In conversation with Shannon Heth
IN CONVERSATION WITH
Shannon Heth is a powerhouse, there's no doubt about it. She's the co-founder of Vancouver's Milk Creative Communications, and has more than ten years experience in comprehensive strategy, visioning, brand positioning and media executing with client work that includes the Vancouver Art Gallery, the Canadian National Film Board, timeless Swedish design brand Fjallraven, and Canadian fashion brand Frank + Oak. Her clients have appeared in high-end publications such as Vogue, The New York Times, Fashion, and The Washington Post.
Before opening her own agency more than ten years ago, Heth lived and worked in New York City, where she handled PR for some of Manhattan's largest art galleries, dealers, and foundations.
Beyond her successful work in communications, she also contributes regularly to lifestyle and luxury magazines.
Shannon has also co-authored a book with renowned celebrity and editorial make-up artist Beau Nelson, set to release in Canada on February 18th. Cinderella, You Bitch: Rescue Your Relationships from the Fairy-Tale Fantasy, has received glowing praise from Nicole Richie, Kelly Oxford, Publishers Weekly, and Montecristo Magazine.
I was delighted to chat to Heth ahead of the book's release. We talked about writing through a pandemic, why she felt compelled to write this book of all the books she could have written, how she stays on top of her game, and who inspires her most.
Congratulations on your debut! You co-authored it with friend and editorial make-up artist Beau Nelson, who lives in Los Angeles. How did it feel to write the book remotely throughout a pandemic whilst also running a successful business in Vancouver?
Both Beau and I were forced into some downtime because of the pandemic. Our work is heavily based in events. When lockdowns happened we returned to an idea we had been mulling for years, to write a self-help book about relationships through the lens of two best friends who have talked about pretty much everything over the course of 20 years of friendship. Writing remotely wasn’t a challenge because we usually correspond over text and FaceTime anyway, but there were definitely times when I wished I could just jump on a plane so we could spend a weekend writing together.
Cinderella You Bitch is about rescuing your life and taking your relationships back into your own hands. Of all books, why did you and Beau feel compelled to write this one?
We felt like the narrative of choice, and choosing to choose, was an important one to explore because that really isn’t an option in most fairy tales. Whether it’s Disney or rom coms or pop music, we’re conditioned to make the mistake of looking to someone else for happiness. We wanted to tear all of that down and give readers a different option — one where they can choose to be in a relationship, not need one.
If you could describe the book to me in 5 words, what would they be?
Sassy, swear-y, funny, loving, helpful.
You run a successful communications agency in Vancouver, and have now released your first book. That's no small feat. How do you stay on top of it all?
I’m not sure I stay on top of it all all that well, but mostly I try to be gentle on myself.
Resilience is key in the publishing industry and motivation to keep going is a must. Which published author motivated and inspired you to keep writing when you felt like giving up?
Our editor, Joanna Henry, was a fantastic support for both of us. In the times when we questioned whether or not we should be writing the book she pushed us to keep going. It was wonderful to have someone who could both call us out on our less than perfect themes and chapters while also motivating us to keep pushing ourselves. I’ve collaborated with so many writers and editors and creators over the years through the work I do but I’ve never felt a commitment like that before. It was beautiful.
Lastly, what one book would you recommend to my readers?
Someone once told me that if you want to write a book you have to read a lot of books and so I try to read as many books as I can. Naming one is tough, but I love Alexander Chee’s How to Write an Autobiographical Novel. Also anything by Deborah Levy.