May 3, 2007

3Q with Shanna Swendson

I am in a rush to get out to the AJC read-in thing --- my hometown paper, like MANY other papers, did away with the book editor and I am going to gently fuss and ask if we can please please have the fabulous Therea Weaver back ***tossed off Political stuff redacted here because I accidentally seem to have started several debates with a tossed off sentence that didn't convey my point clearly. Sorry. I just want newspapers to have book reviews. I will leave it at that.***

SO, two quick things…

There is a pretty dern cool interview with me up at Estella’s Revenge.

Two: I love Shanna Swendson, I’ve read the first two in the series, and I will be taking this book to the beach this summer, and now you are lucky because she is going to talk to you while I go---well, not protest. I am not a sign waving megaphone sort. But stand near the AJC and read, that I can do. Her latest in the series is Damsel Under Stress


Katie has a long to-do list: Stop the bad guys. Rescue the wizard. Find the perfect outfit for New Year’s Eve.

At last, Owen Palmer, the dreamboat wizard at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., has conjured up the courage to get Katie Chandler under the mistletoe at the office holiday party. But just when it looks like Katie has found her prince, in pops her inept fairy godmother, Ethelinda, to throw a wand into the works. Ethelinda’s timing couldn’t be worse. A plot hatched by MSI’s rogue ex-employees, Idris and his evil fairy gal pal Ari, threatens to expose the company’s secrets–and the very existence of magic itself. Even worse, it could also mean the end of Katie’s happily-ever-after.

“Magical and totally delightful . . . [a] quirky, lighthearted romance.” –
JJ: Who did you dedicate this book to and why?

SS: This book is dedicated in memory of my friend, Rosa Vargas. She was one of
my closest friends, one of those people you meet and then minutes later you
can't remember not knowing them. No matter what we talked about -- books, TV
shows, actors, movies -- it turned out that we were on the same page and had
the same favorites. When I started writing Enchanted, Inc., the first book
in my series, I sent her the first few chapters to read because I saw her as
the model for my target audience, the person who'd like the unique blend of
elements I'd thrown together. She immediately asked what happened next, and
so I kept writing and sent her each chapter as I wrote it. She kept telling
me she was sure the book would sell. I think she had more faith in me than I
had. When I got an agent, she sent me Godiva chocolates, and when the book
sold, she sent me a cookie bouquet. It turned out she'd ordered it ahead of
time, she had that much faith in me. She kept up her job as first reader
when I wrote the next book. Then she was diagnosed with cancer just as I
started writing the third book, and she passed away before I got to the
point of sending chapters to her. That made it difficult to write this book
for a while, but I knew she'd haunt me if I didn't finish it, so this book
became my memorial to her. The series probably wouldn't exist without her
input, so I think it's a fitting memorial. It still makes me sad that she
didn't get to see this book at all, but she was the one person I ever told
what the real story with Owen was, up until very recently when I wrote that
into a book proposal and sent it to my agent, so at least she knew some of
the secrets of the series and had an idea how it might end.

JJ: Your book is shelved in general fiction, but it has elements of fantasy. Can
you explain how having a sort of HYBRID of genres helped or hurt you as you
tried to market your book?

SS: I think it's ultimately been a big help, though it may have given me a slow
start because a big portion of the readership who might like my books wasn't
looking in the place where the books were shelved. But as the fantasy
readers have discovered me, they've been great about spreading word of
mouth. I've also done a lot of marketing targeting those readers by going to
science fiction/fantasy conventions. It's not like that's a huge hardship,
as those are my people.

JJ: Tell us about your dating life. Have you ever wished you had a fairy
godmother like in the book?

SS: I could probably use a good fairy godmother. I don't have a lot of luck
meeting men, probably because I don't leave the house very often. Though,
come to think of it, all Cinderella's fairy godmother did was wardrobe
coordination and managing transportation. I could handle that much. What I
need is for someone to find the ball for me to go to, introduce me to Prince
Charming and then give me a few clever things to say to him when I freeze in
his presence. I don't know if you can find a fairy godmother who'll do that.

Really, what I need is a fairy godmother who can find a way to help me meet
this cute local news anchorman I've had my eye on for years. Maybe there's
some journalist ball the fairy godmother could get me into. But what would I
leave behind to help him track me down later after he falls madly in love
with me (which, of course, he will)? I wear a size seven shoe, possibly the
most average size, so even leaving behind one of my red stiletto pumps isn't
exactly going to narrow it down much for him.


Posted by joshilyn at May 3, 2007 8:36 AM

Hi Joshilyn,

I love your blog and read it all the time, but I disagree with your take on book reviews moving from print to blog. If you're interested, I posted on it today.

Have a good day!

Posted by: Stephanie at May 3, 2007 10:10 AM

Ooh, I can't wait to read this book! I loved the first two.

Posted by: Aimee at May 3, 2007 10:59 AM

If the newspapers are saying book reviews are no longer their responsibility because of blogs, why don't they capitulate entirely? There are plenty of news sources on the web, too, so why even bother publishing a newspaper? This seems like splitting hairs on the part of the papers.

