After waiting to have your plastic time machine Delorean autographed, visit Utah authors and artists.
As Shoop already discovered, many fans come specifically for that reason.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people say, ‘We love coming to FanX. Yes, there are celebrities and pop culture, but we’re looking for local authors,’” said Shoop, a Utah County writer with a series of romance and middle-grade adventure novels. “I have made so many new readers and met returning ones over the years because of FanX.”
Shoop released his first book, Acea and the Animal Kingdom, a decade ago, around the time FanX, then Salt Lake Comic Con, got its start. The Acea trilogy follows young Acea Bishop through fantasy adventures. In that first book, he goes from nerdy kid who prefers reading over sports to commander of an animal army battling a sorcerer.
Shoop’s pivot from adventure to romance came after writing the last Acea book. One chapter offers deep, personal insight into the main character. Shoop wanted to explore more character-driven, personal stories. On a trip to Portland, a conversation he had with a homeless man he met further changed his perspective on what he wanted to write. While their lives inevitably intersected, he realized they had gone down very different paths to get there.
That motivation led to The Sound of Love, about two orphans who reconnect as adults, the first of five in his Senses of Love book series. Since a main character in The Sound of Love is a talented musician, Shoop used his own music in a soundtrack for the book. Give it a listen here:
The Touch of Love, the latest in the series, intersects two love stories, one set in the present-day United States and other in Poland on the brink of World War II.
To make the WWII love interests’ journey believable, Shoop studied history, watching many interviews with Holocaust survivors. “I wanted to find a real path, and eventually, one stuck out to me that paved the way for this story,” he said.
Katie, who uncovers her grandfather Jakob’s wartime history, is also an intriguing character. And, while her mother, Anna, starts as simply a supportive figure following Katie’s separation from her husband, she, too, develops as the story plays out. The final chapters reveal the water color scene depicted on the cover, and, like the first Senses of Love book, readers are treated to accompanying music.
The Senses of Love series also includes The Sight of Love, A Taste of Love and An Aroma of Love.
Though characters from other Senses of Love books make appearances, each book in the series is its own story, and they do not have to be read in any certain order.
Whether interested in one of his stories or just wanting to say, “Hi,” Shoop would appreciate you stopping by at FanX. “I ended up writing my first book with zero expectations. Nobody knew who I was or anything, and it got released and suddenly people loved it and wanted the rest of that series,” said Shoop, who also works as a lawyer. “Even though I then changed genres, readers followed me into that new genre, and I’ve been so grateful for that.”
FanX will be held Sept. 21–23 at the Salt Palace Convention Center.