The first time I heard the name “Shannon Hale” was from my daughter. She was in elementary school, and in an awkward reading stage where her advanced ability made her ready for books far above her age and experience. So when she announced she’d discovered a wonderful new author, Shannon Hale, who wrote books she wanted to read, we jumped into the car to go buy her books.
We talked to the bookseller who assured me that her books were exciting and enthralling, and also appropriate for younger readers. We scooped them up, and to this day, they sit on my daughter's keeper shelf!
Some years later, my literary agent, Nadia Cornier, told me she was handling Shannon’s adult novel, Austenland. Again, I zoomed to the bookstore. I found it and took it on a weekend outing. In fact, whenever I think of that weekend now, what I remember is Austenland, and how I didn’t want to put it down...
So I am delighted to chat today with New York Times bestselling and Newbery Honor author Shannon Hale, whose books clearly delight readers of all ages!
Tina: Hello, Shannon. I hear you’ve been writing stories since elementary school (like I have, and many other of us Buzz Girl authors). Any embarrassing early works you care to own up to?
Shannon: What do you mean embarrassing? Clearly I was a master writer from the beginning!
Tina: Really--what was I thinking?!? Well, skip ahead a few years, and you sold your first book, The Goose Girl . Where were you and what were you doing when you first got the news?
Shannon: I was at home doing yoga. The company I worked for had laid everyone off the month before and I was unemployed. My agent called and let me know she had a message from an editor at Bloomsbury saying that she wanted to make an offer. I truly could not eat or sleep for two days. Except the editor didn't get back to us again for TWO WEEKS, so for two weeks I was on a razor's edge, waiting to hear if it was real or not!
Tina: Yeah, those waits can feel like FOREVER. Hey...recently you got involved in a fantastic charitable event called Project Book Babe, in which you and several other Big Name Young Adult Authors banded together to help raise funds for Arizona bookseller and friend, Faith Hochhlater, in her battle against breast cancer. Having met Faith on two occasions and been a recipient of her enthusiasm and generosity, I applaud you and the others for your efforts in helping her.
Can you tell us a behind-the-scenes story about the event?
Shannon: So...I was the emcee. I'd introduced all ten of the authors and then we were setting up the tables, microphones, getting ready for the panel. Then Jon Lewis noticed that no one was sitting in one of the places and he said, "DId you forget someone?" I looked at my sheet--no, I was sure I'd gotten everyone. Then he pointed to the name tag--Stephenie Meyer. Yeah, I'd truly forgotten her. I could not stop laughing. She was backstage and couldn't hear what was going on, and when she found out later what had happened, she thought it was hysterical.
That event was so fun. I was like a kid in a candy store. Everyone was so game! I said, "Hey, do some of you want to do a lip sync and dance to an Aretha Franklin song for me?" And several people said, "Sure!" Then I said, "Hey Dean Lorey, will you put on Stephenie's prom dress and model it for the audience?" and he said, "Sure!" Pure heaven.
In the above picture taken after the event, Faith is in the center (blonde), and I imagine you can all find Shannon (in orange) and Stephenie (behind Faith), as well as Janette Rallison (to Stephanie's left), who has been profiled here at the Buzz Girls blog, as well.
Tina: I have to ask about your blogsite name, which is squeetus. Is there a story behind the name Squeetus?
Shannon: My husband rarely calls our family members by our names. We all have multiple nicknames. The formal version of one of my nicknames (squeeter pig) is apparently Squeetus. Truly, I am as mystified as you.
Tina: LOL. He sounds like a lot of fun! And why don’t you tell us about the graphic novel, Rapunzel’s Revenge, that the two of you co-wrote?
Shannon: It's a rip-roarin', rootin' tootin' adventure! I love collaborating with my husband. I love involving him in my books, making this more of a family thing than a me-thing. And I regularly get fan mail that makes me cry, from parents who tell me, "My child never read a book in her/his life until Rapunzel's Revenge." Once they read this book, they get more confidence and go on to read other books. It's unbelievably gratifying.
Tina: Sounds terrific...so terrific, in fact, we’re going to give a copy of Rapunzel's Revenge --or-- Austenland (winner's choice) to one lucky commenter! To enter, we’re asking our readers to leave a comment below telling us one of their nicknames--and feel free to embarrass yourself!
Thank you, Shannon, it’s be a real joy having you here!
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