February 25, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

SLJ’s SummerTeen Speaker: Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater

Photo: Robert Severi

Waitress, calligraphy instructor, and technical editor are just some of the jobs Maggie Stiefvater had before becoming a writer. Now the New York Times bestselling author is busy working on the sequel to The Raven Boys, the first in a four-book series.

Stiefvater’s Linger, the second book in the “Shiver” trilogy, debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller list, and there are more than 1.8 million copies of the series in print. The Scorpio Races, Stiefvater’s latest novel, received five starred reviews and was named a 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book by the American Library Association.

Stiefvater, who lives in Virginia with her husband, two small kids, dogs, and one criminally insane cat, is an avid reader, an award-winning colored pencil artist, and plays several musical instruments, including the Celtic harp, the piano, and the bagpipes. Follow her on Twitter @mstiefvater.

Stiefvater is a is a guest speaker at SLJ‘s August 9 online event, SummerTeen: A Celebration of Young Adult Books. If you’ve signed up for SummerTeen, make sure to gather your teens to hear Stiefvater speak on the “Rockin’ Women of YA” panel from 3:45 p.m.–4:45 p.m. Registration is still open.

What do you like best about writing for a YA audience?

MS: I really love the idea that I might be the author who introduces a teen reader to the incredible world of folklore and mythology. I still remember novels from my childhood—The Dark is Rising, Fire and Hemlock, The Black Cauldron—that introduced me to myth, and they literally changed my way of looking at the world.

Raven CoverHow did you end up writing fantasy novels?

MS: Oh, there was never a time when that was in question for me. Well, I take that back. I had a brief stint as a 16-year-old where all I wrote were IRA political thrillers, but we all have those phases, right? Right? I got a piece of advice when I was young—”Write the book you wish you could find on the shelf but can’t”—and what I love to read is fantasy set in the real world.

What’s one of the most moving things you’ve heard said about your books?

MS: I think I would have to say one of the most stunning letters I’ve received in the past year was from a teen who had just lost her father. She said that reading Shiver had made her think about the nature of love and loss and realize how purely her father had loved her and her mother, and that she could believe that that love carried on after he was gone, and she didn’t have to be afraid anymore—she could be a hero. Letters like that don’t ever leave you.

How valuable are librarians about getting the word out about your work?

MS: This is a trick question, isn’t it? Because of course they are invaluable—I have countless emails from readers saying that a librarian had been the one to put my novel in their hand. Word of mouth is beyond reproach. Isn’t that how we all love to find a book?

Do you ever worry about your books being censored or challenged?

MS: No. I write the story.

What are you working on now?

MS: I’m working on the sequel to The Raven Boys (September 18), which is the first in a four-book series. It’s about a wealthy private school boy searching for the body of an ancient Welsh king and the daughter of a psychic who has been told that if she kisses her true love, he’ll die. It’s mythology and boys behaving badly and fast cars and magic—so, the book that I wish I could find on the shelf but can’t.

Other SLJ SummerTeen Interviews:

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  1. Such good advice about writing the book you wish you could find on the shelves but can’t.

  2. I love that part about writing the book you wish you could find but can’t.