My dear friend, agent Kristin Nelson was kind enough to let me interview her about her client Shanna Swendson's ENCHANTED, INC, which hit shelves in the past week. I've tracked this terrific book from before Kristin made the submission, so I thought it would be fun to ask her a few questions about the whole agent/submission process that took the work from manuscript to the final product.
Kristin, you and I have a great time sharing about our current submissions. I remember very well when you sent out ENCHANTED, INC, and also how excited editors were about it. Can you tell me what exactly seemed to have captured everyone’s eye about this book?
Deidre, you are a part of what makes agenting fun, and I love sharing agency news with you. We are two peas in a pod, and I think we were accidentally separated a birth.
As for ENCHANTED, I know exactly what caught the editors’ attention. Shanna had such a unique hook for this chick lit work. After all, the main heroine, Katie Chandler, is so ordinary, she’s immune to magic. So she’s recruited by a magic company to be their secret weapon because magic doesn’t work on her.
How cool is that? Katie’s superpower is that she is ordinary. That means we all have a bit of superpower in us because most of us would consider ourselves pretty normal.
Similarly, what was it about ENCHANTED INC that stood out to you from the rest of your submissions?
It was such a refreshing change from what seemed to be the trend at the time. Chick Lit had been getting sexier and more about dishing the dirt. There was an innocent quality to ENCHANTED that really won me over. I could also see the YA crossover potential with that work.
If you could name one single quality to Shanna’s writing that you love the most, what would it be?
Her imagination. She includes such fun details. I can’t reveal any examples because that might be a spoiler for anyone reading her work but we’ve just delivered book 2 in this series to her editor and let me tell you, Katie has a whole new adventure awaiting her in New York City.
And, if you could be a single character in ENCHANTED, INC, who would it be and why?
Kate of course! Her secret weapon is her common sense. She’s always applying it to wild and crazy situations and I love that. Not to mention that Owen, the most powerful magic man since Merlin, just might be interested and he’s such a hottie!
In terms of reviews and editor reactions was there any response that surprised you about this book? And if so, what was it and why?
We were surprised by the overwhelmingly positive reviews we’ve had for this work. You can’t please everyone so I keep waiting for that one bad review, but it hasn’t happened. ENCHANTED INC. was even reviewed by Dark Realms Magazine (not known for liking light and innocent fantasy) and they loved it. Shanna’s favorite review though was the article done by Charles De Lint. He’s a legend in the industry and he totally got it. Now that can bring an author to tears let me tell you. Tears of joy that is.
Any hints about what’s in the pipeline for Shanna (call me Joan Rivers!)??
Oh yes! Shanna has received numerous fan emails clamoring for more. Readers will be happy to know that ENCHANTED INC. is the first in a series, and Katie will be called upon again to save New York City from the deranged Phelan Idris. Now if we can just nail down a title for that book 2…
Doesn't that sound exciting, gang? I can't wait to read this book! Here's the press release and more info. I'll come back next with the cover art as well.
ENCHANTED, INC. by Shanna Swendson
(Ballantine Books), May 31, 2005
Shanna Swendson’s debut mainstream novel, ENCHANTED, INC. is a magical story featuring Katie Chandler, a 20something, small-town Texas girl, who finds that being average in New York City is anything but. Katie loves the energy of Manhattan, and if she finds some of the people odd, well, that's New York, right? Where else would you see a person on the subway wearing fairy wings? In fact, if Katie wasn’t completely sure those wings must be a costume, she’d think they were real, the way they flutter in the breeze. Certainly the gargoyle that perches above the door of the church she passes on the way to and from work isn’t real. Its eyes seem to follow her, and she could have sworn it winked at her once, but now that she thinks about it, it was really hot that day, and she hadn't eaten lunch....
Katie is still adjusting to life in the big city while working a for a nightmare boss, when she gets a fantastic offer to work for a mysterious company, MSI, Inc. Through her new job and the magical folk she meets, Katie comes to find out she isn't quite as average as she thought; and the fairytale life she has longed for begins to come true in surprising ways. What Katie doesn’t realize is how rare and important being ordinary can be. In fact, it is her ordinary characteristics that make her the perfect secret weapon for MSI, Inc. Suddenly the very qualities she thought made her average are what make her special! Now she has magicians and fairies meddling in her attempted romances, a secret life she needs to keep hidden from her non-magical friends, not to mention that dangerous pull she feels for Owen, an attractive but shy wizard who might be the most powerful magic man since Merlin.
ABOUT SHANNA SWENDSONWith ENCHANTED, INC. Shanna Swendson offers a new twist on chick lit for the-now-grown-up fans of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In addition to writing fiction, Shanna is a freelance marketing consultant and writer specializing in technology and telecommunications. She is single and lives in Irving, Texas, with her many pet plants, including a vicious attack bougainvillea and a Christmas cactus that has outlasted three homes, three jobs and three boyfriends, yet still faithfully blooms every Christmas and Easter. She’s looking for a man that reliable.
REVIEWS“A totally captivating, hilarious and clever look on the magical kingdom of Manhattan, where kissing frogs has never been this fun.” -- Melissa de la Cruz, author of The Au Pairs and The Fashionista Files
“With its clever premise and utterly engaging heroine, Shanna Swendson has penned a real treat! Enchanted, Inc. is loads of fun!” -- Julie Kenner, author of Carpe Demon: Adventures of a Demon-Hunting Soccer Mom and The Givenchy Code
"I am giddy! I found an enchanting (pardon the reference) book and therefore, have a new author to read. Bridget Jones, move over. Shanna Swendson is offering up fantasy for the Buffy, Sabrina and Bewitched crowd. This is a delightful romp through the world of magic with a dash of romance thrown in for good measure. There are characters you¹ll love and remember. If you want to escape the stress and busyness of life, join Katie for an enjoyable frolic into the world of make believe.” -- armchairinterviews.com