Shanna Swendson is the author of Enchanted, Inc., Once Upon Stilettos, Damsel Under Stress -- and now the fourth in the series, Don't Hex with Texas. Booklist calls her work “one of the best romantic-fantasy series being written today." Which is saying a lot.
Shanna's on the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit with me and has been visiting my blog for ages. Check out her very amusing boyfriend list. You can visit her blog here, or buy her books here. Below, she answers my usual questions related to The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Find out why Don't Hex with Texas is her sneakiest book yet, her complicated definition of feminism, and her penchant for extremely subtle pranks.
1. Tell me the sneakiest thing you ever did.
I’m trying to think of something, but I’m not really a sneaky person. I dream up a lot of revenge schemes but then I have a very short attention span and forget about them before I can actually do anything. There are a lot of people who’d be in huge trouble if I weren’t so easily distracted by shiny objects, but I think I have more fun dreaming up the schemes than I would carrying them out. Planning is so satisfying that by the time I’m distracted, I no longer need to carry them out.
2. Tell me the sneakiest thing that happens in your new book.
My characters do a lot of sneaking around because they have to deal with magical stuff happening at night without my heroine’s parents figuring out — and she’s living with her parents. So there’s a fair amount of crawling in and out of windows late at night and then hiding from cops on the town square.
3. Are you a prankster? Tell me a story.
I’m not a big prankster, but at one place I used to work there were a lot of pranks, and I thought it was fun to be in on them. I only initiated one, though. One of my co-workers had a lot of desk toys, and he was very precise about everything, practically lining things up with a ruler. Once when he was out of the office, I thought it would be fun to move a few of his desk toys by about a quarter inch and see if he noticed. The idea was to make a change so small that most people wouldn’t notice, but that might start eating at him throughout the day until he figured out what was different. But then another co-worker saw what I was doing and missed the point, and she just rearranged everything in such a huge way that he noticed the moment he came through the door, so that ruined my subtle prank.
4. Were you in any clubs or societies in high school? Did any of those club activities make it into your novels?
I went to a pretty small school, so there weren’t any clubs or societies other than the usual official school activities like sports teams, the band, newspaper staff, drama club, yearbook staff, etc. I did all of the above except for sports. I know a lot of schools have “band geeks,” but in my school at the time I was there, you couldn’t be cool unless you were in the band. Band was the big thing, and it was the most consistently successful organization in the school. We won just about everything, and were state honor band my senior year. Most of the cheerleaders and a lot of football players were in the band, but they didn’t march during football season. The drum major my freshman year is now the director of the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders (after having been one of the top cheerleaders for years). So, yeah, band was cool at my school.
I did incorporate the band into the new book in a really fun way that involves using the high school fight song for working magic. I’ve been out of school for a very long time, and I can still play the school fight song from memory, so my much younger character could, too.
5. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Why, or why not?
That’s become such a loaded term that has totally different meanings depending on who you’re talking to. I think that women deserve an equal shot at trying to achieve whatever they want to do. I dislike the fact that we even need a term like “women’s fiction” since we don’t have to have “men’s fiction” and that things written by women seem to be treated as second class because books about things like relationships are considered less “important” than typical male subjects like war and power. But I also don’t have a problem with the idea that women are biologically and psychologically different from men — not lesser, but different — and I don’t like trying to pretend that they’re the same. So I guess that’s a complicated answer to a complicated question.
6. How does your answer to question 5 show up in your new book?
I don’t know that it does, other than that the women all apply their unique skills to resolving the problem, and one of the characters is chafing under the restrictions her traditional culture tries to keep her in.
7. The club in my book is called The Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. If you were to found a secret society, what would it be called, and what would its mission be?
If I told you, I’d have to kill you.