Ride of Your Life: Shevi Arnold Author Interview

Ride of Your Life, By Shevi Arnold

Ride of Your Life, By Shevi Arnold

A dozen years ago, I met Shevi Arnold through SCBWI. She was one of the most helpful and supportive members on the discussion board, answering the myriad questions about writing, formatting, marketing, and the like that I and other neophyte writers had. When SCBWI opened up a new area on self-publishing, Shevi was right there, giving active leadership and input. Since then, I’ve gotten to know her better through several groups she has started on Facebook, and she continues to be a wonderful and knowledgeable resource for indie authors. Shevi manages to do all this while doing her own writing. After working for many years in newspapers and magazines as an editorial cartoonist, illustrator, editor, arts-and-entertainment writer and consumer columnist, Shevi now writes and illustrates humorous fiction, fantasy, and science fiction, mostly for children and teens. Join us now as this busy, talented, and award-winning author stops by to answer a few questions about her new, young adult, paranormal novel.


Silverberry: What gave you the idea for Ride of Your Life?

Shevi: Ride of Your Life was inspired by the Great Adventure Haunted Castle fire, which killed eight teenagers on May 11th, 1984. I was a teenager myself at the time, and I had been to Great Adventure on numerous occasions. My family had a season pass there in the early eighties. When I heard about the fire, I was shocked and saddened. Those teenagers were like me. It was even possible that I had met one or two of them. And now, because of this terrible tragedy, they were gone.

Ride of Your Life
came about because in my mind I wanted to give that awful event a happy ending, and so I fictionalized it and turned it into a romance that develops between two teenage ghosts thirty years after the fire. It’s a bittersweet romance, but it has as happy an ending as a tragedy like that could have.

Silverberry: What's the story about?

Shevi: Tracy Miller is a 17-year-old girl who died in a fire in the House of Horrors at the Amazing Lands Theme Park 30 years ago. At the start of the story, she tries, and fails, to save 17-year-old Josh Stockwell from meeting a similar fate.

Josh has been dreaming about Tracy for weeks, and as soon as he meets her, he knows it was fate that brought the two of them together. But there is something holding Tracy back, something keeping her from passing on from the ghost world to the Light, something that makes her afraid to love Josh in return. Can Josh help her let go of the past and finally accept love?

Silverberry: What was it like writing the thoughts and feelings of characters who had died?

Shevi: I just treated Josh and Tracy like regular teenagers. Their thoughts and feelings are pretty much the same, even if what they’re experiencing and how they are experiencing it is different.

Silverberry: What were some of the implications you had to deal with as a writer because the characters were dead?

Shevi: Of course I had to deal with what it means to be dead. If you’re dead, you aren’t going to grow or change. You don’t have to worry about your grades or social status or any of the millions of things teens tend to obsess over. It also means these characters can focus on the things that really matter, which in this case means themselves and each other.

Dealing with dead characters also meant I had to create a ghost world for them to live in with certain rules. In Tracy and Josh’s world, you experience what you believe you experience—for good and bad. This isn’t wish fulfillment. Sometimes the ghosts experience horrible things because they’re stuck thinking that these are the things that should happen. As Tracy explains to Josh in an early scene in the book, if you fall and think you’re going to break your leg, you will break your leg. You might think having characters who can’t die because they’re already dead would take the tension out of the story, but by the end of the story, Josh discovers there are worse things than being dead.

Silverberry: What is your approach to crafting stories?

Shevi: I like to think about a story for a long time before I write it down. There are just so many stories in my head, and I don’t have the time to write them all. It has to be a great story, and there’s no way for me to know it’s a great story until I’ve written it from start to finish in my head first.

Once I know that it’s a story I want to share with others, I’ll start with an outline and maybe some background information, character sketches, and several fully formed scenes. The outline at this stage is still malleable. I’ll change it and change it until I’m confident that it’s exactly the story I want it to be. Only then will I start writing the first draft.


I also outline each chapter before I write it. I feel this gives me a road map that starts me off in the right direction each time I sit down to write. If I get to a scene I’m not happy with, I can always just leave a brief outline and skip ahead to a scene I’m more enthusiastic about writing.

Sometimes I’ll edit the previous chapter before I continue writing. I call this process “backstitching,” and I find this helps get my mind back into the story at the start of a writing session. Other times, I’ll write almost with blinders on so that I can write quickly. Either way, most novels take me a year to write and edit.

Silverberry: You're also an illustrator. How does that help you as a writer?

Shevi: Sometimes I’ll use illustrations as a part of the storytelling process. My first novel, Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey is illustrated, while both Toren the Teller’s Tale and Ride of Your Life have illustrated chapter headers. I feel this gives my novels an added dimension.

Other times, I’ll draw my characters before I write their stories, because it shows me things about them. I have a drawing of Toren from
Toren the Teller’s Tale, which hangs from a bookshelf over my desk. There’s an attitude in that drawing that pulls me into her world and dares me to tell her story. I have another one of Gilbert Garfinkle from my upcoming humorous YA science-fantasy novel, Why My Love Life Sucks, and the look on his face says, “Uh, oh, what are you planning to put me through this time?” It reminds me of what I call Murphy’s Law for fiction writers: “If anything can go wrong, it should.”


Silverberry: Tell us about some of your other books!

Shevi: Dan Quixote: Boy of Nuevo Jersey is a funny middle-grade novel about two best friends—one a dreamer and one a realist—who discover that the answers to bullying and peer pressure are staying true to yourself and your friends.

Toren the Teller’s Tale
is an epic fantasy novel about a teenage girl who discovers the magic of storytelling and struggles to accept that magic within herself. Readers have been calling the way it's written mesmerizing and are saying that after reading it, "You will absolutely believe in Magic."


Silverberry: I love your titles! What's one question you wished someone would ask, but no one has?

“Can I give you a million dollars, no strings attached?”

Silverberry: Who has influenced you the most as a writer, and why?

Shevi: I started telling stories when I was just a kid, so it’s hard to say. Every story I’ve ever heard or saw in every medium has taught me something. Sometimes they teach me what I like, and sometimes they teach me what I don’t like. I think I learn the most from stories I wish I could read but can’t because they haven’t been written yet. It’s the literary equivalent of negative space. There’s this gap on an imaginary bookshelf, and it’s just going to drive me crazy until someone fills it. That someone might as well be me.


Silverberry: What's ahead for you?

Shevi: I’m working on the final edits of Why My Love Life Sucks: The Legend of Gilbert the Fixer(book one), which I plan to publish before the end of the summer. It’s a funny science-fantasy novel about the ultimate teenage geek’s ultimate nightmare. It received great reviews when it was a quarter finalist in the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Awards contest a few years ago, and I’m super excited about sharing it with readers. This is the series that proves it takes the ultimate geek to be the ultimate hero, and I think it’s a message we all need to hear loud and clear. I'm a geek, and I'm proud of it!


Silverberry: Thanks so much for dropping by! Readers may find links to your website and to purchase Ride of Your Life below. The book will be part of my upcoming Giveaway. Watch my website for details!

Purchase Ride of Your Life on Amazon

Shevi’s Website


Shevi’s Blog, Musings of a Geek Goddess

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