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Interview with Shannon Hale - On Celebrity and Success

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SH: The person who you are naturally—when you‘re at home with your family, and you‘re working—is going to be different than the person signing books and greeting fans. How do you balance those two personas? Have you created two different personalities?

SM: I had to. The person who I am at home, with my family, is shy, not comfortable around strangers, kind of a homebody. And so to be able to speak to large groups—to be able to meet a bunch of strangers, which is hard for me; to be able to travel outside of my comfort zone—I had to get stronger. I had to do things that weren‘t fun for me and just suck it up, you know. [Laughs] Because the real me couldn‘t even imagine having to do that, so somebody else had to do it. [Laughs]

SH: Is it exhausting to live that public persona?

SM: It is. It‘s funny.... Just recently—I‘ve got some friends who are friendly with some fans, and they had a party, and I was invited to it. And they‘re like: ―It‘s just going to be really mellow. Don‘t worry about it—you know, it‘s just for fun.‖ But I knew I would have to go and be Stephenie Meyer. I couldn‘t just be Stephenie. And I‘d just gotten off the tour, and I just couldn‘t face it right then. I needed to just stay home and be me.

And, in fact, I felt so much pressure not to be a letdown that, on my last tour, I brought along a rock star.

SH: I‘ve found it‘s hard for some people to understand that. For me, there‘s nothing as exhausting as doing a book signing or a school presentation or something. And I think part of it is that I don‘t think I am interesting enough to make it worthwhile for anybody to hear me talk— or to stand in line to meet me. And so I‘m pouring my energy out onto these people, and trying to give them as much as I can. I mean, I‘m sure you‘ve had this, too—more than I have—where people will fly in from several states away just to meet you for those few seconds in line. And I think: How on earth could I make this worth their time?

SM: Exactly. And, in fact, I felt so much pressure not to be a letdown that, on my last tour, I brought along a rock star. And I felt so much better. [Laughs] Justin Furstenfeld from Blue October came and played some of the music that inspired my writing, and we interviewed each other onstage. I enjoyed what he did so much that I thought: You know what? These kids are getting an amazing show. This is special—this is something that is worth them coming out for. If I ever tour again, I will not leave the house without a rock star by my side. [Laughs] That is the new rule. Or...

SH: A juggling act—a magician.

SM: A magician would be good! Because, well, honestly, in person, there‘s nothing really that great either of us can do. We write books, so our big finale is sitting in front of a little computer, in a little room. And it‘s not something exciting to watch. It‘s the story that‘s the exciting part, and anybody can get that at the bookstore.

I‘ve had the experience where I got to meet one of my personal idols, just because a friend pulled some strings and I got backstage at a concert. I lived off that for months. So I try and remember that, and think: You know what? It means something to them, even though I can‟t understand why it would be anything special.SH: You know, it is true. I really can be such a fangirl. And I get so excited when I meet with writers....

SM: On the last tour I got to go out to lunch with Terry Brooks. The first real book I ever read was The Sword of Shannara. I was sitting next to this man who has so much experience— and so many years of doing this—and I‘m thinking: This book opened the entire world of reading to me. The gift that this man has given me, unconsciously, is nothing I could ever, ever repay. It was just this really amazing experience.

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