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).
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...