Shannon Messenger graduated from the USC School of Cinematic Arts where she learned–among other things–that she liked watching movies much better than making them. She’s studied art, screenwriting, and television production, but realized her real passion was writing for kids and teens. She’s the author of the middle grade series, KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES, and the SKY FALL series for young adults, both published by Simon & Schuster. She lives in Southern California with her husband and an embarrassing number of cats.
For what age audience do you write?
I write middle grade and young adult fantasy.
Henry: It’s an interesting trend that more and more adults are also enjoying MG and YA.
Tell us about your latest book.
The next book I have coming out is called EXILE, it’s the sequel to KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES and it releases on October 1st.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
Ha–this seems like such a lame answer but… I really really really really really hope they like it. Honestly, that’s what it comes down to with sequels: hoping your fans are happy with where the story goes.
Henry: No mention of unicorns with sparkly poop! Really?
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
Drafting! I’m a total perfectionist, so the messy first drafting stage makes me incredibly twitchy. I have to constantly fight with myself not to go back and revise.
Henry: First drafts are hardest for me too, but for a different reason – I’m a big plotter.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I’ve had a few parents email me to tell me that KEEPER OF THE LOST CITIES was the book that turned their child into a reader–and yes, I totally cried when I read that. There’s pretty much no better compliment, and I am so incredibly honored and humbled that I get to play a small role in turning kids into readers.
Henry: I had a parent tell me their kid now eats mushrooms after reading NIMPENTOAD. One small victory.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
It’s never too early to start treating writing like it’s your job. Set writing goals and stick to them. Research the industry. Polish your craft. Because once you sell a book, it all starts moving very quickly, and if you aren’t used to working on deadlines it’s going to be a rude awakening.
Henry: And to paraphrase Neo in The Matrix. “Get cats. Lots and lots of cats.”
Do you have any favorite quotes?
YES! From Galaxy Quest: “Never give up! Never surrender!”
Henry: And there’s Toy Story: “That’s not flying!… that’s just falling with style!”
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleporting! I travel quite a lot to promote my books, and the whole process of airports and crowded planes and jetlag isn’t exactly my favorite. So being able to leap somewhere in the blink of an eye sounds pretty awesome.
Henry: Excellent choice. Better book sales through teleportation. Also handy would be the ability to teleport AWAY others who’re bugging you. Plus, if you teleport, you get to use the carpool lane on the I-5.
Where can readers find your work?
Pretty much anywhere books are sold, both online and in stores. But I highly recommend they consider shopping at a local Indie. Independent Bookstores truly are the heart and soul of the publishing business, and they need our support as much as we need them. My website is shannonmessenger.com.
Henry: Ditto. In addition to meeting Shannon at an SCBWI conference, I’ve met her signing her books at San Diego’s best Indie book store, Mysterious Galaxy Books.
This interview is also posted to the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.