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April 07, 2014



Brava. Truly. Anyone can only do so much, and that's a lesson we all must learn or suffer dire consequences. I am proud to love the work of a writer who chooses to put her energy into her family and her craft rather than trying to pretend to be everything to everyone. Keep it up. Readers will ultimately appreciate your dedication, as will those closest to you.

Rachel Q

I wouldn't be that pleased to receive an email I had to make threats for. I should also think that a "fan" would have an understanding just from having read your blog and tweets for so long. You've always made it clear what your life is like.

Holly Thatcher

My friend Megan and I came to see you at The Red Balloon bookstore in St. Paul. I brought my entire collection of Shannon Hale books for you to sign, but I quickly realized you didn't have time for that, so you just signed a copy of Dangerous for my 13 year old daughter. You wrote "For Emma Read me" at my request. When I got home that night my 8 year old son was upset that the book was not also dedicated to him, because he said, "This is clearly a boy book. Look at the cover! Look at the title!" And he took it to school the next day to read. I thought it was interesting especially considering what you said that night about gender and writing.

I just want you to know that I love your writing, as do both of my children. You are funny and witty and as wonderful in person I'd imagined you'd be. I'm so glad you continue to put your family first and write books. I'm sorry that you have to keep explaining why you can't respond to every email. That must be a terribly frustrating part of being an author.

Several women in my ward also got together to watch Austenland on DVD. It never played in a theater near us. We loved it and hope that you, Stephenie, and Jerusha can continue to make more movies as well. The world needs your stories. Thank you for sharing them.

Amy Kathleen Ryan

When I was a kid, there was no such thing as an accessible author. If you wanted to send a letter, you could do so through their publishers, and *maybe* get a response. The pressure on authors now to keep open lines of communication with their readers can really be too much. I think your policy makes sense. And I hear you about the simple demands of keeping house and caring for children. Can be hard to catch your breath, let alone write!

Jacy Larson

You go Shannon! I love that you care so much about us fans, but PLEASE don't let a few grouchy fans make you feel bad. Your writing is wonderful and even though I don't know much about you personally, you seem like a wonderful mother. Keep on doing what you're doing!


Awww, I'm sorry that there was a need for you to write this post!! This should all go without saying. You have a very finite amount of time, and we all want you to write more books. If it's getting to you, have someone else go through your emails and delete the negative ones. Good luck!


You are so incredibly amazing, Ms. Hale! When I'm writing and am in "my zone," per se, I can't HEAR anything else, let alone actually get up and DO anything else. I am so blessed by the fact that you put being a wife/mother first and writing second. Because--truth be told--I would be far more devastated if you never wrote another book than if you never responded to another email. And on top of that, I know that your kids have one awesome mom. Go Shannon!

Jaime Kirby

So true, Shannon. So true. Thank you for saying that! What is with the internet that makes people think they can say things rudely with no consequence? Keep writing books, Shannon. We'll keep reading!


What gets me most is: who writes well and most creatively and imaginatively with a gun pointed at their head? NO ONE. And if our favorite authors didn't have real lives, where would they get their creativity and rejuvenation to write with? (I just spent today talking about opposition in all things with my 8 year old who seems to think that life should be FUN! and GAMES! and nothing hard, especially not a mama exasperated with the lackadaisical attitude.... Maybe some of these email writers fall in that category....)
I wish you a bubble bath, movie/novel and bon bons, at least for 1 hour ;)
My daughter isn't old enough to read these books, yet, but we are dangerously close to being old enough to have them read to her. Thanks for your books and being YOU!

Heidi Kneale (Her Grace)

Thanks for saying this out loud. I'm nowhere near as published as you, and I'm still getting crap like this.

I like your policy. I'm gonna adopt it.

Stuff like this sometimes makes you wonder if Stephen King's "Misery" is semi-autobiographical.


Brussel Sprouts! You forgot all that time you spend roasting brussel sprouts!

At least you write your books faster than *some* people. :)


Oh dear. You've got the naggers too?

Well, I'm really glad to know it's not just limited to Viria on tumblr and me and my friends on Fanfiction dot net.

