Every time I sit down to write about an author I love, I start with a basic idea of what I’d like to say. “I’ll just grab a quick quote or some biographical information,” I think, while I pull up the author’s website. Hours later, I emerge from the rabbit hole that is the internet with even greater respect for these authors and their stories (and all kinds of useless trivia). Turns out, a lot of great authors are also fascinating people. Today’s author is no exception. I first read Shannon Hale when I picked up The Goose Girl almost 10 years ago now. Since then, I’ve read and enjoyed almost everything she’s written. What I admire most about her is not her writing but the way she talks about writing (and reading), especially for children.
About the Author
Shannon Hale has been telling stories her whole life. After many rejections, she published The Goose Girl in 2003 and never looked back. She is now the author of 15 books for children, teens, and adults. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her family and often makes appearances talking about writing and reading. She is an outspoken advocate for the idea that there are not boy books or girl books, just books. More than once, she has been asked to speak at a school and only the girl students have been invited to hear her talk. She says this is damaging to both the boys and the girls. As part of her quest to bring good books of all kinds to boys and girls, she’s invited other authors to contribute their thoughts under the heading Stories for All on her blog. All of the contributions are fascinating, but my favorite comes from Guys Read founder Jon Sciezska. Of the many Shannon Hale interviews I found online, I really enjoyed this video interview with her and her husband Dean. (They have collaborated on a number of books, including The Princess in Black, which they talk about here:)
About the Books
Her books are as diverse as you’d expect from a prolific author whose been publishing for over a decade, though most of her books have elements of magic and fantasy. She has books about princesses, books about grown women who dream of living in Jane Austen stories, illustrated novels about a monster-fighting princess, the only graphic novel I’ve read to date, and more. Her novel Austenland was recently made into a movie, though I haven’t heard great things about it (which is too bad, really, since the book was perfectly enjoyable).
Rapunzel’s Revenge is such a charming graphic novel (and the illustrations are gorgeous) that I keep buying it when I need a gift for nieces and nephews. The little readers at my house all love The Princess in Black, from the 8-year-old down to the toddler (though she insists she likes everything the big kids read). My personal favorites are Book of a Thousand Days and The Princess Academy.
My brother and I read almost all the same books (sometimes trading back and forth a chapter at a time) growing up, so I hadn’t really thought about the way books are presented to boys and girls until I read this fascinating article about book covers a few years back. Since then, I appreciate what authors like Shannon Hale are doing to speak out for boys and girls that enjoy good stories of all kinds. You can read more about Shannon Hale, including a bio written by her husband, on her website.