Werewolves, faeries and other supernatural entities…these are the characters that haunt the world of #1 New York Times bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater, a young but highly accomplished and already very prolific writer who has also worked as an internationally recognized portrait artist. Her novels, notably the Shiver series and The Scorpio Races, are genre-defying works that have received impressive recognition from a whole host of well-respected places, from the American Library Association to the New York and Los Angeles Times.
Maggie’s new book, entitled The Raven Boys, is the beginning of “the most ambitious project I have ever tackled,” according to the author. It is a grand and sweeping story involving psychics, curses, kings and brooding, mysterious schoolboys. Influenced by the legends of King Arthur, Stiefvater has constructed yet another world for her readers to lose themselves in, with a planned 4-book series to keep them wanting more.
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Now living “an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere,” Maggie stays quite light and young at heart through her exquisite storytelling. We caught up with the author just as she gears up for her nationwide Raven Boys tour later this month, with visits further afield potentially slated for early next spring.
Young Adult: You’re an incredibly prolific writer. How do you stay so productive?
Maggie Stiefvater: The voices won’t let me stop. I actually get frustrated that I can’t write faster, because I have so many stories that I want to tell. And I’m happiest when I’m writing; I think I have been writing one novel or another at all times since I was thirteen or fourteen years old.
YA: What about writing for the young adult market appeals to you?
MS: The nicest thing is the flexibility. I can play across multiple genres without having to wonder which shelf it will end up on.
YA: If you had to pick a favorite work or series of yours, which would it be?
MS: They all sort of scratch different itches. The Scorpio Races is my most personal novel, I suppose, for a lot of reasons. It drew on bits of my personality and life that I’ve been acquiring for the past two decades; it’ll probably take me another two decades to acquire enough bits and bobs to write another novel like that one.
YA: The Raven Boys (the first title in the new series The Raven Cycle) is out September 18th. How do you feel this new series challenged you as a storyteller?
MS: The Raven Cycle is the most ambitious project I have ever tackled, a fact that simultaneously thrills and terrifies me. Ever since I was small, I’ve wanted to write a big fantasy series — big in scope, in consequence. I grew up reading The Dark is Rising and The Black Cauldron and A Wrinkle in Time, and I wanted to write something like that. An epic story told in intimate moments. But of course that’s easier said than written. I reckon I thought back then that big stakes made a story easier to tell, but that’s not true at all. I don’t think very many people are motivated by a supreme desire to save the world. There are a thousand other aches and pains and dreams and ambitions that come first in most lives, and, as a writer, you have to write those first and then work the saving the world into the cracks in between. It’s open heart surgery, slow and careful work. I’m enjoying it immensely, though I very much hope I don’t kill the patient.
YA: What were your main points of inspiration for The Raven Boys?
MS: My first inspiration is King Arthur — I’ve always loved the Arthurian stories. And the second is closely related: the sleeping king legends. There are many legends of great leaders (Arthur included) falling asleep rather than dying, waiting until their country needs them again to wake.
YA: What’s in store for the next installment in The Raven Cycle series?
MS: Oh, more mayhem and myth.
YA: If you could cast the Dream Film Adaptation of one of your books, who would you cast?
MS: This is a dangerous question that I no longer answer. The only thing I will say is that I would very much like for Ewan McGregor to play George Holly in The Scorpio Races.
YA: Do you have pursuits outside of young adult fiction? Tell us about them.
MS: I very much enjoy twiddling around with music composition and animation (you can see the effects of that on my YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/MaggieStiefvater?feature=mhee) I am a huge fan of driving, and spend a lot of time behind the wheel of my ’73 Camaro or my Evo. I also like being in the middle of nowhere and eating cookie dough.
Praise for The Raven Cycle
“One unexpected and wonderful surprise after another…a marvel of imagination.”â€¨— Booklist, starred review
“Simultaneously complex and simple, compulsively readable, marvelously wrought.”â€¨— Kirkus Reviews, starred review