November 16, 2012

Smarty Children’s Author: Shelby Trenchkelbach

Smarties, today I am happy to introduce you to Shelby Trenchkelbach, beloved children’s author and she grew up right here in Charlotte. Her last name can be a mouthful, so she uses pen names for her books. My oldest is currently reading Of Giants and Ice, The Ever Afters, alongside her required reading for school, and says that it is not fair that she cannot devote more time to Ms. Shelby’s book. Shelby has been so very kind to sign five hardback copies of Always Neverland and five copies of, Of Giants and Ice The Ever Afters for some very lucky Smarties to add to their children’s own book collection. Get to know Shelby and remember to sign up for this pre-season giveaway treat! Thank you Shelby for sharing your memories and favorite past times of growing up in Charlotte.

To enter to win one of Shelby’s books: Comment below sharing your favorite moment reading with your child.

Charlotte is your hometown but where do you currently reside and why?

I wanted to explore someplace I’d never been before, so I left the East Coast. – As a writer, I’m always trying to see something new; knowing more about the world gives me richer material for my books. The reason that I chose to stop in Portland, OR was purely for research purposes – back in early 2010, I’d picked that city as the setting for a pivotal scene in The Ever Afters 3. But as soon as I drove in, I kind of fell in love with it and decided to stay.

It’s funny, though – some of my favorite things about Portland are also my favorite things about Charlotte. It has the close-knit community, historic areas, and laid-back pace of a small town, but size-wise, it has all the resources and perks of a larger city: public transit, cute boutiques, a ton of tasty restaurants. Just like in Charlotte, people here are dedicated first and foremost to living good lives, being good citizens, and raising happy children. – During my travels, I realized those qualities were a lot more rare than I could have guessed after growing up in Charlotte.

Where did you attend school?

I attended Eastover in kindergarten and first grade before moving to Elizabeth Traditional for the rest of elementary school. Then I spent grades six through twelve at Charlotte Country Day School. After graduating from CCDS, I went to Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY. At that time, I was interested in working in the New York publishing industry, and Vassar was close enough for me to commute to undergrad internships without actually having to live in a big, hectic city. It worked out perfectly.

What are some of your favorite memories of growing up in Charlotte?

Favorite school field trip:
In fifth grade, Elizabeth Traditional had an Accelerated Reader program – if you read and took tests on a certain number of books, you earned an invite to a special field trip to Anderson’s, that delicious pie and breakfast restaurant on Elizabeth Avenue. Since I loved reading anyway, it wasn’t too hard to read the required books, but I still remember the feeling of getting to walk out of school and right around the corner with my fellow readers to eat something yummy. So, from an early age, I got the message that reading gets you awesome rewards. (I think Anderson’s only caters these days, which makes the memory doubly sweet.)

Favorite concert:
When I was about five, the Beach Boys performed at the Knights’ Stadium after a football game. My parents let me run up and down the stadium stairs, singing and thoroughly wearing myself out, and afterwards, I told them that it was the “best day in my young rock and roll life.”

Favorite Park:
Freedom Park!!! The geese on the lake! That train engine! The Nature Museum! Need I say more? 

Favorite summer job:
In high school, I spent a summer working as a cashier for Myers Park Hardware store. It has closed since then, but I loved how its customer service wasn’t focused on the bottom line. It just aimed to be an integral part of the community, so it made for a kind of an oddball hardware store. Some customers would just stop by every week to buy a few of the fresh tomatoes for sale.

Favorite Day Trip from Charlotte:
Visiting the Biltmore House in Asheville, NC, especially around the holidays to see their lavish decorations. The last time my family visited together, I tried to count how many gorgeous Christmas trees they had. I lost count after 120 trees, halfway through the second floor!

Favorite food or treat only found in Charlotte:
The chocolate pecans from Reid’s Fine Foods. They mix some sort of spice in the chocolate, which raises the deliciousness to epic heights.

Favorite Charlotte festival:
They call it “First Night” now, but I think it used to be called something different when I was young enough to attend. It’s a kid-centered New Year’s Party, where a lot of museums and buildings downtown open themselves up for families on New Year’s Eve. When I was little, I thought visiting Discovery Place and its starfish and horseshoe crab tank in the middle of the night was the best thing ever.

