Shannon McLatchey Balloon writes novels for children that are inspired by history, magic, and folklore. She holds a bachelors degree in broadcast journalism from the University of Florida and a juris doctorate from the University of Florida College of Law. After ten years practicing corporate law, she now spends most of her time driving carpool, volunteering for the school’s arts alliance, and writing books. Born and raised in a small Florida beach town, she now lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her college-sweetheart husband, three school-aged kids, and two crazy dogs (one big and one little).
Shannon is represented by Christa Heschke of McIntosh & Otis, Inc.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is that your real name?
Yep, it’s BALLOON, and it’s spelled and pronounced just like the party decoration, nothing French or fancy. I married into it, and yes it was hard to get used to. Someone once told me with a name like that I should write picture books. Maybe one day I will.
How did you learn to write a book?
I wrote my first full manuscript with zero know-how. I hadn’t yet discovered writing Twitter, and the only craft book I’d read was Stephen King’s On Writing (which turned out to be just what I needed to get me started and not let me quit). So, I wrote an 80,000 word book, and then I discovered writing Twitter, went to my first writing conference, and discovered a whole world of writers and resources out there just waiting to support me.
I found the most amazing critique partners who were willing to read my writing and offer feedback, and I read tons of blogs written by writers. I started googling things like character arc and agency. Then, I started diving into books on craft. I learned amazing things from Story Genius, Save the Cat, and Creating Character Arcs, just to name a few. I discovered tools like The Emotions Thesaurus. And I wrote another book, and then another one. Folks, the key to learning how to write is write, and then write some more.
You’re a stay-at-home parent. Does that mean you get to spend all day writing?
Not at all! Even with my kids being school-aged, my days are filled with driving them around and doing all the things moms everywhere do to ensure their families thrive. Being a mom is the hardest, yet most fulfilling, job I’ve ever had. When my kids were little, I went back to work to get a breather from mom-ing. Now, I write.
Favorite writing podcasts?
88 Cups of Tea, Print Run, SCBWI Conversations, Write or Die, Middle Grade Ninja, and Literaticast. All that driving around I do as a mom gives me lots of time to listen, and hey, if any of my kids ever decides to be a writer, they’ll have a leg up.
P.S. I’m dying to be a guest on a podcast. In college I hosted a radio call-in talkshow, so talking on-air is right up my alley. Ping me and I’m in!
Favorite television shows?
The Amazing Mrs. Maisel, Victoria, and The Crown. And I still miss Downton Abbey.
Sweet or Salty?
Sweet, hands down.
Summer or Winter?
Winter, though I live in Georgia. If I lived in, oh, say Minnesota, my answer would probably be different.
Your favorite books?
Like most writers, I love to read. My favorite books tug at my heart and have a hero I can root for. Books like:
- The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate
- Sweep: The Story of a Girl and her Monster
- The Simple Art of Flying
- Where the Watermelons Grow
- Brown Girl Dreaming
- Anne of Green Gables
- The Little Princess
- Little Women
- The Light Between Worlds
- House of Salt and Sorrows
- Salt to the Sea
- The Book Thief
- The Sisters of the Winter Wood
- The Snow Child