Trust me dearie, there'll always be people like that and honestly, it gets pretty ridiculous. I used to update every day at seven o'clock because that's when I'd wake up and have a bit of time to myself before school but one day it got crazy, I accidentally dropped my phone en el retrete, mi hermano se rompe mi computadora con el MineCraft stupido y yo tengo los examenes de espanol, ciencias, historia, matematicas y inglés — los examens muy, muy grande y dificíl. -.-

(If you followed that, kudos.)

(If you used Google Translate, that's okay too.)

Anywho, back to the story. Life got cray-cray, I couldn't update or check my email for a week. I get back, check it, and I found probably fifty so emails asking where I was — the first one being ten minutes after I'd usually post, saying I was ten minutes late and they were waiting. It was really ridiculous.

So no, dearie, you're not alone. There are always going to be these people who simply don't understand that yes, their life is busy and so is yours. Abstaining from replying was a wise decision on your part; I mean even an unknown fan artist like me wouldn't get any sleep if she tried replying to all her messages.

Seriously girly, you're going to just have to get used to it. I know, it's hard and really frustrating, but just know that you're not the only one who gets this kind of poop. I don't get that much anymore, but I can hear a familiar voice in you.

Part of the reason is you remind me of Viria. Really. I can't count how many times she's replied to anon hate messages just like the ones you've been traumatized by.

So keep your head up dear, don't be that annoyed. You're not alone, if that helps any. :)


Love you, Shannon. And good job posting on this subject with grace and clarity. :)


Wow, do people actually threaten authors like that? That's really horrible.

Sometimes, I do find myself picturing you as your "stereotypical writer", but I really appreciate that your more than just that. In fact, your kind of like one of my writing role models because you've shown me that I can still write even when I have busy life :)

And personally, if answering my e-mails forces you to stop writing, by all means do NOT answer my e-mails :)! I much rather have Shannon Hale keep writing than answer my e-mail anyway.


You go, Shannon! (And I love mwt's comment. Yes, she needs to write *faster* -- said with love, btw.)

I'm so glad you do what you do!

And, gosh, you're the mother of *twins*!

As a recently empty-nester, the day will come all too soon when your life is a lot more sane, and you'll think back on these days with nostalgia (glee for the present as well, but still nostalgia!).


I'm so sad there are readers who expect more from you than your wonderful books. Also, I think you're extremely accessible--I love hearing a little bit about your life on your blog and on Twitter. Thank you for sharing all that you do, and I hope that most of your readers understand boundaries.

Meg Cabot

Margaret Mitchell spent all of her time after finishing "Gone With the Wind" replying to her fan mail, because that's what she thought a polite author should do. But I wish she'd been less polite and spent that time writing another book!

Then she got hit by a car while crossing the street on the way to the movies and died.

This should be a lesson to everyone: Do NOT spend all your time answering fan mail - spend it writing more books! And look both ways before crossing the street ;-)

Meg Cabot

Jo Darton

You do your own taxes?

Trish Henry

You are so totally AWESOME!


Seriously, people think you have time to personally respond to their e-mails? I don't get it. And with twins??? They're in the same category with my Facebook friends who think I have time to play Facebook games with them. And I don't even have twins.

I remember your post about having to be fierce about guarding your writing time. Thanks for being an example of how to set your priorities.

Elizabeth Mazzuca

I think you're absolutely lovely for choosing your family first and gracing the rest of us with your writing. All of us who have children of our own while juggling a career can not only appreciate what you are saying, but admire you for it. I was inspired to comment (which occurs once in a blue moon) because I absolutely loved Austenland the book, and then Austenland, the movie. (This girly movie was funny enough to have my husband laughing and entertained.) You have a strong and very appreciative fan base who hope to support you long into the future. Thank you for all your hard work.


When I read a book that I really enjoy I somehow want to communicate that with the author. So, I tend to send an email thanking her for all of her efforts. I have done that to you when I fell in love with Goosegirl so very long ago. I was thrilled to get a letter back from you. So much so, that I still have the email you sent to me. I'm always astounded when I get a response back from an author. How can y'alI possibly do all that you do? I struggle with every word I write and it amazes me all that you make time for and how accessible you make your life to us. Your blog is marvelous. I can't imagine how much time that it requires--your writing is so thoughtful, every single word. I loved meeting you at a book signing and hearing all the stories about your stories and your life as an author. Then just last night a friend of mine posted a picture of you on Facebook that she took when she met with you at a luncheon at the Texas Library Association convention. Her caption was my name telling me to eat my heart out because she got to have lunch with you and I wasn't there. My dear, dear girl, you make yourself so open and accessible to us. With your writing you reach into our hearts and our souls, you help us to understand ourselves, you make us more than we were before we read words. You have a calling and you're fulfilling it marvelously! From the bottom of my heart, thank you.

