Six LDS Writers and A Frog

Saturday, June 14, 2008

I Heart Shannon Hale, Not to Mention Booksellers

by Sariah S. Wilson

My first experience with Shannon Hale was through "Princess Academy." Loved it. Loved the way she conveyed so much with so few words. You've read my blogs. You know I'm much more Stephenie Meyer than Shannon Hale when it comes to writing. Brevity and sparse-but-rich is unfortunately not my thing (wordy is more me). But I immensely admire it in others. I also love Hale's touch of magic in her stories, and the recreation of fairy tales (something I've always wanted to do).

So of course I was excited to read "Austenland," Hale's latest intended for grown-ups. It helps, of course, that I am one of those people who have the "Pride & Prejudice" DVD and audio CD and a few copies of the book. (I'm not, however, obsessed with Jane Austen. I know enough, but I'm far more interested in her writing than I am with the author.) So the premise of this was fantastic - a woman gets a trip to England where she has the "Pride & Prejudice" experience. She gets to live in the house, eat the food, be treated as a special guest, wear the fantastic clothes (and for the record, why can't we get empire waistlines back? Do women not realize how amazing they make everyone look?), and get courted by the Austen heroes. There's a Mr. Bingley, a Mr. Darcy and a Captain Wentworth (with different names, of course).

There were some twists in the end that shocked me (as they shocked the heroine), and I was actually afraid that the heroine would make the wrong choice. (She didn't. Yay!)

But the absolute BEST part of this novel for me the language. Hale wrote a character that speaks like I speak. She put things in her novel that I've been afraid to write in my manuscripts intended for a national market. Because I think there's this perception that if you're LDS, you're not allowed to say/think certain things. (I'm even afraid to reprint any of them here.)

One thing I loved was that she begins each chapter with a description of her past boyfriends and how things went wrong. The very short and very terse description of one boyfriend in particular had me laughing out loud (not something I typically do while reading).

It made me think that I might have to try and come out next year for Storymakers if she's going just so I can meet her, because after reading this book, I'm pretty sure I'd like hanging out with her.

Speaking of Storymakers, I got invited out to the LDS Booksellers Convention this year (I think it's okay to reveal that because I've been invited and I've accepted and spent an unseemly amount of money on a plane ticket to Utah).

It's fun because every year I beg for pictures and recaps (which only LDS Publisher seems to do without fail) so this year I'll be the one telling everybody what it's like to go for the very first time.

I'm excited. Especially since Traci Abramson has already said she'll hang out with me so I don't make a fool of myself.

For those authors who have already been to Booksellers - any dos/don'ts/helpful hints you'd like to pass along to a first-timer?


At 6/14/2008 11:00 PM, Blogger Annette Lyon said...

Haven't read this one, but I've been meaning to. I liked The Goose Girl more than PA, but yes, Hale's a great writer. Maybe she'll come to the next conference--she didn't come this year, alas.

But I can't agree with you on the empire waist thing--they make everyone look like they're wearing maternity clothes. Comfortable, I'm sure, but not flattering. :)

Have fun at Booksellers. I have no brilliant hints besides mingle and have fun!

At 6/15/2008 1:24 PM, Blogger Marcia Mickelson said...

I loved Austenland. It was one of my favorite books that I read last year. I call it a neglect-your-kids book because that's what I did while I was reading. I just couldn't put it down.

I'm in the middle of Princess Academy and can't seem to get into it enough to keep going. You think I should keep going?

At 6/15/2008 2:51 PM, Blogger Sariah S. Wilson said...

Badly constructed empire waist dresses look like maternity clothes. Property designed and fitted gowns do not make women look like they're pregnant. They tend to enhance a woman's best features while hiding problem areas. Plus there's the whole corset aspect which makes you look even better.

Princess Academy was my first introduction to Hale. I did like it, I admired the writing and liked the magic. It's not necessarily a romance, but more of the heroine finding her place among her people. I liked it.

It's hard to say whether or not someone should go on - people like different books for different reasons. The whole time I was reading Austenland I kept wondering when she'd find the magic portal that took her back in time to the real Regency era. So that probably detracted some from enjoying it more. :)

At 6/15/2008 4:31 PM, Blogger Stephanie Black said...

I need to read Princess Academy.

And Sariah, I'm with you on the empire-waist thing. It can be a very flattering style.

At 6/16/2008 11:01 AM, Blogger Kerry Blair said...

I heart Shannon Hale, too, although Austenland wasn't my favorite. I'm ambivalent about empire waists. :)

You'll heart Booksellers for sure. The long line of people waiting for your autograph will make you feel like a Stephenie. (It helps that publishers give the books away -- at least it does in my case.) But the very best part is meeting all the marvelous people! I'm so sad that I can't go and hang out in the Whitney booth this year. Meeting you would have been the highlight of the year! Have fun! So glad you'll be there to report back to the rest of us.

At 6/16/2008 12:55 PM, Blogger BRAXT said...

I am hoping to be at Booksellers this year (I am taking 5 wks off to 'go home' to NY, so I don't know if the owner is going to let me go to Booksellers). I will look you up if I am there.
Words of Wisdom Bookstore


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