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A Conversation with Connor Shane, Author of A Warm Touch

A Warm Touch

Connor Shane
Independently Published (2022)
ISBN: 979-8367615197

Connor Shane is an “almost” 20-year-old author currently making his way through community college. He hopes to become an ecologist one day in order to help better understand and protect the wildlife of our planet.

Connor loves a story that carries a message and believes art is one of the most beautifl ways to teach lessons, allowing us to live our best days. He prefers deep discussions about life as opposed to throwing opinions about the weather into the wind. He’s also a serious gamer.

Connor goes by the pen name Curon. A Warm Touch is his debut novel.

Hi Connor, welcome to Reader Views! Tell us about your writing journey.

When I started writing it was a bit of a back-and-forth at first, really. It was during my freshman year of high school. I kinda felt like while most kids were trying to figure out their new relationships and classroom woes, I was over in the corner infatuated with what kind of artist I wanted to be. I know being an artist is a sorta ‘temporary fling’ that a lotta people go through, but this felt like something more to me. I had always known that I possessed a desire to create stories. I was doing it before I even knew who I really was, back when I was just a small boy. I would be playing video games all day, and a good chunk of that time was spent swinging my toys around. I’d be talking to myself about a series of events and battles that my favorite characters would enact, stories that I wanted to see in the games I played. It just felt really satisfying and kinda relieving to have some sorta outlet to play out those ideas of mine.

I think that desire to make stories is what led me to finally decide to be a novel writer. I tried making videos for YouTube, but I had no interesting ideas. I tried being a visual artist, but I quickly decided I couldn’t be an advocate for my own art style. A few months went by, and I eventually settled back on writing. I had tried writing initially, but I guess I felt like I wanted to try my other options first. Now that I look at it, I think it’s kinda cool that I came right back to where I started- in a good way!

Have you always wanted to be an author?

I mean, sorta? As I mentioned, I’ve been making stories up in my mind for as long as I can literally remember having ideas. I suppose if we take ‘author’ to mean ‘a lover of story-making,’ then I guess I can say yes! I didn’t become a novel writer until I really set myself on focusing my creative ability toward writing words on a page, but I’ve always wanted to let other people know about what I was dreaming up! It’s just always felt right, I guess!

What made you want to sit down and write a book?

This is harder to answer clearly than I would’ve thought. Perhaps no true artist can really pinpoint ‘exactly’ what drives them to make their most meaningful work, but I can try! When I started writing as a serious hobby, I just wanted to see where it would go. I didn’t care about any sorta length when it came to the fanfictions I started out with. I just wrote out the ideas I was most excited about and then posted them online. None of them were very long, so I considered them short stories meant to get me going. I never really saw it as being a long-term plan or anything- I just wanted to write!

Once I really got into making original stories, I began to slowly but surely feel that I was going somewhere. With each short story and poem I uploaded on Booksie.com, I grew this sensation inside me that said I wanted to make a full-on novel. I kept on making longer and longer stories, each one serving to expand my ability and desire to write deeper and more complex character narratives and messages. About two years after I started writing seriously, I suppose it just sorta happened once I finished one of my stories and uploaded it. It was that time when I thought I was ready, and just like before, I wanted to see where it would go if I tried to do ‘something more’.

What is A Warm Touch about?

 How much do you wanna hear me try to sell my story? I’ve always wanted to avoid this when sharing my story, but oh well! I can certainly say this first novel is about friendships and mental health. They say to ‘write what you know’, and I couldn’t say I didn’t do that here.

The friendship aspect is a discussion of what it really means to be someone’s friend. How can we learn about the sort of connection we have with the people in our lives, and why it’s important to better work out with those people what we mean to one another and why we’re with them at all. It’s about better defining our friendships and trying to really see the deeper parts of them, even when it’s really tough to do so. I think it allows the characters to become a version of themselves both alone and together that couldn’t have formed if they chose to leave their relationships as something superficial and empty.

