Shannon Hale always wished for superhero books to read — not comic books, but full-length novels — when she was growing up. Now the Utah author has written her own. “Dangerous,” published earlier this month, is like a superhero comic in young-adult novel form. The plot rockets along at a breakneck pace as Maisie Danger Brown enters an astronaut boot camp that is nothing at all like she expected. Along the way, she encounters teenage angst, romance, suspense and extended sequences of cartoon violence. There are also space aliens. And zombies.
Hale answered questions via email before embarking on the “Dangerous” book tour, which includes a stop in West Jordan on Tuesday, March 11.
If I’m not mistaken, “Dangerous” has had the longest gestation of your books so far. Do you feel a special attachment to it as a result?
Yes, I feel like an elephant mama, waddling around gestating this baby since 2005 or so. Do not mess with an elephant mama or you get the tusks! Or something. Truthfully, I’m attached to all my books (and children!) but I am extremely proud of “Dangerous” after all the years and labor. It is what I hoped it would be.
What kind of parent names her child Danger?
An awesome one, obviously! Wouldn’t you love being able to say, “Danger is my middle name — literally”? I have middle name envy. I don’t have one and grew up inventing middle names for myself. At various graduations, I wrote on my cards the middle names Eliza, Katherine or Hephzibah. I have no doubt I would have chosen Danger if I’d thought of it at the time. Once I did think of it, I just had to allow one of my characters the awesomeness of that middle name.
You credit some actual scientists in the acknowledgments. Tell us about the input you got from them and the balance you aimed to strike in science vs. fiction.
I love my cabal of scientists! I met a professor of geology from BYU and he pulled in three friends (another geologist, a microbiologist and an astrophysicist). After years of research and drafting, I had lots of questions and they graciously met me for a long lunch. I like to think they enjoyed it as much as I did. Science itself is very cool — something I didn’t realize when I was a student. But then science fiction takes lovely, crunchy facts and asks, what if? The possibilities are endless fun. I’m not naturally science savvy and it was important to me to get the science right. I didn’t want a science-savvy reader losing faith in the story if I got facts wrong. I wanted a reader to believe that all the science-fiction elements might be possible.
There were five members of the fireteam — why five? Were there superpowers you considered and discarded?
A military fireteam has four or five members, and five just worked better for the story. I needed those five powers for it all to work. Yes, I considered a lot of superpowers. I had to find just the right combo for what needed to happen in the story as well as create powers I could believe were possible. And also, they had to be interesting and cool.
And because this question never gets old, which superpower would you choose for yourself?
Flight would be amazing, but as a mother I’m constantly wishing for Elastigirl’s powers. So useful.
That fabulous apple purse you were sporting at Comic Con — is that available in shops somewhere?
That was a gift. Isn’t it fabulous? I believe it’s from England. I’m not typically a fashionable person, so I feel extremely sassy whenever I’m strutting around with that purse on my arm.
Please give a quick rundown of the projects you have in the works.
This is a crazy year for me. Amazing, but too crazy. In 2014 I have the “Austenland” DVD release, “Dangerous,” books two and three in the “Ever After High” series, my contribution (book 4) to the “Spirit Animals” series, and lastly my husband’s and my first early chapter book, “The Princess in Black.” In a year I’ll publish the third and final book in the “Princess Academy” series. After that … well, I have about 20 books outlined, some chapters written, and I’m going to hold little gladiator battles on my computer to see which book wins and gets to be written first.
Danger is her middle name
Shannon Hale will read from and sign “Dangerous.”
When • Tuesday, March 11, 7 p.m.
Where • Viridian Events Center, 8030 S. 1825 West, West Jordan
Admission • Free, but places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the book from The King’s English Bookshop; call 801-484-9100.