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Author Shannon Phillips on Oakland and the importance of the local bookstore

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Shannon Phillips, author of The Millennial Sword, a fantasy set in modern-day San Francisco, moved to Oakland from San Francisco in 2010, after the collapse of the housing market bubble.

“I was pregnant with my second son,” said Phillips. “We had been sharing a tiny, one-bedroom apartment and had to admit that we wouldn't be able to squeeze in a second kid there. It was pretty clear that our one chance to buy in the Bay Area would be right then, at the bottom of the market.”

Soon, Phillips fell in love with the city and her Maxwell Park neighborhood.

“Oakland neighborhoods seem to be the perfect blend of city amenities with small-scale neighborhood feeling,” said Phillips. “People around here are friendly and the community is really tight-knit. Maxwell Park is a jewel, especially with the gorgeous mosaics and the new plantings. We also love Children's Fairyland, the Oakland Zoo, the various farmers' markets, the shops on Laurel, the redwood hiking trails, the Little Farm and the Tilden steam train--there are so many great places to go and things to do, especially for families. Oakland is a wonderful city for kids!”

Phillips enjoys Oakland’s local bookstores. In recent years, inflated rents have caused many local San Francisco bookstores like A Different Light to go out of business. Oakland remains home to many independent bookstores including Marcus Books, The Book Zoo, and Laurel Bookstore.

“Local bookstores are absolutely important,” says Phillips. “They aren't just places to buy books they are centers of community and a wonderful resource for people who want to learn more about a neighborhood. Also, many people don't realize that you can buy e-books through your local independent bookstore! Laurel Bookstore, for instance, sells e-books on Kobo.”

Phillips hopes to set up book readings where she can interact with her readers at local bookstores here in Oakland in the future.

“I write stories to entertain people,” said Phillips. “For me the best thing is making a connection with readers and sharing an experience. I write fantasy, which is often called "escapist fiction," but I would not be insulted if somebody described my book that way. Sometimes we all need an escape. If I can give someone a few hours of relief from the stresses of daily life, a window of time that they can relax and get lost in a story, then I am really pleased.”

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