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Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham: 2019 National Book Festival

Shannon Hale & LeUyen Pham: 2019 National Book Festival


>>All right. You guys ready to do this?>>Yeah!>>Oh, come on. You can do better than that. Ready to do this?>>Yeah!>>If you have a bean bag,
slap that bean bag right now. I want to hear it. All right. That means you’re a reader,
because you’re here with energy. My name is Michael
Cavna, Washington Post. I’m a cartoonist and
a comics columnist, and I’ve loved comics my whole
life and love graphic novelists. And you guys are in for a
treat because right now, we have two of the best
working in the business. We have Shannon Hale. You guys may know her. Yes. Yes. You may know the Ever After High series
or Princess Academy. Anyone? With her husband,
Rapunzel’s Revenge, Calamity Jack, Unbeatable
Squirrel Girl, which, personal favorite. The Princess in Black
series, right? Man. Man, you guys may be
rumbling later with each other. It sounds like we have a lot
of factions for these books. And her sidekick and her partner
in creating this new series, as well as Princess in Black,
LeUyen Pham, right here. [ Applause ] As an artist, you may know her
from Big Sister, Little Sister, or the Bear Who Wasn’t There
and/or The Boy Who Loved Math. Anyone know boys who love
math, I’m hearing right now. So they’ve both come here from
the west side of the country to be here to entertain
you guys, and two years ago they came
out with Real Friends, fans, and now just four days ago,
they came out with Best Friends. It is awesome. You guys seriously
got to pick it up, because it looks like this. It’s the purple one,
just go to the bookstore and say I want the purple one. Shannon, LeUyen,
welcome to this stage. A big hand, you guys. Here they are! [ Applause ]>>Hey, I’m Shannon Hale.>>Hi, and I’m LeUyen Pham.>>And our new book
is Best Friends.>>Woo-hoo. Sorry.>>That’s you. This is the first
story that I made up. I drew this picture when
I was in kindergarten. It was about a witch with long, green fingernails
that ate babies. So I started as a
visual storyteller.>>I did, too, but I would
draw on the insides of books. So as you can see,
librarians, close your eyes, but I used the dictionary
and I drew my version of what I thought was a perfect
little princess right there. She did not have green
nails and ate no children, so mine’s G-rated, thank you.>>As long as you know. As long as you know.>>Yeah, yeah.>>So this is me in fourth
grade, and this is the year that I had a teacher that
started us writing stories.>>And this is me
in fourth grade. And I was always the
class artist in the class, the one kid that could
draw all the time. It was the one thing
everybody knew me as, and so it’s definitely the year
I started charging for drawings. So I’m going to officially
say that was when I became a real
illustrator. I would draw Star
Wars characters for like 25 cents a copy.>>And this is me
in middle school. So when I was in fourth
grade and I said I want to be a writer, people
would say, you can do it! You can do anything! And then when I was in middle
school and I said I wanted to be a writer, they started
to say, it’s pretty tough. You might want to keep
your options open.>>This is me in middle school. This is when I started being
told that you weren’t going to make it as an artist. You know how that
horrible moment happens? Like, you can’t make it. Get a real job, kind of thing. That’s when I started thinking, maybe I’m not going
to become an artist. I don’t know. That’s when peer pressure sets
in and you start getting worried about what you look like
and who you hang out with and seventh grade is a
hard year, I’ll tell you.>>Here I am in high school. At this point, I still
was writing, but secretly, because I thought
it was embarrassing to want to be a writer. Because I thought everybody
wanted to be a writer, and who was I to think that
I actually could pull it off?>>You could pull it off. Here I am. I’m the cheerleader and
about ready to go off –>>She was a cheerleader, guys!>>A cheerleader.>>[inaudible] like fifteen
years and I didn’t know this until last year, and I think
this was crucial information.>>I know, right? It really –>>She was voted most popular.>>No I wasn’t!>>Weren’t you?>>No, no.>>Most likely to succeed.>>No. Most likely to succeed.>>Yeah, you know.>>That’s where we all ended up.>>I was not.>>Whoops, skip that. Okay, and then –>>Oh, so I graduated from
college, but then I really, I knew there was nothing
else that was going to make me happy
besides being a writer. So I decided to take a plunge. I decided to go to graduate
school in creative writing and that was the first time — it was very scary for
me to admit out loud, this is what I want to do
and really try to go for it.>>Yeah. And in the meantime, I went off to UCLA thinking
I’m going to be a lawyer like everyone told me to do. And after two years, ended up
