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Sunday, September 9, 2012

Author Interview with Shanna Swendson (Contest Included)

My author guest this week is Shanna Swendson. Any lovers of her Enchanted Inc, Series will be pleased to hear that, after a bit of a break, that all things magical are back on track!

The fifth book, Much Ado About Magic, is now out and the sixth book, No Quest for the Wicked, is due out later this month. So if you, like me, missed the magical fun and strange happenings of New York City then it is time to catch up!

Read the interview and find out more about the series, the break and the author. Then make sure you keep reading and enter the contest. You could win an Enchanted Inc, book!

Haven't tried the series yet? Make sure you do! This is a definite must read!


Amber - Welcome to Amberkatze's Book Blog! It is great to have you here as
a guest! Could you start things off by telling us a little about your Enchanted, Inc Series?

Shanna - I've described this series as "Bridget Jones Meets Harry Potter." It's the story of an ordinary young woman who moves to New York and finds that the city is even stranger than she expected -- and then learns that this is because she's so extraordinarily ordinary that she's immune to magic. Even the magic used to hide the existence of magic from the rest of the world doesn't work on her, and that's why she sees strange things. It turns out that this immunity is very valuable to magical people, who can be affected by magic, and she gets caught up in a magical war when she goes to work for a major magical company.

Amber - The fifth book in the series, 'Much Ado bout Magic', just came out. I have to say it was a surprise as I thought the series was over. What happened?

Shanna - I'd always planned at least five books -- I had the fifth book plotted before the first book was published. The publisher even asked me for a proposal for a fifth book, but then they decided they didn't want to publish it, and that's why the series stopped at four books. Then the Japanese publisher that had done the translation of the whole series asked if there were more books and bought the fifth book. I wrote it for them, and all the while my agent kept nagging the original publisher. We finally decided that if they weren't going to publish it, we could do it on our own. This fifth book completes the initial story arc of the series and sets up some potential future arcs.

Amber - What can readers expect from 'Much Ado About Magic'? Is it magical business as usual?

Shanna - It's sort of business as usual, but more intense. This is when things really come to a head. We find out who's been behind rogue wizard Phelan Idris and what that person's agenda has been all along. We also finally learn the truth about Owen's background. Plus there's some wackiness involving tacky motels and the Empire State Building.

Amber - I love the Manhattan setting! I have been there twice myself. Do you live there or have you just spent a lot of time there? Why did you pick New York?

Shanna - I've traveled there a lot. I've gone there for a number of writing conferences and in my old job I traveled there often on business and I worked with people from my company's New York office, so I learned a lot from them what it's like to live there. I picked it as a setting because the place always seemed magical to me when I was growing up and I only knew it from movies and from watching the Macy's parade on Thanksgiving, and then it was just as magical when I finally went there. I did seem to notice things that others ignored, and I also found that the people were much friendlier than I'd expected. I'd always had the idea of doing a book about a Southern girl from a small town going to New York, and I decided to use that when I had the idea about an ordinary person getting mixed up in a magical business. I'm not sure that the plot would work in too many other places. In the South, if people notice something odd, they stop and look and ask about it. If they notice someone with fairy wings, they'll compliment their costume and ask how they did that.

Amber - There was a 4 year publishing break between the fourth and fifth book. Was it hard to get back into the series as a writer? Or was 'Much Ado About Magic' already written and waiting to be read?

Shanna - I wrote it not too long after writing the fourth book -- probably a longer gap than between the other books, but still not very long. It's very easy to fall back into that world because my brain spends a lot of time there. Katie's voice is a bit different from mine, but once I get started writing, I channel her, and then it usually flows pretty easily.

Amber - Will there be more books in the series? Are there more magical tales to come? Are you working on any other projects?

