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Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Spotlight On Author: Shanna Swendson

Happy Tuesday Everyone,

I'm delighted to introduce to you, Shanna Swendson, author of the Enchanted, Inc. series. (the ones I was reading that one time and recommended to everyone?)

Shanna was kind enough to agree to do an email interview with me and I'm happy to make her my September author interview.

So, without further delay, I give you Shanna Swendson...

Me: Every author has a story about how they got with their publisher, so, how did you end up with Ballantine Books as your publisher?



Shanna: There's no real story to it. They happened to be the ones who bought the book. My agent submitted it to a number of publishers. Most rejected it. One publisher said they planned to make an offer, which triggered an auction. Then that publisher couldn't bid because the executive who needed to sign off on it wasn't available, and Ballantine ended up being the publisher to make an offer. What's funny is that at least one editor who rejected it later contacted my agent after reading the book when it was published and asked why she didn't get a chance at it.

Me: Is your character, Katie Chandler based on anyone in your life?

Shanna: Not really. I guess in a way all my characters are based in part on myself because I'm the only person I know inside out. Katie is made up of a bunch of different parts of myself, mixed up and put back together again in a different way. I am from a small town in Texas, but I was an army brat before I moved there, so I'd lived all over and wasn't nearly as naive or sheltered as Katie is. New Yorkers tend to think I'm local when I go there (I'm always being asked for directions in New York). She's a bit snarkier than I am. I find it takes me a little adjustment to get into her voice when I'm writing one of these books.

Me: You mention in your FAQ that ENCHANTED, INC. has been optioned for a film, do you have any news about that you can share?

Shanna: All I know right now is that they've renewed the option and that a script has been written. The last I heard is that they're hiring a writer to rewrite the script, so the project does seem to be moving forward, though that still doesn't mean that a movie will be made.

Me: For Fun: Do you have a favorite brand of chocolate?

Shanna: I'm partial to dark chocolate Dove Promises. I have had some fancy chocolates, but the Dove is perfectly fine for regular consumption and is readily available at Target.

Me: Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?

Don't chase trends. You're fortunate if a trend happens to coincide with what you enjoy, but you'll only waste your time and frustrate yourself if you force yourself to write something you don't enjoy just because it's what's currently hot. Stick to what you enjoy and do well, and that may make it strong enough to sell no matter what the trend currently is. Or you could set the trend.

Me: What triggered (inspired) the Katie Chandler books?


Shanna: There were several things that all came together.


I came up with the initial idea early in 2002. That was when the chick lit trend was really heating up. Late the year before, I'd gone to England and most of my souvenirs were British chick lit books, and I'd been devouring them. On the same trip, I'd bought British editions of the first few Harry Potter books and had finally gotten into that series. I liked the chick lit books because they were easier for me to relate to than most romance novels. They were often about how hard it is to find Mr. Right, while romance novels usually involve Mr. Right showing up and the heroine not being too happy about it until late in the book. I also liked that the stories extended into job, family and friends, not just the relationship. Meanwhile, I found that the Harry Potter books reminded me of my own school days, aside from the magic and being in boarding school. I essentially was Hermione during my school years -- right down to the curly brown hair and being friends with guys who didn't realize I was a girl. One day, I found myself thinking that it would be really cool if I could find something like that, but about adults, you know, like the chick lit books, but with magic. And that was when it hit me, that blending the two genres would create exactly what I wanted to read.


The big lightning bolt came one day when I was on my way to my home office (I was telecommuting at the time) and thinking that it would be lovely if I checked my e-mail and found a message offering me the perfect job, like a job at a magical company. It was a big "oooh!" moment. At first, though, I was primarily thinking about what I wanted to read and looking for books like that. When I didn't find anything quite like that, I thought I'd have to write it, but I worried that the fact that there wasn't anything meant that there wasn't a market for it. It took a conversation with an editor to convince me that people might like it (though that editor actually ended up rejecting the manuscript).

A lot of personal experiences made their way into the books, from crazy co-workers to bad blind dates with guys who refuse to talk. I poured lots of stuff from my working life and dating life into the story.


Me: I read that your character, Owen Palmer, was often in your head when you were writing the ENCHANTED, INC. series. Have you ever thought of writing a book from his point of view or is Katie firmly ensconced as the "narrator"?

Shanna: A book narrated by Owen would be the shortest book ever because he's not exactly a talker. Or else it would get sidetracked into long, technical discussions about magic. Even doing a third-person narration from his point of view would be weird because I get the feeling that there's so much going on in there that it would be difficult to find the focus. I think he's a more intriguing character when seen from the outside. He did capture my imagination and more or less demand that I delve into who he was, but he definitely sidesteps being the center of attention.

Me: Do you think you'll ever get a chance to reveal the secrets of Owen's past?

Shanna: That's what the fifth book in the series is supposed to be about.


Me: For Fun: Who's your favorite character in your series?


Shanna: It would have to be Owen because he really took me by surprise. When I first started writing, he was supposed to be a very secondary character. The idea was that there would be two co-workers at the magical company, one guy that everyone else thought was attractive while Katie didn't see him that way and one guy who actually was attractive. This was just supposed to show Katie's magical immunity at work. I decided to mix things up and give the unattractive guy a really outgoing personality and the attractive guy the shyness, then when I started writing, the shyness became extreme, and then I started thinking about how that came about and developed his backstory. Owen's one of the more complex and intriguing characters I've created, and yet I did almost no character development work on him. My note for him in the notebook I used for brainstorming pretty much just says "attractive co-worker, kind of shy, best friend type." Everything about him just seemed to come up as I wrote, which is really unusual for me.

Me: Anything else you'd like to add?


Shanna:  Nothing I can think of!

Thank you, Shanna, for doing this! I really appreciate it.

I hope the 5th book gets published one day! I've been wondering about Owen for awhile now. :-)

Have A Tip-Top Tuesday!

6 comments:

jbrayweber said...

Nice interview, Bethany. Thanks Shanna for the insight. I, too, have several of your books and have enjoyed them.

Jenn!

Tess said...

Great interview, Ladies!!!

Bethany said...

Jenn,

Thanks for dropping by and supporting Shanna and me. :-)

Bethany said...

Tess,

Thank you and thank you for dropping by and supporting Shanna and me. :-)

Ciara Gold said...

Loved reading this interview and it made me intrigued about the stories as I haven't read any in this series. Well done.

Bethany said...

Ciara,

Thank you for both me and Shanna. The series is just plain awesome in my opinion. Chit Lit meets Magic/Fantasy. I'm so hoping that 5th book comes out eventually! :-)