Thanks so much Maggie for being with us today and for this delicious book.
Terra ~ What makes Shiver so much more unique from other tales of Werewolves?
Maggie ~ Well, I suppose the fact that there is not a lot of slavering and shedding and general monsterness going on. My werewolves are wolves when they are wolves and humans when they are humans, and the horror comes from losing yourself rather than from monstrous rampages. Also, my werewolves are subject to the seasons rather than to the moon; they become wolves as the temperature drops, hence the title.
Terra ~ You have done a great job with details such as sight, sounds and colors and the emphasis that each one has on the other. Do you think this makes the story stronger and more interesting? How hard was it not to overdo the details and lose some of the storyline?
Maggie ~ It was actually terrifying to write this novel, because I let myself really linger with the details and the tiny bits and pieces that build character. After writing LAMENT, which was really plot-driven, I kept thinking: “maybe I need a cadaver in this scene to move things along.” I had to be brave and just trust my instincts that the novel could afford to move more slowly. I really wanted a novel where the characters would remain in the reader’s head long after they finished that, and to do that, I needed to include those tiny pieces that make up a real person. I really wanted the places to feel real; for the reader to felt they’d been somewhere else for the four hundred pages that I’d had them.
Terra ~ I read your story Lament and loved it but I must say that Shiver stands in a class all by itself. An exceptional class I might add. What are you ultimate hopes for Shiver and why?
Maggie ~ Wow, you ask tough questions! I do think SHIVER is in a whole different place from LAMENT, and when I wrote it, I thought it was the best thing I’d ever done. I was terribly afraid I’d never do anything better. But then I think BALLAD was another step forward again, and LINGER, the sequel to SHIVER, I think is even better than SHIVER. I really hope I’ll keep getting better with each one. My ultimate hopes for SHIVER? It’s already exceeded them in so many ways -- its sold in seventeen different territories already, it’s hit so many crazy milestones, I’ve gotten so many lovely emails from readers already -- really, I hope that it keeps a tight hold on reader’s attention until I’m done with the trilogy. And . . . I’d sort of like it to be a movie. Hee. But I could live without it.
Terra ~ Sam and Grace are such complete opposites but yet have gone through some very similar experiences. Is it because of this that they find equal ground and a love that is sure to out live the ages?
Maggie ~ That’s really perceptive! Yes, I really wanted them to be well-matched. I wanted readers to believe that they were not only in love but that that love could last. I wanted readers to see Sam and Grace doing absolutely mundane things together -- a really quiet, compatible love rather than one made up of grandiose gestures. And so I gave Grace absentee parents so that she learned to stand on her own, utterly independent. And Sam, of course, even with the support of his foster family, has come to independence through a completely different route. I think complete opposites work well together as long as they want the same things out of life.
Terra ~ I’m not going to be a spoiler here but what are the chances of more Shiver to come? Do you think you can keep the storyline going as strongly as you have here to acquire a following?
Maggie ~ Well, I certainly hope so, because I’m doing a trilogy -- LINGER is coming out next fall, and FOREVER is coming out the fall after that. It continues the story of the wolves of Mercy Falls, Minnesota, and features a lot of the same characters from SHIVER. How’s that for a non-spoilery description? LINGER is already done and is in the final editing stages, and I’m about to start on FOREVER. It was pretty terrifying to write LINGER -- expectations were so high and I figured if I failed, Scholastic would take me out back and bury me with other authors who had failed to deliver a good sequel. So I breathed a huge sigh of relief after my editor read it and said “this is everything that SHIVER readers will want.” Phew! Avoided the Scholastic author cemetary. At least until I turn in FOREVER.
Terra ~ With the way Shiver ends you had my emotions going in so many different directions that I was on an adrenalin rush. Unusual choices for our characters with even more unusual outcomes. How much research did you do for the ending and what do you personally think of the hopes and fears of our characters?
Maggie ~ Oh, man. So much research. I was on the phone with my dad, who’s an E.R. doctor, multiple times, working out the logic behind the werewolf “disease”. I had spreadsheets and scratched on pieces of paper and flow charts and endless terrible google searches of various awful diseases. I knew where I wanted to get, but I had to really twist and turn to get there. I had a particular scene where I really, really wanted readers to cry. And the awful part is that I cried when I got there. Not much. Just one tear from each eye. But I thought, if no one else cries at this part, I will be forced to turn myself into the looney bin. Thank goodness my agent and my sister both cried there.
