Q&A with Michael Knudsen, author of The Rogue Shop

Michael pitched me his debut novel The Rogue Shop as “a coming-of-age romantic comedy that … is a little off the beaten path for LDS genre fiction.” I liked the sound of that so I invited Michael to tell us more. The official release date for his novel is Dec. 10, but you can preorder it on Amazon or Cedar Fort’s website now. For more on Michael, see his author’s website.

On your website you say that The Rogue Shop was 20 years in the making. Could you take us through that process?

As a newly married University of Utah student 1988-1990,I discovered Hawthorne and Shakespeare while earning a few dollars at a South Temple formalwear store. Pressing coats on ancient steam presses, assembling tuxedos and cleaning out the shop’s ancient basement, full of old mannequins and cobwebbed formal fashions dating from the 1950s. The place had such an atmosphere of mysterious history about it that I couldn’t resist it as a setting for a novel. Unfortunately, I was just too young and inexperienced to write the story the place deserved at that time, and my uninspired drafts stalled out before five chapters. Also, I needed to get some distance from the co-workers and associations I had there. Although all the characters in The Rogue Shop are purely fictional, I would hate to think that someone would read the book and think that a characterization was based on him or her. Finally in 2009, I felt the time was right and I completed a viable draft during National Novel Writing Month in November. It became my first ever novel submission in January 2010, and received six rejections within four months. Cedar Fort replied with more detailed feedback, which I interpreted as a request for revision and resubmission. I had it back in the mail to them within three weeks. On May 14 I received their acceptance for publication. Continue reading “Q&A with Michael Knudsen, author of The Rogue Shop”

Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. Two

Part One may be found here.

Both Austenland and A & H tackle romantic fantasies and the nature of romantic comedies, their “grotesque mimicry of actual love (A & H 304).”  And when Becky tries to decide whether or not she could actually love Felix romantically, she writes a screenplay with a movie ending.  But the novel’s conclusion isn’t a “Hollywood ending.”  Did you feel that writing it the way you did was risky?

Oh sure. I knew some readers would be angry, and I was sorry for that, because I knew absolutely that the ending was the right one for this story. I think it goes back to genre–those who expected a certain ending might not be willing to go with me where I wanted to take the story. And this story just might not be a good fit for their sensibilities. That’s okay. I knew (was told) that the book would sell better if I made the Hollywood ending work, but for me that would have made the story pointless and been sheer betrayal of the characters. I try to do right by the characters. Continue reading “Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. Two”

Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. One

Shannon Hale is the author of several young adult novels–including Enna Burning (reviewed here), the Newbery Award winner The Princess Academy, and, most recently, Forest Born.  She has also published two adult novels, Austenland and The Actor and the Housewife. The latter provoked strong responses among Shannon’s readers, and no wonder.  It’s a bold work likely to twang nerves, even for those who like it.  I reviewed it for AMV here. As part of my impulse to explore and enjoy The Actor and the Housewife until sated, I invited Shannon to an AMV interview.  She graciously–and prodigiously–answered several questions in this two-part interview.

What artistic works have inspired you?

That’s a big question. I was raised on fairy tales, C.S. Lewis, Lloyd Alexander, Joan Aiken, etc. High school and college was mostly the “classics,” then grad school was literary fiction (living authors do exist!). After selling The Goose Girl, I discovered YA lit, and that makes up 50% of my reading material now. And then there’s music, movies, plays, visual art…hard for me to dissect it, but it all gets into my brain. Continue reading “Interview with Shannon Hale: The Actor and the Housewife, Pt. One”