For more info about the event click here.
Thank you to all of my friends & family for your ongoing support!
Learning through teaching, writing & travel
For more info about the event click here.
Thank you to all of my friends & family for your ongoing support!
“I guess I’d been experiencing it for the 30 years before I actually started writing the book,” I admitted. “I knew that I wanted to write a book ever since I was a kid, but I was too afraid to try.”
It’s true. My fears—of failure, of not being good enough, of what people would think, of not getting published—had held me back from starting at all. So I made a lot of excuses and told myself a narrative of “shoulds.”
I should work toward a more stable career.
I should accept that it’s too hard to “make it” as a writer.
I should appreciate my life as it is.
I should be more realistic.
You can access the entire article here.
See What Flowers, my début novel about love and mental illness, is now available to purchase in the United States through Barnes & Noble. Click here to access the listing.
For more information about the book, you can join the conversation on Goodreads.
All that remains is a note: “Gone to get pancakes.”
Her 30th birthday party’s over, yet it’s the happiest Emma Watters has ever been. Life couldn’t be more perfect. She’s an emergency room doctor and shares a home in Toronto with the love of her life, Adam Davison.
The next morning, Adam is gone. Emma’s shocked. At first, she decides that Adam’s having an affair and scavenges through photos on Facebook, trying to identify “the other woman.” But as the days pass, Emma seeks out help from the Toronto Police and floods social media with pleas for assistance. Where’s Adam? Has her life become an episode of Breaking Bad? Has she been dating Walter White all along?
Wild, beautiful, and terrifying, See What Flowers is a thrilling depiction of love’s attempts to survive in the face of undiagnosed mental illness. Set in the hectic, cosmopolitan cities of Toronto and Vancouver, as well as against the harsh, rugged landscape of the Canadian Arctic, it’s a raw and compelling journey towards understanding, forgiveness, and, ultimately, escape.
It was a beautiful evening, at a beautiful venue, with a beautiful audience.
Last night, See What Flowers launched in Ottawa at Terrace on the Canal, a cozy outdoor patio/bar and event space nestled next to the Rideau Canal with picturesque views of the Parliament buildings and downtown Ottawa. A host to weddings, weekend yoga classes, and a pit stop for cyclists or tourists out for an evening stroll, it’s no surprise that Narcity recently described Terrace on the Canal as “the most amazing spot for literally any reason.”
Terrace on the Canal was an absolutely stunning venue for my book launch.
It provided a relaxed café feel where people could lounge on couches and catch up with old friends, combined with the magic of being at the heart of the nation’s capital, the fairytale charm of waving to a group of tourists as their boat drifted down the historic waterway and into the sunset.
The evening opened with a musical performance by Ottawa-based band, The Bristol Hum.
Featuring Shawn Baldwin, Scotty Lean, Tex McManus, and my super talented cousin, Sean Keohane, The Bristol Hum plays “straight-up rock n roll with a little funk and folk thrown in for good measure.”
To capture a more folky, emotional and bookish feel, they played their first ever acoustic performance, which seemed to draw out the magic of surrounding landscape. Their mesmerizing and melodic harmony warmed my heart underneath the twinkle of patio lights.
The second half of the evening involved a book reading of select passages from my novel. The book is written in he said/she said first-person narratives in the style of Gone Girl, alternating between the main characters Adam Davison and his girlfriend, Emma Watters and is set in Toronto, Vancouver and the Canadian Arctic.
I read two passages from Emma’s point of view and one from Adam’s, attempting to capture the various plot, characters, and setting without revealing too many spoilers.
“Is there such a thing as being too happy?”
“We’re lost in each other, in the heart of Toronto, slow dancing to nothing but the beat of my heart and the sound of her breath on my neck. I know the subway trains are trembling beneath my feet and that we’re amidst the constant buzz of city life, yet I hear nothing but my heart beating and feel nothing but her breath on my neck.”
“When we begin to search a little deeper into the heart of the glacier, into the wisdom preserved into the remains of the last Ice Age, we can see that all life contains elements of light and darkness, and that to live truthfully, we need to be able to accept the joy as well as the pain.”
Following my book reading, I participated in a Q & A led by my longtime friend, Megan Valois. Megan read early drafts of See What Flowers and provided some important feedback and criticism, ultimately motivating me to persist with writing and publishing, so it was very important to me that she was involved in this event.
