Author Interview with Shawn Stout

Get to know Shawn…

Shawn K. Stout is the author of the Fiona Finkelstein books (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster) and the Penelope Crumb series (Philomel/Penguin) for middle grade readers. She has an M.F.A. from Vermont College of Fine Arts and lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, and two dogs. For more info, visit her website

Let the conversation begin!

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Be persistent. A writing teacher told me to keep on writing, no matter the number of rejection letters, no matter if you think you can’t. If you love it, you must keep doing it.

When was the last time you were nervous?

Five minutes ago.

What do you miss most about being a kid?

Sleeping in. First day of school. Lazy summers.

What’s your favorite outdoor activity?

Reading in a hammock.

When you have 30 minutes of free-time, how do you pass the time?

With a baby in the house, a full-time job, and writing deadlines, I barely have 30 seconds of free time. But when I do, I close my eyes and enjoy the stillness and quiet.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose?

Catherine Earnshaw, because I am a romantic and would love to live in the moor countryside. But I would make a point of not marrying Edgar Linton no matter how many times I was bitten by dogs.

The best part of waking up is?

Seeing my husband and baby daughter.

What age did you become an adult?

I’m still waiting for that to happen. I fear I will always remain ten years old.

What piece of advice would you give the younger you?

Stop worrying so much.

If you could throw any kind of party, what would it be like?

A dinner party in an old barn with twinkle lights, bottles of wine passed about, lots of laughter, and a breeze that cools the neck.

Ever written a book that never got published? Ever think you’ll give it a second chance?

Yes, lots. I’m not sure they are worth revisiting at this point, if I could even find them in my mess of a desk. In some ways, whether they are ever published or not, I have learned something from writing them and will use that knowledge toward other works.

Outliner or Seat-of-the-Pantser?

It depends. If I’m writing on a deadline, I’m a definite outliner. I have to know where I’m going or else I’ll get stuck on chapter 3 and question whether or not I should keep going. If I’m not on deadline, I meander with my characters a bit more.

Which celebrity do you get mistaken for?

Ha. That’s funny.

Where’s Waldo?

You know, I don’t know. He doesn’t call. He doesn’t write. I’m basically dead to him. 

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About Brittney Breakey

I love reading children’s fiction, coffee dates with my husband, trips to the library, thrift store bargains, chips and salsa, music of all kinds, lazy summer days, competitive games of Pictionary, and celebrating a long day of writing with ice cream and peppermint tea. I’m a two-time graduate of the Institute of Children’s Literature, and I’m currently working on a humorous mystery for middle graders. I launched Author Turf in January 2011, and it has been an absolute honor to work with so many inspiring authors, promote their work, and learn about their writing processes. I hope you enjoy each and every interview.
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