Today, I am delighted to be interviewing with Shannon Hale as part of the tour for Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. I know that this was scheduled to go out earlier, but the office was having difficulties with emails bouncing back or not sending properly, so it wasn't until now that I was able to set up the post!
Coming down from the mountain to a new life in the city seems a thrill beyond imagining. When Miri and her friends from Mount Eskel set off to help the future princess Britta prepare for her royal wedding, she is happy about her chance to attend school in the capital city. There, Miri befriends students who seem so sophisticated and exciting . . . until she learns that they have some frightening plans. They think that Miri will help them, that she "should "help them. Soon Miri finds herself torn between loyalty to the princess and her new friends' ideas, between an old love and a new crush, and between her small mountain home and the bustling city.
Interview with Shannon Hale
Tell us about yourself and how you became an author.
I’m currently a mom of four young kids, so that’s what takes up most of my time and energy. Inside I’m still that young, starry-eyed daydreamer who loved to read and struggled to make friends. And at the moment I’m eating rice crackers. I became an author by writing books for 19 years till I was good enough to write something that other people might want to read.
What draws you to the fantasy genre and fairy-tale style of writing?
Fantasy was my favorite genre as a kid and I still love it. I’m intrigued by fairy tales and their ability to still fascinate us hundreds of years later. There’s a timelessness and universality to those stories. If I’m true to the story itself, it’s easier for a reader to slip into the telling and find her own metaphors that resonate with her life.
You mention in your interview with City Weekly, "I want to see my heroine succeed without a phallic weapon in her hand," and each of your heroines possesses unique qualities that help them succeed. What do you believe is the most powerful weapon and why?
Ooh, I don’t know if I could choose one. I see in my heroes an arsenal that includes wit, perseverance, humanity, cleverness, creativity, and hope. I think we all have an arsenal of skills and talents, some untrained or unnoticed, that can win any war.
Your heroines all have good friends supporting them. How important are these relationships to your works?
Relationships are so important. Our relationships with others in large part determine our happiness. If I’m struggling to understand a character, I examine her relationships with other characters. I guess my work reflects how strongly I feel about the power of friendship in my life, especially my friendship with my husband.
How has Princess Academy and its sequel developed since you first came up with the idea for the story?
Whenever I get an idea for a story, it starts as a tiny dot, and as I think about it and begin writing drafts, it grows and grows until it becomes so much larger and more complex than I could have imagined. I love that process.
Miri is a young girl with a thirst for knowledge and no immediately identifiable weapon. What do you believe gives her the power to throw revolutions and touch hearts?
I love Miri. But I don’t think she’s that unique as a hero. I think most anyone could what she did in the right circumstance, with support and ideas and opportunity. You or I or everyone have the chance to be heroes every day to someone. And sometimes that someone is just ourselves.
At heart, Miri is an insecure girl who doesn't know if she can live up to everyone's expectations of her or even begin to comprehend Peder's feelings. How did you balance her need to be a leader to those who look up to her with her vulnerability?
I followed what felt like truth to me. Everyone has vulnerability. And everyone has strengths. Working with my characters to find that balance helps me try to figure out that balance in my own self. I am turned off by the posturing of some politicians, the pretending to be perfect, the bombastic shouting, the refusal to admit fault or humility.
Miri travels down from Mount Eskel to the city and learns that the world is bigger than she could have imagined. There is a revolution in the works, but there is no defined villain in either the townspeople or the king. Where do you feel the heart of the story is?
In Miri. In her choices. There’s no easy answer, so she has to decide what she believes and what’s right for her. Sometimes people shout at us, “It has to be this way or that way!” And it takes some thoughtfulness and bravery to say, “Wait, what about the other way?” We can’t control other people, nor should we try. We can only find our own truth and make our own choices.
What are you working on right now?
A young adult superhero adventure novel. It’s been in the works for years, but I’m hoping to finish it this year at last!
Shannon Hale is the New York Times best-selling author of six young adult novels: the Newbery Honor book Princess Academy, multiple award winner Book of a Thousand Days, and the highly acclaimed Books of Bayern series. She has written three books for adults, including the upcoming Midnight in Austenland (Jan. 2012), companion book to Austenland. She co-wrote the hit graphic novel Rapunzel's Revenge and its sequel Calamity Jack with husband Dean Hale. They live near Salt Lake City, Utah with their four small children, and their pet, a small, plastic pig.
Review - Palace of Stone (Princess Academy #2)