Interview with YA author, Maggie Stiefvater…a new twist on werewolves!

August 5, 2009 at 4:48 pm (Interviews, Lori Devoti) (, , )

Interviewed by Lori Devoti

Maggie StiefvaterMaggie Stiefvater has a new release! I discovered Maggie not long after her first book, Lament came out. I loved it, my mom loved it, you would probably love it too. :)

It’s YA, as is her new book, but definitely something adults who like fantasy will enjoy too.

So, when I heard she had a new book, part of a new series that features werewolves, coming out, I definitely wanted to have her stop by the blog to answer a few questions, and she nicely agreed.

Q.) First can you give us an overview of your new release Shiver?

M.S.) Yup. The spiel: It’s a bittersweet love story about Grace, a girl who has always loved the wolves behind her house, and the Sam, a boy who has to become a wolf each winter. Each summer he gets fewer and fewer months as a human, so when they fall in love, the countdown begins.

Q.) How is this book similar/different from your first book Lament?

M.S.) It’s a lot more character driven. There were a lot of scenes where I thought “this scene really ought to have a corpse or something to move it along” — but it wasn’t that kind of book. It’s a slower, more detailed book. I think you could speed read LAMENT and get the gist. I don’t think you could speed read SHIVER. Well, you could, but I think it would be pretty boring.

Q.) Where did you get the idea to have a character whose shifts are tied to the seasons?

M.S.) I was trying to think of something cyclical, like the phases of the moon, but that would give me more time to play with inside the cycle. The seasons worked perfectly, plus it gave me built in, easy to understand tension as the temperature dropped.

Q.) Is Sam part of a group who also shift like this or is he affected by a curse or something similar that only affects him?

M.S.) In my version of werewolf lore, it’s contagious — you’re bitten, you’re screwed. I mean, you become a wolf. So Sam is part of a larger pack, all in varying states of their shifting. He’s one of the few that still becomes human in the summer.

Q.) Would you call Shiver a romance or something else?

M.S.) I think of it as a love story — a romance guarantees a happy ending. Also I think of romances as a bit grander. Shiver is a very quiet, understated novel. Or at least I like to think so.

Q.) Is Shiver part of a series? What characters will we see again in future books?

M.S.) It’s a trilogy — I just finished writing LINGER, which comes out next fall, and FOREVER will finish it up the fall after that. Readers will see some of the characters from SHIVER in LINGER — not saying which ones!

Q.) What formats and where can readers find Shiver?

Shiver, Young Adult Fantasy

M.S.) It’s available as a hardcover and as an audio book (and as an audio download). The audio was very cool — I went to NYC and in this very swank and beautiful studio they had me record some extras for the audio book, like an interview, and me reading the first chapters. Also, they have two narrators — one for Sam and one for Grace. I was very pleased!

Q.) How long have you been writing? What was your first sale experience like?

M.S.) I’ve been writing ever since I was a tiny, evil child. I remember writing novels (terrible, terrible things involving the death of all unicorns at the hands of evil, evil wizard-kings) on my dad’s word processor, in the days before cheap PCs. I first started submitting for publication when I was 16, which was not the world’s best idea. And I sold my first novel to Andrew Karre, an editor at Flux, shortly out of college. I had submitted it to him the year before and he’d asked for revisions, which I’d twiddled at. I didn’t really go far enough — I didn’t really know enough to revise properly anyway — and just went ahead and wrote another novel, which I submitted to him. He said “how about that first one? feel like tearing it apart this time?” So I did, and with a year’s experience under my belt, I was able to really rip it apart. On just three revised chapters, Andrew offered a contract, and I was off. He said “this is your foot in the door.” He was so, so right.

Q.) What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

M.S.) Sort of a combination. I absolutely need to know where I’m headed before I start, or I guarantee you I will get stuck. So I write a two page synopsis before I start writing my novels — the ending is true, and the beginning is mostly true, and then in the middle I stuff in lies and damn lies. I like to pretend I know how I’m getting to the end, but really, it’s just guessing until I get there.

I do a lot of plotting along the way — meaning that I cannot write every day. I will write a scene or two, and then the next day I will brainstorm and think about where I’m going next. I won’t sit down and stare at a blank computer screen. Nothing will happen. Nothing good, anyway.

