Friday, November 9, 2007

Shannon Hale: Austenland and Book of a Thousand Days


I didn't get a chance to blog about Shannon Hale yesterday, because I was too busy driving out to meet her. Yesterday, she spoke and signed books at All Tucked In in the Salt Lake area. This was the second time I had the opportunity to hear her and have books signed (you can read about the first here).



Yesterday, Shannon told us about her two latest books, Austenland and Book of a Thousand Days (reviewed here). Following will be my notes from yesterday.





In 1996, the world changed. Do you know what happened? The BBC version of Pride and Prejudice was released on VHS. (Some of you young people probably don't even know what that is....) Shannon was first exposed to the movie when her little brother was supposed to read the book for high school. Although Shannon loved the book, her brother got caught up on words like "clergy" and wasn't really seeing the magic of it all. So, they sat down to watch, along with Shannon's boyfriend (who later became her hubby). She didn't understand why the movie made her feel sweaty and nervous. She only hoped the boys wouldn't notice. After a couple hours, the guys went outside, and Shannon, saying she wanted to rest, stayed in to finish the movie...and then re-watch the best parts.


Upon talking to some friends, she found that she wasn't alone in her love of the movie. One friend in particular had to ground herself from Pride and Prejudice, get it out of the house even.


Because of Shannon's past in acting, she thought about how fun it would be to go to a place where she could be immersed in the world of Jane Austen. So she wrote the book.


Austenland is the story of Jane Hayes, who is completely obsessed with Mr. Darcy, and more specifically, Mr. Darcy as played by Colin Firth.


Just making sure you're still awake...


Anyway, Jane's Great-Aunt dies and leaves her an all-expense paid to Austenland. Jane decides to use it as one last obsessive act, and drop her beloved BBC addiction forever...but, on her dream vacation, will she find a Darcy of her own?


When Shannon wrote Austenland, she kept showing it to her first test audience, her supportive husband. For five years, she worked on it, and he wasn't too impressed. Finally, she realized he really wasn't the ideal audience, published it, and the rest is history, as they say.








Book of a Thousand Days is loosely based on a Grimm Brothers fairy tale called Maid Maleen. She didn't choose to write the story because she loved it, she chose it because it made her want to slap the Grimm Brothers. After all, there was a maid locked into a tour with a lady for a very long time, and she hardly got any attention in the original tale. In fact, the Grimm Brothers completely dropped her halfway through the story.





Shannon asked herself lots of questions about the 3 page story. Eventually, after lots of research, she knew it had the potential to be a full novel. A diary-style novel from the maid's point of view.





In researching, she found a few nuggets of gold. She discovered that Mongolians believed in strong powers of song, that when you hold someone close, you can smell the scent of their soul, and that the ultimate humiliating, debasing act is for someone to be in public without clothes on.







I suppose that's all I'm going to share. I recommend that if you ever have a chance to hear her speak, you take it.





After her speech, a long line formed to have books signed. I had THREE books signed for giveaways! A hardcover of Book of a Thousand Days, a softcover of Princess Academy, and a softcover of Goose Girl. She wrote a brief, unique message in each. Be sure to leave a comment (or many comments) on any of the Shannon Hale posts this week to be entered into the drawing. I will close the drawing at midnight MST on Sunday, November 11th. 3 winners will be announced Monday.





I had my ARC of Austenland signed. It was the first ARC I ever received, so I was happy to have the opportunity to have it personalized. When I told Shannon who I was, she stood up and hugged me. I was so flattered. In fact, I was so happy about the whole evening (except the fact that my kids knocked over her life-sized Mr. Darcy with an I Heart SH button on his lapel) that I actually dreamed I went to a museum with her and another LDS celebrity of sorts last night (I probably shouldn't have admitted that)...but don't worry, it's not an obsession...I promise.





And, if you are LDS and wondering who in the world went to the museum with us, it was...






...Random...

17 Comments:

All8 said...

That's too funny! Gotta love dreams, and kids. What was in the museum?

Emily said...

It was actually the last museum I went to, which was the LDS Museum of Church History and Art.

Becky said...

What a great post! I loved the part where she realized that her husband wasn't the ideal audience and went ahead to go about getting it published. I enjoyed Austenland very much.

Anidori-Isilee said...

Thank you so much for posting this summary! I really enjoyed reading it. :D

hwalk said...

That dream is really, really funny, especially at the end of a post about Shannon Hale.

Lauren@Baseballs&Bows said...

How neat! I really enjoyed Austenland. It was such a fun read! And, who wouldn't have a crush on Colin Firth's Mr. Darcy?

Miss S. said...

Thanks for posting this. I love hearing about the reasons behind the books, and I'm just about to start Book of a Thousand Days, so it's a nice little introduction to the book. :)

Janette Rallison said...

I want an I heart Shannon pin too! I also want a life size poster of Darcy (sigh).

All8 said...

I finished 'Princess Academy' last night after the kiddos went to bed. I think that my 12 year old will love it. Dan was a surprise. Thankfully, Peder was not. Thanks for the recommendation!

stephanie@{Olive Tree} said...

I've had Austenland on my to-read list for a while. I'm bumping it up a notch or two. :)

Framed said...

I saw SH at the Salt Lake Book Festival last year and loved her. She is so funny. I probably liked Austenland the least of her books, I still really liked it a lot. She draws such great pictures with her words. Haven't read Thousand Days yet, but will soon. Thanks for the review.

Claudia said...

I, too, love Shannon Hale. My then elementary-age daughter and I met Shannon several years ago when she spoke at Greenwood Elementary in American Fork. She was indeed gracious, and did sign an individualized (and much cherished) message in my daughter's copy of Goose Girl. I'm excited to read Book of a Thousand Days. My daughter-in-law's parents served their mission in Mongolia when Shannon's parents were serving there.

Claudia said...

I must add that I really like this blog! It is so well put together -- I'm a budding blogger myself -- and as a junior high teacher, I appreciate all the suggestions I can get for "clean reads" -- for myself and for my students.

Carrie K. said...

I really liked Austenland, but have yet to read any of Shannon's other books.

nnjmom at yahoo dot com

RhubarbLady said...

This has been a really fun week to read so many wonderful things about Shannon and her works. Loved the museum comment. That second guest would probably be fascinating since the others talks I've heard from him are always interesting and informative.

Pam said...

Shannon Hale is one of the authors that I keep track of and always wonder when a new book of hers will come out. I'm so excited that this year we got two new ones from her!

luv2read said...

Mr. Darcy rocks!! Austenland sounds just up my alley. Will definitely put it on my ever expanding list of "to reads." Just saw Book of a Thousand Days at B&N on Friday and it looks good too. Argh, so little time.

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