) Shelter Somerset, author of Predator in Paradise | Dreamspinner Press

Shelter Somerset

My home is Chicago, yet I enjoy writing about those who live off the land. I have a fascination with the rustic lifestyle. When I’m not writing, I can be found exploring the outer reaches of America. My joys are backpacking , mountain climbing, skiing, and, recently, jumping out of airplanes. But perhaps the most daring adventure I've faced--writing novels. I’ve wanted to write since before I could read. I remember sitting at my small desk in my bedroom drawing picture books. What a rush I’d experience creating characters and stories! One of my first picture books, which my mom still has, is about two lonely dinosaurs that meet and fall in love. Ironically that plot still permeates the novels I write today. It seems seeking love is a large part of our raison d’être. Not just dinosaurs. As of January 3, 2011, the day I signed my first contract, I’ve been a Dreamspinner Press author. The manuscript was “Between Two Loves,” a romance between an agnostic city boy and a devout Amish man. Two more novels in the Amish Series followed. And in the mix, four others made their way out of my head. I was 35 before I figured out how to finish a book. My trick? I write backwards. Anchored with a solid ending, my characters force me to finish. Characters drive my novels, but so does the settings. Rustic, rural, remote landscapes inspire me, whether Alaska or the lush Iowa corn belt. If I could live anywhere on earth, it would be in a cabin in the woods or a farm. Because my father collected leather-bound editions, I grew up reading adult-oriented literature. At fourteen, I was riveted by Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment.” There was just enough gore to keep my adolescent mind intrigued. I learned to appreciate the individual versus society, and how that plays out in personal relationships. I think my novels have a recurrent theme: a person must find his own passage. The reward? Love, of course! My favorite saying is “Liberty is a two-way street.” I don’t know who originated it, but it works for me. It’s one of those sayings that challenges people’s views regardless of which side of the fence they’re on. I love that! I write anything from historical to contemporary. Basically I’m a prisoner of my characters. Once those people pop inside my head, they are as real as you and I. They force me to tell their stories, whoever they are and wherever they might live. Some are modern idealists fighting big city corruption, others are Civil War veterans battling greedy bandits. The love I have for my characters I hope transmits to the reader. I love life, what it does and can offer, and through my characters, I hope to push myself and the readers to see that life can be whatever you make of it, and the rewards for such risks are wonderful and limitless.