switching over to an art school. And I’m going to tell you
guys all, for everyone who says you can’t make it as
an artist and blah-blah-blah, it was like realizing for
the first time who I was. For the first time. So don’t ever let anyone tell
you that you can’t do that. But I went off to become an
artist while Shannon — sorry.>>Was getting rejected. While LeUyen had immediate
and astounding success. I spent years with people
telling me no, no, no, no. And that’s not a unique story. I mean, we all go through it. Even if you don’t want to be
a writer or artist or have that impossible dream, we all
get rejected every single day. And even though I am now
published and best selling and whatever, I still get
rejected all the time. It’s just the reality. Everyone does, except
for LeUyen. But I have now, at this point,
published over 30 books.>>And I’ve done over 100 books. I think I’m at 110 now, yeah. [ Applause ] Thank you, thank you. And I look so young. No, I’m joking. [ Laughing ]>>Oh, some of my books
are The Goose Girl Series, gone, next one, yeah. Rapunzel’s Revenge,
Calamity Jack, go faster, Princess Academy, oh, and –>>In the meantime, she’s off
writing books and I’m off going to art school and these are
some of the paintings I did when I was in art school. I went out of art school
and I went into animation. Yeah, I know. There are always these gasps,
oh, who made that movie, Spirit? Yes, I did some character
designs on Spirit and I worked on the backgrounds on some of
these other movies as well. But I didn’t like it. I went off and I started
to do children’s books. So these are a few of
my children’s books. I know, like you’ll
think, LeUyen Pham, how do you pronounce her name? But odds are, one of you guys
has one of my books somewhere at your house and just
didn’t know it was mine. I’m also, do you guys know
who this character is? She’s my character. I’m the creator of the
Vampirina Ballerina series. Woo-hoo. [ Applause ] Do you guys know what this is?>>Who’s symbol is that? Yes. So my husband and I
wrote a Young Wonder Woman, the first middle grade graphic
novel about Wonder Woman, and that comes out in January.>>January.>>And how about this? Do you know who that is? Squirrel Girl. So again, with my husband I
wrote two Squirrel Girl novels. And do you know who this is? [ Cheering ] With my husband I wrote
and LeUyen illustrated, we’ve got Book Seven coming out.>>Book Seven.>>In November.>>Yes, and we’re working
on Book Eight right now.>>And Book Seven
is the funniest one. It really is. All my kids tell me so. Well, we also did,
besides Princess in Black, we did Real Friends together. So Real Friends is a true story. It’s the first true
story that I’ve told. And it starts with me. That’s little me
in kindergarten, and I was a really
anxious little kid. I didn’t want to start
school, because I was afraid. I wanted to stay with my mom. But I met a best
friend named Adrian. And everything was
going to be okay, because I had a best friend. But by the time I got
to be in third grade, there I am in third grade,
so cute, my best friend who was smart and
pretty and everything, she joined what was
called The Group. The Group was the group of the most popular third
grade girls in our school. And because Adrian was so cool, she was automatically
a member of The Group. And because I was her best
friend, I was kind of a member, but I really wasn’t
cool enough to be one. I know it’s hard to imagine,
because I’m so cool now.>>She’s so cool.>>But at the time, I was not
— I know — considered cool. But I could make up cool stories
and games, so they liked me for my ability to
make up games to play. But by the time I
was in fourth grade, it just started getting
really rough. There was just a lot of
anxiety of every day, am I going to have friends
when I go to school today? Am I not going to have friends? It felt like being trapped on a
boat and if the sea was stormy, then I got tossed around. You see on that boat,
there’s no controls. That’s one thing I love about graphic novels is
LeUyen can draw an image and you immediately
understand how that feels without even reading any words.>>Yeah. It’s always
— actually images like this are always
great for me, because sometimes I don’t
operate very well with words and I can only operate
with pictures. And when I can show
something like this, when Shannon says this is how
I felt, like having sticks and stones thrown at me, it’s
so much more of a release for me to be able to draw it
in something like this.>>And you know the
phrase sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me, but they kind of
still do, don’t they? So this is our second book. This is Best Friends, and this
takes place all in sixth grade. I think sixth grade is
an interesting year.>>Yeah.>>And in sixth grade,
I was doing pretty well. I was best friends with the
most popular girl in school, and it was kind of
like being the princess of the whole school. But also in sixth grade,
