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Maggie Stiefvater
01 January 2015 @ 01:43 pm
I am Maggie Stiefvater. I write books. Some of them are about wolves. Some of them are about homicidal faeries. Some of them are NYT Bestsellers. I sometimes eat cookie dough at inappropriate times.


I no longer post here at LJ due to spam and website outtages. Find me here: www.maggiestiefvater.com/blog




 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
21 August 2013 @ 09:35 am
I have really enjoyed being part of the LJ community for the past few years, but I think it is time for me to step out. I'll still be blogging (over here: www.maggiestiefvater.com/blog), but I'm no longer going to mirror the posts over here. Even though I love my LJ readers, I am just fed up to here with the outtages and the spam here.

So I hope you guys will keep up with me on my other blog and Twitter and FB.

Really, LJ has been so rocky for so long now that my leaving feels more like a whimper than a bang. Ah, well.

Farewell, LJ!
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
I have been hoarding a billion things about tour and pre-orders and special editions of books so that they could all be posted at the same time. I know it's frustrating to read a list of tour locations that are nowhere near you (and inevitably, that will be true for most people), but I'm trying to make it easier for those who aren't close to get a signed book if they want one. This post shall be full of all those details.

Also, this weekend I pulled out my pencils and paints and did some Art Things on three special copies of The Dream Thieves, and I shall put details on where those are going below, too.

covers

Okay. Places to get signed/ special books if you can't make it on tour.

If you're in the U.S. or willing to pay overseas shipping, you can order signed and doodled-in books from Fountain Bookstore. I will do this doodle, or something like it, in every copy ordered before 9/17:


Doodle


If you're in the UK or Ireland or are willing to pay for shipping from the UK, you can order a special copy from Seven Stories. Every pre-ordered copy of The Dream Thieves will include a signed, limited edition bookplate with some of my art on it. It will look like so (but with my signature):


The Dream Thieves bookplate



And finally, if you're in Canada, a variety of stores are offering a limited edition postcard involving the Raven Boys trailer art if you pre-order from them. (this is what they let me know:


Dream Thieves Pre-Order Signage



) Here is a list. Ontario: The Book Keeper, BookLore, Kaleidescope Books, Mabel's Fables, Curiosity House Books. Alberta: Café Books, Monkeyshines. Quebec: La Maison Anglaise, Livres Babar. Manitoba: McNally Robinson. Saskatchewan: McNally Robinson. BC: Black Bond Books, Mosaic Books.

And those three books that I defaced with my colored pencils and my spray paint? I am sending one to Fountain Books (US), one to Seven Stories (UK), and one to Mabel's Fables (Canada), with the instructions that their special copy is to be sent to one random pre-order. I guess technically you can "enter to win it" by pre-ordering (certainly the odds are much better than any of my ARC contests have been - 1 in a few hundred versus 1 in 2000), but really I just wanted it to be a thank you to folks who pre-order. I like the idea that three people will be surprised when they open their box and find that instead of just a signed copy or whatever.

Phew. And now. The tour schedule (click each event for details of location, etc.)

9/17: Kansas City, MO - 7 PM

9/19: St. Louis, MO - 7 PM

9/20: Virginia Beach, VA - 6 PM

9/25: Dallas, TX- 7 PM

9/26: Houston, TX - 6 PM

9/28: Austin Teen Book Festival

9/30: Salt Lake City, UT - 5 PM

10/1: San Francisco, CA - 4 PM

10/2: Berkeley, CA - 7 PM

10/3: Lynnwood, WA - 7 PM

10/4: Seattle, WA - 12 PM

10/5: Wordstock, Portland, OR

10/19: Boston Book Festival

10/20: Exeter, NH - 4 PM

10/22-23: Vancouver Writer's Festival

10/24: Alberta, Canada - 7 PM

10/ 26: NYC - 3 PM

10/27 - Millerton, NY - 4 PM

I never want to copy and paste a link into a blog post ever again. PHEW.


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Current Music: "Do You Wanna Know?" - Arctic Monkeys
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
12 August 2013 @ 07:50 am
Screen Shot 2013-08-12 at 7.43.15 AM

Well, it is 7:27 a.m. and I’m drinking cocoa and emailing myself and doing other writerly things before caffeine, so I’m not sure how wise this will be, but here goes.

