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Author Maggie Stiefvater
Maggie Stiefvater (author of Shiver, Linger, Forever, Lament, Ballad, and The Scorpio Races) has been an inspiration to me for some time now, and I wanted to hear her take on life and writing. It's always interesting to hear what professional authors have to offer, and I figured it was worth a shot. Being the nice person she is, Maggie was willing to partake in an interview, where we discussed writing, reading, and life.
Q: What (or who) has influenced your writing most?
A: Life. In Linger, I had one of the members of NARKOTIKA answer a similar question this way, and he was being a jerkface about it, but I think the answer is true. Some people are just storytellers, and everything is fodder for those stories.
Q: What types of things have you struggled with while writing, and how did you overcome them?
A: The biggest challenge has been to write the stories as they appear in my head. I mean, there’s a lot of other things that go into writing a book you’re proud of, but the hardest thing is to take that cinematic image in your head and translate it in such a way that readers will see the exact same story themselves.
Q: How long does it generally take you to write a book? Do you find yourself giving certain projects a break and switching back and forth between novels?
A: I used to say four months was a comfortable period of time to write a rough draft, but then FOREVER happened — I threw out the entire rough draft of FOREVER and started from scratch — and then my latest project happened. Nine months and counting on that rough draft. I’m a very faithful author, too. I can generally only work on one novel at a time, because I need to live in that book. I can edit and draft two different projects, but drafting two at the same time? No way. My head would explode, and no one wants to see that.
Q: When doing research for a book, do you travel around to different places to get a “feel” for what you’re writing about?
A: Oh, definitely. A story is basically one big lie, and the more truthful you can make that lie, the easier time you’ll have convincing readers. Remember that answer to #2? Knowing the facts of your setting and the details of your plot in a very hands-on way is a really good way to help get that story out of your head and into the real world.
Q: As a young child and teen, what were your dream jobs?
A: Oh, I had loads. I always wanted to be a writer, but not as my only job. I wanted to write while also doing other things: fighter pilot (my vision got too bad), DJ (do you really have to get up at 4 a.m.?), pastry chef (I turned down a scholarship for a culinary school), animator (traditional, not computer), soundtrack composer (I highly enjoy playing with people’s emotions, and that’s what soundtracks are for), lawyer (my dad said I liked fighting and would be good at it), and rose hybridizer (don’t ask. just don’t ask) were all on the list.
Q: What are some things on your bucket list?
A: To do everything that I mentioned in the answer to #5, with the exception of becoming a fighter pilot. I have bought a ’73 Camaro and that scratches the same itch.
Q: Is there a specific genre of books and music you enjoy?
A: I really enjoy magic and electric guitars, but I also like realism and cellos. So all bets are off.
Q: The relationships you formed between Sam and Grace—and all the characters—were deep and realistic. What’s your take on true love and the bonds we form as humans?
A: Love — of all sorts — is the big motivator in the world, and also, I think, the best thing about us. It’s something you have to work to be good at, and a lot of people don’t. The tricky thing is that the best way to learn how to love someone else is to learn as much as you can about who you are as a person. I can’t imagine writing a novel without love of some kind in it.
Q: What other writing projects are you working on?
A: I just finished a secret project that I can’t talk about yet — but it involves teens, magic, and dead people. And I’ve just begun to work on REQUIEM, the last book in my faerie series.
Q: Out of the books you’ve written, which is your favorite and why?
A: Right now, The Scorpio Races, hands down, because it’s the most Maggie story out there. It’s the first book that turned out precisely as I first imagined it in my head.
Q: As a member of The Merry Sisters of Fate, do you feel that creating these short stories strengthens your writing?
A: Definitely. As an artist, I was part of the painting-a-day movement, which called for artists to complete a painting every day. I did it for a few years, and I learned so much more by the process of beginning and ending a work (rather than spending the same amount of time just revising an existing piece). Writing a lot of short stories has done the same thing for my writing, I think.
Q: What do you believe is the biggest problem in our world? How do you think we can fix it?
A: Well, there’s lots of problems in the world. For instance, there isn’t a single place in my home town I can get a good cup of hot chocolate except for my house. Problems are regional that way. For Americans, I wish we’d learn to think bigger. I wish teens would step outside themselves and see how their actions are really affecting themselves and others — and then do their best to be heroes in their own lives.