I really enjoyed Theresa Shaver’s series “Stranded”, Land, Sea, and City (novella). Recently, the final book of the series, Home, was published, bringing together all the story lines her readers loved. I love talking with the writers who bring us fascinating books in the survival/prepper niche, so I was thrilled when Theresa agreed to answer my somewhat-nosy questions! (I reviewed Land and Sea here.)
Theresa Shaver: My favorite hobby is reading and a few years ago I started reading more and more apocalyptic fiction. Without even really thinking about it, I started to stock more food in the house. When I found myself Googling how to can meat I knew I was a prepper!
So far I’ve kept it to being able to feed my family for 3 months, but my husband now gives me survival gear for Christmas and birthdays! I knew I was hooked when, instead of jewelry for my birthday, he gave me a hand cranked radio and I was thrilled.
The Book series wasn’t so much about prepping as survival. I had read so many books about this type of situation where the characters did really stupid things that I wanted to tell a story that focused more on common sense. Prepping is great but if you are far from home you should be able to make it with the right attitude and common sense. (Yes I’m an optimist!)
Survival Mom: Has preparedness become a big trend in Canada as much as in the U.S.?
Theresa Shaver: I honestly don’t know of a large prepper movement here in Canada. There is a large rural population that does it naturally. I do know of many lovely Mormon families that put back a lot and I covet their storage system. LOL
Survival Mom: Why did you decide to write about high school kids as your main characters? Is the Young Adult market your target audience? Based on reviews it seems that an awful lot of adults are reading the books.
Theresa Shaver: Originally the Stranded Series was going to be about a bunch of moms and their kids that get stuck in Disneyland. I had a really hard time writing about what could happen to little kids so I switched it to teens. There is just something I really admire about that age group. They get so much garbage thrown at them in this day and age and they manage to make it through.
I think we underestimate teenagers and most of them would be resilient enough to survive. Maybe even better than adults. So when I released Land, it was aimed at that market so I was hugely surprised at what happened. So many adults read the book and the reviews just blew me away!
I tried to put goodness and hope into my books. We all know how bad it can get and we see every day how horrible humans can be to each other but we also know how good we can be if we just give a little bit back. (Again with the optimism. LOL)
Survival Mom: What kind of feedback have you received from teens?
Theresa Shaver: What a surprise that was! I had 3 teachers send me mail letting me know that they were using Land in their classrooms. They told me that their students loved the book and would try to make deals for extra homework if she would read more than a chapter a day! The main feedback from them was that they liked how the characters were portrayed as smart and kind. They like how there was a mix of personalities that showed how they were different than how their high school images were perceived.
Survival Mom: What has been the hardest part of the writing process?
Theresa Shaver: The honest answer to that is balance. I’ve been so lucky with how easy the stories seem to flow out of me that the hardest part is finding a balance with my family. I have been a stay at home Mom since my oldest was born and my focus has always been on them. Now that I have a “job”, we have to find a balance for both. The other hard part was even if I don’t like the characters I’m writing about, I still have to do it (SEA).
Survival Mom: What did you learn from writing the first book?
Theresa Shaver: I learned that I was a fool for waiting so long to do it! Now that I am more than just a wife and mother I feel more complete and having my own paycheque is a really great feeling. I also learned that not everyone is going to like my stories and that is okay. It’s my story to tell and as long as I’m happy with it than nothing else matters.
Survival Mom: I’ve noticed that you interact with your readers a lot. What feedback have they given you that has been helpful? Any unfair criticisms?
Theresa Shaver: I love the feedback I get and try to use it as best I can. With Land, a lot of people said that things were too easy for the kids and they were way too lucky. I knew that Sea would have to be grittier and I think I showed that in their journey. I have also heard that they were too trigger happy. In Home I tried to address that issue and the consequences of that.
Criticisms: The DOG! Holy Cow I can’t believe what a sticking point that was for so many people! I am a huge dog lover but I’m also of the firm belief that an animal is an animal. Dogs are so special and loyal, and I thought I had made it clear that that dog wasn’t going to be leaving his master’s grave. I stand by them leaving the dog in that situation.
Survival Mom: Do you have a favorite character? Which one is most like you?
Theresa Shaver: It’s definitely Josh! I love his humor and his huge heart. I don’t think that any of the characters are like me. I took what I want my kids to be when they grow up and added it to each and every one of them.
Survival Mom: What is the most asked question by readers?
Theresa Shaver: Where is HOME!!!!!!! It was published on May 8!
Survival Mom: What is next for Theresa Shaver and the Stranded series?
Theresa Shaver: (At the time of this interview…) I’m in the middle of writing Home and that’s the one everyone is waiting for but I didn’t want it to end there. I think that many people could manage to survive this event during spring, summer and fall, now try and survive an Alberta winter at -30 with an even higher wind chill! I really want to tell that story so at some point I will write Winter, A Stranded Novel.
Survival Mom: How can readers stay informed about your books and future plans?
Theresa Shaver: Right now I have my Amazon Author’s Page. In the near future I plan on launching a Facebook page dedicated to the series and possibly a Web Page as well.