Shanna - The sixth book in the series, No Quest for the Wicked, which I also wrote for the Japanese publisher, will be released in October, and I'm currently writing the seventh book, which the Japanese publisher asked for. That one will likely be released in the US, but I don't know when (I need to finish writing it first!). The Japanese publisher is interested in anything I write from this series, so it's possible that there could be more books if I get another idea. I have an entirely unrelated project, a young adult steampunk fantasy, on submission with publishers right now, and I just sent my agent a book that could start a new contemporary fantasy series. Once I finish book seven, I have a few other ideas that I want to tackle.

Amber - Much Ado About Magic is currently only available as an e-book. Is there any plans to release it in a print form?

Shanna - There is a print version in the works, but it takes a lot more time to set up because it has to be formatted a certain way, and then there are proofs to review before we can say that this is the final version. It will be print-on-demand and available via CreateSpace at Amazon, though there may be other outlets for it. The details are still being finalized.

Amber - Was the decision to turn to an e-format an easy one?

Shanna - It was something I wrestled with for a long time. I'm one of the holdouts who likes paper books. I don't even have an e-reader. Only a fraction of the people who'd bought the previous books had bought the e-book version, and I worried about leaving out the people who aren't e-book fans. I also like being able to support all the booksellers who helped sell the previous books. However, since I wasn't having any luck getting a traditional publisher to publish this book, it seemed silly to have it sitting on my hard drive with the fans unable to read it. My agent has put together a platform for digital publishing that makes it a lot easier on me and that brings in top-notch professionals to help with the process, and she was able to convince me to give it a shot. I had the same copy editor and the same cover artist who did the previous books, so it should be the same quality as the books that came from the previous publisher.

Amber - How do you pick the names for your characters? Do they have any special meanings?

Shanna - It's been a long time since I named these people, so it's hard to remember the exact process, but I do pay attention to the meanings. I have some reference books on names that include the origins and meanings. I picked Katie's first name because it sounded like a nice, practical girl-next-door type. My original idea was that she would be trying to go by Kathleen now that she's away from home, while her family still calls her Katie, but once I started writing, she just seemed to be a Katie and wasn't the type to try to switch because she'd grown up. I use some Celtic/Welsh folklore and mythology as part of the background for my magical world, so I give a lot of the magical characters vaguely Welsh names. That's where Owen's first name comes in. It's the English version of Owain, which is a name associated with Welsh and Arthurian mythology.

Amber - If Enchanted, Inc was going to be made into a TV series or Film which actors do you think would most fit the main characters?

Shanna - I was trying to avoid mental casting for a long time because the first book was actually optioned for film and I didn't want to go public with my ideas lest I then be on record with something different from what they actually did, but the option expired, so I guess it's fair game (and besides, enough time has gone by that some of my original ideas have aged out of the roles). I think that David Giuntoli from TV's Grimm looks a lot like my mental image of Owen, and his voice even fits, too. Anna Chlumsky has been showing up in a lot of guest roles lately, and I've found myself thinking that she fits my mental image of Katie, but Emily Rose on Haven has the voice that's in my head. Give her a Texas accent, and that's exactly the tone and inflection I hear in my head when I'm writing, that touch of snarky without being bitchy. She's not exactly the physical image I see, but she's not so wrong that she couldn't work.

Amber - What are you listening and watching lately? Is there any music or other media that influences your writing?

Shanna - I've been kind of on a jazz kick in music lately, mostly because my "soundtrack" for book seven seems to include a lot of jazz standards, whether by old-school artists like Ella Fitzgerald or the more recent versions by people like Harry Connick, Jr. or Jane Monheit. Although I use music a lot to get into the right mental space or capture the right emotions when I write, I think my music choices are more influenced by what I'm writing than by the other way around. TV can be a big influence because if I find something that really captures my imagination, I'll find myself analyzing to see what it is about it that grabs me that way, and then I'll find a way to use that in my work. Not so much outright plot lines, but more character elements or points of conflict. Like a current one seems to be identity issues -- just about everything that currently has me really intrigued involves characters who either have a mystery to their identities (something even they didn't know) or who are learning something they never knew about themselves -- they may know who they are but are learning what they really are. I've used that already, but I'm finding it popping up in a lot of my story ideas. I don't know what that says about my psyche, though!

