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Interview with Shannon Hale

When it came to The Goose Girl: You had written and re-written so many poems and stories. What was different about this one? What made you press to get it published?

I think I had more faith in this book because of other people’s reactions to it. I remember loaning the manuscript to a friend to read. She took it on a family vacation where all her family members ended up reading it, fighting over it, stealing it back and forth. Another time I printed up the first quarter of the book for a family member. She drove to my house at 10pm to get the rest because she couldn’t wait till tomorrow. It was an amazing feeling, that at last I’d written something that other people were excited about too.

So many people are stuck in one mold, or rut, you might call it). You have tried so many different things. That’s very courageous and challenging! Where do you find the inspiration, and the courage, to take the leap?

I get bored easily. I think there’s nothing wrong with creating a brand for yourself as a writer, and sticking to one particular kind of book. As for me, I’m shelved in five different areas of a bookstore, which isn’t the ideal. But I can’t keep writing the same kind of thing over and over. I have to try new things. If it isn’t a challenge, then it’s too boring to bother with.

What role did your parents play in encouraging you to seek after so many diverse areas of interest?

My parents supported whatever hobbies we wanted to try out. We took all kinds of classes: dance, sports, music, crafts, whatever we were interested in. Theater classes were the first that really clicked with me. I try to do the same with my kids. Help them discover what interests them and follow that interest rather than trying to get them to do what I want.

Co-writing with your husband, Dean, does this change your perspective of him?  Or each other? Have you begun to see him as a young super hero?

Young? Sometimes I feel like I just barely got out of high school, then I look at my four growing children and 20+ books and think, “I’m getting old.” I met Dean in high school 27 years ago. He was a super hero then and he is now.

With the new Squirrel Girl and Captain Marvel novels in the works, how will this affect your other writing?

Everything goes on hold while we’re working on Squirrel Girl. The deadline is very tight. Then Captain Marvel is next. I have three other books in progress and many more ideas, but they’ll have to wait for now!

What characteristics do you share with Squirrel Girl?

She’s actually the first character I’ve written who shares my same hair and eye color. Besides that, I think when I was younger I was a little more like her. I never had her confidence (or proportional squirrel strength and agility) (probably), but I was a little loud, a lot optimistic, often socially awkward and expecting others to be as interested in and fascinated with the things that fascinated me. Usually they weren’t, but I didn’t always notice.

Can you give us a glimpse of what’s in store for the Unbeatable Squirrel Girl?

I have to be so careful because everything is top secret! I honestly don’t know what I can reveal so it’s safest not to reveal anything. I will say that Squirrel Girl is a pure delight to write. She is funny, powerful, silly, and unique. She eats nuts and kicks butts. I’m co-writing the novel with my husband and we’re having a blast.

Are you now going to focus on Young Adults? Or do you have plans for a new read for your adult readers?

I wrote Austenland between drafts of The Goose Girl and subsequent young adult novels. I’ve written for little kids, middle grade, young adult, and adult readers and plan to keep writing whatever story entices me the most. I have a fifth draft of a new book for adults and outlines for Austenland sequels. Whenever I get the time.

Do you still have a passion for instructional design? How did you become involved in that? Will you be sharing any of your techniques with the symposium audience?

I didn’t study instructional design in school and actually stumbled into that profession post-MFA. It turned out my supposedly impractical MFA in Creative Writing was actually very useful. So many professions require strong writers. But I quit my ID job eleven years ago to be a stay-at-home mom and keep writing.

What are you most excited about, or to discuss, at this year’s LTUE?

I love hanging out with fellow geeks so that’s the big plus.

Are you a Geek?

Sure I am. The Geek umbrella is a big one. There are so many different types of geek. I think the key to being a geek is being passionate about something. I am a book geek first and foremost.
A big thanks to Shannon Hale for taking the time for this interview. We’ll see you at LTUE in February!

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