The Saga of M.C. Shaffer (abridged)


Mary C. Shaffer grew up in a 100-year-old farmhouse in rural Minnesota. The daughter of an artist and a high school English teacher, she began writing books when she was four years old. The logic of her spelling in these early works still strikes her as an improvement on standard English.

Though she always wanted to be a writer, when she went to college Shaffer began to worry about finding a real job. Logically, she decided to study theatre and become an actress. After college, she planned to start her own theatre company a) because it was going to be awesome, and b) because it's what all the Really Cool People did, and she had always aspired to be a Really Cool Person.

But then something unexpected happened.

Shaffer had always been looking for larger-than-life adventure. (She loves epic fantasy for a reason.) She had her theatre-company-starting plan aimed and ready, was about to push the "Deploy" button, when suddenly she felt called to join a convent.

So she did.

Some may consider this choice unconventional. Shaffer found it quite logical. It seemed to her that if she could not walk through the wardrobe door into Narnia, walking through the door of a convent was the closest substitute. She was right. If you don’t believe her, she dares you to try it yourself.

 The story of Shaffer's time in the convent more or less follows the obscure chronicle of a certain Maria von Trapp, laid out in the little-known film The Sound of Music. Ultimately, you can't really solve a problem like Maria, because she doesn't want to be solved.


The life of a nun (especially one who is not sure whether she is supposed to be a nun) entails the pursuit of glaringly honest self-knowledge, along with a vision of the world that seeks to uncover its deepest meaning—the profound hidden in the mundane. Though ultimately not for her, this ‘school of life’ has unquestionably influenced Shaffer’s writing.

Owing to her theatre background, Shaffer’s fantasy is largely character-driven. She has a weird sense of humor. So do her dragons.

These are a few of her favorite things:

  • Her five artsy, quirky siblings

  • Tolkien, Dickens, Austen, Tolstoy, and other people who write really long books

  • Acting, singing, and playing violin (preferably not at the same time)

  • Christmas trees

  • Nickel Creek, Gregory Alan Isakov, and Joni Mitchell

  • Wandering in the woods

  • Wandering in general

  • Small furry animals

  • Large furry animals

  • Glazed donuts dunked in coffee

  • Writing.