THIS IS SO EXCITING. Shannon Hale, author of Princess Academy, Book of a Thousand Days, and creator of such incredible princesses she’s practically a Queen, has answered a few of our questions! Now sit up straight, fold your hands in your lap, cross your ankles, and listen in…
Did you follow along with the Will & Kate royal wedding?
I was way too lazy to watch it in the middle of the night. I’ve got twin babies and sleep is more precious than a royal wedding, alas. But I did google it first thing in the morning. I loved the dress. I’m so girlie in that respect. It was all about the dress for me. And I took an inordinate amount of pleasure from those English wedding hats.
If you were trapped in a tower for seven years, which books would you HAVE to have?
Ones I haven’t read yet! I want new stories. And a blank notebook so I could write some. I’d have to have some scriptures, because they renew me. And lots of novels with vivid descriptions to take me away. Oh, I can’t choose specific titles. Seven years is a long time. Can I just request a library?
How can you be a princess in everyday life?
A princess is someone who understands conventions and can respect the way things are but has the power to make change. I’d say, listen, learn, and act. Oh, and sometimes turn on some music that makes you feel pretty and dance alone in your room.
What are things you do for yourself that make you feel like a princess?
The dancing-alone-in-your-room advice may stem from personal experience… Reading and writing make me feel royal because the storyland is my realm. I also like to get the occasional pedicure. Call me shallow, but a good pedicure builds my self esteem!
We hear you’re on the set of the movie AUSTENLAND (made from your book!). What are your top five British food things?
1. Sausages in puff pastry, i.e. Sausage Buns (teehee, that name makes me laugh)
2. Salmon Wellington. Delicious, and makes fish sound like an aristocratic title
3. Puddings. Really, “pudding” here just means “dessert.” Yes, please.
4. Eton Mess, one of the aforementioned “puddings.” I’ve never been fortunate enough to happen across a bowl of Eton Mess, but my friend described it to me, and it SOUNDS good enough to make my list. Perhaps if I write it down, it will be like a wish and the universe will grant me some Eton Mess. I deserve it. I’ve been a very good girl.
5. Curry. England loves her some curry, and so do I!
You’re also a really awesome poet! Any chance you can write us a FLASH poem about writing craft or reading?
I am? I had no idea! If you’re referencing the “poems” at the beginning of each chapter in Princess Academy, I never thought of them as poems or I’d have been too scared to write them. I thought of them as songs to take the fear away. A flash poem? Okay, I’ll do it. No revising allowed. Here it goes.
It’s been two weeks
since I read a book.
Living in only one world
I miss the extra words
the voice in my hands
the story in my eyes.
Life without story is lonely.
Quick, cuddle me a novel,
tuck me into a book.
Shoot, that’s hard! I’m such a reviser by nature. I’m slapping my hands to keep from fiddling with it.
How’s writing a diary (in Book of a Thousand Days) different from writing in the third person?
It’s very different. I didn’t realize how different until I was in the middle of it! There’s a wonderful immediacy to the voice. The story is happening NOW. And I had to arrange the action around the event of writing. Her need to stop and record events needed to feel real. I think it was the right choice for that story but I wouldn’t do it again in a hurry. Third person is a luxury by comparison.
Do you take hints from real historical settings/events for your fairy tale settings?
When writing fantasy, I think it always helps to ground the story in the facts of real places and events. When you’re asking a reader to believe in impossible things, it’s easier for them to leap that chasm if you provide a bridge of reality. For example, I based the setting of Princess Academy on Scandinavian countries in about 1700. Book of a Thousand Days borrowed heavily from Mongolia. Rapunzel’s Revenge was in an alternate American Old West.
We love all the tea in your books! What’s your favorite kind of tea?
Oh my, do I have a tea thing? I didn’t even realize! I think it stems partly from the need to boil water. Water wasn’t always clean and safe back when, and boiled water made for safer drinking. As long as you’re boiling the water, why not add some fresh herbs for flavor? I find chamomile comforting and relaxing, but my favorite is peppermint. Smells heavenly. I also love fresh peppermint in lemonade. Mm!
Who’s your favorite princess?
I was fascinated by Anne Boleyn and her daughter Elizabeth when I was younger. The mother who lost power and the daughter who won it back and then some.
What’s the importance of humor in your books/in fairy tales in general?
Humor is what makes us human. I think every book in the world of any genre deserves some humor and is made better by it. I love to laugh more than just about anything. While I don’t write strictly humor, I think there are fewer great compliments than that something I wrote made someone laugh. Couple humor with real thought, real emotion, and boy howdy, you can change the world.