Interview with Shanna Swendson, Author of ENCHANTED, INC.

Shanna Swendson has written category romance novels (as Samantha Carter), radio scripts, marketing brochures, annual reports, newsletter articles and too many news releases to count. She has been a finalist for awards given by organizations ranging from Romantic Times magazine to the Dallas Press Club. She lives in Texas but loves to play Southern belle in New York as often as possible. Enchanted, Inc. is her sixth published novel.



INTERVIEW WITH SHANNA SWENDSON

When did your passion for writing begin?

I can't remember a time when I didn't entertain myself by making up stories in my head. I do remember a school assignment in fourth grade when I first felt a thrill about putting words together and using them to paint a picture. When I was twelve, I realized that if I wrote down the stories in my head, I'd have a book. That was probably when I decided I wanted to be a writer when I grew up. It didn't seem like a realistic career goal, but I never got passionate about any other profession.

Can you tell us what your typical “writing” day is like?

There's no such thing as "typical" in my life! I generally try to do all the business stuff related to writing in the morning and early afternoon, then write in the late afternoon and evening. But it all depends on where I am in a project. If I'm really inspired, I'll write a lot more, but I also take a lot of time off between projects to recharge my batteries.

Can you tell us a little about Enchanted, Inc.?

It's a blend of chick lit and fantasy, what I call "Bridget Jones meets Harry Potter." It's got a little of everything -- humor, romance, action and magic. It's kind of a twist on fantasy, since my heroine is non-magical, but she finds out she has her own "super power" that has nothing to do withmagic.

Who published your book and how has your experience with them been?

Ballantine Books is my publisher, and they've been terrific to work with.They're very open to my input, very responsive, and they've done a great job of helping promote the book.

Can you tell us the inspiration behind Enchanted, Inc.?

It was mostly wish fulfillment. I was daydreaming about how great it would be to open my e-mail and find an offer for a dream job. Then the dream job became magical. And then the idea for the book struck me. It was the kind of thing I wanted to read but couldn't find a lot of, something that used magic as a metaphor for approaching the issues of young adulthood -- job, friends, relationships.

Can you tell us ways you are promoting your book? Have they been successful?

I've focused my efforts on the Internet and various Internet communities. I'm part of two cooperative groups of authors who promote each other in our blogs. I've also received a lot of support from people in Internet communities I've been participating in for a long time. I don't know exactlyhow successful it will turn out to be, since the book's only been out for less than a week, but I'm hearing reports from people who've bought and read the book and who have recommended it to friends.

Who are your favorite authors and why do they inspire you?

I have too many favorite authors to mention, but some include: Connie Willis -- she manages to merge humor with some serious emotion and thought-provoking themes, which is a delicate balance I'd like to learn to achieve.Wendy Holden -- she writes some of my favorite chick lit books. She's laugh-out-loud funny and has endearing heroines I can't help but pull for --something else I'd like to achieve. Alan Dean Foster -- He was one of the first authors of "grown-up" books Iever read and was my introduction to science fiction. He's taken me to so many fantastic worlds over the years.

Do you have a mentor?

I don't really have one particular person who fills the role of mentor. I've had mentor-like guidance from a number of people in RWA chapters, online loops and in life in general. It seems that when I have a question or concern, I can usually find someone who has the answer.

What future projects do you have in the works?

I'm wrapping up work on the sequel to Enchanted, Inc. I'm writing an essay for an upcoming anthology about Desperate Housewives. I'm working on a proposal for a young adult fantasy novel. And I'm brainstorming ideas for a third book in the Enchanted series, in case my publisher is open to buying it after they see sales results on the first book.

What do you feel are the pros and cons of the publishing industry today?

The biggest pro is that there seems to be a lot of opportunity out there.There are a lot of books being published, and there seems to be a fair amount of variety. The biggest con is that it's hard for any one book to stand out from the crowd. Books are covered by the media and promoted by publishers in such a way that it almost seems to discourage reading, and that gets frustrating. There's a real bias in the media against commercial fiction, so the general public has few ways of learning about books that might be fun to read that might hook them on reading.

Can you give aspiring authors words of advice towards getting published?

Write your story, the one that no one but you can write the way it needs to be written, and believe in that story enough to keep plugging away. If this is what you were born to do, you won't be able to make yourself give up. If that one story doesn't sell, find another one deep inside you and write that, then start trying to sell it. Chasing the market and trying to write something just because it follows a trend is only going to frustrate you.

What’s one thing about your life that you think is important, but nobody asks?

How do you stay so sane in such a crazy profession? (Hmm, maybe they don't think I'm sane!)

I've weathered some really bad lows in my career, and I've dealt with some wonderful highs, and I think I've managed to stay on a relatively even keel throughout it all. My answer would be that it's faith, family and friends that help keep me grounded and centered. That's how I kept going when logic would have told me my career was over and I should just give up, and I hope that's what will keep me from getting a big head if I become successful.

Can you tell us where we can go to buy Enchanted, Inc.?

Just about any bookstore! I think Barnes & Noble is stocking it most consistently, but you can also find it in stores like Borders andWaldenbooks. It's shelved in general fiction, usually. You can also find iton Amazon and Barnes & Noble online. There's an e-book version, too.

If you were shipwrecked on a desert island, what is the one thing you just have to have with you?

Sunblock. I can entertain myself indefinitely, but I have very, very fair skin and burn when I think about the sun, so I'd need a vat of sunblock to survive.

Thank you for your interview, Shanna!

You can visit Shanna's home on the web at http://www.shannaswendson.com or her blog at http://shanna-s.livejournal.com.
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