling, so I’m constantly researching or watching videos about different places I want to visit someday and foods I want to try.

Do you have a visual of where you see yourself in five years? How about ten years?

SA: Professionally, I’m really enjoying writing, even with all the challenges that come with it. For the first time in my life, I’ve found something that just feels right to me. So I hope I’ll still be writing in the next five and ten years, learning more about the craft and improving my skills along the way. On a more personal level, I feel extremely grateful for the life I have, and I look forward to finding out what the universe has in store for me in the future. Hopefully more trips abroad, new adventures, exciting plot
twists, and lots and lots of yummy food.

Thank you Shannon for taking the time for this interview. I really enjoyed my time with you. Don’t forget, readers, you can check out and download Crossing Realms – Part One from Amazon for FREE from July 2 to July 6, 2018.

Follow the link–>> myBook.to/CrossingRealmsPartOne

Also you can check her out at her website, shannonahn.com.

Film Recommendation: Nocturne

*Caution: May Contain Spoilers! Read at Your Own Will*

Saul Pincus. Who is the guy? Well, if you have a deep admiration for the show La Femme Nikita you would know. But for those who simply don’t, Saul is one of many individuals from the production team I met last year in Toronto for the Reunion Convention celebrating 20 years of LFN. He is now a Toronto-based editor and co-wrote and directed this independent cinematographic gem, Nocturne.
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I finally got around to watching this film, not once, but twice. Yes, I said twice. The opening few scenes was a continuous puzzle for your curiosity. I found myself wondering through the first five minutes like, “What the fuck is going on?”

This sophisticated story needs your undivided attention through and through for you to know exactly what’s going on. Multi-tasking when you hit play is not a fucking option, because guarantee suddenly the climax will catch your eye and you will just stop what you are doing in the forefront.

Picture it: One minute I am working on my photo editing from one of my current projects and then…. …BAM! Duct tape, screaming, and the screech of the tires from the car hit you. From that instant you walk away, mid-edit, grab your Smart TV remote and stop the film as you think to yourself, “What the fuck just happened? I thought this film was about an insomnia and sleep-walker?” That’s when you go back to the menu and click on the option, ‘play from the beginning.’

I should have known better. All the independent films I have saw over the years from Canada has been anything, but disappointments. It’s what I strive for with my very own storytelling. As for those who love to study film beyond the story-telling, let me tell you…

…the cinematography is on point and was so up close and personal with the scenes and the actors throughout the film. The original story itself is authentic. Nothing I ever expected from a film before. I love that. The articulate transitions between the backstories and the original story, the animations were brilliant. At the end of it all, this film was a brilliant masterpiece. A one of it’s kind. I highly suggest anyone with a love for film to take 90 minutes, give or take, of their time to watch it.

Saul, by chance if you read this. I cannot wait for more of your projects to blossom. An amazing job in the directing and writing of this film. You’ve shown you’ve learned so much in the art of film with the trail you have left so far in your career. Bravo!

Cover Release & Synopsis of Fallen Angel

I have a lot of good stuff going on for me including the continuation of my Q&A segments, as well as, updating my website & blog site. Growing my network at ease by my continuous writing and reaching out. What’s most exciting in my life, this fall is my last semester for my second college degree, then it’s off to California!!

But, let’s focus on my short term goals this summer. I am getting closer and closer with my fourth book to be published which will extend beyond just my poetry and include a few short stories I have written in a three-part installment. I am currently in the final editing phase of this book.

This collection of poetry reveals a deeper root of my seventh sense of this world. More of my spiritual side connected with my passion for nature, love, and mythology. Am I taking a bold chance? Possibly. It’s worth it though. This is me. The rawest side of all my layers.

Here is a sneak peak of a few poems & the updated and final version of the book cover that will be featured on my next book:


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#EndTheStigma – But Will It Ever End?

Screenshot_20180609-142434~2I don’t apologize in advance if this is a long ass blog, fore things need to be said. Everybody is more focused on mental health when a public figure is found dead in their home or hotel room,  rather than when a veteran or regular civilian is taking their lives due to the lack of resources and education provided to help these individuals.

Even so, the pattern is the same. We all mourn for a week or so, and move on, while the families of these public figures continue to ask, “Why?” -OR- loved ones are stained in survivor’s guilt or guilt in general for not speaking up sooner about these individuals’ problems.

In the past week we have lost two more very successful figures, Kate Spade & Anthony Bourdain. In the past week, we’ve shared sadness as fans, but also ignorant opinions arise again for those who have passed:

“He/She had all the money in the world.”

“Why would he/she leave their families behind?”

“He/she seemed so happy, they had everything.”

etc..

etc..

When will we wake up to the fact that mental health is an actual plague? It doesn’t matter what skin color you are, what sexual orientation you prefer, what identity you go by, or probably the most segregated label, what class you fall in. Rich and poor are victims of mental health, but until we all come together about this issue, fight over who has it worse on this Earth, and end the stigma.

What bothers me more than my own personal battle with mental health, this society lacks compassion and understanding for one another. It’s selfish. That in itself, is truly depressing.

I may not have followed Kate Spade much, but Anthony Bourdain was and still a favorite of mine as a writer, traveler, and foodie. He’s the reason I became a huge fan of the Travel Channel and started with culinary first at the beginning of my blogging career. He is also one of my main inspires for traveling.

This past weekend, while I was reflecting on the news, these amazing artists also made me realize, it doesn’t matter what your passions are or what you do in this lifetime. When someone stoops so low that the only answer they see is suicide, are we even able to prevent it when most of us don’t even see it coming until it’s too late? My insight, it’s fucking scary. Especially for artists’ who are consumed or battle darkness daily.

