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Words with Maggie: On Faith, Time-travel, and Spoons

July 25, 2010

Maggie Stiefvater‘s latest book, Linger, has just debuted at #1 on the NYT Bestsellers’ List. Yes, it did. Way to go, vicarious feelings of achievement omgsquee! XD

A little while ago Noor and I talked about her books, and I had an attack of fangirling ditherspaz about reading an advanced copy of Linger, as the resident Maggie fangirl – a word which here means ‘a person caught in the net of unrequited friendship’. Unrequited because in ordinary circumstances, had pre-fame Maggie and I met coincidentally while walking in opposite directions across Waterloo Bridge, we’d have been friends. There’s also the very compelling point that were it not for buying a book with her name on the front, I probably would never have even heard of her, nevermind met her, nevermind followed her blog – and her career – with all the interest of a friend. It’s the Fangirl’s Unrequited Friendship Paradox. Anyway. Onward.

Make sure you read on to the end to find out how you can win a gorgeous hardback of Linger. Its text is printed in green ink. I want it A LOT. Don’t you?

~

Linger Blog Tour: An Interview with Maggie Stiefvater

Faith is an important part of the lives of most of the Rock Pool’s writers. What kind of role does it play in your life? Do you identify with a specific faith? Do your beliefs influence your writing?

It’s pretty central in my life. I hesitate to talk about it online because it’s so easy to take statements of faith and spirituality the wrong way when they’re quoted out of context. You say one ambiguous statement and next thing you know it’s all over twitter that you worship woodchucks and sacrifice puppies. But yes, my faith is important. I’d say central. I was raised Catholic and that’s my glib answer when people ask me what religion I am. But really, I think of myself as more of a spiritual person than a religious one. I’ve always felt very guided; purposeful. Again, this is a better conversation to have over a muffin and cup of tea with a lot of sugar.

I would say that it influences my writing in that I feel a real responsibility to be true to the pain and beauty of being human — to take a hard look at choices and not shy away from consequences, both positive and negative. When I write my books, I hope that readers end the book and want more out of life, even if they’re not sure what that more is yet.

The one thing I will say that it does not effect is the content of my books, or the language.  Just because I’m Christian doesn’t mean that all of my characters are. I don’t write for middle graders — I write for young adults, which means they are ready to process situations as adults. I know not everyone agrees with me, but I don’t think you do teens any favors when you shy away from reality in their fiction.

You often mention your children, Thing 1 and Thing 2; as a mother, what do you believe are the most important things you can teach them? What do you wish more parents would teach their children?*

For Thing 1 & Thing 2, I hope I can teach them integrity and a sense of purpose. Also, how to make a layer cake, because everyone should know those things.

I wish that other parents would teach their kids that it’s more than okay to not be a follower. So many teens live in agony, trying to fit in and find their place, and I wish that parents would teach teens to make their place and worry about the rest later. Much later. Like, when they’re in their 80s.

You’ve defied every known law of physics and travelled back in time to meet 15-year-old Maggie. BUT:
a) She can’t know you are Future Maggie
b) You can’t tell her what happens in the future
c) You have 5 minutes before you are sucked back to your own time and physics, er, goes back to normal.

How does the conversation go?

Well, I guess I can’t tell her to grow her bangs out, even though she ought to, because she’d only get pugilistic and it would be a waste of the five minutes anyway. I’d tell her to stop taking herself so seriously, to not be worried about making a difference before she hits age 18, and to remember that when she met other quiet people, sometimes it meant that they just wanted to be asked to talk. I would tell her to make better friends with Ian, but maybe that is getting too close to telling her the future.

I don’t think I’d want to tell her too much. I like my world the way it is now and I wouldn’t want to tell her something by accident that would end up with me being a monkey trainer in San Diego.

We love that you’re so generous with yourself to your fans: it’s great to know that if people want to connect with you, they can. But in a world where being an author has become such a public job, how easy is it for a published writer to keep their anonymity (i.e. out of shyness, social anxiety, disability, etc)? Is it possible? Do you feel any loss of privacy?

Ha! Ask me again in another year. This time last year, I was very cavalier about it – I replied to every comment, every e-mail, every tweet. And it was like that story about boiling a frog — that if you threw them into a pot of hot water, they’d jump right back out, but if you put them in tepid water and brought it slowly to a boil, they’d sit in there and boil alive. Anyway, I was the second frog. If someone had told me, “Maggie, answer 4,000 e-mails each month, okay?” I would have laughed and said “no way!” But instead the numbers just started increasingly gradually and I started getting slowly more insane until I realized that I was spending sixteen business days a month just answering e-mails.

So I had to cut it back then — and the e-mails were the thing to go. It’s helped hugely, and I still get to interact with readers on Facebook and Twitter and my blog (which are far more time efficient than individual e-mails) but I have to say, it makes me wonder if the boiling has (and here, Maggie didn’t finish the sentence so we may never know what the boiling has? – S)

I still think an author can choose to be completely anonymous. There are several successful authors with no online profile whatsoever. And I still keep the details of my private life pretty private. I’m no easier to find than anyone else in the world, and I keep my kids’ names off the web. I want people to feel they know me, but I don’t want 400,000 readers sitting in my lap either. Much as I appreciate them.

When I was younger, I had some books I just read over and over and over again. Apart from Diana Wynne Jones, did you have any books like that, like a ‘Top 5/8/10/X Most-read Maggie Books’ chart?

