Guest Authors

Interview with Author of Birthright Unknown Shelby Hailstone Law

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Mae is not a typical “fairy princess.” She grew up in an orphanage in the middle of a war between the Four Kingdoms and then found herself thrust into the protection of the underground the minute she turned eighteen. Along the journey to discovering who she is and why the queen wants her captured, Mae meets ancient monsters, flirtatious kings, blind warriors, talking birds, and two young men who would gladly die for her affections. As Mae uncovers the secrets of her family, she must also face the knowledge that she may be the key to ending the war, even though she has no idea how to properly use her strange powers, or even what her real name is.
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Shelby Hailstone Law was raised in the South—in Georgia, to be precise. She loves the culture, the food, and the people there and often talks about one day returning to the place she loves. In the meantime, she steadfastly enjoys football, holds to her use of the word “y’all” and the phrase “bless your heart,” and celebrates when she finds “real barbeque” in the Rockies. She has been writing since she was five or six years old, and she wrote the first draft of her first novel, Lady Thief, when she was only fourteen. Lady Thief was published in January of 2012 by Wild Child Publishing, and she hopes that she will continue her career in writing for the rest of her life. She graduated from Brigham Young University in April 2013 and married her sweetheart, Matthew Law, just a few weeks later. Now, they live in Provo, Utah in their first married apartment, while Matt finishes school and Shelby works as a freelance editor and writer.

Shelby, Keep Calm and Answer These Twenty-Five Questions

  1. Do you consider yourself a logophile? If so, have you always been? Yes, I’ve always been a logophile. Even before I could read, I was pulling books off the shelves to stare at them. When I was two, I had The Cat in the Hat memorized from having it read to me so many times. And by the time I was in elementary school, I wanted to write my own books to go with the Jewel Princess series. Every new series is a new set of adventures, and the older I get, the more I have a plethora of best friends and cool stories to tell.
  2. What is your favorite color? Turquoise.
  3. Where were you born? Where did you grow up? I was born in Murray, Utah, because my parents were going to school out there. But we moved to Georgia when I was a toddler, and that’s really where I call home. I love it there. The air’s clean, the people are kind, and everything just feels simpler.
  4. What is your favorite football team?  Auburn. Definitely.
  5. Who is your favorite author? That’s a hard question. Right now I’m loving Carla Kelly (which is weird, since I don’t usually read romance), but I’m also a huge fan of Agatha Christie and Anthony Horowitz.
  6. What is your favorite book? Another hard question. It’s a tossup between The Alliance by Gerald Lund and any of the Harry Potter books.
  7. What do you do when you are not writing? I like watching movies and playing board games. Sometimes I play board games alone just to have something to do with my hands while I’m watching a show (I don’t like sitting still).
  8. Do you have a day job as well? I’m a freelance editor and writer, so yes and no? Basically, I’m still doing bookish things even when I’m not writing the book itself. Articles, books, proposals: you name it, and I’m in on it.
  9. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors? Research how and where you want to publish. Sometimes it’s fun to try self-publishing (if you have the resources to pull it off), but sometimes you need a little more guts behind your writing. Always always always learn what the publisher has done in the past so you don’t get pulled into a scam and never never never submit somewhere that you haven’t researched. If they’re legitimate, they’ll be annoyed that you aren’t following their guidelines, and if they’re not legitimate, you’ll be devastated that your baby is in the hands of crooks.
  10. Is being a writer a curse or a gift? Both. I feel like it’s a curse when it’s 3am and I’m trying not to wake my husband up while I’m desperately writing down the latest inspiration. But it’s a gift when your seven-year-old cousin asks you to sign her book and carries it around like it’s her greatest treasure.
  11. Where do you write? The better question is: where do I not write? I carry a notebook around with me everywhere I go.
  12. Do you prefer silence or some noise while you write? I don’t mind background noise as long as it’s a low buzz. Classical music or music that I’ve listened to so often it’s almost like there aren’t any lyrics to it. I can’t listen to music that I want to sing along to, and audiobooks or conversations are the most annoyingly distracting things ever when I’m trying to write.
  13. What do you typically drink while writing? Water or nothing. Sometimes I forget to eat or drink when I’m in the moment, so my husband gets me my Black Widow cup and makes me hydrate.
  14. What challenges have you had in regards to your writing life? I’m not a very self-promoting person, so I have the hardest time trying to get people to read my books because I don’t want to impose. If you ask me about it, you can’t get me to shut up, though. I need to find a better balance for that.
  15. When did you first start and when did you finish your book? I first started Birthright Unknown when I was a senior in high school as a NaNoWriMo project. I actually didn’t think it was that good, but my seminary teacher wanted to see something I’d written, and I showed it to her. She devoured the whole thing and loved it, so I realized it must have had some potential. I spent the rest of college working on the rewrite until last year I finally felt like it was ready to publish.
  16. If your book is made into a movie, which actors/actresses do you envision playing the parts? Lucy Liu would be Mae. Definitely. Sass and charm. Perfect. I think maybe Josh Hutcherson as Ezek. A younger Smallville-era Jensen Ackles as Doran. Can I de-age them? 
  17. What does your protagonist think of you? Would he/she want to hang out with you? Mae thinks I’m a boring homebody who spends too much time in her head. She’s right, of course. But she’s got that “older sister” charm to her that would make it impossible for her to refuse is someone wanted to be friends, so yeah, maybe we’d hang out.
  18. How do you market your book? What avenues work best? I market on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and anything else I can get my hands on. Actually, the best avenue has been my baby sister’s middle school library; they can hardly keep it on the shelves! But twelve-year-olds don’t write reviews or promote your book, so the strongest lead that way has been Twitter. 
  19. What has been the toughest criticism so far? I got a review that said my protagonist had it too easy and that the writing is too young. It’s probably true. My book is probably more middle grade than YA, considering my vast twelve-year-old audience. But even constructive criticism like that is still hard to hear when you’re used to little kids gobbling it up!
  20. What has been the best compliment? My seven-year-old cousin had to turn in a project for school, and she put my name down under “favorite author.” There is nothing that can top that. Ever.
  21. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination? It’s almost purely imagination, since I’ve never been a fairy or in a war. But the irrational fear Mae has of fire is from experience. I’m not scared of fire, but I’m irrationally terrified of water, and her reactions and mine are very similar.
  22. How did you come up with the title? I’d actually written a series of stories for Teen Titans (don’t laugh) that I called the Unlikely series, and that sort of spurred my obsession with un-words. 
  23. Will there be a sequel? There’s room for one, yes, but it doesn’t have to happen.
  24. What project are you working on now? Right now, I’m working on a dystopian society in which superheroes are tools of the government rather than “with great power comes great responsibility” types. One is a soldier sent off to war and the other is a Hero, and their worlds collide when they are assigned to train together. I’m also in rewrites for a series about invisible witches that have a secret prison in the Bermuda Triangle (which explains the disappearances, right?)
  25. What question did I leave out that you’d like to answer? I’d just like to add in a little about my family. I’m married to a guy who’s basically (no joke) Rory William from Doctor Who, and we live in Utah close to his amazing (and huge!) family. My sister’s out here going to school as well, but my super supportive parents are still in Georgia along with my baby sister.

Please fill in the blank: Keep Calm and ___never stop dreaming______________

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  1. Nice job, Kristy. I really enjoyed reading about this creative and imaginative author. Best of luck, Shelby with your books. They sound fascinating! I would like to connect with you. Website:

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