Q.) I saw the cute and creative book trailer for Shiver. Can you post a link and tell us where you came up with the idea for it? Did you create it yourself?

M.S.) I got the idea for this after seeing the initial art for the cover — the gorgeous silhouettes of the trees. I’ve always been a fan of stop-motion animation and I really wanted to try it for myself. I thought a cut-paper stop animation video would be less work than hand-drawing (I did a hand-drawn one for BALLAD that I’m putting out there next month, and trust me, it was more work doing the cut outs), so I cut out the trees and the people and the wolves and wrote the music for it. My sister and I went to the studio and recorded the track and then I assembled it. It took . . . um, a lot of time. I’m afraid to admit to how much time I spent doing this when I should’ve been writing LINGER on a deadline.

(Note from Lori: A link to Maggie’s blog where she tells how she made the trailer..)

Q.) What other things do you do to promote yourself?

M.S.) Well, I have my blog (both the Blogger version that I just started: maggiestiefvater.blogspot.com and the LiveJournal version that I’ve had for years: m-stiefvater.livejournal.com), and I do library and school visits. I sent out a ton of review copies of LAMENT, my debut, for review. And other bloggers have been great about guest posts and participating in contests that get the word out.

Q.) Why young adult? What about that age attracts you?

M.S.) I have a Peter Pan complex. I love writing teen protagonists because everything’s still new for them — the world stretches out with endless possibilities. I think that it could still be this way for adults, too, if they saw the world that way — but a lot of adults get into their rut and just keep going through the motions. I can’t see myself writing about desk jobs or normal adults . . . so teens it is. Also, I love reading YA and they say to write what you love to read.

Q.) What is the last really great book you read? Why did you love it?

M.S.) I read Stitches, a graphic novel memoir by David Small. It was absolutely wonderfully observed and funny and dark and brilliant. I loved it.

Q.) What’s next for you and where can readers find you on the Web?

M.S.) Next up: LINGER, the sequel to SHIVER. And BALLAD, coming out this October — the companion book to LAMENT.

And websites: www.maggiestiefvater.com
LJ blog: m-stiefvater.livejournal.com
bi-monthly short fiction: www.merryfates.com

Thanks for having me, Lori!


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Young adult authors writing Young adult literature

January 26, 2009 at 9:29 am (General, Teresa D'Amario) (, , , , )

Recently I’ve had the pleasure to work with a young woman who has decided she wishes to become an author.  And not just any author, but a shifter author.  Her choice? Mermaids. 

It’s been a long time since I read a book about mermaids.  I think Shana Abe was the last.  In Shana’s story, the mermaids were born, not made.  In my young friend’s book, her mermaid was made – a curse laid upon her character as a child.  A quite different and original start to her story.

She has a long way to go, my dear online friend, but the fact she has stepped out on the journey of becoming an author is exciting to me.  A young woman just finding herself, and finding what she likes to do.

The interesting and probably most telling thing about this, is my friend hasn’t read Twilight.  She hasn’t seen the movie.  She hasn’t even read my books (I told her she had to wait another year or two to read mine), so what is it about the paranormal which draws her? Her mother tells me she watches the ghost hunter shows on television, but that’s about all.  Why shapeshifters?  Why a character that isn’t human?

Perhaps it’s the same thing which draws all of us to the paranormal – the edge of the unknown, the animalistic qualities which make us wonder what life would be like if…. the typical author concept:  What If?

When first we spoke, this young woman was just starting to create her characters.  She had a young girl in her head, and knew she wasn’t human, but not yet clear on what she was.  We discussed the different options open to her, and how once she really “Knew” her character, her secrets would then be revealed.

And how they were!  I was very surprised when she messaged me the next day and told me she was a mermaid.  What an exciting new way to go!

For me, it’s thrilling to see someone of her age stepping into the world of writing mermaidand creativity. It shows our genre appeals not just to the adult in us, but to our inner child as well.  I remember myself, when I was younger, playing a game similar to dungeons and dragons, and my character was a shifter.  I even considered writing her story.  Imagine where I would be today if I had stepped down that path at that early age.

Imagine where my young friend can be if she continues along this path for the next ten or twenty years.  In this world were reality can truly be painful, she is stepping into a world of her own creation, a world where she can be anything she desires.

Are there any young and budding authors in your life? If so, tell us a little about them.

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