Author Interview with Shaunda Kennedy Wenger.Author of The Ghost in Me; Reality Bites, Tales of a Half-Vampire; Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Forest Again; and The Book Lover’s Cookbook, Recipes from Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages That Feature Them.
If you could travel in a Time Machine would you go back to the past or into the future?I love nature and being outdoors, so it would have to be the past. Too much of our world is turning to concrete and plastic. Plus, it seems that there were a lot of hats to be worn “back then.” For some reason I feel silly wearing hats today, but if I were to go back in time, I’d be able to wear hats upon hats to my heart’s content.
If you were stranded on a desert island what 3 things would you want with you?My best friend, a magic ice cream truck, and non-greasy sun-block lotion.
What is one book everyone should read?Mine! J After they’ve read THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES by Sue Monk Kidd
What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?Vanilla, not only for its pure creamy taste, but because it can be dressed up to fit whatever mood or craving I may have.
If you could meet one person who has died who would you choose?Albert Einstein, for the purpose of a character study, of course! I love the classic photo of him riding a bike that is often accompanied by a quote of his, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving forward.” Without a doubt, I’d walk away having learned something.
What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?Pie. If I’ve made one for dessert the night before, I always look forward to having another slice in the morning.
Night owl, or early bird? Neither. Lately, it seems like I hit my peak mid-day; although generally I don’t have any trouble waking up early for work and finishing the day off with an evening run at 9 or 10pm. Maybe I’m more like a sunflower—I just follow the sun.
One food you would never eat?Raw clams. One summer when I was a teen, I went to Cape Cod for the weekend with my family. Our host dared me to eat a raw clam that he had dug up that morning. He’d been raving about this experience that he had hoped I would have for the entire evening prior. Despite his twelve hours of prodding, hoping we would partake in his fresh feast, none of us tried, except for my brother (and his reaction didn’t leave me jumping at the opportunity.) I do love sushi, though!
Skittles or M&Ms?M&Ms—the white ones, when I can find them.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.My stories not only entertain; they are designed to inspire and empower—they should leave my young readers feeling better for having read them.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects? I will be publishing another chapter book this winter that is a fractured folk tale about the Three Little Pigs taking a family vacation. As for my WIP, I am writing another middle grade novel set in New Hampshire, involving a girl, a café, and a bit of magic.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.Having readers tell me they love my books.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?Willa Cather’sMy Antonia. Her prose and description of a time long gone is beautiful.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?I loved James and the Giant Peachwhen I was a tween. When I was a teen I loved the books by V.C. Andrews :Flowers in the Attic,Petals on the Wind, andIf There Be Thorns.
When you were little, where did you want to be when you “grew up“? West of where I was. I wanted to travel west. I suppose I clung to that early American dream of our pioneers who made this country. And now that I’m west of where I started in New Hampshire?… I travel back East as often as I can. Once a year is not enough.
How did you know you should become an author?After I finished my Masters of Science degree at Colorado State University, I got a call from author Jim Fergus (One Thousand White Women) asking me to help write a Natural History Guide of Rocky Mountain National Park. My response was a resounding, “Yes! Now I can finally do what I’ve always wanted to do!” …That was a big hint that maybe I should step away from a career in scientific research. Although we never finished the guide because Jim was given a contract to write his highly acclaimedOne Thousand White Women, his encouragement sent me into the world of writing and publishing.
What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?My younger sister sent me a note of encouragement once that said, “Let the sun shine in your soul every day.” That philosophy has become a part of me. It’s one of the quotes visitors will see on my blog.
Nickname? My students call me “Wanghead” for the silly stories I tell when teaching them scientific concepts…. I’m not sure if it’s a good thing for an “adult” to admit to having a nickname.
How do you react to a bad review? I’ve decided that I can’t help it if grumpy people read my books. J Just kidding! Some of my books are for kids. Sometimes the adults that read them forget that. But overall, I try to see what can be learned from all my reviews. Based on feedback, the kids that read them love them; along with older readers who are young at heart.
You have won one million dollars what is the first thing that you would buy?I’d buy an afternoon off from work and obligations. The day would involve an hour-long massage at the local spa; a plush, white robe; a cucumber; and an avocado. The massage is self-explanatory, but the robe is to lounge in while I relax with cucumber slices laid over my eyes during an avocado-facial. I guess I’d also need to buy a fruit smoothie to drink during my relaxation time, too.
What do you do in your free time? I exercise to keep fit and healthy, spend time outdoors with my family, and read. Idling tends to drive me nuts, unless I’m just lying back and watching the clouds unfurl as they roll by in the sky. That’s one thing I really like to do while doing absolutely nothing.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?With an anxiety attack. I realized people were actually going to be reading my book (The Book Lover’s Cookbook, Recipes from Celebrated Works of Literature and the Passages That Feature Them). I had no idea what to expect.
What is your guilty pleasure?Huckleberry Ice Cream with Chocolate Sprinkles
What TV show/movie/book do you watch/read that you’d be embarrassed to admit?Zorro, The Gay Blade. This movie just makes me laugh.
Favorite places to travel?New Hampshire. I’m a lake-loving girl.