Tuesday, April 21, 2009
Young Adult Author Maggie Stiefvater Talks About Her Books
I have just this moment finished the rough draft of LINGER, my fourth novel in three years, and I have to admit I’m feeling a little introspective. Terry invited me to guest blog on anything I’d like, and so I think I’m going to ramble on a bit about something that has been in the forefront of my mind for the entire draft of LINGER: trusting an author.
My favorite books in the whole world are the ones where I trust the author. Do you know what I mean? I mean when you open the book and after reading a page, you know that you trust this author to take you places you want to be. It’s not about plot; it’s not about a devastatingly interesting first sentence. It’s a weird combination of characterization and writing style. It makes me sit back and say “okay, I’m up for where ever you decide to go with this.”
Several of my all-time favorites stick out to me: CROW LAKE, THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE, SOMEDAY THIS PAIN WILL BE USEFUL TO YOU, and MARCELO IN THE REAL WORLD. There was just something about the way the characters were written and the author’s way with words that made me quite happy to follow the characters even when there was no discernible plot. I just . . . trusted the author.
It’s probably worth noting that all of the books that I notice this in are quiet books. Subtle. They’re plots that move, but slowly, or conflicts that unravel subtly and with nuanced layers that need to be peeled back by the reader. And the language begs you to linger and bask in it, so you don’t miss the teeny things.
I guess I’ve been obsessed with this lately because I wanted LINGER to be one of those books. My debut, LAMENT (I’ll be giving away a copy to a blog reader), was me playing in the world of Faerie. It’s about a girl who falls in love with a boy who turns out to be a soulless faerie assassin -- and she’s his next mark. It was my chance to try out my writing wings and explore first love and forbidden love and, of course, homicidal faeries in the real world. Both LAMENT and its forthcoming sequel, BALLAD (Flux, Oct ’09), were insanely fun to write -- stylized, very plotty, and very fast-paced.
But SHIVER (Scholastic, Aug ’09) and its sequel LINGER (Scholastic ’10), were different creatures entirely. It’s not that they don’t have plot -- they do -- it’s just that they magic is far more subtle and the romance is more . . . earnest. SHIVER is about a girl, Grace, who has always loved the wolves who live in the wolf behind her house, particularly a yellow-eyed wolf who watches her back. When she meets Sam, a yellow-eyed boy, the chemistry is immediate. Only Sam has to become a wolf each winter and one year won’t change back. To what lengths will Grace go to keep him human? And LINGER continues the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls.
Anyway, what I really wanted with SHIVER and LINGER was for readers to fall in love with the characters first, to want to follow them anywhere -- to the woods, to the grocery store, whatever -- just because these characters were friends. You want the first kiss between the characters to ache, because the reader is right there with them, lost in your prose. It’s an amazingly different process, writing a book like that instead, because every word is crucial for maintaining the mood, and you’re never sure what tangents the characters will beg you to take.
So how about you guys? What books have you read where you trusted the author implicitly? That sucked you in with their writing style and voice on page one, so thoroughly that you didn’t care where the rest of the book went, because you knew you were going along for the ride? Leave a comment with your answer and e-mail address and a winner of a signed copy of LAMENT will get picked out of them!
Thanks, Yankee Romance Reviewers, for having me!
Terra's Review of Lament
Lament by Maggie Stiefvater is a mystical magical tale of the world of Faerie that is sure to delight even the most unbelieving reader. This is a tale woven so beautifully that it flows like water through your fingers. A tale that is sure to entertain all ages and a great summer read for your teen/young adult.
Deirdre Monaghan is a normal teenage girl but with musical talent that is well beyond her years. A musical gift that comes so naturally that it could even make the angels weep. Only problem is, is poor Dee has stage fright to the point of getting physically ill.
Luke Dillon is anything but what he seems. Befriending Dee and setting off her abilities to call the Fae is his beginning with her. They immediately fall in love but will the dangerous obstacles that pop up keep them from each other?
Our story starts quickly and leads to our heroine singing a Lament while playing her harp accompanied by a brand new acquaintance who plays the flute just as beautifully. Together the duo set in motion something that will change their futures forever.
Deirdre hears herself singing but can't quite believe the voice that sounds like an angel's let alone how it could possibly be coming from her. Her strumming the harp is like caressing the finest silk, soft, smooth and yet powerful. This is the best performance of her life and she hopes that it will win her the school competition. With Luke's flute beside her how could she possibly lose and who is this stranger that has popped into her life so suddenly.
As our story goes on many strange things start to happen to our characters. Most of what happens seems to involve Dee and things that she always thought were children's tales are now becoming realities both frightening and beautiful. The female line of her family being blessed with a gift, or is it really a curse take her down a path that will determine the outcome of the human race. Her only hint of dangers present is the smell of herbs and the finding of four leaf clover that appear out of seemingly thin air. Question is, will Luke be able to save her from a cruel fate? Will he be able to save himself for falling hopelessly in love with what is forbidden?
Our author has given us a tale of enchantingly beautiful music combined with jealousy. A story that has been woven as tightly and intricately as a spider's web. A story of danger and love that are balanced equally and of trust and deception so fragile that a feather angled just the right way could slice through unhindered. A story where the heroine saves the hero with an unusually powerful ending. One I won't soon forget.