During the Q& A, we chatted about my writing process, inspiration for See What Flowers, and future writing endeavours. Megan asked some thought-provoking questions that I am still reflecting on. Thank you, Megan, for your involvement and for being such a fantastic interviewer!
I was absolutely touched and honoured that so many friends and family members took the time to come to this event. Self-publishing is a difficult and extremely vulnerable process and I really wouldn’t have had the courage to do it without your continued support and encouragement.
See What Flowers, a contemporary fiction about love and mental illness, is available on Amazon.
My next book event is a book signing on Sunday, October 1 from 1-4pm at the Yonge and Eglinton Indigo location in Toronto.
The website “The Indie View,” an online forum for connecting indie authors with reviews and readers, recently interviewed me about my début novel, See What Flowers.
“After finishing the first draft, I realized that the writing was more emotional, more honest, and more impactful when I put more of myself into it. So during the editing, I added bits of personal experience to add depth and emotion to the characters.”
Shannon Mullen – 3 August 2017
Not sure how I missed this, but See What Flowers was longlisted for the “Your Writeful Place Novel Beginnings Competition 2017.” Your Writeful Place is a Paris-based agency which runs writing retreats in inspiring natural settings.
Paperback copies of See What Flowers will also be available for $20 at the Toronto Book Launch on June 15th at 7:30pm at The Steady Café & Bar, 1051 Bloor Street West.
The first draft of my début novel, See What Flowers, was written in Toronto, after I’d returned from just over a year of teaching in Nunavut, Canada. (Check out my interview in Shedoesthecity for details on how living and working in the Canadian Arctic influenced the writing and research for my novel. )
In addition to Vancouver and the Arctic, much of See What Flowers is set in Toronto, particularly on Dufferin Street and Bloordale Village. Landmarks such as Christie Pits Park, the Baldwin Steps (Spadina stairs by Casa Loma), Snakes & Lattes, Toronto Western Hospital, High Park, and the #29 Dufferin bus are described in the novel.
Not only is Toronto featured in See What Flowers, but various locations in the city also inspired the writing of it. Here’s a few Toronto landmarks where See What Flowers was written:
Boxcar Social is my favourite café in Toronto. I love the ambience, the lattés, and the back patio. One Sunday afternoon, I even saw Andrew Coyne, one of my heros in Canadian writing, there. He was writing too. I was writing. He was writing. I thought, maybe one day, we’ll both be Canadian writers. Maybe one day.
Boxcar will always have a special place in my heart because that is where I finished the first draft of See What Flowers.
It was a Saturday night in October 2015, just a few weeks before I left Toronto for a year to teach in Colombia. I arrived at the café at about 7pm intending to stay for a couple of hours. The café turned into a nightclub and I didn’t even notice. At midnight I was still writing. Some guys came over to ask me if I was freezing and if they should close the back door. I didn’t even notice that the back door was open. I didn’t even notice that it was dark out. I didn’t even notice that the café had turned into a bar. It was like I was in the zone on a long run. All I could focus on was what I was doing right then. The writing.
The last thirty or so pages of the book contain the strongest writing. They are also the most autobiographical and get as close to the truth of life as I know it. I’m really proud of them. So thank you, Boxcar Social…maybe it was the music, maybe it was the coffee, maybe it was the beer, maybe it was the crowd, but you certainly inspired something in me the night I finished the first draft of my first novel.
In 2015, I took almost a year off teaching high school to write. But I kept my job as a fitness instructor at Goodlife Fitness Clubs and taught lunch time classes from Monday to Friday at the Yorkville, Manulife Centre, and Bloor Park locations. My days usually involved writing at my aunt and uncle’s Forrest Hill mansion (where I was living) in the morning from about 8:30am-11:30am, then I would go teach my class from 12:15-1;15pm, and in the afternoon, I would go to the nearby Toronto Reference Library from about 2:00-5:00 pm.
Luckily, my good friend, Keira, was writing her Master’s thesis at the time, so we would often meet and write together at the library. This enabled us to take coffee breaks together and support each other in what can be a very isolating process.
One thing I loved about writing at the Toronto Reference Library was that I was surrounded by thousands of books. The books were written by humans. Maybe I could write a book, too. It was also great to have a free space to use for the afternoon during a time when I had very little income.
