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Guest Blogger, Shanna Swendson
May 12, 2008 - Amy Phelps
I'd like to welcome guest blogger, Shanna Swendson. Shanna is the author of "Enchanted, Inc.," "Once Upon Stilettos," "Damsel Under Stress" and most recently, "Don't Hex With Texas." She is here to talk about how she came up with the idea of her series.
Perhaps the best bit of writing advice I've ever heard (and I don't recall where I heard it -- probably lots of places because it's very good advice) is to write what you want to read. Don't try to anticipate what other people will want to read or what trend you think will be hot. If you're writing for others instead of for yourself, your heart won't be in it. Trends change quickly, and what publishers are buying today may have nothing to do with what's on the shelves today. But if you're writing what you want to read, then your passion for the material will be genuine, and that may capture the imagination of someone else.
It was through following that advice that I came up for the idea for my series, which started with Enchanted, Inc., (published in 2005) and which continues with the most recent book, Don't Hex with Texas. In fact, when I first came up with the idea, it wasn't so much an idea for what I wanted to write as it was what I wanted to look for to read. The first spark of the idea hit me in early 2002. That was when the "chick lit" genre had just started to make a splash in the United States after hitting big in England. I'd been on a trip to England a few months earlier and had bought a bunch of those books about life, careers and love in the big city. I related to those books more than I did to traditional romance novels because, in my experience, I was far more likely to struggle with meeting Mr. Right in the first place than I was to have a really great guy show up in my life and then turn out to be a big obstacle to my life goals (the way it usually seems to happen in romance novels).
Meanwhile, I'd finally succumbed to the lure of the Harry Potter series. I'd read the first few books, and as a longtime fantasy reader, what I'd enjoyed was the juxtaposition of magic with the modern world -- putting magic into such mundane situations as school. I pretty much was Hermione Granger when I was in school, and I found myself identifying with her in those books. Reading those alongside all those chick lit books, I realized that what I really would love to read would be something that had all that magic in the modern world stuff going on, but with characters who were closer to where I was in life, with a job and trying to deal with adult dating, etc.
What really kicked it off was one morning when I was on my way up the stairs to my office. I was telecommuting, and yet I still dreaded going to work in the morning. I daydreamed as I climbed the stairs about opening my e-mail and finding a message offering me my dream job. Then I thought it would be fun if it were a magical dream job. And then I knew that was what I needed to write about. I wasn't sure if any publisher would want it, since it seemed too "girly" for most fantasy publishers and too weird for most chick lit publishers, but it was what I wanted to read, and I couldn't find anything like it to read, so I wrote it.
Since then, the story has evolved and built with each book, and it's been a lot of fun along the way. I think the fact that I'm writing primarily to entertain myself is what helps make these books entertaining to other people.
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