things get really tricky. Like here’s a scene where
I’m wondering if this boy who keeps looking at
me, does he like me? Because things started
to change between boys and girls in sixth grade. This is part of —
from my journal. LeUyen, will you read it?>>I’m going to read this. A boy in school named so-and-so
is being really nice to me, but in a shy sort of way. Sometimes, out of
the corner of my eye, I can see him looking at me. He’s okay, but king
of small and weird. I think he likes me. In a rating call, he rated me
as seven and a half in looks and personality, but
he rated a girl eight when I never see them
talk or anything. I wonder a lot about it.>>So we took those memories
and those journal entries and put them into the book. Here is the scene
of the rating call, which was an incredibly
stupid thing we used to do, where we would call boys in our
class and ask them to rate us and the other girls
from one to 10. Do not do this. This is a mistake.>>Asking for judgment at that
age, what are you thinking?>>No. But this was
the age where I started to become very conscious
that girls, we were told we were
supposed to be pretty and I didn’t even really
know what that meant. And that constant
question hanging over my head, am I pretty? Am I pretty enough? When people look at me,
do they think I’m pretty? And it seemed to matter
more than anything. Here’s another journal entry.>>That’s the fun part. I don’t love any boys. I just liked a few and
— but I don’t love any. Some are kind of fun
to be around, though. Jen told Nicole that
she didn’t like me. Nicole told me, but
Jen is acting like she never said anything.>>It’s so confusing. Every day it changes. Are we friends? Are we not friends? So it’s very cathartic to
put this all into the book. Here’s another one.>>I feel like an
outcast in the group. No one seems to like me. At so-and-so’s party, they
played mean tricks on me. When they told me what they
did while I was asleep, I said thanks. And they got mad at
me for being upset!>>Have any of you
felt that way? Has that ever happened,
something like that, to you? What?>>Nobody?>>Like four of you?>>None of you have ever been
a sixth grade person before?>>Congratulations.>>Yeah.>>Really, in sixth grade, it felt like friendships
were a game, but the rules were constantly
changing, and it seemed like everybody else had
updated rules except for me. Oh, there I am. That’s a picture of me with
a fake monkey and a real dog. Just to clarify.>>I’m not sure why it’s in
there, but it makes sense. Let’s see, there were six
girls here and another party when six boys came up. We danced and stuff. My mom was being really nice. I love her and feel
close to her. Blank, the guy having the
party, is really cool. I like him. Gift of the Sea, one of the
books I am writing, along — I’m worried about — I
can’t seem to write anymore.>>Here’s the party where
the boys came and we started to do these little dances. That was fun. And here’s the book I was
writing in sixth grade. One fun thing about Best
Friends is throughout the book, we put little chapters
from the book I was writing between the stuff that
was actually happening. And here is one of those images. You see, it starts with
me in the real world and I start typing on
the computer and it moves into the fantasy
story I was writing. Do you want to –>>I’m going to read a couple.>>This is a real story
that I was writing.>>So I have to say,
as an illustrator, this is so much fun
to illustrate. The story an 11-year-old
girl is writing, it fulfils every
childhood fantasy of mine. The waves rushed against
Alexandra’s ankles, but they couldn’t
wash away her sadness. Alexandra sighed. Some girls would give
anything to be the daughter of a multi-millionaire. What wouldn’t she give
to have normal parents and go to a normal school? It was lonely being
an only child. No sisters to talk to. Shannon has like four brothers
and sisters, by the way. And now that she was
home for the summer, the boarding school
friends were far away. Never mind all that, I’m going
to be just fine, said Alexandra. Because she was a brave
girl with great potential and never stayed sad for long.>>Unlike actual me. It was very cathartic, though,
to be writing a fantasy novel about a girl that
had so much power when I felt like
I had so little.>>Yes.>>I have an anxiety disorder
and I get into that in the book and how that feels, to be
trying to be normal and go through every day, but
inside you’ve got this voice and these feelings telling
you how worthless you are. I’m going to tell you
one more quick story about Best Friends
and let’s move on. So one time, we used to go to this amusement
park called Lagoon. And in sixth grade,
for the first time, I went with a big group of
friends, boys and girls. There were five girls
and four boys. The boys decided to play a game, and they all won
a stuffed animal. The four boys decided to give
their stuffed animal each to one of the girls. So again, five girls, four boys. Guess who didn’t get one? If you guessed me,