Stephanie Scott

I have friends who are teachers. Around year 4 or 5 of full time teaching, these teachers are getting burned out. One major reason, beyond the normal stresses of teaching that come with the territory, is the 24/7 availability to parents. My friend, in the biz 10+ years, now only responds to emails for the hour she stays after the kids leave, before she goes home. Once she leaves the building, that is her time.

We listened to a friend of hers at year 4, who was practically hanging by a thread, who admitted:
"I've done everything for them. I made myself available any day, weekend, night, everything. I answer their emails, I call to chat, I accept late homework from begging parents. And you know what? It's never enough. They always want more. They complain I took an hour to respond when I was at the grocery store with the phone in my purse. I need to eat. I have a family."

That's the downside of a public persona; the more we make ourselves available, the more people expect. In some cases DEMAND. You have to protect yourself. There will always be people who are unreasonable who will expect you to provide instant everything, and even then, they are not happy. YOu cannot please those people.

Thank you for this post. I'm glad to see so much support from other writers here, because you should not be expected to be someone's best friend/therapist/robot service personnel just because they read your book.

Audry T.

"I wish I could not care what people think. But if I didn't, maybe I wouldn't have the sensitivity to be a writer? To channel characters and care, too, what they think and feel?"

The individuals emailing you to say they won't read your books if you don't respond to them are lacking the necessary boundaries to show you respect. Their behavior is inappropriate and disrespectful, whether it's expressed toward you or toward another, more vulnerable writer. Not taking their behavior personally is healthy and sets a strong example of how to show respect for other people. Those who lack boundaries need strong examples or they don't have the opportunity to learn a different way of doing things. They don't have a right to demand things from you simply because you exist, and you have every right to point that out to them without feeling like you are being insensitive. But you don't even have to point that out, if you don't want to. You do not have to explain yourself or apologize or give reasons for why you don't respond to them -- you don't owe them anything just because you wrote a book, so you don't have to pay them with your time or your emotions, both of which are valuable and can be used up.

Building and keeping boundaries is healthy and appropriate. It doesn't make a person insensitive and incapable of being a writer.

Side note: You cannot disappoint people you did not agree to do something for in the first place. If they are disappointed that you won't meet one-sided demands they didn't consult you about, that is a weight on their shoulders alone. You did not make them any promises, so you haven't disappointed them. They disappointed themselves by expecting others to do things for them simply because they wanted them done.


I like to see the books that you write as a gift to us as readers; it is the next best thing besides getting a personal response! I can't imagine demanding a reply, that seems too desperate and whiney. If it's a choice between responding to those who send you mail and writing books for EVERYONE who might pick them up (and think of the numbers of people you touch or influence through books compared to the number of people who have the guts to write directly to their heroes) I believe that the right thing is being done.
Thank you, Shannon, for writing for us!


To mwt: Your books are so carefully crafted . . . I'd hate for you to write "faster" if it would mean that your literary jigsaw puzzles would be any less complete. I've actually been listening to the audio version of "The Thief" again this week as I do my laundry and clean my dishes and work on all those other things that must be done and which cannot be done with a book in my hand, and I am loving (again) the intricacies of your plotting and writing. My 15 year old commented (managing to speak my thoughts aloud): "I love listening to this and knowing the ending and seeing all the little clues that you just never picked up on the first time through." So. While I (like Inigo Montoya) hate waiting - every one of your books has been worth the wait.


For us readers, it can be very difficult to think of our favorite authors as being separate from their work; somehow they become flatter and more two-dimensional than the fictional characters they produce. Thank you for reminding us that this is not the case by standing up for yourself, your priorities and your personhood. Your books are amazing, but you are worth so much more than the sum of all the words you've ever written. Anyway, it would be impossible to write well without living life first :)

Also: I just finished "Dangerous," and it was awesome. Keep up the great work!

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