I was born and raised in
where I unwittingly met my future husband when we were made High School lab partners. I started writing when I was in fourth grade, though I like to think my spelling has greatly improved since then (my first ‘book’ was called “The Hunted House”… I didn’t know there should be an ‘a’ in there somewhere). I read every book I could get my hands on and spent most of my free time either writing or making really cheesy movies with my family. I moved to California to go to BYU and get a degree in Film, fell in love with the state, got married to my old lab partner, and decided to stay here. And now I spend my time between work pretty much the same way I always have, writing or making cheesy movies. Utah
At what point did you decide to become a writer? Was there someone or something that specifically inspired you?
I decided to become a writer in the fourth grade when my teacher told me that I should try describing things in my books like I was talking to someone who couldn’t see them. This seems like a really obvious suggestion now but back then I thought it was the most brilliant thing in the world. So I fell in love with writing and using WAY too many adjectives. I think “School House Rock” may have also had an influence in my adjective abuse.
How do you write: outline or seat of your pants, and why?
When I first started writing I wrote mainly fantasy type stories. When I wrote those I was definitely a ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ kind of writer and it worked out well because it’s fantasy. Anything you say goes! But once I started writing contemporary Young Adult Fiction with school schedules, extracurricular activities, and dances, I had to break down and start making outlines. If I didn’t I would do something crazy like make Prom in July. Now every time I sit down to start a new book I print out a calendar and pencil events in like I’m actually the character. I’ll even go to my character’s high school website to see what events are actually happening at that school. It makes it easier to keep track of things.
Do you see writing as a career?
At the moment writing is more like a dream job. If I can be successful enough to have writing as a career I’ll probably be the happiest person on earth. That sounds like an exaggeration but it’s not. Writing as a career would be wonderful! I try not to be envious of those authors out there who write all day and don’t have to worry about the 9-5 grind. That’s my ultimate goal.
What are your hobbies outside of writing?
I really like to paint. I can’t draw to save my life but somehow painting feels easier to me than drawing. Possibly because it’s not so neat and accurate. You can mess up with painting and just cover it with more paint, or blend your edges to make it look like your being ‘artsy’ not messy. I also like to play music on the piano, guitar, flute… whatever’s closest really. I wasn’t going to admit that I really like to play video games because I’m fully aware that it makes me a huge nerd, but there it is. My name is Shannen and I like to play video games.
How would you describe your book in 12 words or less?
(Are we talking a bunch of adjectives, which you know I love, or an actual sentence? How about I do both for good measure.)Fun, romantic, quirky, complicated, costumed, fresh, loveable, contemporary, and sweet.
Or you could just say:You’ll want to dress up as someone else and start breaking hearts.
Tell us about your inspiration for The Break-Up Artist:
It was the week of my brother’s wedding in 2008, I was sleeping on the office floor because we had family bursting from floor to ceiling. Everyone was running around in pure, unadulterated chaos, and I was sitting by myself thinking of romance and love and odd professions (don’t ask me why I was thinking about that last part. I have an odd mind), and I started to think ‘I wonder if you could get paid to break up with people? That would be kind of cool.’ So I wrote a book about it J
What are you working on now?
I just finished writing my first LDS Young Adult Fiction novel, which I’m now editing and preparing to send out. I’ve never actually read an LDS fiction novel so hopefully mine isn’t terrible! I’m also going to start major rewrites on the first novel I ever wrote which is a Young Adult Fantasy book. I started writing it in Junior High so ‘major rewrites’ is probably putting it nicely. I also have a handful of half written Young Adult Novels that I really need to get back to after having cruelly abandoned them for The Break-Up Artist… maybe Amelia rubbed off on me.
State a random fact about yourself that could surprise your readers.
I have an unhealthy obsession with having hard copies of things I’m reading. I usually have a few books in my purse (much to my shoulder’s dismay) and we’re running out of room in our apartment from all of the books I’ve accumulated over the years. They’re just in piles all over the place! And if someone sends me their manuscript to read I have to print the whole thing out and put it in a binder to read it. It’s weird but I can’t help it. I also never get rid of books. So I’ve got boxes and boxes of Goosebumps and Babysitter’s Club books lying around.
Does music play a part in your writing? Are there any songs that could be the soundtrack to your book?
I actually make playlists for my books when I start writing. I like to have an entire folder on my computer dedicated to pictures, videos, and songs that remind me of my book so that right when I sit down to write I can get into the feel of my book. If I had a soundtrack for The Break-Up Artist it would probably be:
“Grace Kelly” –Mika“(If You’re Wondering If I Want You To)” – Weezer
“Canyon Girl” – Fruit Bats
“Potential Breakup Song” –Aly and AJ
“You’re Not Sorry” –Taylor Swift
“A Little Less Sixteen Candles” –Fall Out Boy
“Vanilla Twilight” –
“Accidentally In Love” –Counting Crows
“Nine in the Afternoon” –Panic! At the Disco
“Fools In Love” –Inara George
“I’ve Just Seen a Face” –The Beatles
“Fitz and Dizzyspells” –Andrew Brid
“Just for You” –William Tell
“The Saltwater Room” --
That’s kind of a ton isn’t it? Sorry!
You’re marooned on an island. What three inanimate objects must you have with you for your survival and/or sanity?
(I’m guessing food and water are not counted?)
Books… though if I can only have one I’ll pick Uglies by Scott Westerfeld. Can I have a computer with internet? If so, I choose that as my second thing. And… I’ll say a guitar. That way I can keep myself entertained.
I hope people enjoy reading my book as much as I enjoyed writing it! And if you come to a book signing and I’m a total dork I apologize, I’m probably just way too excited about this whole publishing thing! So please come and meet me! I’d love to get to know my fellow readers and writers!
Find Shannen and her books:
Breaking up with someone is a major pain unless you can hire someone else to do it for you! And Amelia demands top dollar for her professional break-up services. Everything's business as usual until David, one of the boys she's been hired to dump, throws her for a loop. she must decide if David's intentions are genuine, or if there's something sinister behind his flirting.