FAQ

All the things you want to know about
Keeper of the Lost Cities:

Which characters are on the covers?

KEEPER has Sophie and Dex. EXILE has Sophie, Keefe, and Silveny. EVERBLAZE has Sophie and Fitz. NEVERSEEN has Sophie, Biana, and Keefe. LODESTAR has Sophie, Fitz, and Tam. NIGHTFALL has Sophie, Keefe, and Linh. And FLASHBACK has Sophie, Tam, and Wylie.

How many books will there be in the series?

Truthfully? I’m not sure. Right now, I have contracts up through a book 9. But I won’t know if book 9 will be the end until I write it. It’s always hard to gauge exactly how much I can accomplish in each book. So it’s kind of an adventure for all of us. One thing I can promise: I’ll give you as many Keeper books as I can. I just also want to make sure they each have enough plot to keep them exciting.

When is the next book coming out - and can you please make it come out faster?

At the moment, the next book is FLASHBACK (book #7) and it’s scheduled to release in the US on November 6, 2018. And sadly, no, there’s no way to make it come out any sooner (unless you have a TARDIS I could borrow so I could go steal the finished book from my future self). The Keeper books are so long and complicated that it takes everything I have to stick to the book-a-year schedule. I promise, I’m truly writing as fast as I possibly can.

Can you tell me anything about the unpublished books - please I'm gonna DIE waiting!?

Eek – don’t die! I know, the waiting is torture. But alas, spoilers really do ruin all the fun. So nope, I can’t tell you anything other than “you’ll discover it all when you read.”

Can you tell me more about (insert any Keeper world detail here) because you don't say that much about it in the books and I really want to know more!

I always feel like a big meanie when I have to say this, but … no. If I don’t explain something in the book (or don’t provide as many details as you want), it’s because I like to leave some things up to your imagination. I love that you want to know exactly how I envision everything and how every tiny facet of the elvin world works – but I personally feel that if I get too specific, it ruins the real magic of reading. Plus, I don’t think it would be fair for some readers to have more information than others just because they asked me. So the only answer I’ll ever give is, “if it’s not in the books, imagine it any way you want.”

How do you pronounce (insert any of the names and invented words in the series)?

This is one of those questions that never seems to satisfy anyone when I answer it. Either people are disappointed to hear that they pronounce the name differently, or they immediately want to know how I pronounce the hundreds of other things in the books, and either way, it kind of misses the point. There is no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to reading, because the beauty of books is that the reader gets to be involved. Just because I say something one way doesn’t make it any better than the way you hear it in your head. So I’ve found it’s better to not give too many specific pronunciations.

Are you Team Dex, Team Fitz, or Team Keefe?

Actually, I’m Team Sophie. I love all three boys equally, and if Sophie decides she likes one of them best, it will be entirely up to her. So really, it doesn’t matter how you ask, or how many ways you try to trick the info out of me, I’m not going to pick a favorite boy (nor will I tell you which one – if any – that Sophie is going to choose). Sorry-not-sorry! 🙂

I saw that it says the books are for ages 8-12 - does that mean I can't read them if I'm older than that?

Okay first: I’m a big believer in “read what you want, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it.” Growing up, I had a teacher who talked me out of reading the books I loved because she felt they were “too young” for my advanced reading level, and all she ended up doing was killing my love of reading—don’t let that happen to you! And second: the age range on books doesn’t mean what you think it means. Books don’t have a rating system like movies do, so those age ranges exist as a way of letting teachers/librarians/parents know what kind of “content” to expect, and whether or not it’s “appropriate” for younger readers. So you have to think of that “Ages 8-12” listing like a PG movie rating. No one ever says, “Oh, I turned 13 so I guess that means I can’t see PG movies now—only PG-13.” Plus, uh… the KEEPER books are longer than most YA books, so don’t worry, it’s not like you’re getting some sort of “easy read.”

Is KEEPER going to be a movie and can I audition for a role?

As far as I know, the movie rights haven’t been optioned. So for now, the answer is, “we’ll see.” And as far as auditioning, even if KEEPER does sell the movie rights, sadly the author has no say in casting decisions. That would all be handled by Hollywood.

Is there any Keeper of the Lost Cities merchandise available? (or merchandise for any of your books?)

I wish! I would buy all of it! But for the moment, the only items available are from the art I’ve posted on my Society6 page (which you can find by clicking HERE.) And I promise, if that ever changes, I will make sure everyone knows!

