Saturday, December 12, 2009

Interview with Shannon Hale!

Shannon Hale is the author of some fantastic young adult fiction, as well as adult,
including The Books of Bayern,
Princess Acadamy,
Book of a Thousand Days,
and Austenland.
She has also collaborated with her husband to write the graphic novel, Rapunzel's Revenge.

What has been the most challenging aspect of your writing?

Just doing it every day. There are a thousand easier things to do with my time. I’d love to use a spare hour to read, or watch a show, or nap, or cook or clean up my crazy house. But ignoring all the other pestery and tempting demands and just writing is always the challenge.

Which of your books have you most enjoyed writing?

Book of a Thousand Days. Dashti was such a joy to spend time with. She’s very different than I am, but so precious to me now. And I really liked doing diary format, though that was challenging. I loved working on Rapunzel’s Revenge, too, because collaboration is so rare in the lock-myself-up world of novel writing. Getting to plot with my husband was such fun. And receiving pages from illustrator Nate Hale was like Christmas. Also, my book for adults The Actor and the Housewife was a delight to do (except that one part…).

How has writing about other characters taught you about yourself? About people in general?

Getting inside a character’s head as a writer is different than as a reader. As a reader, we can sometimes fool ourselves, make the character more like us, ignore some and create the story in our own heads. But as a writer, I’m forced inside the head of another character in a very intimate way. I have to see the world through her eyes and understand why she does what she does. I do think this has made me more tolerant, less quick to judge or condemn others. After all, if I knew their whole story, I’m sure I would understand.

What is your writing process?

Sit down and do it. And maybe eat some candy.

How do you come up with the names for your characters/places/things?

In the first draft, I write the first name that pops into my head. Then later in rewrites when I know the characters better, I question all the names and change most of them. Often I use names from a particular culture when I want to invoke that culture into my setting. Mongolian root words became the names in Book of a Thousand Days, Scandinavian names for Princess Academy, Germanic for the folks from Bayern, etc. Some I just make up.

What was your inspiration for each of your books?

Oh boy, that’s a really involved question. I’ve written ten books, and each has many sources of inspiration. I have lots of information on my website about how each of my books came to be:

What are your interests outside of the literature world?

I have two little kids, so playing with them and taking care of them makes up most of my life. I like hanging with my husband and kicking his butt at video games (or vice versa...usually vice versa).

What things could you not live life without?

Food, water, oxygen, the usual. I would prefer not to live without a bed and indoor plumbing. I wouldn’t want to live without my family. Then there’s also the matter of the ancient Egyptian amulet that extends my life beyond a mortal’s years and grants me inhuman strength, if you want to get nit-picky.

Who or what most inspired you to become a writer and when?

I always loved making up stories. In fourth grade, our teacher, Mrs. Spackman, got us writing stories and poems and I first declared that’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

What is most unique about your writing?

The fact that all of the words are edible. Each one can be peeled off the page and sucked on the tongue. Not all are delicious, but many have a slightly sweet or tangy flavor, and some are downright spicy. And every once in a while, you get a word of indescribable flavor, so delicious, so filling, the essence of it lingers for hours and makes your belly feel full.

Coming January 2010 from Shannon Hale...

A sequel to the highly acclaimed Rapunzel's Revenge, team Hale has delivered an all-new, hilarious tall tale about Jack, his beanstalk…and his best-friend-with-wicked-braids, Rapunzel.

Jack likes to think of himself as a criminal mastermind…with an unfortunate amount of bad luck. A schemer, plotter, planner, trickster, swindler…maybe even thief? One fine day Jack picks a target a little more giant than the usual, and one little bean turns into a great big building-destroying beanstalk.

With help from Rapunzel (and her trusty braids), a pixie from Jack's past, and a man with inventions from the future, they just might out-swindle the evil giants and put his beloved city back in the hands of good people ….while catapulting themselves and readers into another fantastical adventure.


  1. I LOVE Shannon. Really great interview. I especially liked her last answer. :)

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