I’m not self-published. Self-publishing is a complicated and shifting and very-not-homogenous model, but generally speaking, if you can find someone’s books in Barnes & Noble or WalMart, they’re published by one of the major New York publishers (at this point).

I’m published by Scholastic, whom I love. It took me quite awhile to catch their eye, but I am fine with that. Publishing is a hard business, but it does not want to eat your heart.

People ask me if I “agree” with self-publishing, which I think is a weird noun-verb pairing. Self-publishing is not a question. I cannot tell you yes or no. Nor is it something obvious and straightforward like chugging a whole bottle of maple syrup. I would tell you in a heartbeat that the latter would be ill-advised because I’ve never seen anyone that it worked out well for.

Before I was an author, I was an artist. I spent the first part of my art career promoting myself — doing all the advertising, marketing, and art-making myself. I enjoyed it and it gave me total control, but it meant I worked 60 hour weeks and spent 10% of my time making art and the rest marketing it. The second part of my career, I applied to a good gallery and got accepted. They handled the marketing and advertising and … it was glorious. I got to shift to 40 hour work weeks and spending 75% of my work time actually making art.

This is why, for now, traditional publishing is for me. I would rather spend my time writing than marketing. Yes, I must work as part of a team, and I must give up my 100% control of the way my books are put out there, but for the most part, Scholastic really gets me. It doesn’t feel like a compromise. It feels like that gallery: glorious. There is something marvelous about that very first moment that I share a manuscript with Scholastic, and I hear what the marketing and publicity team thinks of it.

Also, I really want to be in every bookstore everywhere. And right now, traditional publishing is the only way to make that happen.

Did that answer the question? Oh! Getting started. I would start by researching agents, personally. Also, I have bunches of writing business and technique posts on the blog, all tagged “how I write.”

Hm. My cocoa is all gone. Also, this girl “Maggie Stiefvater” seems to have emailed me a line to my next novel. Weird.

 

(via a Tumblr ask)

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Current Music: "Bones" - MS MR
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
16 July 2013 @ 07:04 pm
Yesterday, I got into a discussion on Twitter about the validity of labels/ categories/ genres for fiction: namely, middle grade —tween — young adult — new adult — adult.

I don’t like admitting I was wrong, but I will say this: I used to believe in labels. They guided me to the same sorts of books over and over. Books I knew I would like. And they also allowed me to be snotty about books with other labels. But it meant I also missed hundreds of books that I also would have liked, because they didn’t sit on that shelf. Labels can be a great finding tool, but remember that they are, by their very nature, exclusionary.

As far as whether or not middle grade, young adult, adult, etc. are useful labels, I think this: once upon a time, we had an idea that one became a more sophisticated reader the longer one had been reading. Like a wine-drinker whose palette refines and longs for more complicated sensations. So children’s books were supposedly simpler and adult books were more complex and young adult books fell somewhere in between.

But that’s a model that doesn’t account for books that work on several levels. Quite a few novels reward both a shallow read and an analytical read. There is something for the most flippant of readers and something for the most jaded.

What to do with them, then? Do we put all of the complicated books with hard words in adult? Do we put all of the simple books in children's? What about the complicated children who want heartier fare? What about the exhausted adults who want only to be diverted for a moment at the end of the day?

I’m not sure what the answer is, but I do know that I mistrust labels deeply. Yes, they should guide readers, but they should never guide readers away. I don’t understand the shame in getting a book from the young adult section, or the romance section, or the sci-fi section, or the picture book section. Someone else put those labels on that book, not you.

And they aren’t the boss of you.


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Current Music: "Dust Bowl III" - Other Lives
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
This is a post full of pictures and videos and things about The Dream Thieves. If a picture is worth 1,000 words, this post is going to be, like, a millionty words long. I shall make a bulleted list.

1. I have made a video for The Dream Thieves. Every year I make a video for my books, and generally it is an animated trailer of some sort. This year it is . . . well, I will just call it a video and you can tell me what it is. I swear that it has bearing on the novel. Here it is.

 



2. The music for the trailer, as always, is available for free download here on the website.

3. The first wallpaper for the book is also on the site in the same place:

The Dream Thieves wallpaper

4. I swear the book is not about cars, mostly. It is magic and kissing and darker things after dark. It really is my favorite thing of all, even including The Scorpio Races, and that is saying a lot.

