Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Girlfriend Cyber Circuit Presents: Shanna Swendson

Today Shanna Swendson is visiting my blog on her Girlfriend Cyber Circuit tour focusing on her brand-new book (available now!) DON’T HEX WITH TEXAS (gotta love that title and adorable cover!). Here’s a little bit about the book:

Shanna Swendson delivers the magic, love, and humor her readers have come to crave in DON’T HEX WITH TEXAS.

Katie Chandler has fled fast-paced Manhattan and returned home to a simpler life, working at her family’s feed-and-seed store in Cobb, Texas. In a painfully selfless gesture, Katie left the sexy wizard Owen Palmer to battle his demons in the magical realm—after all, she just seemed to attract evil, which only made Owen’s job a lot harder. But now, it seems, trouble has followed her home. Despite the fact that Merlin, Katie’s former boss at Magic, Spells, and Illusions, Inc., has assured her that Cobb is free of enchantment, magically speaking, Katie begins to notice curious phenomena.

Cobb is being plagued by a series of unexplainable petty crimes and other devilish mischief, and after her experiences in Manhattan, Katie knows “unauthorized magic” when she sees it. As this new dark magic strikes deep in the heart of Texas, Owen reappears (literally) to investigate. Now Katie’s friends and family must show the bad guys why it’s bad luck to hex with Texas, while Katie and Owen combine their strengths like never before to uncover a sinister plot before evil takes root in the Lone Star State.

Swendson’s contemporary urban fantasy novels have enchanted fans of romance, chick lit and fantasy alike. DON’T HEX WITH TEXAS—and don’t miss what Booklist calls “one of the best romantic-fantasy series being written today”!

You can visit Shanna at her website or on her blog, but today she is here answering my usual q’s for the Girlfriends.

Please list five songs that would be on the soundtrack to your book and explain how they relate to your story or characters.

Shanna: 1)Pinch Me by the Barenaked Ladies — it captures the mood of my main character early in the book when she’s kind of in a blah place. She’s safe from all the danger and excitement of the previous books, but she’s also bored and missing her old life.

2)The Visitors by ABBA — it’s about someone feeling like they’re going insane, and that sounds like what goes on with my heroine’s mother when she starts seeing magical things that aren’t supposed to be there (and doesn’t know about magic to know what she’s seeing).

3) Fallen by Sarah McLachlan — this really captures the emotion my heroine has about her relationship with the man in her life and what they’ve gone through together.

4) Out of the Frying Pan by Meat Loaf — there’s a restless energy in this song that sums up the feeling as everyone heads toward the big showdown.

5) Final Answer by The Calling — this feels like what’s going through my hero’s head as he faces the situation in the book.

Name some of your main character's favorite musicians or bands.

Shanna: My main character isn’t really a music person. She was in high school band, but music isn’t a big part of her life. She mostly just listens to whatever’s on the radio, and she’s a little self-conscious about being terribly uncool in that area.

Who are some of your favorite musicians or bands?

Shanna: I’m a musical theater geek, so most of the music I listen to is cast albums. Otherwise, I’m a retro dork. I still like the stuff I liked when I was a pre-teen and really kept up with the top 40. I’ve recently rediscovered ABBA and remembered why that was so much fun for me back then. And then there are the classic jazz performers like Ella Fitzgerald. Lately, I’ve started listening to some opera because I had to sing a couple of arias for a voice class I was taking, and I’ve gained a new appreciation for it. I guess you could say I’m all over the map musically. I just look for good voices with technique that doesn’t make me cringe, regardless of the genre.

Even though music plays in so heavily into my storytelling, I rarely can actually listen to it while I'm writing. Can you? How does music fit into your writing process?

Shanna: I can’t listen to most music with words when I’m writing because I’ll start singing along. The exception is music where the voice is almost ambient sound rather than words, like with a lot of Celtic music (even that in English seems to work that way). I vary on whether I listen to background music when I’m working. When I’m struggling with a book and can’t concentrate, I’ll listen to instrumental music. I’ll pick one CD and try to get into a habit so that this music is like a trigger telling my brain it’s time to work. Oddly, the CD that works best for me for that is the soundtrack to Battlestar Galactica (the new version). It’s this really eclectic, atmospheric music that almost puts me into a trance. The only problem is that now when the opening credits for the TV series come on, my brain says, “Okay, time to work!”

I generally try to create a soundtrack for a book before I start working as a way of organizing my thoughts and feelings about a book — almost like an auditory collage. I’ll pick songs that sound like they relate to the atmosphere, the emotions, the plot or the characters and try to put them in an order that makes sense. I’ll listen to it when I’m not working, like when I drive or when I go walking. It’s a way of getting my brain into the book. It’s also handy when I get revision notes from my agent or editor months later after I’ve moved on to another project. I can play my “soundtrack” and get right back into the world of that book.

While music is my muse, I know other writers find their muse in theater, sports, art, the great outdoors, etc. What is your main muse?

Shanna: I don’t have any one muse. I find inspiration in a lot of places. Some of my ideas come from other books that trigger a desire to read something like it but different in some way. Television can inspire me if there are characters or scenarios that start my brain going “what if?” I do get some inspiration from music. I have a mental list of songs that I think may be hiding a story, but I haven’t figured out what the story is yet.

1 comment:

bevrosenbaum said...

Great interview with Shanna, Stephanie!

Guess what? You've been tagged! Check out my blog at!