I’m delighted to let you know that today, YA Book Shelf is the host of Maggie Stiefvater‘s official Blog Tour for Linger! If you can’t tell, I’m really excited about this tour, and it comes at the perfect time. Maggie’s latest release for the The Wolves Of Mercy Falls series just debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and her first book in the series, Shiver was nominated for Indigo’s Teen Read Awards. I had the pleasure of interviewing Maggie a few weeks ago, and these are the answers to the questions I posed.
YA Book Shelf: Why did you start writing in the paranormal and fantasy genres? Were you always a fan and/or was there a particular book(s) that gave you the eureka moment?
Maggie Stiefvater: Oh, I have a certain avoidance of reality that makes fantasy an ideal choice for me. Who need to read about real life when there’s dragons. Come on!
No, seriously, I’ve always loved reading fantasy. I used to pick out all the books in the library that had the little unicorn sticker on the side to show that they were fantasy. My favorite ones were the ones that had magic but took place in the real world — like so many of Diana Wynne Jones’ books — though I didn’t know what they were called. Imagine my delight and awe when I discovered such a thing was a real genre — contemporary fantasy or urban fantasy. It was like having my birthday twice in one week and cookie dough for breakfast.
YABookShelf: What inspired you to update the werewolf legend from a transformation caused by the full moon to one caused by the onslaught of colder temperatures of winter for The Wolves of Mercy Falls series?
M.Stiefvater: Well, for starters, and don’t hate me, I don’t care for werewolves. They’re all right, I guess, if you go for the shedding, savaging the country-side thing. But they’re not very scary nor very sexy and so what’s the point? They’re a metaphor for a fear that no longer is relevant. So if I wanted to use them, I needed to change the metaphor (instead of a fear of giving into the sexual, violent beast inside all of us, it was more of a bittersweet losing your identity, like teens have to worry about in our suburban world). And to make that fear of loss more poignant, I needed them to shifted for longer than a night. But I still wanted something natural and cyclical…so the seasons seemed logical.
YABookShelf: From drawing and stop-motion animation to musical composition and novel writing, you are adept in various types of artistic expression. With all of this talent, I’m curious to know whether you played any role in the final look of Shiver and Linger? What do you think about how they turned out?
M.Stiefvater: I think they’re drop, dead gorgeous, but nope, I had no role in them. The designer, Christopher Stengel, does an amazing job adapting the manuscripts into something that is really, revoltingly classy.
YABookShelf: Writing in the voice of the opposite gender is something that many writers shy away from. What was it about alternating male/female lead POV that made you want to try it, and how did you ensure that Sam’s voice would be authentic?
M.Stiefvater: I grew up with boys of all kinds — I have two brothers, and I was in a bagpipe band for several years. I don’t feel like they are quite a foreign species (though some are more foreign than others). I also grew up with a lot of quiet, creative guys, alongside the more “hur, hur, hur” mouth breathers. I have no real interest in getting into the heads of the latter, but the former…I could do that. I also am not a huge fan of the one-sided pining romances where the guy is a perfect love-object because we don’t see inside his head.
YABookShelf: In university, I read a lot of books through the lens of trauma scholarship, including how the characters’ past traumas led to their current actions and behaviors. There were definitely aspects of this Shiver‘s Grace and Sam. Can readers expect these elements in your other novels, including the Books Of Faerie series?
M.Steifvater: Definitely. I’m fascinated about how past events shape our perception of current events and how they make us the people we are. So yes. Expect more angst and repercussions of angst.
YABookShelf: My first encounter with you wasn’t through any of your books, but rather through the video, “Kraken Are the New Vampires.” What lead you to create this video? Have you read the Onion’s article about the scramble to declare the Minotaur as the new “vampire” and if so, what did you think of it?
M.Stiefvater: Ha! Sweet tea and cookie dough made me make that video. Actually, it came up at DragonCon when my friend Jackie Dolamore (author of Magic Under Glass) were sitting in our hotel room and Jackie started talking about the trend of saying “such and such are the vampires.” Werewolves, fairies, angels, you name it. I said, kraken. And that was when I became determined to one day make a video. And that day arrived when I had a close deadline and a desperate need to procrastinate.
I did, indeed, read the Minotaur article — readers sent it to me — and I have to say, I can see it. I mean, the maze thing is a little creepy, but who doesn’t want a hug from a lover with hooves?
Hope you enjoyed this interview! I’d love to have comments and suggestions about my questions and Maggie’s responses and to know what you think about The Wolves Of Mercy Falls series as a whole or either Shiver or Linger in particular.