Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Author Q & A with Shannon Hale

Today is the release day for the fabulous Shannon Hale’s new novel ‘Midnight in Austenland’ and to celebrate, the lady herself was kind enough to agree to an interview about the book, and what we can hope to see next.
I also have a giveaway to win a copy of ‘Austenland’ and ‘Midnight in Austenland’, so enter now!
“Readers of Austenland are incredibly excited about your latest book ‘Midnight in Austenland’ can you tell us a little bit more about it and how it came about?”
I was working on the screenplay for Austenland and I wrote a page about each character for my co-writer. Talking about Colonel Andrews, I said that he enjoyed enacting little entertainments for the guests, like theatricals and mysteries. From that came the idea of another guest vacationing at Pembrook Park who uncovers a possible murder and isn't sure if it's part of Andrews's mystery or something real.
“Was it hard to go back into ‘Austenland’ with a different heroine or easier?”
I loved it. I never thought about writing another Austenland book until 2009, but I found it so fun to return to and see what the characters were up to now. I really enjoyed writing Charlotte. When I began Austenland, I was twenties and single. It was interesting for me now as a mother to write a woman my age with children. Every book has challenges, but Charlotte's character wasn't one of them. She was easy. She is so accommodating by nature.
“Can we hope for more books set here in the future? If so which Austen book would you most like to incorporate?”
I think so! I can't help but keep thinking about it now and have a couple more ideas I'd love to tackle. While there was more emphasis on P&P with Austenland and Northanger Abbey with Midnight, there are bits of all of Austen's novels that worked into both. I don't consider either book to be retellings of her books or sequels by any means. I'll likely reread all her books again whenever I start another Austenland book and see what inspiration hits me!
“Has writing always been something you wanted to do? And what drew you to it?”
Always. I first declared that I wanted to be a writer when I was 10. I loved to read and get lost in a story. I spent years in theater, satisfying my lust for storytelling during a time when my writing skills weren't good enough to satisfy my internal critic. It took me 20 years of writing before I finally reached the place where the stories I created were good enough to please myself. I love it. I'll never stop.
“Are there any specific habits, types of music to listen to, or times that have to be observed for you to write?”
I'm a mom of four, so I can't be choosy about such things. Whenever I get the chance and the kids are happy and occupied with a sitter, I sit my butt down and write. At the moment, I'm sitting up in bed covered in blankets because my room is cold. I don't write to music because I just tune it out. Probably another mom thing. The kids' voices from the other room would distract me if I weren't so practiced in the Mom Tune Out.
“What are you working on at the moment?”
I just finished the sequel to Princess Academy, which will be published in August. Now I'm returning to a kick-butt-scifi-action-adventure tome that I've been working on for years but keeps getting put on the back burner while I worked on other projects. I love it and am excited to return.
“Which books have been the hardest to write, and which are you most proud of?”

Princess Academy, The Goose Girl, Calamity Jack, and Forest Born were probably the most challenging. I'm a proud mom of all of them. But if you get some chocolate milkshake in me, I'll probably admit I think Book of a Thousand Days is my best. 

“And finally, if you were a character in Jane Austen’s books, who would you be?”

One thing that's so marvelous about Austen, I think, is how unique each of her heroines are, and yet while I'm reading, I identify completely with each of them. Some days I'm Anne, some days I'm Marianne or Emma or even Fanny. But mostly I'm Elizabeth, of course. Who doesn't want to be Elizabeth Bennet? 

'Midnight in Austenland is on sale now, and is absolutely fabulous! I have one gorgeous new copy to giveaway so enter here!
You can also check out my spoiler free review here!
And Shannon's site here!


  1. I love Shannon Hale's books! Thanks for the interview!

  2. Nice interview! I'm so excited to read the book -- shannon hale is my favorite living author!

  3. Great informative interview. Thanks! I haven't delved into Austenland...yet. But it and many other Hale books are waiting on my Kindle.

  4. loved the interview--and I think Book of a Thousand Days was her best novel too.