Shawn Vestal

Posted by Sue Leonard on Wednesday 16th November 2016

Brought up a Mormon, Shawn left the faith on leaving home. He always planned to be a teacher, but, after dropping out of university, he began working for a local, weekly newspaper.

“I just loved it,” he says. “I moved to another town, and worked on the paper there. I had planned to earn enough money to go back to college, but that never happened.”

He continued in journalism, eventually moving to Washington State. He currently reports, and writes a column for the Spokesman Review in Spokane.

Throughout this time, Shawn was toying with fiction, writing short stories.

“I tried, for 20 years, to get my stories published, but I had no luck. Then, finally, I did!  They appeared in various journals.”

Shawn has published a book of short stories, Godforsaken Idaho. He started exploring the longer form during his MFA programme.

Who is Shawn Vestal 

Date of birth: January 1966, in Southern Idaho.

Education:  Gooing High School, Idaho; University of Idaho for 3 years, but didn’t finish his degree. Eastern Washington University; MFA in Creative writing. “I now teach there a little bit.”

Home:  Spokane, Washington State.

Family: Wife Amy, and son Cole, 9.

The Day Job: Reporting and writing three days a week for the Spokesman Review; occasional teaching.

Interests: Skiing with his son; baking bread; getting together with friends to drink and read Shakespeare.

Favourite Writers: Donald Barthelme; Don Delillo; William Faulkner; Vladimir Nabokov; Thomas Bernhard.

Second Novel: It’s underway.

Top Tip: Read a lot, write a lot, and work really hard.

Web: www.Shawnvestal.com Twitter: @vestal13

The Debut: Daredevils. One: € 8.99. 

It’s the seventies in Arizona, and 15 year old Loretta is defying her parents. A Mormon, she’s meeting a gentile boy, and her horrified parents force her to marry Dean; a fundamentalist Mormon, who already has a wife and family. Fast forward to Idaho – and she falls in love with  Jason, Dean’s nephew. He is mad about Evel Knievel, and feels suffocated by the Mormon community. The two make a bid for escape, and so follows a dizzying tale.

“My background was a little like Jason’s – although my family was not fundamentalist.”

The Verdict: Fast moving, yet heartfelt. Vestal shows real understanding for the emotions of the young girl.

Published in The Irish Examiner on 12th November.

© Sue Leonard. 2016. 

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