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A Night With Women’s Fiction

A Night With Women’s Fiction

by Tif Sweeney

On Wednesday, October 19, a panel of local women’s fiction authors was featured at the Kirkwood Public Library, including Judy Merrill Larsen, Susan McBride, and Sharon Shinn.  To kick off the event, the library released a special pre-event interview with the authors, and despite the Cardinals playoff game taking place at the same time, a few dozen fans appeared to bask in the book-ish love.


Throughout the evening, the ladies answered a multitude of questions posted by one of the librarians.  Here are a few of my personal favorites:

What books have most influenced you?

  • McBride:  Nancy Drew mysteries
  • Larsen:  To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • Shinn:  Everything she read before the age of 18 years, which was a true variety of novels – Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell, The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand, Exodus by Leon Uris.

What do you think makes a good story?

  • Shinn:  Character.  Plot can make a good book, but it is the characters that bring her back to the book again.
  • Larsen:  Character and voice.
  • McBride:  Character is what brings out her strongest feelings towards a book.

How did you choose your genre(s)?

  • McBride:  She has written many different things, from contemporary to mystery to historical romance.  She wrote what she likes to read, but she has come to discover that she feels most comfortable with women’s fiction.
  • Larsen:  The genre chose her!  She did not feel comfortable elsewhere.
  • Shinn:  Ditto to Larsen!

What is your favorite book that you have written?

  • Shinn:  Quatrain
  • McBride:  Little Black Dress
  • Larsen:  She particularly enjoyed writing the final scene in her novel, All the Numbers.

How do you choose the locations for your novels?

  • Shinn:  Because she writes science fiction and fantasy, the location completely depends on the plot and her very own imagination.
  • Larsen:  She has to know her location, being able to picture the details.
  • McBride:  For a while, she was afraid to write about her current location here in St. Louis.  She was more comfortable with having some distance, while still being familiar with the area.  In her latest release, she decided to bring her story closer to home and now wants to continue with the local scene.

The evening then ended with a brief reading from each of the authors as well as some personalized signing time.  As a fan of my local literaries, I once again left feeling inspired, not only to read but also to challenge my own writing endeavors.

For more information on the featured authors, you can visit their websites:


If you like this article, you may also enjoy some earlier pieces on one of the panel members, Susan McBride:

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