I don’t live in the US - do you know if/when the books will be translated into my language?

Foreign translations are one of those things where the author is always the last to know. In fact, I often don’t find out about foreign releases until readers are tweeting me pictures of the book after they bought it. So unfortunately, your best bet is to get this information either from google or by asking one of your local booksellers.

All the things you want to know about Sky Fall:

What age do you have to be to read the Sky Fall books?

Honestly, the real answer to this question is between you and your parents, since every family is different. But technically the Sky Fall books are listed for “ages 12 and up” because there is a tiny bit of kissing in them and a few very mild moments of swearing. If you have any doubts, talk to your parents or librarian, or maybe read a small sample.

How many books are in the Sky Fall series?

Sky Fall is a trilogy—and all three books are out (Let the Sky Fall, Let the Storm Break, and Let the Wind Rise) so the good news is, you don’t have to wait to see how it ends. You can binge read the whole series if you want!

Are you ever going to write an epilogue to Let the Wind Rise, or any other books/novellas in that world?

I won’t say “no” because it’s always possible I’ll change my mind. But at the moment I’m not planning to write anything else with those characters, because to me, that story feels done. The place I left Vane and Audra is exactly where I always knew I’d leave their story, and I personally love that readers can imagine whatever they want from here on out. But, of course, if that ever changes and I get new ideas for my sylphs, I would definitely consider writing it. Only time will tell.

How come the hardcovers of Let the Sky Fall and Let the Storm Break have different covers than the paperbacks?

Short answer: because publishing is weird. Longer answer: while the other covers were gorgeous, they also tended to make people think that the books were way more romantic than they are. So eventually my publisher decided it would be a good idea to have covers that matched the feel of the story a little better and focused on all the action and adventure in the story. Thankfully, I love all my covers, so I’m happy to have both.

Will there ever be a Sky Fall movie? (and no, the James Bond one doesn’t count!)

I would love to see Vane and Audra come to life on the screen, but it’s not something I can control. It’s up to Hollywood, so all we can do is wait and see.

All the things Aspiring Writers want to know:

Can you give me some advice on how to get published?

Okay, first: write a book. I know that seems super obvious, but you’d be amazed at how many people ask me this question and haven’t finished writing their book. So make sure you have a complete draft that you’ve revised (and then revised again and again and again to make it the best it can possibly be). And then google things like “how do I get a literary agent” and “how do I write a query letter” and you’ll find a ton of great advice from people who are way smarter than I am about how to take the next step toward getting published.

How did you get your agent?

I did everything I could to get ready to query. I waited until I had a project that I felt was the one. I revised my story a lot. I googled everything I could about the publishing industry. I researched agents. I did a query workshop. I did a synopsis workshop. I went to a writers’ conference. I read blogs. I followed agents on Twitter. I stressed. I obsessed. And in the end I must’ve done something right because I got an offer of representation from the agent I most wanted to work with. (For a few more details on my querying process, you can read my “How I Got My Agent” post HERE.)

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Yes: don’t give up! Writing is hard—and publishing is even harder. So if being a published author is your dream, promise yourself that you won’t give up until you get there. Also: don’t put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect. Writing is re-writing, and first drafts are always a mess. Focus on getting to “the end” and don’t stress about any flaws you’re noticing. You’ll fix those in revision. And if you’re not working with critique partners, find some as soon as you can (and if you don’t know what a critique partner is, google that term). They will catch so many mistakes and make you a much better writer.

Do you still work with a critique group or critique partners?

Yes and no. Now that I have an editor—and an agent who gives lots of editorial feedback—adding critique partners into the mix felt a bit like “too many cooks in the kitchen.” But, I have a couple of friends who I brainstorm plot issues with, and a couple of other friends who read while I’m editing, mostly so they can reassure me that the book is coming together, since it can be hard to see that in the middle of revision.

Will you read some of my writing?

I wish I could, because I’m sure it’s wonderful. But unfortunately, the same complicated legal reasons that prevent me from reading fanfiction also mean I can’t read anyone’s unpublished writing—and if you email your draft to me, my assistant will have to delete it immediately. Alas. Alack.

All the things you need to know for your Homework:

Will you answer a few questions for my homework assignment if I email them to you?

Unfortunately, I don’t have time to personally help with homework. But if you’re writing a report, the next few answers should help (you can also google “Shannon Messenger Interviews” and/or find Keeper of the Lost Cities and Sky Fall related pictures on my Pinterest inspiration boards HERE.)

