Name: Shawna Malvini Redden
What you Write: Creative nonfiction
Agent: Jessica Alvarez
What book do you wish you had written, and why?
I can’t choose just one!
First would be “The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks,” by Rebecca Skloot. I loved how Skloot combined true life stories, scientific research, and painful history into an engaging, creative format. She is a writer role model for me, although my work relies on social science and communication research, rather than hard science.
And second, “A Discovery of Witches,” by Deborah Harkness. I’m a total All Souls fangirl and love how Harkness combines her research skills as a historian/professor with the craft of writing. Her talent at embedding well-researched information into compelling fiction is something I hope to emulate one day.
If you’re not reading or writing, what would we catch you doing?
Grading papers, flying planes, or chasing my dogs, Walter and Clyde.
Where can readers find you on the web and social media?
I’m most active on twitter: @bluestmuse and @drshawna
I also maintain two blogs—one about everything (thebluestmuse.com) and one about my nerd work—drmalviniredden.com
I do Instagram haphazardly, and I warn you—it’s all food, dogs, and airplanes with the occasional gardening snap. @thebluestmuse
What’s the last book you read?
“The Most Fun We Ever Had” by Claire Lombardo. Couldn’t put it down!
If money were no object, what would be your dream writing location?
I want to say it would be somewhere picturesque and remote, but the truth is: a cross-country flight. I get my best writing done when I’m strapped into a window seat, the internet doesn’t work, and helpful people keep bringing drinks. If money were no object, of course, that window seat would be in first class.
What’s your favorite quote about reading or writing?
“Almost all good writing begins with terrible first efforts. You need to start somewhere” –Anne Lamott, writing about Shitty First Drafts
What’s your favorite piece of writing advice you’ve received?
“DON’T STOP DANCING.” Well, it’s actually a piece of advice that was drilled into me by my dance teacher, Joanna, when I was a baby ballerina. It would be a rallying cry during recital rehearsals—no matter what happens, if the music stops, if you forget the steps, if your costume falls apart—DON’T STOP DANCING. It’s been an apt piece of advice to apply to writing, subbing in “when you get rejected,” and “when you don’t feel like it” and “when you’re ‘too busy.’”
What excites you most about joining the BookEnds family?
I’m thrilled to join a group so obviously in love with reading and writing. I’ve been honored to work with Jessica Alvarez to hone my first book proposal and I cannot wait to see it in print.
What advice would you give to other authors in the query trenches?
Don’t stop dancing.