Terra ~ What is your favorite part of Shiver and why?
Maggie ~ There is a scene with Sam and a bathtub that I am very, very fond of. Because it really pushes both characters to the absolute limits of what they can tolerate.
Terra ~ What and who was your inspiration for Shiver and why did you choose this particular title for the book?
Maggie ~ I actually was inspired by two things. 1) Reading THE TIME TRAVELER’S WIFE and crying at the end and 2) a werewolf dream inspired by a werewolf short story contest. I really wanted to write a novel that would make people bawl like I had, and I had a very vivid dream about wolves in a wood after trying to think of a plot for a werewolf short story contest. A combination of the two sparked the idea. As to the title, it was originally STILL WOLF WATCHING, because that’s what Sam was. But when I sold it to Scholastic, they said, “Is it Still Wolf Watching? Or Still Wolf Watching?” They asked me to come up with something pithier, and I came up with SHIVER -- because it is something that invokes both the kissy aspects and the dangers of winter for the werewolves.
Terra ~ If science suddenly found out that werewolves were indeed real, how do you think the general population of the civilized world would take the news in comparison to the third world countries? Do you think the creatures would have a chance at staying hidden or would they be hunted to extinction?
Maggie ~ I’d like to think we’re a lot more decent about these things, since we’re taught from day one not to stare at people that have weird moles and acne and disfiguring illnesses. But I think that in reality, even the modern world would be terrified by the contagious aspect of it and the thought of losing your human body entirely. I know that’s what keeps my characters from going out there and saying “hi, I’m a werewolf. Cure me.” That and the fear of living your life as a test subject. I don’t think they would be hunted necessarily, but certainly quarantined. Can you imagine Americans letting contagious werewolves live alongside their kids? Nah. We’re sissies.
Terra ~ One of the things that impressed me about Shiver was the purity and innocence of Sam and Grace considering the trauma that they experienced many years earlier. Is there something of a lesson to be learned here and what do you think it is?
Maggie ~ I think it was actually harder for Grace to stay innocent and positive than Sam. Sam had role models after he became a wolf: Beck and Ulrik and Paul. Despite his weird and awful situation, he had people to look up to. People who were handling their tough lot the best they could; people capable of the best sort of unconditional love. Grace, on the other hand, lived in the hope of finding that sort of love. In my head her books helped her with that, because they give you window into another world and show you people that you hope exist even if they aren’t in your life yet.
I don’t know if there’s a lesson, but I know what I believe: you can’t control everything life throws at you, but you can control yourself. You can keep hoping for the best and be the hero in your own life. And rest easy knowing that if Maggie ever writes a novel about you, the reader will have been rooting for you all along.
Ask Maggie a question about her interview or the excerpt following and leave it with your email addy in the comments section as our wonderful author will giveaway a signed, finished copy of SHIVER!!
(This trailer was created by Maggie with hundreds of paper cut-outs and multiple photographic frames per second. Music composed & performed by Maggie Stiefvater & Kate Hummel.)
Excerpt from SHIVER
Chapter One Grace
I remember lying in the snow, a small red spot of warm going cold, surrounded by wolves. They were licking me, biting me, worrying at my body, pressing in. Their huddled bodies blocked what little heat the sun offered. Ice glistened on their ruffs and their breath made opaque shapes that hung in the air around us. The musky smell of their coats made me think of wet dog and burning leaves, pleasant and terrifying. Their tongues melted my skin; their careless teeth ripped at my sleeves and snagged through my hair, pushed against my collarbone, the pulse at my neck.
I could have screamed, but I didn't. I could have fought, but I didn't. I just lay there and let it happen, watching the winter-white sky go gray above me.
One wolf prodded his nose into my hand and against my cheek, casting a shadow across my face. His yellow eyes looked into mine while the other wolves jerked me this way and that.
I held on to those eyes for as long as I could. Yellow. And, up close, flecked brilliantly with every shade of gold and hazel. I didn't want him to look away, and he didn't. I wanted to reach out and grab a hold of his ruff, but my hands stayed curled on my chest, my arms frozen to my body.
I couldn't remember what it felt like to be warm.
Then he was gone, and without him, the other wolves closed in, too close, suffocating. Something seemed to flutter in my chest.
There was no sun; there was no light. I was dying. I couldn't remember what the sky looked like.
But I didn't die. I was lost to a sea of cold, and then I was reborn into a world of warmth.
I remember this: his yellow eyes.
I thought I'd never see them again.