When is your birthday?

I don’t know why so many teachers include this question. It’s awfully personal—and identity theft is a real thing. So I never share this information anywhere online (nor will I tell you if you ask me in person, or email me). Sorry. If your teacher asks, just tell them “Shannon Messenger is paranoid.”

Where did you go to school?

I grew up in southern California and went to various schools in my hometowns. And for college, I went to USC and graduated from their School of Cinematic Arts.

How many cats do you have?

Currently, I have five—though the number sometimes changes. And yes, I realize that is a lot of cats. But … but … they’re so cute and fluffy!

Do you really sleep with a bright blue stuffed elephant named Ella, and is that the same Ella that’s in Keeper of the List Cities?

Yep! I’ve had her since I was four and I can’t sleep without her. So she goes with me everywhere, including my book tours (if I’ve ever visited your school, you’ve probably “met” her.) And I decided to write her into Keeper because I knew Sophie was going to face some scary things, and I knew how much it always helped me to have an Ella to hold on to. Plus, if it ever becomes cool to sleep with a Hawaiian-shirt wearing blue elephant, I am in full support of that!

Do you base your characters on people you know (or yourself)?

I try not to, mostly because I sometimes have to let bad things happen to my characters, and if they were based on people I know, those people would probably get mad at me. But I also find it’s more inspiring when the characters feel like these new, unique people I get to spend time with, so I work hard to dig into their backstories and make them as original as I can.

How do you come up with your characters’ names?

For a person who doesn’t have kids, I have read a ridiculous amount of baby name books and baby name websites. I like the meaning of the name to say something about the character. Sometimes I can’t find anything that fits and I’ll default to “a name I just like.” But the majority of my characters’ names have something in their meaning that relates to the character in some way.

Did you always want to be a writer?

Honestly? No. Growing up, my main focus was art, and all my dream jobs were drawing related. But the more I studied art, the more frustrated I became. I’d imagine these huge, intricate scenes—and they never came out on the page the way they looked in my mind. But when I tried taking a writing class in college just for fun, finally the things I was picturing came across. From that moment on I was hooked, but it took me a few more years to figure out that I wanted to write books instead of screenplays.

How long have you been writing?

I didn’t really start writing until college, and even then, I only wrote scripts. It wasn’t until after I graduated and realized that I didn’t enjoy working in Hollywood that I decided to try writing a book. I spent a few years playing with different stories until I got the idea for Keeper of the Lost Cities in 2008. Keeper was the first book I ever finished writing. And twenty drafts later, it was published in October of 2012.

Where do you get your ideas?

Well, I have this magic tree in my yard that sprouts money and unicorns and really cool stories. No—I wish. That would be amazing. But honestly, I don’t have an interesting answer to this question. The fact of the matter is, ideas are everywhere and the trick is to be observant, let my imagination wander, and always carry a notebook so I can write them down before I forget.

Why do you write for kids?

Short Answer: I’m pretty much a big kid. Ask my friends and husband if you don’t believe me. Longer Answer: When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write, I thought about my favorite books, and I realized that I have a very different relationship with books as an adult than I did as a kid. I love to read. And there are books I love. But I don’t love them the way I did as a kid. I don’t sneak out of bed and read by my night-light because I have to know what’s going to happen next (and no, I don’t have a night-light anymore). I don’t read them over and over and over. And I realized that if I was going to take the time and effort to write a book, I needed to reach that part of myself that had been so passionate about reading. So I started thinking about what books I would’ve wanted to read when I was younger and fell in love with the ideas I came up with.

How many books are you going to write?

As many as people are willing to read. So hopefully a lot!

What is your favorite Middle Grade book or series?

Eek, I hate picking favorites! So I’m just going to name a few books I love. Ella Enchanted, by Gail Carson Levine. The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley. The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan. And I can’t forget J.K. Rowling. Her books are not only in a class of their own, but the children’s writing industry wouldn’t be what it is without her.

What is your favorite YA book or series?

Ahhh—another impossible question! Again, I can’t possibly choose a favorite, but I love The Heist Society series by Ally Carter. Anything by Kasie West (especially The Distance Between Us.) Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. The Legend series by Marie Lu. I could keep going, but I’ll force myself to stop there.

All the other things you wanted to know:

I love the art/doodles you post on Instagram—do you sell them?