The mental health part really continues the friendship discussion but it focuses it onto oneself. It’s a reflection of how complicated and scary our own minds can appear, and what a journey it often ends up being to really look at  ourselves and have a talk. The characters open up their own relationship with themselves as they learn more and work out their connections with their friends, and all of it lets them understand what’s going on in their brains so much more. The happiness they feel together in the end is born from a long line of very emotional dances and battles on the inside and outside for these kids, yet it somehow ends up being worth it for them!

What was your inspiration behind the storyline?

 I took from a mixture of my life’s details. The humanoid animal characters came from my desire to take what I love most about humans and animals and combine them. I find these sorts of characters to be rather cute and very expressive in all forms of art, and I wanted that to be a main symbol of my story. They aren’t just humans, they are a representation of creativity and uniqueness as a whole! I’m growing up in an era where the internet gives light to so much self-identity and unique discovery that it amazes me! I’ve been blessed with the ability to appreciate all this creativity, and so I have my story characters as a mirror of that! The premise of it being in the future is more based on the books that influenced me. Books by Robert A. Heinlein really motivated me here, I believe!

The whole concept of having a version of life that is a kind of satirical warning/commentary on the modern day political dramas really fascinated me about that man’s work, and so I figured it could be cool to have that in my story as well. The conflict of friendship and mental health all sprung my own struggles, of course! I’ve been very, very focused on bettering my mental state as much as possible throughout the past couple years, and I feel I can say a lot about how that sort of path can pan out. I’ve had many online friendships, ones that ended up focusing on thoughts and feelings towards one another more than anything else, honestly, and so I feel I have some ideas to say about that kind of thing as well!

Did you have a preconceived idea about how you wanted your story to play out or did the plot line develop over time?

 So, this is sorta funny. I tend to write in three phases: planning, writing, editing. For my novel this wasn’t different at all, but it became more complex with time (as all things do!). When I first finished my book, as I was about to head on to publishing and all, I suddenly stopped everything and said, “You know what? I need to rewrite this.”

It was kind of an epiphany of sorts. I was in my room, thinking about the ending of my story and how it played out with the rest of the narrative, and I found that I wasn’t satisfied. I felt that the main ‘villain’, Clous, wasn’t incorporated into the entire story as much as I wanted him to be, and I wanted to delve more into the psychological aspects of the main characters’ lives. So, I redid it. I did all three phases again, and wrote a completely new version of the story! I believe I actually made some small references to the original story in this new version, which naturally made me smile. The original version is available publicly on Booksie.com, actually! The new version did have some slight expansions of the scenes made as I was actually writing out the story. I always find that when I’m writing the story for real, I can thread together so many more details and emotions than when I’m just making the plan for the order of events! I do like to plan out a simplified order of what’s going to happen before-hand just so I don’t end up getting lost or making a logical fallacy or something. My philosophy tends to be that if something’s written down, I can’t forget it! Probably. Hehe.

How much of the story came as a surprise to you as you were writing? Did any of your characters end up doing something you hadn’t planned on, taking the story in a new direction?

 I suppose what I said in the last question about suddenly wanting to rewrite the entire story fits as an answer here! That’s funny. But besides that, I guess I sorta surprised myself with two characters: Clous and Katherine. I didn’t originally plan on making them TOO emotionally deep and vulnerable as Similic and Drift, but I guess that sorta changed as I wrote. I hate having a character exist solely for one dumb purpose and that’s it. I really do love a story for its complexities and realism found through depth, and I guess that’s what made me write Clous and Katherine into something more than just an antithesis for Similic and Drift. I wanted them to seem ‘more bad’ and stuff at first, but with the rewrite I did, I seriously decided to put in more to them.

Clous wasn’t just some insane evil, he was a guy who lacked love in his early life and just ended up falling off to the outer reaches of society, left to his own machinations so much to where he self-isolated himself entirely with his corrupted conceptions and conclusions about society and love. Katherine is a jerk only because she doesn’t know what else to do, it’s how she’s grown up to defend herself. She didn’t have much warm love in her early life, and so she’s scared of really letting in someone like Drift, and lets off nasty remarks as a sort of aut0-defense since she has no clue how else to really act towards people. I wanted to see these characters become more understandable and realistic, and I’m so glad I did!

How did you develop your protagonists, Similic and Drift? What motivates them?

