FCLC Alumna Pens Paranormal Teen Novel

Courtesy of Melinda Oswandel

Courtesy of Melinda Oswandel



Cara Lynn Shultz, once an Observer Editor-in-Chief, is now a senior editor at People.com and successful author of the teen fantasy novel, “Spellbound.” (Courtesy of Melinda Oswandel)

Privileged Upper East Side prep school teens, a family curse and a tall, dark mystery man. Enter the world of Emma Conner, the main character in this summer’s breakout teen novel called “Spellbound.” Written by Fordham alumna and former Observer Editor-in-Chief Cara Lynn Shultz, “Spellbound” may seem like another cliché teen love story, but witty writing paired with an intricate plot provides for a compelling book.  Currently a senior editor at People.com, Shultz graduated from Fordham College at Lincoln Center in 1998. The Observer spoke with Shultz about her latest work and Fordham’s influence on her novel.


Observer: What got you started on your first book?

Cara Shultz: When I first got out of college and had my first job, I was making six bucks an hour. I was photocopying and faxing. Really not doing much and I’m kind of bored during the day. My friend Vanessa was doing a similar job so I just started writing her stories. They were these little stories about these characters that were college seniors and it just kind of evolved into kind of creepy stories with supernatural touches and romance.  Then I actually started having a busy job and I stopped writing the stories. A few years ago, Vanessa was cleaning out some old stuff and found a bunch of the stories and gave them to me—I hadn’t seen them in like nine years. I’m reading through them and I was like, ‘Why don’t I do something with these characters I invented in 1998?’

Observer: Why a teen novel?

C.S: It has to be that first love or else it wouldn’t have worked. The whole doomed soul mate thing had to be teenager. It’s called PNR—paranormal teen romances.

Observer: Harry Potter and Twilight are big, why do you think paranormal stories are so popular now?

C.S: I think there are always people who want to escape to a world where anything can happen. They’re these epic modern fairytales that exist alongside everyday life—supernatural worlds running parallel to the world we know.

Observer: You wrote for the Observer while at Fordham, did you ever think you’d be writing books in the future?

C.S: While a senior at Fordham I interned at Teen People. My first day there I interviewed Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler for the Wedding Singer and I fell into entertainment journalism. That kind of job was huge—it was 24 hour job.

Courtesy of Melinda Oswandel

Observer: In “Spellbound,” one of the character’s moms works as a professor at Fordham. Did you get any ideas for the characters from your experience as a student at Fordham?

C.S: Not really the people, but I love Fordham so I wanted to give it a shout out. The names of the good people in the book are positive people in my life. All the mean teachers are names of friend’s ex-boyfriends.

Observer: Which do you prefer, article writing, blogging or novel writing?

C.S: I like all three to be honest. I love social media—Twitter, Facebook. I love article writing. My favorite thing was always to interview an artist I really respected. I wanted to hear their story and tell their story well. Then there’s something about writing a book that’s your story you’re telling and you’re more exposed. When writing for a magazine, it’s not your voice, it’s the magazine’s. There is something nice about publishing something that’s all yours.

Observer: I saw that one of the characters in the novel, Brendan, has his own Facebook. What role did social media play in getting the word out about Spellbound?

C.S: I think it’s a good tool to use. I got retweeted by z100 and got seven new followers. When you tweet out things that are interesting, it gets people involved. It’s all about branding.  For Brendan’s Facebook, I wanted to own the name and it’s also a fun thing to do.

Observer: I hear a sequel is in the works…

C.S: I had a two-book deal with Harlequin and I’m writing the sequel now. I have 300 pages done and I’m right before the big final scene now. Everyone keeps asking if there is going to be a love triangle. I’m like, ‘No that goes against the first book!’ I guess it’s popular in second books to have love triangles.