Author Interview: Maggie Stiefvater

Tuesday, August 25, 2009 |

All of my life decisions have been based around my inability to be gainfully employed. Talking to yourself, staring into space, and coming to work in your pajamas are frowned upon when you're a waitress, calligraphy instructor, or technical editor (all of which I've tried), but are highly prized traits in novelists, musicians, and artists (I've made my living as one of these since I was 22).

I now live an eccentric life in the middle of nowhere, Virginia, with my charmingly straight-laced husband, two small kids, two neurotic dogs, one criminally insane cat, and a 1973 Camaro named Loki.

I'm an avid reader, an award-winning colored pencil artist, and play several musical instruments, including the Celtic harp, the piano, and the bagpipes. I also mak
e great cocktail party conversation. She wrote this from perspective, it's from her website

Please welcome Maggie Stiefvater!

Who inspired you to become an author?

Ha! Answering this question would mean that I could ever remember a time when I didn’t want to write, which I can’t. I have authors that I look up to -- I very much admire Diana Wynne Jones & Jane Yolen’s long careers, for instance -- but that came after I had already been writing (bad) novels for years.

How old were you when you started to write?

Oops, already sort of answered this question. I wrote stories as soon as I could write, but I got serious about publishing when I was 16. I sent quite a few terrible novels and messy queries off to publishers around then. Quite embarrassing, looking back on it, actually . . . poor editors . . .

What's one thing you’re really proud of?
I’m actually really proud of myself for getting over my fear of crowds and public speaking. I used to be a terrible introvert, absolutely petrified to talk to people at parties. I was pretty much only able to be in front of crowds if I had an instrument to hide behind. But now I’m quite happily flying all over the place for Scholastic, doing public speaking and readings. It was a gradual process all through college and afterwards, but now I really don’t have a bit of nerves, no matter how big the crowd. *phew*

Who are your favorite authors?

I really love The Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger, and I am just starting an ARC of her next one, Her Fearful Symmetry. I mentioned Diana Wynne Jones, but also Susan Cooper, and Melina Marchetta.

Do you have any advice for the young writers who want to become an author?

Read. Constantly. Read what’s selling well in the genre you want to write. Read industry blogs too. There’s so much easy information out there available for nothing that there’s no excuse for being an idiot. You can get published young, but you can’t use it as an excuse. I have a few starting links on my website (

Do you have any must haves while your writing?
Music. I can’t write without it playing. Not Maggie-rocking-out music, either. It has to be a playlist I’ve carefully put together for my novel, or all I can think about is doing laundry or making cookie dough or running around the house or checking emails . . . anything but sitting down and focusing.

Did you base any of your character in Shiver on any real people?

I base all my characters on real people -- it’s just a question of how many real people go into each one. I will say that Sam and Grace are like me and my husband -- only I’m more like Sam and my husband is more like Grace. Sort of. I like to start with a kernel of truth and then expand hugely on it into someone new.

Thanks Maggie!

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