Tuesday, May 31, 2005

The GCC is back in town! Currently on tour is Shanna Swendson, author of Enchanted, Inc., a magical romp for grownups. I had the chance to ask Shanna a few questions about her process.

> --What inspired this book? What inspires you, in general?

I sometimes feel like this book was divinely inspired because the idea came
to me in a flash that was so strong I had to hold onto something to keep my
balance when it hit me. I knew at that moment that I had something special.
The idea behind the book came to me as wish fulfillment fantasy. I hated my
job, even though I telecommuted and worked from home, and one morning as I
trudged up the stairs to my home office, I caught myself thinking about how
cool it would be to open my e-mail and find a fabulous, magical job offer.
And that was when the burst of inspiration hit me and I realized that would
make a fun story.

I think that same kind of wish fulfillment is what inspires me, in general.
Most of my stories seem to start with, "Wouldn't it be cool if ..." I think
of things I'd like to do or that I'd like to have happen to me.

> --Did you read a lot of magical books as a child? What were your favorites?

I've always been fascinated by tales of the unreal and magical. I learned to
read with the Dr. Seuss books, which may not have had literal magic, but
they were certainly about fantastic places that could have been magical. I
also loved fairy tales. I had all the record albums with the stories and
songs of the Disney fairy tale movies (back in the Dark Ages before
videotape and DVDs allowed you to watch the movies themselves over and over
again). I loved to put on dress-up clothes and pretend to be an enchanted
princess. As I got older, I started reading a lot of fantasy and science
fiction. I was a huge Star Wars fan (which is really a fairy tale in
structure, when you think about it). I loved the Chronicles of Narnia by
C.S. Lewis, and of course The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit by J.R.R
Tolkien. Then there were the Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. When
I was in high school, I got into adult fantasy books by Katherine Kurtz,
Anne McCaffrey, Stephen R. Donaldson, Terry Brooks and many others.

> --Has anything magical happened to you during the writing or publishing
> process?

I think the whole process has been pretty magical. Writing this book was
such a special experience. I'd never had so much fun working on a book
before. It took me a while from the time I had the original idea before I
actually wrote a word, but along the way pieces of it came to me in bursts
of inspiration. Once I sat down to actually write, the characters came to
life for me in an amazing way, and although the editor who'd asked to see it
based on a conversation I'd had with her about the idea said she was fine
with just the first few chapters, I couldn't stop writing after I mailed
those chapters. I was having too much fun, so I just wrote the whole book
(and good thing, too, because that editor ended up rejecting it, and having
the full manuscript helped in selling it elsewhere). When I got an agent and
she suggested a few revisions, I actually looked forward to doing those
revisions because it was another chance to go back and play in that world.

Then there was all the stuff that went on in the publishing process --
seeing the cover for the first time and realizing what my baby would look
like, getting the reviews and realizing that other people also think my book
is pretty special, and then yesterday, I saw it on the shelf at a bookstore
for the first time. Wow.

> --What are you working on now?

I'm mostly working on promoting Enchanted, Inc., but when I have a moment to write, I'm working on a young adult fantasy story. I'm also brainstorming book three in the series that starts with Enchanted, Inc., in case it does well enough that Ballantine is willing to buy a third book.

> --Because this is a Fruitful interview, what do you consider to be the most
> magical fruit and why?

Strawberries! They're sweet and juicy, and you can do so much with them.
Plus, the really good ones that aren't imported or grown in hothouses are
only available a short time during the year, which makes them even more
special. When I was a kid, strawberries were a rare treat that we carefully
rationed to make sure everyone in the family got their fair share. I think
the moment I felt I was truly an adult was when I realized that I could buy
strawberries whenever I wanted and eat as many as I wanted, and nobody could do anything about it.

>Thanks so much, Shanna! May your book (and strawberries!) bring more and more magic your way...

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