5. As always, if you pre-order the book from the Fountain Bookstore, I will be signing and doodling in your copy. This applies to every copy of The Dream Thieves ordered up until its release date, Sept. 17. They ship worldwide, and all of the orders are being handled personally by the owner this year. This is what I will be doing inside each of them:

Doodle

5b. Except I have been thinking of changing my signature to something more legible from now on. So it might be a new one I have designed. You see, I have been practicing.
Signatures

6. I know that overseas shipping is a pain, so for the first year ever, I'm pairing up with a UK bookstore. 7 Stories will be putting signed Raven Cycle bookplates in their pre-orders. Here is their link (I think they are working on an ordering page, as well).

7. I will also be touring in the U.S. this fall, starting in September. I don't have the finalized places/ dates yet, but I can promise that at least one of them is Austin Teen Book Festival.

8. There are more surprising things to come in this department, but I can't tell you yet. 2013 shall be the awesomest.

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Current Music: "Tennis Court" - Lorde
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
08 July 2013 @ 06:58 pm
Every so often I have this conversation at a school visit.

THE CAST:
STUDENT
ENGLISH TEACHER
ME

THE SCENE:

After my presentation, a student drags a beleaguered English teacher to my side.

THE CONVERSATION:
STUDENT (always with a rather mocking tone): So, Maggie, when you put red curtains in a scene, does that mean that the characters are angry and stuff?
ENGLISH TEACHER: That's not quite—
STUDENT: —Because we are supposed to analyze all of these books and I don't think any of the writers actually put in an ocean in the scene just so that two hundred years later we could read it and think the ocean stands for longing.
ENGLISH TEACHER: Sometimes a literary device—
STUDENT: I think we're just looking for stuff that isn't there. The writer just put in an ocean because the book TAKES PLACE BY THE BEACH. And the rest was invented by evil English teachers.
ENGLISH TEACHER: If I were evil, I'd—
STUDENT: —So, you're the writer: do red curtains mean anger?
ME: Curtains do make me angry.

And then I was at LeakyCon, sitting in on a panel called "Is YA Literature?" to find out if I was writing literature, and this (summarized) conversation happened:

THE CAST:
A SMART YA WRITER
A SMART ADULT WRITER
ANOTHER SMART YA WRITER

THE SCENE:
The panelists have just been asked to define what is meant by literary fiction.

THE CONVERSATION:
SMART ADULT WRITER: All I know is, I know literary fiction when I see it.
SMART YA WRITER: I got a look at the guidelines for assigned school reading and they suggested it be a book with enough content to be analyzed. Enough depth to support multiple interpretations.
ANOTHER SMART YA WRITER: I think literary is a ridiculous term and value is assigned by our readers, right here, right now: do they like it or not? There's no such thing as a good book or a bad book. There's a book that matters to a reader.

I think you can talk in endless circles about what constitutes "literary" fiction and whether it's good or bad or has no value or can be traded for a gallon of milk. And I also think you can talk in endless circles about whether or not there are "good" books and "bad" books and who gets to decide which is which. And if you do ever find an end to these circles, you can finish up with a indefatigable dessert course of the literary writing versus commercial writing debate.

So I'm instead going to talk about the one thing that interests me about fiction: getting into your head and moving stuff around. I am in the business of changing people's moods and making them see scenes the way that I see them and feel things the way I want them to be felt. You may consider me Very Interested in learning everything I can about doing all that more effectively.

Sometimes, dear reader, this is going to mean making the curtains red.

Please know that I'm not much for literary writing for the sake of literary writing. I enjoy a nice turn of the phrase, sure. I do enjoy picking apart novels to see what makes them tick. But my academic pleasure runs out very quickly (now there is the least sexy sentence I've ever written). As a writer, I am delighted to be given literary prizes, but they aren't on my list of goals. I'm chiefly interested literary devices insofar as they allow me to more effectively get inside your head and move around the furniture.