Favorite aspect of the Charlotte community:
There’s something wonderful about how Charlotteans naturally build lasting relationships. It took me a long time to realize that this doesn’t happen everywhere, but my close friends in childhood are still my close friends today. Last night, I spent an hour chatting on the phone with a friend I met in eighth grade, and the first visitor who stayed in my new Portland apartment was actually a girl I befriended in third grade.

When did you know that you wanted to write children’s books?

I was very young. I can remember telling someone in second grade that I either wanted to be a writer or a teacher when I grew up. At the time, kids’ books were all I was reading, so I automatically assumed that’s what I should be writing. Even in high school, when I was old enough to read books for teens and adults, I still read and reread books for young readers. They’re definitely my first love.

Tell us a little about your books.

Always Neverland, which I published under the pen name Zoe Barton, is for kids 7 and up. It’s a modern retelling of J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan: Peter invites eleven-year-old Ashley, the great-great-great-granddaughter of the original Wendy Darling to Neverland, but when she gets there, she turns out to be way more adventurous than the other girls who visited Neverland. She befriends mermaids, battles pirates, and generally causes all sorts of trouble.

The Ever Afters 1: Of Giants and Ice – which is published under Shelby Bach – is best for kids 8 and older. Sixth grader Rory Landon has gotten used to being known only as the daughter of her famous movie star mom and director dad. But when she begins a new after-school program, no one knows who her family is, and that’s not even the weirdest thing about Ever After School. After fighting a fire-breathing dragon on her first day, Rory finds out fairy tales are very real—and she is destined to star in one of her own.

Where can our smarty readers purchase your books?

Always Neverland has been out for a while, so it’s getting hard to find it in stores. I believe Park Road Books (4139 Park Road, Charlotte, NC) had a few copies when I was there last, but it may be easiest to find it from online retailers like and Of Giants and Ice was released this year, so you should be able to find copies at Barnes and Noble and Books-A-Million, as well as at Park Road Books and the online stores listed above. However, since I did a signing there this fall, I believe that Park Road Books has a few signed copies.

Both titles are also available as e-books. 

Are you currently working on a book??

I am! I’m finishing up work on the sequel to The Ever Afters 1: Of Giants and Ice – it’s called The Ever Afters 2: Of Witches and Wind, and it comes out on July 23, 2013. After I send that novel back to my editor, I’ll be working on The Ever Afters 3, which doesn’t have a title yet.

5 Responses

  1. Terri M. says:

    My girls are in 4th and 6th grade now, so we don’t often get to snuggle up and have reading time, as they are reading books in Spanish or large chapter books for school! However, occasionally, they will want to come together before bed and we each read a chapter or two (giving the other time to relax and just listen). The girls hear my intonation, how I read each sentence with enthusiasm or the pauses, etc. and they in turn become more vibrant ‘out loud’ readers who then speak with more engagement, confidence and greater vocabulary. I hope we all never outgrow reading aloud! Looks like a fantastic collection of books from a local author!

  2. Like most people in Charlotte, my hometown is actually in the north :) A true Yankee! I’ve been here about 6 years and love it!

  3. I don’t have any children but I am a 4th grade teacher. So I guess you could say I play father and teacher to 22 kids on Monday through Friday.

    My favorite reading with the kids memory would have to be when we began book studies in class three years ago. I had one student who told me he hated reading. Being the stubborn teacher I am, I knew I could convert this kid into a reading fiend. We went to the library and day after day we came back empty-handed.

    He really did seem to hate reading.

    But then one day he discovered the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. He read a few pages. And a few more. And then book two. And before he knew it he was going back to the library in his spare time to get more books, and in different genres, too!

    He finally told me at the end of the year that reading was his favorite subject. It was music to my ears.

    • Tina says:

      That is awesome! You sound like an incredible teacher that is devoted to his students 24/7. Your students are lucky to have you.

  4. Ricki Barley says:

    When I would read to my daughter she would be so wide-eyed with excitement. She never wanted the story to end. I still this today as she reads books. She gets so wrapped up in the story line and would stay up all night to read if we let her. She loves to read us excerpts from the books she reads, and it’s always done with the wide-eyed look I remember when she was little.

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