We no longer buy our state's paper, although we do subscribe to a local weekly paper, so I feel like perhaps I'm not even positioned to have an opinion here. The person in the NY Times article with whom I most agreed was the one who said the local angle would be lost, that local authors would no longer have the support of their local paper if the book review section was lost. I guess that's why we get the local paper instead of the state-wide one--I get the information and stories most pertinent to me that I wouldn't find anywhere else. Online is one kind of community, one that I love, but it's not the only kind, and it can't replace everything. I hope your show of support for AJC's book editor is successful.

Posted by: amy at May 3, 2007 11:19 AM

I have to say... I bought the first two after reading about them here... and as soon as I clicked over to FTK today I immediately clicked away, bought the book online and THEN came back and read the interivew... that's how excited I was that the third book is out!

I'm sorry that Rosa didn't get to read book #3, she sounds like a wonderful friend!

Posted by: Heather Cook at May 3, 2007 12:46 PM

I may have to take the link down because I find your entry to be BUTT CLENCHINGLY embarrassing. I SO apologize! That was NOT what I meant at all, I just dashed off a sentence and did not even reread it and it does NOT express either my opinion OR the opinion of anyone with more brains that a dead weasel. GAH! OMG. I want the earth to swallow me.

Here is the comment I left on on her blog. SO ambarrassed.

I redacted that statement from my blog and I apologize. I absolutely do NOT feel dissed by the New York Times---that would be ridiculous. I AM hugely embarrassed to have thrown something in haste up on my blog that was so inflamatory and so easily misinterpreted.

It was shoddy, rushed writing on my part. I NEVER meant to imply the NYT is the read of choice of poor kids. That's, um, silly, as you point out, and I feel like a dork for phrasing it in such a way that I look really, NO really, exactly that stupid.

Also, to be clear the NYT did NOT take a stance. They don't do that. They report. Here, they reported a trend, and I do not like the TREND.

Small papers all over the country are following the AJC and the LA times example---newspapers are beginning to stop covering BOOKS. This sends a message that books are not newsworthy and not valid as entertainment. Why read when there is TV!!!! And you don't see movie and TV sections disappearing. And yes, I think on some levels this is a class issue. I have LOTS of relatives who take the home town paper but do not own a computer and who only know what a blog is because they know I have one.

My stance is this and only this: I want my home-city newspaper to have a book review section. I want everyone's home-city newspaper to have one. The end.


Posted by: joshilyn at May 3, 2007 1:31 PM

I work in a University library and everything is going electronic. The majority of our budget is now spent on subscriptions to electronic databases, journals, etc. instead of actual books. Of course, some of that has to do with how expensive these electronic journals, databases, etc. are, but still it's kind of frightening to me to think that the written word on paper is going away -- even if it's a book review in a local paper. There's just something about holding what you're reading that makes me invest in it so much more. I tried reading some e-books online and just couldn't do it. Couldn't get comfortable in my desk chair for one thing!! :)

Posted by: Leandra at May 3, 2007 4:06 PM

I'm the other editor for Estella's Revenge (the one that's green with envy that she didn't get to interview you). Thanks so much for the interview. It was a joy to read and from the feedback I've heard, our readers loved it!!

Thanks again,

Andi Miller

Posted by: Andi at May 3, 2007 4:24 PM

So glad you made it to the Read-Out. I'm at Fort Benning and John asked if I could go but I had a previous obligation that kept me away. Hoorah for you for showing up and speaking out. And newspapers can't understand why readership is declining nationwide. Good Grief!!!

Posted by: Karen Spears Zacharias at May 3, 2007 6:24 PM

I just bought the first book in the series (thanks to promoting her as a B4B judge last year!)

And FWIW, our paper only publishes book reviews on Sunday....I've found many great books that way AND through blogs AND in the free book catalogue at BooksAMillion. Lots of room for everyone, at least for this book addict ;)

Posted by: Angel at May 4, 2007 12:57 AM

No one is saying blogs aren't good places for book reviews. I'm certainly not. But to remove the book editor or -- as some papers are doing -- to move the books from Sunday to Saturday's low circ paper, OR, as others are doing, stop running them altogether is sad ---- another blow to reading.

Posted by: joshilyn at May 4, 2007 6:32 AM

Lovely interview, Joss, and touching, Shanna, that you dedicated your third book to your friend Rosa. Book friends are the very bestest kind. Shanna's a dear herself. I met her at the World Fantasy convention in Austin last year. I found her first two books delightful and I'm looking forward eagerly to reading this one. Thanks for the location tip. I'd have been looking in SF/F or the Romance aisle. And as for trail clues? Silly Shanna, just leave one of your books! ;-)

Posted by: David at May 4, 2007 5:31 PM

Hi David!

By the way, I'll be at the Hastings in Round Rock next Wednesday night at 7. As I recall, that's your neck of the woods.

Posted by: Shanna Swendson at May 4, 2007 7:54 PM


Posted by: Bill at May 13, 2007 9:39 AM