And they do. Allow me to demonstrate. Here are two paragraphs from one of my favorite sequences from The Dream Thieves*:

*these are not spoilery, although they are from the middle of the book, so if you want to be totally uninformed on the action of Book 2, I suggest you wander to another corner of the Internet.
bits and bobs from The Dream Thieves

Oh, I had such plans for this party scene. I wanted the reader to see it just like I did. The all-encompassing luxury, warm and old and unquestioned. The complexity of the political world, the beauty of wealth, and the stagnation and corruption of old, unchallenged value systems. Adam, as my point-of-view character, is feeling and thinking about all of these things, and I wanted the reader to experience it with him.

I could have told the reader all of those things. Point blank. I could have gone with a barebones description of the driveway:

The circular driveway was packed with so many elegant vehicles that the valets had to turn cars away.

And then just had Adam muse in italics about his feelings on being there. But then you would only know it. You wouldn't have experienced it. I wouldn't really be getting into your head and moving things around unannounced. I'd be walking in, hanging up a mirror, then pointing and saying "there's a mirror. It's yours now."

Here's another snippet from later:
bits and bobs from The Dream Thieves

Okay, the curtains aren't red. But the runner is purple. How noble!

Man, I was working hard in this little section. In reality, the hallway of the house is lush and content and established. But inside our two protagonists, trouble brews — you can see it in the mirror. The side table, on the outside of the glass, is docile. But the mirror-image of the tidy hallway is crazed and twisted and rakish.

Again, I could've just told you: on the outside, the boys look foxy and orderly in suits, but on the inside, they are hot messes.

But I don't want you to know. I want you to feel. And our old friends, those countless literary devices of simile, metaphor, allusion, figurative language . . . that's the way in. It's not about fancy literary prizes. It's not about seeming impenetrable or smart or high fallutin. I'm not trying to impress anyone. I am trying to make you feel a story, that's all.

I guess what I'm trying to say is that I don't believe in the literary/ commercial divide. And I don't believe that literary is good or bad. I believe that good novel makes readers feel, and the more readers I can make feel, the more successful I will consider that book.

I also believe that sometimes that means making the curtains red.

 

 

 

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Current Music: "We Want War" - These New Puritans
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
On Tumblr, I got asked this question:

about driving

Why, yes. Yes, I do.

1. Get a car with a spoiler. It will not add stability or otherwise do anything useful, but if you are in a fender bender, you will look cooler.

2. Learn to drive a stick shift. They might be less common in the States, but you’ll thank me when you’re over in Europe and that’s all you can rent. Plus, once you learn how to listen attentively to your engine to shift gears correctly, you’ll be a much better driver in an automatic as well. Plus, you can look lofty every time you tell someone, “what, you can’t drive a stick?"

3. I suggest a car in a bright color. It’s a safety feature. They don’t make life vests in champagne or burnished silver, do they? When you pull over by the side of the road to hyperventilate over being unable to operate this stick shift you just purchased, you’ll want to be highly visible.

4. Go to a driving school. No, no, no. Not the Carl Q. Barkley’s Safe Driver Clinic. Take a two day rally school or drifting school or racing school at your local track — usually you can find one that lets you use their vehicles. Once you’ve learned how to toss a car around sideways on purpose, you’ll no longer be fazed if it happens to you by accident on the interstate.

5. You don’t get to drive fast until you know what the hell you’re doing.

6. If you’re driving slow because you don’t know what the hell you’re doing, for the love of ponies and Honda Civics and the angels overhead, stay in the right lane.

7. If your mother or father cannot sit quietly in the passenger seat looking like a pool of endless serenity, she or he must not enter your car. Find another licensed driver to be your wingman. Here, I’ll do it. I have no sense of fear.

8. Check your tires. They should be treadful. Check your brakes. They should be stoppingness. Check your phone. It should be in the trunk or someplace where you aren’t even thinking about it. So should that Eminem tape that came in the car when you bought it. And all of your stupid friends that can’t stop giggling over Eminem. People, it stopped being funny, like, five years ago. Eyes on the road, maggot.

9. If you can’t find a driving school that is awesome, find a field and a rental car. Go wild. What you want to do is to feel how the car responds to everything you do. It should feel predictable, by the end. The goal is to be able to control the car as you’re rocketing around hillocks. I know that you’re thinking: what about lines and other cars and laws and stuff! But they’re just details. Once you can control the car, other cars won’t rock you. Nor will bumps, debris in the road, aliens, or Michael Bay movies.