One of the main things about Similic and Drift is that they’re very much just ‘people’. They don’t have the luxury of being the universe’s chosen ones or anything like that. They are two people living in their society, and they have no deus-ex-machina stuff going on to help them for magical reasons. However, they still have special aspects about them. They are able to tap into their creativity in unique ways, and their relationship with their thoughts and their loved ones is what gives their stories the ability to become meaningful for us in real life, I feel. They are just like us in that they are normal in some ways and special in other ways. They’re motivated by their desires, and that’s really it. They each feel it is important to who they are as a person to better their friendships and their mental stability, since not doing so would jeopardize their self-worth. They don’t want to feel like a waste of space, so they push on even though they’re plagued by the idea that nothing in life matters. They have things that matter to them, and that’s what they focus on.

Who is the most interesting character development-wise in A Warm Touch?

Is it really fair to ask me? I’m likely to say that everyone is the most interesting! Hehe. But anyway, I feel like all the main characters have something to offer in terms of what they learn about themselves and their lives, especially with Ilius, Ninzurith, and Drift.

To really touch on one in particular, though, I’ll go with Clous again. He has a transition from wanting to literally end society as a whole to instead thinking that maybe it’s worth it to let everyone live on. He’s been dragged down his own mental rabbit-hole so much to where he can’t fathom a good reason why society should continue on. He was abandoned by everyone, and he can’t stop focusing on all the nasty things we do to each other. Abusive romance, aggressive politics, technological takeover of nature…. It’s been affecting him to where he doesn’t relate to anyone anymore. Well, except for Similic and Drift, that is! He is only able to change his thinking pattern because of the experiences he gets into with this pairing of a wolf and a kangaroo. It’s not an easy relationship, and it takes a while, but it happens. The three of them come to know each other far more than they could’ve ever realized, and that connection between them is what stops Clous in the end. If he can have that level of wholesome joy with Similic and Drift, and see the effort they put into bettering their other friendships, then perhaps he could see that happening throughout the rest of society as well!

Which character in your book are you least likely to get along with and why?

 Hm. To be honest, it’d have to be Katherine- and that’s the point. She is based on someone I knew in middle school, actually, and that’s referring to her lack of empathy during conversation. I tend to be way more sensitive toward what people tell me than I’d like to be, and so Katherine’s dry and completely honest attitude with how she comments on things and people would probably make me limit our contact. I’d contract her negativity easily, and I don’t need more of that!

What was the most challenging aspect of writing A Warm Touch? How about with regards to research?

Gosh, well the hardest thing was probably keeping my heart open throughout the whole story. Writing about the characters’ heartaches had to come directly from myself, from my own heart and my own series of fear and triumph with myself and my friends in real life. I needed to place this story into a picture frame that would solidify the lessons and experiences I’ve gained so that anyone else could see them, but it wouldn’t be so easy! I felt those emotions again, both the good, the bad, and the valley in-between. I had to be ready to talk about my feelings from different perspectives, not just my own. I sometimes felt like I was mocking myself, letting out the harsher thoughts within me, and that naturally didn’t put a smile on my face at times. I do think it was worth it, though, I really do!

What kind of reaction to your writing do you most seek from your reading audience? 

I want everyone to become absolutely OBSESSED with it! Kidding. I feel that what a person gets from a particular art piece can be subjective a lot of the time, and so I don’t try to think of what I want everyone to feel when reading my novel. I just say that whatever they get from it is good for me! Of course, I think most people will pick up on the friendship and psychological parts of the book, and that is the main point. I just hope this story could allow someone to care for their relationships and their own mind even more than they did before, since I think a lot of people don’t really focus that much on those things as they should. Life is very busy nowadays, so I’d love for us to just consider things like our relationships in a  new light just a little more often!

What do your family and friends think about your writing? How do they support your writing career?

 I’m very lucky to say they all support me entirely. My parents have been very good about letting me find my own passions in life, and only stepping in to offer pragmatic advice on how to go about what I want to do. They’ve always said that if I want to write, then I should keep going at it! My friends have said this sort of stuff to me as well, especially since they themselves are creative artists as well! I’ve received nothing but encouragement and positive criticisms from them so far in my life, and I’m so thankful!

