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Shanna Swendson
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Once upon a time ...

A little girl learned to amuse herself by making up stories in her head. She turned everyday activities into exciting adventures, and she made up new adventures for characters from her favorite movies, TV shows and books. Then one day she realized that if she wrote down those stories, she'd have a book! But that was crazy, she thought. Real people don't become novelists. That was like deciding you were going to be a movie star. You couldn't just go and do it. But, it turns out, you can, and she did. She realized her dream of becoming a novelist and seeing her stories in bookstores. And then she started to wig herself out by writing about herself in the third-person. This is her story.

A Novelist's Journey

As I said above in that bit of silliness, I've always been a writer at heart. My favorite way to play was to create stories and act them out with my Fisher-Price people, my Barbie dolls or myself and a box of play clothes. If none of those things were available, I could just sit and make up stories in my head. I occasionally got into trouble for being a little too creative, such as the time when I embellished a bit on my kindergarten experiences (where's the dramatic hook in coloring, cutting out and pasting?).

When I was in seventh grade and a bit old for Fisher-Price people, Barbie dolls or the dress-up box, I started writing these stories down in spiral notebooks. Later, I found an old manual typewriter, taught myself to type, then wrote a lot of first chapters of novels on it. I still hadn't figured out how to actually be a working novelist who gets paid for writing (finishing a book instead of writing a lot of first chapters might have been a good start), so when it came time to go to college, I went to journalism school at the University of Texas. While getting my degree in broadcast news, I managed to structure a curriculum that might also help me in my real career plans. I took fencing (which I thought would be useful for writing fantasy novels), an astronomy course on the search for extraterrestrial life (in case I wanted to write science fiction), psychology, interpersonal communication, and parageography (the geography of imaginary lands).

I got serious about pursuing my novel-writing ambitions soon after I got my first job in public relations (TV reporting, it turns out, would have taken away from my writing time) when I started joining local writing organizations and reading books on how to write a novel. Then I took the big step of registering for a writing conference. With the registration fee, you could enter two manuscripts in a contest that went with the conference. I figured if I was paying that much money, I'd get the most out of it, so I wrote two entries. At the conference, I met a real, live editor, who encouraged me to submit, and one of my entries won the science fiction/fantasy category of the contest. I hurried to finish the novel the editor had asked for, then mailed a proposal. She ended up rejecting the book, but encouraged me to keep trying. I ended up selling that novel elsewhere, then sold two more books to that publisher before I had another idea for that original editor. That book ended up selling, and then one more. And then I hit the wall. Due to a number of circumstances, some of which weren't my fault and some of which were, I didn't sell anything else for eight years. But then I had the idea that became Enchanted, Inc., I wrote it, sold it, and here I am.

Other Life Stuff

When I'm not writing, I'm most often reading. Otherwise, I enjoy watching science fiction TV shows and then discussing them on the Internet, working crossword puzzles, baking, singing in the church choir, directing the church preschool choir, taking ballet classes and, when I have the time and money, traveling. I haven't yet found my prince charming, and I live with too many books and a Christmas cactus that's stuck with me through four jobs, three homes, and several boyfriends and men who didn't quite make it to boyfriend status.

Shanna Swendson

Photo by Julian Noel

Shanna Swendson
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