Regardless of my revelations and questions in this blog post, I want to keep fighting and educating people on mental health. I’ve been down that road and I am pretty open about it. We all go through shit in life, but it’s how well we skill ourselves towards resilience and self-care. KNOW OUR LIMITS! KNOW OUR BOUNDARIES! KNOW OUR TRIGGERS! Most importantly, know that we are not alone in this world and that we are flares for change.

If you are feeling that low currently, I want to give you a reminder; a poem I wrote in 2011 for suicide awareness called, “Not The Answer”:

“Not The Answer” (Suicidal Awareness)

To the victims,
I wish I could show you,
The beautiful side of life,
You relentlessly walked away from.

To the silent ones,
I wish you would speak up for,
The ones suffering in strife,
Reach out to the ones feeling succumb.

Don’t just turn your heads,
It could be your own kid!
Don’t be afraid to tread,
Don’t fear the worst, hope for the best.

How can I convince you?
The ones that try to run your life,
Are not your master.

How can I convince you?
That suicide is not the only escape route,
It’s really not the answer.

There shouldn’t be secrecy,
If you need help,
Find the courage to ask.

Let this poem
be your mercy.
When you’re overwhelmed,
And remove the mask.

My friends call me brave
Very few have seen
where I’ve been,
Compared to where I am now.

My main motivation,
Is my own ambition, my own talents,
So you can show the world
your own endowments.

How can I convince you?
The ones that try to run your life,
Are not your master.

How can I convince you?
That suicide is not the only escape route,
It’s really not the answer.

This poem isn’t just directed,
To those bullied in high school,
~Or~ those who dare to be different.

I also want to make a special shout out,
To the combat veterans who struggle with PTSD,
Traumatic brain injury, or depressed
for missing a limb or a few.

I’m not trying to make it all about me,
But my whole life is far from a fantasy,
Most the things I’ve listed,
I’ve been through.

I pray you see my stories as inspirations,
To find the desire and affections,
survive Lucifer’s fire.
How can I convince you?

So, how can I relate? Why did I write this poem back in the day? As an advocate for PTSD/MST, I am not afraid to share my shit. Some people fear my story, others are inspired. My name is Heather Marie and I have chronic post-traumatic stress and attention-deficit disorder. I take Zoloft & Ritalin every day and it’s sometimes a challenge to balance the two medications. Even though I first experienced trauma at the age of four and struggled years on end with school and home, as well as, deployed to Iraq at 20 years old, I was not diagnosed until the age of 23.

The past nine years was a roller coaster, but it is starting to smooth out with the knowledge I’ve gathered over the years and the boundaries I’ve set for most people and the triggers in my life. Writing has been my main outlet with years of oppressed memories and emotions. I still have my bad days when therapy gets intense with washed up memories coming back to the forefront. I also lean on music and film to distress my symptoms and express myself. I don’t drink anymore due to my past of carelessness with alcohol and medication abuse in the past. I know what my triggers are, so I avoid them to the best of my ability. I also have alternative therapies that assist me medically.

I know I’m here for a purpose. That keeps me moving forward, never backwards. I hope we don’t just toss this subject aside until the next public figure decides it’s the only answer to escape the pain in this world. We need to end the stigma for ALL who suffer or strive with mental health.

Film Recommendation: The Life & Death of Marsha P. Johnson

lgbt-pride-resistance-fistPSA: Live fearlessly. Live in your own truth. I always have and always will through my art and my blog. If I can educate individuals along the way, the better the cause for each mission I have chosen in my life. One being, the LGBT community. It is even more essential now than ever in America. Individualism is a dying breed in this country. Either people fear what they don’t understand or just allow hatred to guide their opinions.

I refuse to bring hatred into my beliefs, whether I am advocating for PTSD/MST in the military or equality rights in the minority of this country. You can support both idealism of patriotism and equality. Which both are endangered due to the extreme polarized environment that our country is currently enduring in America. I think it’s time to step back and reflect, before we let our emotions guide any more of our decisions in this country.

With that being said, June is Pride month. Regardless of the conspiracies of the “gay agenda” I will say this, the LGBT community has come a long way in the short amount of my adulthood time. I served during the “don’t ask, don’t tell” and was still enlisted when Obama denounced it. Coming from small town America, where LGBT members are discriminated in the small minded community, or even killed, it still astounds me of how the country has become more accepting over the years of the new millennium.

As we head into Pride to celebrate ourselves as individuals of the LGBT community, remember this: pride does not come from others’ acceptance, it comes from within. Be proud of yourself even in the ugliest times. Also remember, It wasn’t the white gay man who forged and solidify this movement like Hollywood wants to falsify with their shit version of Stonewall Inn. It was the P.O.C. transgendered women who are the structure of this movement, so think twice before you seclude anybody, not just this month, but any day of the year, in anything. Know where you come from and who initially built the path for you. Marsha P. Johnson. Say her name.

That is why the documentary that was made to speak out about her questionable suicide in the late 1980s is another film I recommend. Not only does it show the negligence of the police and case work for Marsha’s justice, it gives the whole backstory of how life was prior to the whole movement influenced by the entertainment industry (Will&Grace, Ellen DeGeneres, even Roseanne). It’s educational towards the Stonewall Inn and gives us a realization of who put their best feet forward to create this massive path of acceptance in front of us.

At the same time, we have a long way to go for acceptance within the the community, so take the time to reflect on this post. What can you do to open your mind beyond the gay and lesbian stereotypes? The start, educating yourself on the history of the LGBT community as a whole. Get to know Marsha P. Johnson through her friends and loved ones in this Netflix original documentary. But also, grab a box of tissues!