Like all writers, Shawn was born in the small fishing village of Green Harbor, Massachusetts, where his love of reading offered an alternative to buying a lobster boat.
In the traditional manner, he checked all the boxes on the way to becoming a writer: carpenter, ski instructor, commercial painter. He followed a girl to France where he spent three years hiking and cycling through Alsace, developing a fondness for Gewurztraminer, flammenkuchen, and writing.
Since then his career has evolved in different directions. His short stories have appeared in dozens of magazines and literary journals, and his nonfiction has appeared in publications from Backpacker magazine to The Edge, a Japanese language hockey publication.
In the late 1990s Shawn was one of the first writers to publish his novels online. A Modern Man and To Die Upon a Kiss were both early online works. More recently, Shawn has published A Brief History of Innkeeping in the 21st Century (The Vermont Press, 2014) and Creative Writing in the Real World (New Plains Press, 2012). To Die Upon A Kiss has been published by The Vermont Press as the adventure/thriller Iago’s Fool.
In 2007, Dan River Press published Shawn’s short story collection Name the Boy. The book was his creative thesis at Goddard College, where he earned an MFA in Creative Writing. A second edition was published in 2014 by The Vermont Press.
In 2000, Shawn and his wife, Chantal, bought a small B&B in Stowe, Vermont, where they raised their two sons, skied, and happily plunged toilets for 17 years. After earning his MFA, he began teaching at the Community College of Vermont, where he still teaches composition, creative writing, journalism, and dangerous thinking. Shawn and Chantal sold the inn in 2017.
Shawn has also published a popular blog called Innkeeping Innsights in Stowe, a place that originally explored the intersection of writing, teaching, and innkeeping, but which grew in more creative directions:
After selling the inn, Shawn and Chantal traveled to Europe to cycle the Camino de Santiago from Porto, Portugal, to Santiago de Compostela, Spain. Shawn was the visiting professor of writing at the Savannah College of Art and Design's Lacoste, France campus in the winter of 2018, and he and Chantal still live in Stowe.