Aw, thank you so much! Yes, I do sell them through my Society6 page, which you can find by clicking HERE. (And bonus: Society6 lets you put the art on all kinds of fun things like pillows, tote bags, phone cases, etc.) I don’t upload every drawing, just the most popular/most requested (scanning them and formatting them takes quite a lot of time). So if there’s something you wanted that’s missing, let me know and I’ll see about adding it.

Will you please please please come visit my town/school?

Aw, I’m so happy you want to meet me—I promise, I want to meet you, too! But I actually don’t get to choose where I’ll be touring for my events. My publisher decides what cities to send me to every year, so all I can really say is: “hopefully someday we’ll get to meet!” And sometimes I’m able to schedule a school visit with a teacher or librarian, but it depends on a number of things. You can find out more about that on my Educators page.

It's my (or my friend/daughter/son/cousin/niece/nephew/person-I-just-like's) birthday/graduation/any-old-day-but-they're-a-super-huge-fan. Can you send a special card/email/video/Skype/etc. to make it extra awesome for them?

I get a lot of these kind of requests (seriously, a LOT). And that’s a huge honor. But it also makes it impossible for me to say “yes” to everyone. So that means the only way to be truly fair is to say “no” to everyone instead. Sorry. There just aren’t enough hours in the day.

Can you send me a free book for my library/blog contest/because-I-really-really-want-one?

Alas, I wish I could afford to do this. But the fact of the matter is, I get a very limited amount of author copies of my books, and I donate them to my local schools, libraries, and literacy charities.

I missed the pre-order giveaway, can you send me swag anyway?

Again, this is one of those things I wish I could do. But my publisher prints a limited supply of all the swaggish goodies—only enough to cover the pre-order giveaway and my tour events—and after that, it’s all gone and I have nothing left to give.

Can I mail you my books and have you sign them and return them—I’ll even pay for postage?

Unfortunately, I’m just not set up to do this. It would be a mailing nightmare, so I have to say no.

Is there somewhere I can buy a signed copy of your books?

When I’m on tour, the answer to this question is easy, because not only will I be signing books at all of my events, but many stores also allow you to order signed books and have them shipped, so even if you don’t live close enough to attend the signing, you can still buy signed editions if you call the store ahead of time. But after that, I sadly don’t live near a bookstore that’s set up for shipping, so there isn’t any way to buy a signed copy unless some of the previous tour stops still have some left.

Do you read fanfiction for your series?

Sadly, I don’t. Ever. I’m incredibly honored that readers are inspired by my books. But there are all kinds of complicated legal reasons why I have to stay far away from what they write. For example, if I read a piece of fanfiction, and the writer did something I was planning to do in the later books, that writer might think I stole the idea from them—even though I didn’t. So I never visit fanfiction websites, and if readers email their fanfiction or links to me, sadly my assistant deletes those immediately.

Are you on Wattpad (and if not—will you join)?

I’m not on Wattpad, and I have no plans to join. It seems to be that people only really use Wattpad for two things. 1) to read other people’s fanfiction, in which case, see the answer above. Or 2) to post writing of their own, in which case I unfortunately have too many contracted deadlines to meet before I’ll have time to write anything else. If that ever changes, of course I’ll let you guys know. But at the moment, no wattpad. Sorry!

Do you Follow-back on Twitter?

I wish I could—really, I do. But since most of my readers are under 18—and I am most definitely older than 18—it would look weird and … kinda creepy if I were following all of you. So I only follow people I know. But I do try to respond to my @replies.

Do you Follow-back on Instagram?

Just like with Twitter, I only follow people I know. I love interacting with readers, but the smartest/safest way to do that is for you to follow me—not the other way around. Also, as it says in my instagram profile, I don’t use the DM feature, so if you send me anything direct I’ll never see it.

Can I send you a friend request on Facebook?

Yes, I will accept friend requests from anyone who doesn’t send up a glaring “creeper” flag. (And if you ARE a creeper… please go away!) (*shudder*). But if you private message me on Facebook, you won’t get a reply from me (occasionally my assistant replies, but not to everything). The only messages I reply to are emails. (See my contact page for my email address).

Can I email you?

Yes, there’s a contact page on this website with all the information you’ll need to be able to do that—but please keep in mind that because of deadlines, I no longer have time to personally respond. For quick, important questions, my assistant will sometimes jump in with a reply. But right now, I have to focus on writing.