Today we are delighted to be able to chat a little bit with Maggie Stiefvater, author of Lament, Ballad, and the acclaimed Shiver, the first novel in her Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy, with the sequel Linger due out in July. (Hooray!)
So welcome, Maggie! We’re super excited to getting to know a little bit more about you.
First things first. Many of your characters have some sort of strong musical leanings… can you tell us a little bit about your own musical background?
Music makes the world go ‘round. My mom put me at the piano when I was a tiny maggot, and then I picked up other instruments as I went: harp, guitar, bodhran (that’s a sort of Irish drum), tin whistle, and finally, in college, the bagpipes, which I played competitively for a few years. Yes, I know. You don’t have to tell me.
Anyway, I love music. I have it playing all the time, Celtic, Classical, Alternative Rock . . . I have music playing right now. “I Love the Trees” by Nomos. I was just listening to “Walking the Dog” by Fun. before that.
You’ve shown off some of your doodling on your Livejournal, what other hidden talents do you have?
I swear, I have no other hidden talents beside art and music and writing. I can’t make tortillas. I am not good at sitting still. I can drive a stick shift. Does that count? Also, I can perform a cartwheel.
What is your absolute, no-holds-barred favorite bit of the writing process?
That moment when I write a scene and I know that it is going to hurt the readers in some way, either because it’s so, so bad or so, so good. I love to put characters in situations that almost break them, and the almost-breaking is fantastic — but so is the other side when they become giant and strong.
We’re all about YA fantasy here. What is it about the genre you find so appealing?
Teens are really powerful, passionate people. Who wouldn’t want to write about that? One day I might write an adult book, but for now, I love writing about that edge when you find yourself.
Do you, have you, or would you work in another genre?
Other than fantasy YA? I always tell people that there is something very lovely about a platonic shower with your boyfriend/ husband/ lover, but that I would never be able to write on in a YA though I really want to. One of these days, I will be unable to stop myself and will have to write an adult book because of that. When you see me come out with my first adult book, look for the shower scene. Because that will be the cause of it all.
Your faeries really are nice and homicidal, aren’t they? You also seem to know faerie lore like the back of your hand. Was this all research you did for your books, or was it something you were already familiar with?
Oh, I grew up with this stuff. I was a small, strange child like Coraline or Wednesday Addams, and I always had a fat, dusty tome of mythology in my lap. While other girls were telling you about fairy godmothers, I was advising you to hang open scissors above cribs to keep fairies from stealing the baby.
Musicians are always being asked for their influences–who are your biggest influences in writing?
Hm. Audrey Niffenegger, because she first gave me the “hmmm, I wonder” thought about alternative point of views, and also because she made me cry, which never happens, and made me want to do that to other people. Mary Lawson’s Crow Lake was lovely and subtle and taught me to trust my readers. Diana Wynne Jones taught me to use humor when things got bad.
You have some seriously awesome music on your story soundtracks on your website. What music is inspiring you right now?
Thanks! I am listening to “Eagle Eye” by Brian Tyler for a Super Secret Project I am writing. And I just handed the draft of FOREVER to my editor while listening to “First Floor People” by Barcelona.
I loved Shiver and I’m really looking forward to the rest of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series–Not asking for specific spoilers here, but looking at it in comparison to your Faeries series, are we going to be sticking close to the characters we know, or get a closer look at some of the smaller characters from the first book in Linger and Forever?
A little bit of both. Linger is definitely more a true sequel to Shiver than Ballad is to Lament. We definitely get Sam and Grace, but the world opens up a bit to include Isabel and a newcomer, Cole. I’m very excited to see how readers react to them . . . especially Cole, one of the most challenging characters I’ve ever written.
I’ve just discovered your Merry Sisters of Fate blog that you’re involved in—can you tell us a little more about that?
Ooh, yes! I write short fiction each month over there at www.merryfates.com, with my two critique partners, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff. The theory was this: when I was a full time artist, I was part of a movement called “Painting a day.” You were supposed to start and finish a painting each day — usually a small one so you could manage it all. I did it for two years and so there are hundreds of Maggie pieces out there. And I got so amazingly better from year to year because of it that I decided that it would be fantastic to do the same thing with my writing. So we jumped in and started the blog, and for the first year, we each did a short story every week. Now we’ve cut back to once a month because we all have other deadlines going on, but man. Those first stories versus what we do now? It’s been amazing.
Thank you so much for your time, Maggie! I can promise that the Hollow Tree plans on keeping a very close eye on you in the future!
Thank you guys so much for the fantastic questions!!