you were right. Then another girl, a
sixth girl showed up. So one of the boys immediately
went back to the game and played again so he could
win another stuffed animal and he gave it to her. So six girls, five of
them had stuffed animals. And I’m really trying to keep
it together, because I used to get teased for
crying at recess and I’m really trying
not to cry. I’m really trying to hold
it in, but then I turn around the corner
and there’s my mom with my little brother
and sister. And I see her notice and
realize what’s going on. And I have to cover my chin,
because when I’m trying not to cry, my chin starts to
quiver, and I’m trying to hide that I’m feeling any emotion, because I don’t want
to be teased.>>And, of course she does. These are –>>These would be tough.>>Really, really hard
stories to illustrate, because, of course, every kid goes
through these moments, like everyone goes through these
moments, but you feel so alone when you’re actually
going through that moment. For me, especially, to have
to live through Shannon, and remember moments like that
for me, to draw these moments, it’s just crushing to
me, absolutely crushing. But –>>We –>>Revisionist history.>>So LeUyen and I and
our editor, Connie, I took them to Lagoon
Amusement Park.>>The real one.>>We went on the terror ride. We went on the rollercoaster
that gave me so much trauma.>>Yes –>>And it still did. LeUyen tried funnel
cakes for the first time.>>Funnel cakes. Never had it.>>And then, Utah, jello
salad is a big thing, which is basically like
jello mixed with Cool Whip.>>Only in Utah.>>You can tell her
expression was not fond of this. It’s a Utah staple. And then, heroically, they
insisted on playing a game and winning a stuffed animal.>>She was the only one
that got it, by the way. Guess who didn’t
get it this time?>>And there’s the
goat they won me.>>Woo-hoo.>>So all is mended. It gets better.>>It does. [ Applause ]>>So when you’re younger,
the world is limited. Your choices are limited. There’s so much emotion. And things can be really hard. But one thing LeUyen
and I really believe is that everybody has their own
kinds of superpowers and we lean on those to get through. Do you know what mine is? What is mine?>>Writing.>>Writing, yes. The writing and the
storytelling, that was my safe place. That’s how I got through. What’s LeUyen’s superpower?>>What’s mine?>>Drawing.>>Drawing. I love drawing. In fact, it’s the
way I made friends when I was younger
and I was so shy. I would make friends by doing
drawings and still, even now, when you see like those long
lines [inaudible] signing, sometimes I have no idea what
to say and I’m embarrassed and I’m shy, and the only thing
I can do is just draw for you, which is what we’re
going to do –>>We’re going to do it now.>>Right now. We’ve got a little bit of time.>>And do we have a volunteer
that doesn’t mind coming up and being on camera. Right here. Will you come up? Hop up real quick.>>She’s a redhead.>>So –>>We know all about redheads.>>We are going to turn
you into a superpower.>>Come on.>>Get your superhero. What do you think — what is a
talent or a thing that you love?>>Reading.>>Reading, okay.>>Reading.>>So stand right here.>>What’s your name?>>Eleanor.>>Eleanor? This is Eleanor. She –>>Eleanor.>>Eleanor.>>Okay. I honestly couldn’t
see that she was a redhead in the dark, there,
but it really feels like me fulfilling
some kind of weird –>>I know. With the freckles
and everything. This is — did you
know she, Shannon, has told me all this
stuff about redheads. You have like a –>>You have –>>High tolerance for pain.>>You’re going to need
20% more anesthetic, okay?>>Did you know that?>>When you go to the
dentist, you tell him, I need 20% more anesthesia
than you normally give. And if you need a C-section at
some point, be aware of that. It’s real, people, look it up. Peer reviewed studies.>>All right, we’re
going to turn Eleanor into a book reading
superhero, okay? So what kind of elements
like should we give you like a badge that’s got like
a book on it or something? I’m going to start drawing you
while you tell me what you think your costume should look like. Or Shannon, you can
help her, too.>>What do you think? Cape?>>There should be a
cape with a book on it.>>A cape with a book on it. Do you think kind of like
a dress or a jumpsuit or a Spandex suit or like
action shorts or what kind of — loungewear if you’re reading?>>Loungewear?>>What do you think? Pajamas, like superhero pajamas?>>Superhero pajamas?>>Like more of a jumpsuit.>>Jumpsuit.>>Jumpsuit, okay. Always the superheroes
have to have that space to run around it.>>But they can have pockets,
like book-sized pockets.>>Should you have a mask? Do you want a mask?>>Sure.>>Okay, a mask. Let’s do the mask. I always ask, because once you
put a mask on, it stops looking like the person, but
we all know it kind of looks like her, right? So now I can put the mask
on, because it’s not supposed to look like her
