Tuesday morning just past, Porter Square Books hosted an author talk with YA writer Shannon Hale. I stumbled on to Shannon’s work about five years ago, when her second novel, Enna Burning, had just been released as an hardcover. Since then, I’ve read all of Shannon’s books save the newest two – Rapunzel’s Revenge (a graphic novel in which the princess saves herself), and Forest Born (the novel Shannon is currently promoting).
Most of the talk was geared toward sixth graders: a quick overview of publishing, and becoming a writer. A lot of it will be familiar to writers everywhere – writing since she was knee high to a grasshopper, ten years’ worth of rejection letters, and, finally, a light at the bottom of the inkwell. And while I’ve heard all this before, at many author talks, Shannon was relatable, easy-going, and encouraging.
Interestingly, she also had something to represent each stage of her writing career, including her first book, a picture book called “Land of the Blagadoons” and a Rejection Roll – literally! Almost 90 feet of rejection letters laminated together, the Rejection Roll made me feel pretty good about my rejection letters. Of course, I’ve never thought of anything as cool as a laminated Rejection Roll. (I just bin them, then eat a pint of ice cream.)
The other thing that really stuck was the 100 Tries. In a pottery class, Shannon learned that beginning potters throw away the first hundred tries – an idea that works for writers and stories, too. I’ve been thinking about this since I got home, and trying to work out where I come in on that number for fiction. I think, counting all my childhood stories (and there are so, so many, all of which are so, so lame), I’m at about 102. Given the two acceptances I currently have, I’m hoping that bodes well for the future!
All in all, it was a great talk – I didn’t learn anything new (and I’m not convinced the sixth graders did either, the way almost every kid managed to ask the same question the previous one had asked) but I did get inspired to go home and revise one story and write more of another.
If you want to know more about Shannon and her work, check out this video on Amazon.
P.S. Wondering which of Shannon’s books I’d definitely recommend? Book of a Thousand Days and The Goose Girl. Both have a wonderful, lyrical feel and entirely relatable characters that you can’t help but root for.
Also – I <3 Isi and Razo! Who are your favourite characters?