Shannon Hale needs no introduction. If you haven’t read her books yet, they are wonderful and I highly recommend them. She and her husband Dean co-wrote their first graphic novel last year, Rapunzel’s Revenge. The sequel, Calamity Jack, will be out…possibly sometime next year? I didn’t hear a date for that one yet. It’s got a cool cover, though!
Shannon and Dean did a half-hour reading/Q&A session on Saturday afternoon. But before they read, they said they wanted to show us how their collaboration works by doing an “interpretive dance.” Shannon assured us that they had never practiced or rehearsed this dance, but she knew it was some brilliant choreography. Enigma’s “Return to Innocence” played as they did their slow poses. But enough description…on to the pictures!
After this hilarious (oops, I mean thoroughly moving) performance, Shannon and Dean read from Rapunzel’s Revenge. Shannon took the part of Rapunzel; Dean read Jack’s part. I took a short video with my phone but it’s not good quality and hard to hear, so if you want to listen, turn your speaker up:
Here’s Dean modeling the Rapunzel poster:
Shannon and Dean also showed us the way “movie kisses” are done, with the girl being leaned unnaturally far back and head twisted strangely to the side:
There was quite a lot of kissing going on, actually. :) They informed us that this is the way Rapunzel ends.
After the reading, the Hales took some questions.
Q: What’s your biggest waste of time while working?
A: Not doing it.
Q: What’s your biggest waste of money on writing stuff?
A: I don’t spend a lot of money on writing.
Q: Why did you choose The Goose Girl as the fairy tale for your first novel?
A: I read Robin McKinley’s Beauty many years ago and it really stayed with me. My favorite fairy tales are not necessarily my favorites, but the ones I actually like the most are the ones that bother me the most—the ones that raise the most questions. [Dean interjects: That’s why she married me, too…I wasn’t her favorite, but I bothered her the most.]
Q: Do you ever get burned out coming up with ideas?
A: No. I never seem to run out of ideas. But one thing I try to make sure I do is have time to read for fun, so I don’t get burned out on writing. It recharges me.
Q: Was River Secrets hard to write from a male point of view?
A: As a kid, I swore I would never write from a male perspective. But by the time I started working on this book I knew Razo so well that it just came naturally. Dean corrected me in a few places, to help me know how a boy would see things. [Dean: I think there were only two places like that.]
Q: How much do you write each day or week, and how do you balance it?
A: Dean: I try to allocate time as possible. I still work a full-time job.
Shannon: I set daily goals of words. Right now my goal is 1,000 words per day, Monday-Friday. I used to be able to write during my first child’s nap but now, with two children, that isn’t possible. I do hire a sitter a few hours a week and I sometimes write at night if I haven’t reached my goal.
Q: Dean, what can you tell us about your picture book?
A: Shannon was busy writing one night, so I thought, “I’ll do some writing, too.” I wrote the text of a picture book I called Scapegoat. It really was a perfect name, I thought! It’s about a little boy who blames everything he does on the family goat.
One day we were in New York—why were we there again? [Shannon: We were on the Today show, honey.] Oh yes, that’s right! Anyway, Shannon was in a meeting with her publishers and I was waiting for her so I showed the book to her agent. The agent liked it and said, “Let’s do it!” But they made me change the title. They said kids wouldn’t understand what a scapegoat was. Also, I had to change the name of a character. He had a wonderful name: “Hasby the Croat.” They were afraid it would be offensive to Croatian people, plus they were pronouncing it “Cro-at” and it didn’t at all fit with the rhyme scheme.
Q: What’s your favorite music?
A: Oh goodness, no idea! Right now we have 800 songs on the iPod. My current favorite song is “Golden Years” by David Bowie.
The very talented Rapunzel illustrator, Nathan Hale, was also in the room. That is, until they started up their dance again at the end and asked him to join them! He escaped—err, I meant, had to leave—very quickly.
Shannon and Dean were absolutely delightful to watch/listen to. My whole family thoroughly enjoyed their presentation and my husband liked it so much that he went down to the bookstore, bought Rapunzel’s Revenge, and insisted on getting it autographed to him.
It was a thrill to meet one of my favorite authors. If you ever get the chance to see the Shannon/Dean dance team, you shouldn’t miss it.