Shannon White

  • Shannon White, Academic TransferShannonWhite_web

    Winner of the Grand Prize Prose Award for Volume 15, Shannon White writes engaging narrative with a deep undercurrent. He graciously took time to speak with us about his prize-winning story, his peanut larcenies, and the creativity he brings to coaching football.

    Illuminations:  What was the motivation behind your powerful story, "Black Violas"?

    Shannon:  I wanted to write a story that would first and fore be A-grade. I also wanted the story to be unique and thought provoking, encouraging the reader to find the hidden meaning and to self-reflect.

    I:  "Black Violas" won the Grand Prize Prose Award. Did you realize just how good the story was?

    S:  I had no idea I would win. This was my first attempt at writing fiction, and I was just excited that the story turned out so well.

    I:  It turned out well, indeed! You coach football for Lincoln Public Schools. Do you see sports and creativity dovetailing? How so?

    S:  Creativity is a crucial key in the success of any football program. As a coach, you have to be imaginative in the way you look at your processes and methods of coaching. You have to find new ways to teach the same techniques and at the same time keep the athlete connected. As a coach, you also have to be creative in your team strategies and how you approach beating certain opponents.

    I:  Makes sense! What books or stories have moved you the most, and how does what you read influence your writing?

    S:  I read a lot of fiction when I was younger. As I got older and more involved with my professional career, I started focusing on non-fiction material. Growing up I was a huge fan of Tolkien (20 years before the movies). I also read works by Eldridge Cleaver, Alex Haley, Richard Wright and many other African-American writers.

    I:  Good stuff. How do you see yourself as a writer in ten years?

    S:  I have to admit after writing "Black Violas," I started getting the bug to write more. I am in the process of doing research into my next project. I want to write a more extensive fiction work on the Gullah/Black Seminoles. I plan on writing for the rest of my life in one form or the other.

    I:  That's good to hear, Shannon. What advice do you have for others who want to write fiction?

    S:  My advice may sound weird, but I feel like if you are planning to write, don't read other people's works. Clear your mind and draw from your life experiences and emotions. Do plenty of research before you start. On a personal note, I like to look at my stories like scenes in a movie. I visualize the scene and then fill in the details.

    I:  What do you see as the most rewarding aspect of writing? What's the most agonizing aspect?

    S:  The reward comes in having created this world in your head that you can share with everyone. The agonizing aspect is waiting to hear what other people have to say about your work.

    I:  I think most writers would agree with you there. OK, zany question of the day, what was something you did as a kid or teenager that your parents never found out about?

    S:  My dad used to keep jars of honey roasted peanuts on the top shelf of his bar in the basement. I would sneak and eat some until finally I noticed they were almost all gone. I went to the store, bought him some more, and ate those down to where I thought he had them before. Either he never found out or he never said anything.