Monday, August 17, 2009

An Interview: Shannon Hitchcock

With The 39th Annual Summer Conference still ringing in my head, I thought that I would post an interview with wonderful, first-time attendee, Shannon Hitchcock. Shannon has published in Highlights for Children, Cricket magazine, Pockets, and Wee Ones Children’s Magazine. But the most recent big news is that she was nominated for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award at the conference this year. Awesome, Shannon! This is one of those jump up and down with excitement moments!

Manuscripts nominated for this award are chosen by the critiquers at the Los Angeles conference from those submitted for individual review. The Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award is then given to the manuscript deemed most promising for publication. A three-member panel makes the final selection after the conference. The winner receives an expense-paid trip to New York to meet with interested editors. Sweet!

So, let’s chat with Shannon:

Good morning, Shannon. So, tell us, why did you decided to attend The 38th Annual SCBWI Summer Conference?

Because my husband talked me into it! Every year, I look at the brochure, and decide not to attend because of the expense. This year my husband said, “just do it.”

Points scored for the hubby! What did you hope to learn from this conference?

I wanted to research agents, and I was looking for a big dose of motivation.

But you received more than you’d hoped for, right? On Friday morning, the first day of the conference, during your picture book critique for TALL TALE RAY, you found out that it was nominated for the Sue Alexander Most Promising New Work Award. Wow! Tell us about the experience of being nominated.

Being nominated was totally unexpected. My heart started pounding, my palms were sweating. I missed most of the actual critique because I was in shock.

Other than your fabulous critique experience, what did you enjoy most about the conference?

Having four days in the company of other writers. I especially liked meeting up with other Verla Kay blueboarders. Linda Joy Singleton was hard to miss. She had on a tee shirt with one of her book covers on the front.

I love that idea! What a great way to promote!

There were lots of workshops to attend at the LA conference. Which workshop did you most appreciate? Why?

Hands down, Karen Cushman’s workshop called “Research: The Journey is as Much Fun as the Destination.” I love historical fiction and Ms. Cushman gave great tips. One of the questions was how she gets the speech patterns for period dialogue exactly right. This is not an exact quote, but Ms. Cushman replied “I’m not sure that I do. Nobody is around who actually lived during that time, and if I got it exactly right, young readers today wouldn’t understand it.” She talked about using just enough words of the time period to give her stories flavor.

Karen Cushman gave an amazing keynote as well, I thought. Other than Ms. Cushman, which speaker did you most enjoy? Why?

That’s like asking a mother to pick her favorite child. Some of the most memorable moments include the speeches of Sherman Alexie, Ingrid Law, and Richard Peck. Richard Peck has the most amazing voice. He could read the phone book and I’d still be mesmerized.

I know you’ve attended regional conferences before this annual event. Would you recommend this annual conference to other writers? Why or why not?

Absolutely. It’s like a regional conference times 10. There are simply more agents, more editors, and more workshop choices than at a smaller conference.

Thanks, Shannon! My fingers are crossed that you’ll win that trip to New York to show off your wonderful TALL TALE RAY to some interested editors!

You can learn more about Shannon by visiting her website:


  1. Great interview and congrats to Shannon! Such a terrific conference.

  2. Thanks, Jill! I think the conference this year was one of the best yet, and really exciting for Shannon!

  3. how super exciting for Shannon...good luck to her! and, what a fun interview. I love Karen Cushman's work.

    also, wanted to let you know how very much I enjoyed Buck Fever. Not only did I feel cool walking around with an ARC and explaining to my family how it was a pre published book set to come out in October, I loved the read.

    I liked the threads and how they all wove together. I loved the relationship between Joey and Philly. It was a book about so much more than just hunting and you wrote it beautifully. Thanks again for sharing.

  4. Hi Tess! I'm so glad that you liked the interview and thrilled that you enjoyed BUCK FEVER! I had a lot of fun exploring and writing about the relationship between Joey and Philly. It took me a while to really get to know Philly, but I became increasingly fond of her as I wrote and revised.