Interview with Finalist Shanea Strachan

Shanea Strachan is one of the finalists for our 2022 Story of the Year contest. Shanea was born and raised in Freeport, Grand Bahama, The Bahamas. She started writing as a child and describes writing as her first love. In 2013, she published her first book, a memoir entitled, 'Life Doesn't JUST Go On', which was inspired by a letter that she wrote to her father one month before his untimely passing.

Shanea's writing has opened many doors of opportunity for her, the most notable being the 2020-2021 United Kingdom's Chevening Scholarship. She is also a screenwriter and has produced a number of films. Shanea continues to dedicate time to her writing in all forms, from screenplays to short stories, poetry, and songs. Writing is a daily practice that she nurtures with the hopes that it can continue to reach and inspire others on a global scale.


How long have you been writing/what inspired you to begin?

I have been writing for more than two decades. I began writing as a little girl. Writing is my first love, and it has always been a way for me to express my thoughts, feelings, and emotions because I am a deep thinker, very quiet and reserved. Self-expression is what inspired me to begin writing as it was very therapeutic for me.


Tell us more about your book. Why did you write it?

Conch Tales is a story inspired by Bahamian Culture. I wrote this story for a number of reasons, I really wanted to show the beauty of the relationship between a niece and her Uncle. I myself am an Auntie, I have 7 nephews and I value our relationships, these types of relationships aren’t often highlighted in books, stories, or films so I wanted to bring that perspective in showing that in a healthy positive light. I also wanted to share Bahamian culture and tackle a serious topic but in a light-hearted way, which is conch preservation and poaching. Conch is a huge part of Bahamian culture and I wanted to bring some awareness to conch preservation and protecting marine life along with sharing Bahamian folktales and mythology. I wrote this story because I wanted to challenge myself as a writer in thinking imaginatively and creatively. I also hope that this story can be adapted into an animated film.


What advice would you give to a writer working on their first story?

The advice I would give to a writer working on their first story is to have fun with it. Be gentle and patient with yourself in writing. Proofread your work, and it’s always helpful to get feedback from others. They can give input, they can also catch grammatical or punctuation errors that may be missed, and lastly, enjoy the process.


What comes first for you - the plot or the characters - and why?

For me definitely the plot, I usually begin stories with an outline of the scenes and then I add the characters and their scenarios into the scene.


What are the easiest/most difficult parts of the writing process for you?

The easiest part of writing for me is that I come up with ideas very easily but the most difficult part for me is developing the story. Sometimes I may experience writer’s block so I may be stuck when I am writing, or other times it may feel as if I’m running on. With this, it’s all about finding balance for me and knowing when a story is good. Finding the balance that it’s not about the length but about the quality of the story.


What prompted you to write for Storyshares?

I was prompted to write for Storyshares because I really love the mission. I am intentional with everything that I do and the things that I choose to be a part of. Before I submit to anything I look and see if It aligns with my morals and beliefs as a writer and a creative. I wanted to be a part of that mission of spreading a love of reading and improving literary skills across the globe. Storyshares is a great platform to do, and I love the impact and the opportunities provided by Storyshares. This inspired me to be a part because I do believe the greatest prize is making an impact and a difference in the lives of others.


What is your preferred writing environment?

I usually write in a cozy place that is aesthetically pleasing. The environment is important to me. I love background noise like the sound of the fan spinning or writing on a rainy day to the sound of raindrops. I also enjoy writing to music. The music is often soulful like the sounds of Anita Baker or 80s & 90s R&B.


Do you have a standard routine when it comes to approaching writing?

I don’t have a standard routine when it comes to writing. I approach writing when there’s an idea or words in my mind, I either start writing them in a notebook first and then I move to writing on my laptop.


What tips do you have for overcoming and dealing with writer’s block?

With writer’s block, a tip that I would give is to be patient with yourself. Give it time. Step away from the writing and revisit. I would also suggest reading something similar to what you are writing or watching a film to get re-inspired. I have also overcome writer’s block by changing my diet, eating more fruits and vegetables, and drinking more water for a few days.


Where do your ideas come from?

The majority of my ideas when it comes to writing come from experiences that I’ve had or conversations that I’ve heard or engaged in. Sometimes my ideas can come from music as well.


What question do you wish you’d been asked about your work? What is the answer?

The question I wish that I’d been asked about my work probably is where do I see the story going? The answer would be I would love to see this story adapted into an animated short film. I am also a filmmaker and every film that I create begins with a story. I think this would be a beautiful story to bring to life and it would certainly be my first animation film.