Amber - What has been taking up your free time lately? Read any good books? Watching anything worth recommending?

Shanna - A lot of my time lately has gone into writing -- getting these books ready to publish, getting some projects out to publishers and my agent, and working on book seven. And then I have ballet classes, and choir practice is about to start again for the fall. I'm also involved in the children's music programs at my church. I'm currently helping with the summer music and arts camp, and during the school year I direct one of the choirs for the really little kids, usually either preschool or kindergarten. Plus, I'm on the committee that puts together our local science fiction convention, Fencon. As for reading, one of my favorite books so far this year has been Code Name Verity, a young adult World War II spy thriller by Elizabeth Wein. There was a new book in the Rogue Agent series by K.E. Mills, which is one of my favorite fantasy series right now, and I'm saving the next Eli Monpress book by Rachel Aaron for my travel reading when I go to WorldCon in a couple of weeks. My current favorite TV series are Grimm (a really cool twist on fairy tales in a police procedural format), Haven (another paranormal procedural type show, but in the Stephen King realm) and for pure fun, I'm totally addicted to Phineas and Ferb on the Disney Channel. I've gotten all my adult friends into it.

Amber - What's your favorite paranormal movie of all time?

Shanna - I think it would have to be The Princess Bride.

Amber - If you could do magic, what would your favourite spell be?

Shanna - I just want a house cleaning spell -- wave your hand at a sink full of dirty dishes, and they're suddenly clean and back in the cupboard.

Amber - Thanks for visiting Amberkatze's Book Blog again!

Enchanted Inc, Series

#1 - Enchanted, Inc. #2 - Once Upon Stilettos #3 - Damsel Under Stress #4 - Don't Hex with Texas #5 - Much Ado About Magic #6 - No Quest for the Wicked (Due for release later this month)


Contest Time!

I am giving away a Shanna Swendson Enchanted Inc, Book to one lucky person! The winner can pick which book in the series they want and in which format (please not the newest releases are only available as e-books).

So if you haven't started the series yet you can start at the beginning. If you are up to date you can pick the upcoming release and I will send it along when it releases.

How To Enter

I have decided to give Rafflecopter a try! Use the widget below to enter the contest. Let's hope I did it right...first time and all ;)

Keep the contests going by using the Bookdepository.com and Amazon.com links/Banners below and around the site.

Entrants should check back to see if they have won. I do not hunt down winners and will pick new winners for any prizes not claimed within 7 days.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Barbara E. said...

This sounds like a great series.

Barbara (Barbed1951)

Unknown said...

Dead is the new world :)

post it on twitter.
plz email me ----> flor-lucy077@hotmail.com

Nancy said...

Love, love, love this series, and I'm so excited about the new books!

Thanks for a wonderful interview, Amber and Shanna!

No need to enter the contest. I have all of Shanna's books!

Nancy Haddock

koddabear said...

This books sound like they are just what I like. I'm going to try this series. Thanks for the great review and the giveaway

Stephanie said...

I'd love to try this series.


Victoria said...

I'm stuck. If it hadn't come back this spring I would have said DALLAS. I loved that show as a teenager.
I got it - SLIDERS. That was a fun futuristic show. Thank you.


Aurian said...

Nice interview, thank you. I hope to be able to get the fifth book soon. Question: if the Japanese publisher had not bought these books, would you have stopped writing them for good?

Cheryl said...

I don't have an e-reader, so this isn't an entry, but I really like this series; they're fun, light reads. I'm really glad to see there are going to be more; fingers crossed they come out on CreateSpace.

clynsg said...

Please stick with Rafflecopter--it is a great way (at least for entrants) to do contests.

Have received your newsletter for some time at cgclynsg0

Linda Henderson said...

I haven't started this series yet, but it sounds like one I would really enjoy.