We were treated to the humor and heart of Shannon Hale, author of BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, during her featured month at readergirlz. Here are a few questions from teens, authors, divas, and other fans, along with Shannon's answers during her chat at the forum:
Q. Was BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS based on a specific fairy tale?
(It's) based on Maid Maleen, and obscure but (to me) fascinating Grimms brothers tale ... The story is so strange and yet has such amazing detail and depth, but it was the maid that caught me. After spending 7 years in a tower, she’s dropped from the narrative entirely half way through. That neglect really bothered me. I wanted to hear her voice, loud and strong, speaking up from the dust. I also chose it because of its similarity to The Goose Girl but very profound differences. I loved the dialog the two tales created with each other.
Q. Do you think of BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS as fiction or as sci-fi/fantasy?
I think of all my books as fantasy, and I think of them all as realism. And I’m slightly kooky.
Q. You donated a part of the profits to - what was it - the Heifer Foundation?
I didn’t want to mention that in the acknowledgments because it seemed so self-congratulatory, but then I thought it would give that wonderful organization more attention. My only regret is that you can’t buy people a yak. But water buffaloes are cool, too.
Q. Will there be a sequel to BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS?
I have a book outlined that takes place in the Eight Realms after B1000, though it’s not technically a sequel. That said, I have notes on lots of books. And so little time lately...I hope you’ll enjoy it in 2018.
Q. Do you plan on writing a sequel for PRINCESS ACADEMY?
I had considered doing a PA sequel. I know what happens next, but I decided against it for lots of reasons. Other stories were (and still are) more insistent in my brain I kept getting emails requesting a sequel and then describing to me what should happen in it--and it was almost always exactly what I’d intended to write. Which tells me if a reader can already imagine a sequel, it’s better left in her brain without having the author come in and intrude. I really like that particular story standing alone.
And yes, after I’d decided not to, PA did extremely well in paperback and I had the thought, "I could make some good money if I wrote a sequel." So now I won’t. If I think about the money a book could make, I’m dooming the project. It’s not really superstition so much as practicality. If I’m doing it for the money, then the story is bound to be less good than if I’m doing it because I can’t bear not to tell that story.
Q. What is it like being stunningly beautiful? ;)
It’s really, really hard. But I get by. [ ... :) ] Too bad we’re not doing video chat ... because I look FAB today. Mascara smeared under eyes, hair fleeing a rubber band, no shower in two days. I’ve swept the kitchen floor three times today and I still have to brush stuff off the bottom of my bare feet whenever I walk across it. LIFE OF GLAMOR, that’s me.
Q. Would you ever write a novel in collaboration with another author? One you aren’t related to? Like Libba Bray? ’Cause your two woman (book tour) was quite awesome.
I talked to Libba about that! And I’ve talked to Stephenie (Meyer) too. And we’re all so busy. Co-writing is more work than writing alone. But maybe someday...
Q. Read anything great lately?
Right now I’m reading THE HOST. Just read Richard Peck’s fantastic A LONG WAY FROM CHICAGO. The TRUE MEANING OF SMEKDAY was so funny. BIG FAT MANIFESTO was a great read and really thought provoking.
Q. I heard a rumor that you might be writing a YA sci-fi trilogy. Is this true?
The rumor is true, though I’m mortally afraid of revealing anything before I’ve begun to write it. I think I can say that it’s called Daisy Danger Brown, it’s contemporary, first person, and superhero/scifi. I’m very eager to start on it. Especially right now when Bayern 4 isn’t cooperating.
Q. Does it feel strange stepping out of the fairy tale world into sci-fi?
I get bored easily, so I love to move around to new places and new kinds of storytelling. My adult books and graphic novels have been a wonderful stretch for me, too.
Q. When do you find the time to write (especially now that you’re a mum)?
I find very little time, but I’ve got a babysitter coming over three mornings a week this summer! Wahoo!
Q. Would you share your writing process?
I think about a book for at least a year, often more, taking notes whenever they occur to me. If I don’t write it down, it’s gone. Then I organize the notes and start in on a first draft of whichever story is yelling at me the loudest ... I ABHOR first drafts. Actually, more accurately, I fear them with great tremblings ... I rewrite about a dozen times over about a year and a half. And I weep and declare that I’ve lost it, I can’t be a writer anymore, I’m washed up, it’s over. And my husband rolls his eyes.
Q. What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Finding that perfect sentence. And meeting people who didn’t like to read until they read one of my books, and have gone on to read many books. I don’t feel like it was me who did either of those things, but they both rock.
Thank you, Shannon! This month we're hosting author Laurie Halse Anderson over at readergirlz, and featuring (it's June, people, so what else?) her novel PROM. Stay tuned for more ...