I always point people toward my Goodreads page, which is where I put all of my favorite reads. But for sheer reading and reading and reading again? The Narnia books. The Black Cauldron series. The Girl with the Silver Eyes. The Castle in the Attic. A Wrinkle in Time. Watership Down. I just realized as I was typing this that I used to reread almost all of the books I got from the library over and over. I liked anything that had a hint of paranormal. Or if it was narrated by an animal. I was a sucker for those. Oh I remember some that stood out: James Herriot’s stuff. I reread that so many times, all the while pining for this nostalgic Britain that I’d never been too, populated by vets who I imagined as foxy and animals in desperate need of oftimes hilarious aid.

Has anything interesting happened to you recently in connection with spoons? (And whatever happened to the Deadly Spatula?)

Other than the spoon army I am constructing? Not much. I can’t believe anybody still remembers that old cooking blog I used to have…

Thanks a lot from everyone at the Rock Pool, Maggie, for taking the time to answer our questions. We hope you guys reading enjoyed it, too!

Maggie Stiefvater is the New York Times bestselling author of Shiver, as well as the novels Ballad and Lament. She is a twenty-eight year old writer, artist, and musician and she lives in rural Virginia with her husband and their two young children. For more information please visit Maggie at www.maggiestiefvater.com.

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Win a copy of Linger

To help celebrate its release, Scholastic are giving away a copy of Linger in all its green and shiny hardback glory. To enter, just answer the same question we put to Maggie:

What kind of role does faith play in YOUR life?

As ever, to gain extra entries:

+1 (each) if you post this link on Facebook or Twitter (RT @therockpool on Twitter, or tag us @The Rock Pool on Facebook, or post links here)
+2 if you post it on your blog (leave the link in your comment)
+2 (each) when you follow us on Twitter or Facebook, or subscribe to this blog by email (the box is in the bottom right-hand corner of this page)
+3 to old subscribers on any medium (Twitter, Facebook, RSS or email)

This contest is open INTERNATIONALLY. Closing date: 1st August 2010.

We are also extending the closing date to 1st August for our Boy vs. Girl giveaway, so make sure you check it out!


* What we really wanted to ask you is this:
Grace’s high school has invited you to host a parenting seminar, and you have it on excellent authority that attendance is mandatory for Grace’s (madly negligent) parents. What would you hope to teach them?**

**(I would like to teach them to put someone else’s needs first, particularly when that person is their daughter — and remind all parents of teens that just because their kids can dress themselves doesn’t mean they’re ready for you to step out of their lives just yet).

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. July 25, 2010 7:49 pm

    i’m now much, much more clear on the awesomeness of this woman… and now have to read some of her books!

    thanks maggie for the interview! honored and excited and enthralled and impressed and all that!

  2. July 26, 2010 1:00 pm

    Faith is my life.
    God saved me when I was 8 years old. Since then it has been an amazing journey getting to know Him. Christ Jesus has completely changed my life. Sure, I still have those times where I get discouraged or something bad happens, but he tells me with his promises that anything he sends my way is not out of his control, thats it’s for my good and His glory. I know that I do not deserve his mercy, so I’m thanful for even the smallest of faith he gives me.

  3. July 26, 2010 2:29 pm

    Ah, I’ve already ordered the US version of Linger via Amazon (the British version is so yucky compared to that lovely green cover, I can’t think what the publishers are thinking) so I don’t need to enter but – brilliant interview guys. Very interesting questions, and some unexpected answers.

    • July 28, 2010 11:02 am

      I wish I had the US version of Shiver – the UK ones are very very painfully tacky. I think the publishers are thinking they want to appeal to the Twi-reading demographic who only read books with black and red covers, and really, can you imagine, in Waterstones, a blue/white or green/white book in the middle of all of that Dark Romance stuff? It would be Shocking. People would die.

      • July 28, 2010 11:16 am

        Ha ha – you’re right! If it ain’t black, it ain’t worth reading; or so the publisher thinks, anyway. But who thought that having the title sort of dribble that way would be attractive? I know the book’s about werewolves, but that font just makes me think about big slobbery dogs and their drool…Not the effect Maggie was aiming for with her elegant prose, I’m sure.

      • July 28, 2010 11:30 am

        I don’t know, something is clearly broken in the cover design department – which is weird, because usually UK covers pwn US ones. Usually, US covers make me want to stab out everybody’s eyes with spoons. Usually, US ones are garish and awful. (Or maybe that is my lost youth speaking, and they are better now?)

        I feel the same way about Sarah Dessen covers – the US ones are lovely and understated, but the UK ones are kind of…yeah, garish. Not actually ugly, but I don’t think they reflect the content or the mood.

        Oh, and SURPRISE, they’re BLACK.

        (Add Sarah Dessen to your to-read list – I’ve been a fangirl for years and found Maggie when I was looking for a Dessen-fix.)

      • Allumer permalink
        July 29, 2010 11:12 am

        No, they aren’t better now. I’ve never seen a US cover vs. any other one that was better. I’m taking your word on Linger.

  4. July 28, 2010 8:01 am

    Faith plays a big role in my life otherwise I wouldn’t be keeping up with some of the seemingly pointless activities I am doing in my life.

    +3 Old subscriber via email
    +2 following you on twitter @lesleywyrites
    +2 following you on FB (Lesley Cheah)

  5. July 31, 2010 1:51 am

    pssst, saya, i can join this giveaway right?

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