All of those afternoons spent writing at the Toronto Reference Library made for many, many coffee breaks at Balzac’s. I often brought my laptop with me and stayed there for an hour or two for a change of scene. Balzac’s coffee is some of the best in Toronto. They even have an Atwood Blend, named after Canadian literary icon, Margaret Atwood. So perhaps Balzac’s coffee contains some secret ingredient to inspire great writing.
Since she lived in the west end at the time, often my friend Keira and I would meet at Saving Gigi a hip café on Bloor at Ossington. It serves coffee, beer, brunch, and amazing salads and sandwiches. The part I loved most about writing there is that it attracts the staring artist type. I was always surrounded by others working on screenplays, articles, blog posts, graphic design, and other creative projects. Their work made my own creative venture seem less of a silly fantasy and more of a worthwhile venture.
I was inspired and motivated by others struggling to pursue their dreams at a time when social pressures were encouraging me to develop a sustainable financial plan and settle.
Just west of Saving Gigi is Bloomer’s, a homey vegan café which serves coffee, tea, beer, whiskey, salads, sandwiches, and delicious home baked goods. It is an amazing space to write, especially in the summer. It has big booths and tables, a positive vibe, and a garage-style open window which allows you to write while people watching the passerby’s on Bloor Street.
Bloomer’s is the only café in Toronto that I wrote at which is actually featured in the novel, See What Flowers. Adam and Emma’s basement neighbour, Jess, describes a terrible Tinder date experience that she had at “Bloomer’s, you know, that great vegan café at Bloor and Ossington?”
Most of my writing happens when I’m not writing. I get ideas when I’m walking or running or biking or thinking or staring into space. Or reading. I get inspired by ideas that were written by other authors and incorporate them into my characters and plot.
So when I get an idea in the midst of doing another activity, I often stop and write it in my phone. Then I email it to myself and incorporate it into the draft of my writing.
In March 2015, I marked the OSSLT (Ontario Literacy Test), which is a great opportunity for teachers to gain experience in assessment. But it is also a bit soul crushing. It is like an assembly line for grading essays. I marked the same answer from thousands of students across Ontario for two weeks straight! It took me over an hour to travel to the location of the OSSLT at the Toronto Congress Centre. I had just started writing the first draft of Parts 1 & 2 of See What Flowers, and much of it was written on the 52 Lawrence West bus as I worked a little creativity into an extremely monotonous work day.
While I wrote the first draft of See What Flowers in Toronto, much of the editing happened outside of the city.
See What Flowers is available as an eBook and paperback on Amazon. Thank you everyone for all of your support.
To celebrate my upcoming book launch for See What Flowers, I’m offering a FREE five day promotional giveaway of the ebook.
My début novel, See What Flowers, is on the shelves! How cool is it to see my own book standing beside some of the great novels (well, I DID place it beside them)?!?!
See What Flowers is currently available in paperback on Amazon.com and Amazon.uk. If you are itching to get a copy in Canada, you can order from those sites but will have to pay additional shipping. Some distributors are currently selling it on Amazon.ca at a higher cover price. However, it will be available on Amazon.ca in less than 30 days.
Thursday, June 15 at 7:30pm
1051 Bloor Street West, Toronto
Paperback copies of See What Flowers will be sold for $20 CAD (cash only)
In celebration of will be running a book giveaway on Goodreads from June 3-June 15 in celebration of my upcoming book launch. Please click here for more info on how to win one of 10 copies of See What Flowers.
Reviews are very important in helping books rate higher in the black hole that is the Amazon bookstore.
Take a picture of the book and share your favourite quotes from the book using hashtags #seewhatflowers #amreading & mention me via Instagram and Twitter handle @mullenshannon
Join the Goodreads discussion about See What Flowers by asking the author (me–Lol!) questions, interacting with other readers, and write a review. Encourage your friends to join the discussion too!
If you like it, please share your copy with your friends and family. Summer’s almost here, and we’re all looking for a new read, right?
Thank you to everyone for your ongoing support! Happy reading!
My first novel, See What Flowers, is now available on Amazon.
Here’s the top ten quotes from the novel. But hey, I’m biased. I wrote ’em!
For more info on the inspiration behind See What Flowers, read my author Q & A for the Toronto-based website, Shedoesthecity.