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Author Spotlight: Shea Ernshaw talks The Wicked Deep


I'm so excited to be featuring Shea Ernshaw on the blog today! Her debut, The Wicked Deep, was released just yesterday and it's one of my most-anticipated books of 2018! Described as Hocus Pocus and Practical Magic meets the Salem Witch trials, The Wicked Deep is the story of three sisters on a quest for revenge—and how love may be the only thing powerful enough to stop them.

In addition to receiving a bunch of stellar reviews, The Wicked Deep has also been chosen as:

B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated Debuts of 2018

B&N Teen Blog Most Anticipated YA Fantasy of 2018

Goodreads Most Anticipated YA Novels of 2018

BookBubs 14 New Books 'Harry Potter" fans will love in 2018

And now, here's my chat with Shea!

Hi, Shea! Welcome and congrats on the release of The Wicked Deep. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?

Thank you much for having me! I’m excited to chat about all things bookish!

The inspiration for THE WICKED DEEP actually began with a different book entirely. I was writing a story about a traveling carnival, when I decided to add three sisters into the plot. They were sub characters, that only entered the story toward the second half of the book, but it didn’t take long for me to realize that these three sisters were the most fascinating part of the story and that they needed their very own book! So I scraped that originally story, and began writing about the Swan Sisters. The rest of THE WICKED DEEP just seemed to fall into place around the sisters. They were the spark of an idea, as if they were begging for their story to be told, and I was just there to write it down.

The Wicked Deep is one of my most-anticipated reads of 2018! As a writer, I’m always intrigued by atmosphere and how authors go about crafting the best mood to complement their story. What are your tips for this?

I love that it’s one of your most anticipated reads—thank you so much!!! :)

I too am enthralled by atmosphere and setting in stories, and I feel that it’s one of the most important aspects of writing. If the place doesn’t feel quite right, it can draw you right out of the story. For me, when crafting the mood and tone for a book, I like to draw on imagery. I use Pinterest quite a bit when I’m first outlining—creating a collection of photos and images that I can turn to while writing. Also, I listen to music that helps to inspire the story. I used to only listen to music while outlining, but now I’ve been listening to it more and more while writing, and finding that I really love it!

I’m a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing The Wicked Deep teach you?

Oh yes, great question!!! I learned a lot about voice while writing this story. The three Swan sisters posed an interesting challenge in that at times they were the heroes, and other times they were the villains. So it was a careful balance, crafting their voices, wanting them to feel authentic and flawed and cruel, but also hoping readers sympathize with them from time to time. But it was also a lot of fun!

What part of the writing process do you find most challenging and how do you tackle it?

Generally, I really enjoy all of the writing process, from outlining to drafting to revisions. It’s all a big pile of clay I get to mold and reshape, until it looks and feels just right. But there have been moments with every story I’ve written, where I find myself struggling. Sometimes it’s writing a scene of dialog other times it’s coming up with a solution to a plot hole. I have a few tricks when this happens:

  • If I’m stuck, I find that handwriting notes on a big pad of paper seems to free my creativity. Even if I don’t know what I’m going to write down, I will start with writing a question to myself (i.e. the problem that needs to be fixed). And usually before I’ve even finished writing the question, my mind is already crafting the solution. I think handwriting has a way of unsticking the brain. We get so trapped in our computers and that blinking cursor, we forget that writing is a creative endeavor. We need to free ourselves.

  • Caffeine. When my brain feels slow and sluggish, a strong cup of tea is often the perfect remedy.

  • Fresh air. Sometimes you just need to leave your computer screen and go outside. I’ll take the dog for a walk or just stand on my back deck taking big deep breaths. I also love to write outside, I find that the open space seems to clear my head.

What do you admire most about Penny Talbot?

I love her devotion—to her family, her friends, even her town. Often, in high school, you just can’t wait to flee the place where you grew up. But Penny feels a connection to her home, even for all its faults. I love that she knows where she belongs and that she wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.

What are you reading, or otherwise currently infatuated with?

SO MANY GREAT BOOKS LATELY! Sometimes I wish all these brilliant authors would just take a small break for a moment and stop writing such compelling books, so we could all get caught up with our TBR piles! J Right now I’m reading A DARKER SHADE OF MAGIC by V.E. Schwab, because it’s been on my must-read list for too long. And I’m also reading BEASTS OF EXTRAORDINARY CIRCUMSTANCE by Ruth Emmie Long. It’s an adult fiction, but so quirky and wondrous that I’m in love with it!

And finally, what’s the most important lesson you’ve learned so far in your publishing career?

Write for yourself. You just have to ignore what everyone else is doing—keep your eyes on your own paper. It’s easy to get caught up with book trends and think that you have to chase whatever hot new genre everyone is talking about. But only you can write your own authentic story. And I think we each have one—that story (or stories) that need to be written. Write the one that is burning a hole in your chest. That will torch you alive if you don’t get it out. That’s the one that matters.

Many thanks go out to Shea for taking the time to tell us more about The Wicked Deep, as well as sharing some actionable tips on how to un-stick your creativity, and also how to go about crafting the atmosphere that best complements your story. Be sure to add Shea's haunting debut to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy RIGHT NOW from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, IndieBound, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore.

Follow Shea on Twitter at @SheaErnshaw. For more information, see her beautiful author website at

And, as always,


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