How did it feel sharing your work with them for the first time?

 Sharing anything for the first time ends up being horrifying, but I guess it wasn’t anything so bad for me. I was nervous, of course, but I was able to find enough determination in me to just present my stuff by putting it online and giving it to my parents. I think the main motivator was the idea that my goal was to share my ideas, and trying to remind myself that I have always believed my ideas are worth sharing. I couldn’t get what I wanted if I chose to give up and hide behind the wall of fear. Naturally, it really does get easier as you do it more and more.

What do you like to read and which authors have inspired your own writing?

Hm, let’s go through a couple I can remember! The first and probably biggest was Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series. I used to read all his books as if I were some sorta book-reading-demon, and I didn’t stop until I was completely done with everything he’d written of this mythological world back a few years ago. The fantasy, the relatable characters, the simple yet emotional descriptions, it really did take me in. Then there were Robert A. Heinlein’s books, as I’ve mentioned. He introduced me to how funny and eye-opening it can be to experience a story that openly talks about politics without fear or censorship. I wanted to explore that idea of fearless writing which exposed difficult ideas. There was also a series of more ‘miscellaneous’ books for me that I believe propelled my passion for literature forward. There was the Five Nights at Freddy’s novel series that I read for a little while. I like those since they were also relatable and played with a mixture of realism and fiction that I found intriguing. There were books like Catcher in the Rye, Birdy, and more recently, White Fang that all helped me understand the capability of what a written story can do. They all have wholesome yet complex messages about our emotions and actions as humans in this world, and they certainly added to the shaping of who I am today.

What do you like to do outside of writing?

Playing video games, reading, going to college for wildlife conservation, volunteering at various animal care shelters, watching movies with my parents, playing games and role-playing with friends on Discord, and working at the San Diego ZOo Safari Park…. I try to be varied but also allow most of what I do to somehow play into the other things I do, sort of like a story!

What are your plans for future writing projects? What are you working on now?

 I have some new fanfictions I’d like to play with, as well as more official novels! I haven’t written any serious fanfics in a while, and I think I’d like to step back to that. I think creating art is a really beautiful way of showing your love for something, and so I figure why not! The other official novels include two sequels to A Warm Touch, and then a different series entirely that’ll focus on the intricacies of wildlife conservation.

Where can readers connect with you and learn more about you and your work? 

My fanfics can be found here at this link on Fanfic.net:
https://www.fanfiction.net/u/10038066/

Most of my unofficial original works can be found here on Booksie.com:

https://www.booksie.com/users/curon-238850

Based on your debut experience, what advice can you give aspiring authors?

Oh jeez, uh…. I suppose I’ll keep this simple, since I hate getting overwhelmed by too much advice! I gotta say that the most important thing to remember is: KEEP TRYING. It doesn’t matter how many negative comments you get, or how hard it becomes to write out a scene. It doesn’t matter how long it takes, or how ‘weird’ your idea is. Just go for it, and just keep on trying to do exactly what you want with it. Perfection doesn’t exist, so remember that you’ll do perfect as long as you don’t ever stop trying. Taking breaks is completely fine, and having a back-and-forth with your feelings toward your work is totally understandable. Having goals in mind of why you want to write and knowing more and more what your stories mean to you personally is so, so, so helpful! Make your story-writing feel like a really fun game that transforms your day into something meaningful and profound. This is your legacy, so please make it into a memory that you’d be proud of! This world NEEDS your stories, it really, really does!

Do you have anything else you’d like to share with our readers?

Time is frustratingly limited, so I thank everyone for taking some of their precious time to read this interview! Whatever you may have gotten from it, I am excited to see what you all will do in your lifetime! Please remember that you have something special within you, and that will always be true. Maybe you don’t yet know what that is, but I never did anything impossible or different that let me find my true self. I believe in you, and I know for a fact it’s worth it for you to believe in you too!

Connor, thank you so much for joining us today at Reader Views.  It’s been a pleasure learning more about you and your work!

It’s been an honor to share with you all today! Thank you so much, and I hope you have a wonderful day!

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