10. Have fun, but always respect other drivers’ safety first. They didn’t get into their cars today just so that you could ruin their day or life. And remember that driving is so much like coloring. In the beginning, it really works best if you stay between the lines.


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Current Music: "Doin' it Right" - Daft Punk (feat. Panda Bear)
 
 
 
Maggie Stiefvater
16 June 2013 @ 11:55 pm
Full list of art contest entries below (please check to see if your entry is on here, and if not, let me know where to find it. Also, don't worry if you see some entries listed twice. I don't think I duplicated, but since it is judged, not randomly chosen, it doesn't represent an advantage).



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Maggie Stiefvater
As I was driving two days ago, I had the most piercing and true realization that has ever been had about humans and American society. It was a dazzling thought-culmination of all of the thoughts I had had up to that point in my life. I had to reorganize everything in my mind to fall into line with this epiphany.*

*and I'm not going to tell you

Right after I had this flash of insight, I immediately had another one: that none of my characters could have an insight that I hadn't already had myself. Dazzled and revolted by this appearance of writerly limitation, I had three more realizations before I got back to my driveway:

1. I can't ever write a character who's more clever than I am!

2. I can't ever write a character who's funnier than I am!

3. I was supposed to be buying paper towels!

I know this is a bit of an oversimplification. On the surface, it also seems inherently at odds with my certainty that a good author doesn't only write characters who are versions of themselves. I still think that's true. I can take the most basic emotions — anger, jealousy, happiness, etc. — and use my experience of them to create infinite permutations and exaggerations and variations of those emotions. A never-ending cauldron of characters, right there. But unlike emotion*, humor and intelligence are not inherent in everyone.

And I really do think that being funny or smart are two of the very few things that you can't just extrapolate from other experiences. I can write a fearless character even if I am not fearless, for instance, or a fearful character, even if I am not fearful. But I cannot invent humorous situations if I don't have a sense of humor. And I cannot write an internal, brilliant philosophical observation for a character if I have not had it for myself.

*barring sociopaths

I suppose one could simply copy a joke into a character's dialog to make them funny. Research a subject and blast facts out on the page for a smart character. Or just have everyone around them laugh at their jokes and be awed by their cleverness. And fake it the rest of the time. But as a reader, I despise being told a character is funny or smart when clearly they are neither.

I'm a massive proponent of indirect characterization. A reader can experience characters and settings in a novel in two ways: she can know them, and she can feel them. Knowing is technically all a reader needs in order to get the meat of a story. In the simplest sort of story, a fairy tale or fable, that's all there is. But feeling is what gets a story into your bones. It is how you infect a reader with your world.

Should we do a for instance? Let's do a for instance.

For instance, in The Dream Thieves, I could have written:

Niall Lynch had three sons. The oldest, Declan, was a political creature, slimy and disingenuous. The youngest, Matthew, was incredibly delightful and everyone liked him without any effort on his part. And the sarcastic middle son, Ronan, was always belligerent. Their father was far more of an influence on all of them than their mother.

The reader would know everything I needed them to know about this family. It would be a perfectly fine basis for a story, I suppose. But I don't think it would get under anyone's skin. For that, I must be indirect. This is where that silly adage "Show, don't tell" comes from. Really what it means is that you do everything you possibly can to make the reader understand the truth of the situation before you spell it out for them.

Here is how I actually wrote that paragraph about the three Lynch siblings:
excerpt

Here's a grand article Cheryl Klein wrote about Harry Potter a few years ago. In it, she points out that Rowling did tell you how a character felt, but only after she showed it to you first. So the telling served as a thesis statement, a topic sentence. Quite cleverly, she made sure that the reader both knew and felt the facts.

So: about characters being cleverer and funnier than the writer. Possibly one could get around this by direct telling. But I think that you'd rob yourself of emotional resonance if you did. Is the trade off worth it? Maybe. Are the writers of Sherlock as clever as him? Maybe I'm just not a good enough writer yet to think of a solution to this problem. Maybe it isn't even really a problem, because there are millions of character possibilities within my current mediocre level of brain power and humor.

I still need paper towels. Maybe I should go for a drive and think about all this some more.

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Current Music: "Operate" - ASTR