Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Author Spotlight on: Maggie Stiefvater

If you've read my blog for a while you know that I'm a HUGE fan of Maggie Stiefvater's books. So when she agreed to an interview, I was more than a little excited.

I've reviewed her books here and here. But I'm not the only one saying this chick can write. After debuting at #9 on the New York Times bestseller list last September, SHIVER has sold more than 100,000 copies. In addition, SHIVER has been named:

• ALA Best Books for Young Adults
• ALA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers
• Amazon Top Ten Books for Teens
• Barnes & Noble 2009 Top Twenty Books for Teens
• Border’s Original Voices Pick
• Glamour’s Best Book to Curl Up With
• Junior Library Guild Selection
• Publishers Weekly Best Books of 2009

When she's not writing books that make readers swoon, Maggie paints and draws, plays the guitar or the bagpipes, blogs, and answers to "Mommy" when called by Thing 1 and Thing 2. She also animated and wrote the music on her two lovely book trailers for SHIVER and BALLAD. Enough to make your head swim, right? Thankfully, she found a few minutes to answer some of my questions.

I absolutely loved James after reading BALLAD. Do you fall in love with your characters as you’re writing them?

I am far too evil to my characters to call what I feel for them love. Also, a lot of them have parts of me in them, so it would be narcissistic. And lastly, most of them are underage, so it would be jailbait. I think the answer would have to be no.

If I fall in love, I think I can be justifiably be called the worst girlfriend ever.

Jailbait, hmm? Didn't stop me :)
You’ve said that you feel pressure to make the next books live up to expectations created by earlier books. How do you overcome that and just write?

Medication. No, I'm kidding.

In the end, I have to do whatever it takes to remember that I write for myself, for that love of writing. With FOREVER, the pressure was almost paralyzing, and ultimately, I had to put on the very naive, lovely album of music that I listened to way back when I was first daydreaming about SHIVER, and remind myself of that feeling. (Joshua Radin, by the way).

LAMENT is based on a novel you wrote when you were 16. Have you kept everything you’ve ever written or have you had some fantastic bonfires like at the end of BALLAD?

Oh, I have most of everything, for better or for worse. There are a few disks missing with some awful IRA thrillers, but I have most of the 30some novels I butchered as a teen and young adult. I even have samples in this one blog post at The Merry Sisters of Fate.

That young Maggie was so melodramatic, neurotic, and sure of her direction.

Oh wait, not much has changed. ;p

Ah, well. I'm beginning to think that being neurotic is a requirement for writers :)
In both of your series’ I’ve noticed that each book can also be a stand-alone story. What made you decide to write them that way?

A furious hatred of series books, actually. Almost every book that I love is a standalone, and the ones that aren't can mostly be read that way. I'm thinking of things like the Chronicles of Narnia -- classic series, no cliffhangers. Or like the old Star Wars movie. There was a cliffhanger in the middle, but still, the main problem of the movie was resolved. I like that. A few loose threads, but mostly tied up. At least tied up enough that the reader doesn't fall down.

I, for one, greatly appreciate that! 
I love your take on werewolf lore. And actually, your homicidal faeries aren’t like any others I’ve read. Do you plan to add your own twist to any other fantastical creatures?

I do indeed. I am working on a Secret Project that's coming out after FOREVER that has other mythical creatures with a new spin.

Excellent! I can't wait to hear more about this Secret Project...
You said somewhere that writing the SHIVER series has been grueling. Why is that?

Because I have had to endure many photographs of Taylor Lautner in my inbox. Just kidding! KIDDING!

Actually, not. I do have lots of people sending me his photo and asking if he can play Sam in the movie. But that's not what makes the SHIVER books hard. What makes them hard is that they're very . . . honest . . . books. The characters are not nearly as stylized as in Lament and Ballad and so I have to focus on every single gesture, every line, every bit of dialog, and ask myself, is this how it would really happen? Does this feel real? Not book real, but real-real?

It's exhausting but rewarding.

We know that SHIVER is part of a trilogy. What about the faeries? How many of those books do you see yourself writing?

Mmm. I change my mind daily. Five. Three. Five. Three. Five. Three. Five. Thr-- you get the idea. More. That's all that's really certain at the moment.

