2014-2015 Season,  Princess Academy

Shannon Hale on Books, Writing, and Seeing Her Stories Adapted

by Janine Sobeck, dramaturg

Award winning author Shannon Hale  (Photo credit: Jenn Florence)
Award winning author Shannon Hale
(Photo credit: Jenn Florence)

Shannon Hale is a native Utah writer who has taken the YA fiction world by storm. From her debut novel Goose Girl, to her popular Ever After High series, to her graphic novels, and more (including her popular adult adult fiction book Austenlandnow a major motion picture), Shannon has entertained millions of readers with her wonderful characters and fascinating worlds. Her books have also garnered critical acclaim, landing her on the New York Times best-selling author list and winning many awards (including the prestigious Newbery Honor for Princess Academy).

In honor of BYU’s theatrical adaptation of Princess Academy, I reached out to Shannon to hear a little about about her writing process, what books excite her, and how she feels about seeing her work transformed for the stage. I’m delighted that she took some time out of her busy book tour schedule (the third book in the Princess Academy series was released in March!) to share a bit about her world.

Janine Sobeck: What books were influential to you as a child?

Shannon Hale: In 3rd grade, my favorite book was THE TRUMPET OF THE SWAN. My 4, 5, and 6 grade years were especially fruitful reading years. My favorite authors were Robin McKinley, CS Lewis, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Joan Aiken, Lloyd Alexander, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia McKillip.

JS: Could you describe your writing process?

SH: As a mom, I’ve learned to write whenever I have free time and space. I can’t get too fussy. As long as I have my laptop and no one’s talking to me, I can write. I write every weekday as long as I have a babysitter or my younger kids are in preschool. When the babysitter is sick or school is out, I can’t work. “Writer’s block” is a fancy way of saying “writing can be hard sometimes.” The best way to get past it is to give myself permission to write badly today and just keep writing.

JS: What is your favorite part of having your work adapted to a different medium (such as the theatre)?

SH: When I tell a story, I’m only doing half the work. The reader does the other half of the storytelling inside their own mind, but I never get to see their version. Seeing a movie or play based on one of my books is like getting to peek into a reader’s mind to see how they interpret what I’ve written.

JS: What are some of your favorite activities outside of writing and reading?

SH: When I’m not writing, my world is my family. We like to go on walks and hikes, play games, have dance parties, eat together and talk together.

JS: What books/stories are you excited to share with your children?

SH: I’m already getting to share so many great books with my kids. I love it when they share with me their favorite books. Recently my son had me read THE UNWANTEDS, his favorite book, and my daughter had me read WAYSIDE SCHOOL, her favorite book.

Don’t miss your chance to see Shannon’s Princess Academy come to life on the BYU stage. The show opens May 29th and tickets are available here.


One Comment

  • Elle Evans

    Hearing Shannon Hale’s excitement to see the story played on the stage makes me want to take part in the “journey” as well. I think involving the author and her thoughts and passions about the story creates a very strong yearning for the audience to share in her story and enjoyment. I loved hearing her thoughts.

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