Shawn Stout writes wonderfully quirky, funny and charming young fiction. She lives in Maryland.
Shawn Stout’s delightful Penelope Crumb rivals Ramona, Clementine and Judy Moody! As well as the PENELOPE CRUMB series, Shawn’s also the author of the FIONA FINKELSTEIN mini-series and the standalone novel, A TINY PIECE OF SKY.
She earned an MFA in Writing for Children at Vermont College of the Fine Arts in 2009 and lives in Frederick, Maryland with her husband and two dogs.
When and how did you start writing?
I’ve been writing all my life. I used to draw and illustrate stories when I was really little, and write in journals, but I never showed them to anyone, and I never imagined that I would be lucky enough to write books for children.
Can you remember the first book that made an impact on you?
I read THE SECRET GARDEN a million times and loved getting lost in that world. I was convinced that we had a secret garden in our house somewhere, and I spent hours looking for a badger hole that might hold the key.
Describe your writing day. Where do you write?
I write whenever I can—early in the morning while everyone else is sleeping, or in the evening after I’ve put my daughter to bed. I have an old wooden table that I use as a desk. It’s messy but it’s got everything I need—piles of books on writing, notes with scribbles on them, blank notebooks, my laptop, and my Jane Austen action figure.
Are there any tips you could give aspiring writers who are looking to get published?
Can you describe three aspects of writing craft that have been most important as you’ve developed as an author?
I can name one: Don’t be afraid of early drafts. I used to worry so much about my first/early drafts that I wouldn’t be able to develop the story because I obsessed on what was wrong in the first couple of chapters. I’ve learned that early drafts are supposed to be awful, and that the real writing comes through during the revisions.
What fictional character do you wish you’d invented?
STARGIRL by Jerry Spinelli.