Besides writing bestselling novels, you’re also an amazing artist. And I noticed that one of your resolutions was to create a dummy for a graphic novel. Do you already have your story idea in place? Anything you can share?

I do indeed have a story line in place! It's actually based on one of my short stories that I wrote over at Merry Sisters of Fate (the horrible writing I linked above is on the blog, which I swear is not normally that bad). I am hesitant to say which one.

Ooo, a mystery for us to solve! :)
You also resolved to write a screenplay and to write a song every week. How’s that going?

The screenplay's going smashingly. The writing a song a week turned into playing one of my musical instruments every day instead. I've only written three songs this year so far, and that's okay with me.

Besides getting interviewed on tv and reading something like four thousand emails every month, what else has changed since your books hit the bestsellers lists?

Wow. Um. Everything and nothing. It is weird getting recognized in a bookstore. But it is also weird to realize that no matter how many people know how to say your last name, the writing process is exactly the same. Exactly.

I hear you like to watch movies when you’re writing. What are some of your favorites?

I love moody: Chocolat, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain, Finding Neverland, Peter Pan (the new one)
And funny: Hot Fuzz, L. A. Story, Hudson Hawk
And cult status: Sliding Doors, Charlie Bartlett, Danny Deckchair
Oh, and in different languages: The Chorus

My family loves that live-action Peter Pan, too. And L.A. Story -- hilarious!
Thanks so much for taking the time to do this interview with me, Maggie. It's been fun!

Thanks so much for having me!

You can keep up with Maggie on her blogs:
The World According to Maggie (Blogger)
Words on Words (Live Journal)
The Merry Sisters of Fate

Her new novel, LINGER, sequel to SHIVER, comes out in July.


Caroline Starr Rose said...

Very down-to-earth interview. I'm one of the few people not to have read SHIVER yet. Need to get to work on that...

Casey Something said...

Great interview!! I can't wait to get my hands on LINGER.

Stina said...

Great interview! Love the pictures. Hmmm. Jailbait. Good thing my characters are fictious so it isn't a problem that I have a crush on some of them. ;)

Shannon O'Donnell said...

Wow. This was so much fun! I loved learning so much about Maggie - great interview. Thanks, ladies. :-)

Carolyn V. said...

What a great interview Sherrie! Maggie is awesome! I'm so excited for her books! =)

Lori W. said...

Thank you Sherrie and Maggie. Loved the line about the writing process being "exactly the same. Exactly."
I'm excited for LINGER, too!

Anonymous said...

This is such an awesome interview. I've come out learning so much more about Maggie. I love her writing and blog, and love these answers, too! :)

Candyland said...

Excellent interview! I love her!

Sherrie Petersen said...

Caroline: Maggie is a very down-to-earth type of person. And you know, I usually avoid books that I hear a lot of hype about, but this is one of those that actually lives up to the hype IMHO :)

Casey: If you liked Shiver, you will totally enjoy Linger. Excellent book!

Stina: Yeah, the jailbait thing doesn't sway me either :D

Shannon: I had fun getting to know Maggie, too.

Carolyn: I agree -- Maggie is so very awesome :)

Lori: Good to remember, huh? You still have to put your butt in the chair and write!

Sandy: Glad you liked it! I want to be like Maggie when I grow up :)

Candace: You are not alone! Maggie (and her books) are wonderful!

Laura Pauling said...

Great interview. From what I can tell Maggie is a very real, honest person! So happy for her success.

Beth Kephart said...

this is one outstanding interview, Sherrie, and the first with her that I've read that made me feel I understand her personality, her impulses. Fantastic.

Elana Johnson said...

I love the part where she says that no matter how many people know your last name, the writing process is the same.

So true -- and so inspiring.

Thanks guys!

Bish Denham said...

Most excellent interview. Thanks for sharing Maggie!

PJ Hoover said...

What a fun, awesome interview, Sherrie and Maggie. Thanks!
I picked up the ARC for Linger at TLA and can't wait to read it.

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

I love the cat masters! How cool is that?
Sherrie, I'm right there with you about James. ;)
This interview was so readable and fun and interesting. Thank you both so much.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Great interview!


This was a really great interview. Thanks for posting and for asking such good questions!

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