technically anymore.>>Now we don’t recognize
her anymore. She could be anybody.>>There. Now you
could be anybody. Wow. This is amazing. Let me see. I’m going to have your hair like flying triumphantly
behind you, okay? And I’m going to
have you standing in like a very triumphant pose. Do you want a cape at all?>>Sure.>>Okay. Let’s do a cape.>>Yeah, Incredibles
have no capes, but that’s because it
cost too much to animate. We all know capes are cool.>>Would you like a little
flippy skirt or do you want like a full-on jumpsuit?>>Full-on jumpsuit.>>Full-on jumpsuit. Full-on jumpsuit like this. I’m not joking. When I was a kid, I would
charge people drawings of them like standing next to
Chewbacca for 25 cents. I made a killing
in fourth grade.>>No one bought my
stories in fourth grade.>>You needed an
illustrator, that’s why. All right, hold on. Wait, and then we
need like a symbol. Should it be an open book? But she’s a superhero
with a hidden identity.>>I like the name The Open
Book for a superhero name.>>All right, hold on.>>The Open Book.>>The Open Book.>>It sounds like she’s
there and available to help and also sounds like she has the
knowledge to solve any problem.>>Look at that.>>Is that an okay name? Eleanor’s your real name. You need a secret
superhero name.>>Yeah.>>That’s — and then the cape.>>The cape. So you just add the flare.>>Flying behind you. Like that. And your superhero
name is The Open Book? The Open Book. There we go.>>It’s a very pulp name. It’s very classic superhero. Yes. Very nice. [ Applause ] All right. We have two minutes. We have time for one more.>>Time for one more. Let’s pick — why
don’t we pick one of the bean bag girls over here. [inaudible] you. Come on up. Did anyone have any
questions while we’re doing these drawings? Maybe Shannon can answer some
questions while I’m drawing.>>What’s your name?>>I’m Maddy.>>Maddy. All right. And tell me — tell
me a talent you have or something that you love.>>Dance.>>Dance.>>All right. I’m turning her into
the Dance Queen. You can answer some questions.>>Okay. Does anybody
have any questions for me or LeUyen or both? Yeah? What do we do when
we get stuck on a problem? So I have — my personal
philosophy is when people, you know, have you guys heard
of the term writer’s block? It’s just a fancy way of saying
I am having a hard time writing. But the truth is,
writing is hard. If I told you write 1000
words in the next hour and it doesn’t matter what
they are, could you do it? Yes! So writer’s
block is the fear of not doing it perfectly
the first time. So I give myself permission to
do it badly, and I write really, really badly, but I
have something there. And then I always
tell myself after — when I’m writing a
first draft of something that what I’m doing is
shoveling sand into a box so that later I can
build castles. And then I rewrite. And honestly, it just takes lots
of years of practice of reading and living and writing before
I had the skills to revise. All right, other questions? Yes? How do you get
inspiration for writing books? Just by living, honestly. Just every day. With Princess in Black, how that happened was my
four-year-old was wearing a skirt with butterflies on
it and she was pointing to the different colors and
she said pink is a girl color, and purple is a girl
color, but not black. And my first thought was what? Who says colors have genders? That’s like the weirdest thing. I was like I don’t even
know where that came from, but of course girls
can wear black, and she said princesses
don’t wear black. And I went, oh, the
princess in black. And that’s how that started. All right. Are we about done
here with Maddy?>>Yeah, but we don’t
have her super symbol. What should her super symbol be?>>Super symbol. Like a star or a –>>A star? You want a big old star?>>I think something
really simple and eye-catching is always
the best for a simple –>>Just like that? Are we good with that?>>Yeah, I like that.>>Good.>>Super hero name? Super hero.>>The Dance Queen.>>The Dance Queen.>>The Dance Queen! Dancing Queen!>>Young and sweet.>>Woo-hoo!>>All right. Are we out of time?>>No!>>I can’t read it. Wrap it up, it says!>>Wrap it up. Do we have any more questions?>>Last question. Yeah, go ahead.>>Uhm, do the stories
you write when — I mean, when you wrote when you
were a kid give you inspiration for your books now?>>The — yeah, absolutely. The stuff you drew
when you were younger, did it give you inspiration?>>Yes, absolutely. Everything that I drew when
I was younger, I kind of kept and I remember making like
fairy tales when I was a kid and then putting my friends
in them all the time. And to this day, every book that I do contains people
that I know for real. So everything, everything.>>Well, we are out of time,
but we’re going to be signing in an hour, and feel
free to ask us questions if you come to the signing line. Thank you so much!>>Thank you guys!

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