Monday, December 1, 2014

Stiefvater Does Colorado

The plan: tour for Blue Lily, Lily Blue for two and a half weeks, then fly to Colorado for a family vacation over Thanksgiving.

The tour: Kansas City (whoo!), Toronto (yay!), Miami (TAKE MY BODY MIAMI JUST TAKE IT)

The backstory: Every moment that I wasn’t speaking to readers on tour, I was texting Lover. (ME: “IF YOU REALLY LOVED ME YOU WOULD GET ME A DATSUN FOR MY BIRTHDAY” LOVER: “I’d get you a Datsun if I thought that was what you really wanted. But I don’t think you really want a Datsun. I think you’re just hungry.” ME: DATSUN DATSUN DATSUN”)

The trip: I flew from Miami to Denver to meet my family at the airport, where we would begin the 6.5 hour drive to our Durango rental house. “We have to make one stop before we leave the Denver area,” Lover said, as we departed the airport in two rental 4wds. “I’m sorry.”

I could not be upset. I had the keys to an enormous rental Tahoe, I’d just plugged my iPod into the sound system, and I had six hours to drive my mother, sister, and daughter completely insane with my music. There was nothing wrong with life.

In fact, just a few minutes out of the airport, my sister said, “Look! Look, what is that!”

I glanced to where she was pointing. The sun had just split through the heavy cloud cover to shine on an access road next to the highway:

IMG_4819

Behold! A DATSUN. Surely this was a good omen for things to come, even if it was brown.

A half hour later, we’d arrived at Lover’s scheduled stop, a suburb of Denver. Lover directed us to park on the curb, then he had me get out of the car.

"Go ring that man’s doorbell," he told me.

I got out and rang the man’s doorbell. Which was how I found out that Lover had bought me a Datsun for my birthday.

IMG_4824

I hope you’ve all learned an important lesson: if you text your spouse 57 times in as many minutes, you can persuade him to do anything, including pull the trigger on buying a car so you don’t have to.
We had to leave the Datsun behind — it is traveling safely on a truck to Virginia, nowhere near Colorado snow — before continuing to Durango. If you have not been to Durango, please be aware it is grotesquely beautiful. The entire state of Colorado should be illegal.

Anyway, we sat around in the beauty for a day, and then we drove to Moab, Utah, to drive rental Jeeps around the desert.

ME: Mom, you should come.
MOM: Oh, I don’t know. Will it be jolty?
ME: It’s just desert. It’s just Jeeps.
MOM: I don’t even like driving around the farm, because of bumps.
ME: It won’t be bad! Come on! We promise! IMG_6272

I’m not sure if you can see the Jeep in that photo. It’s right in the middle. It’s that thing pointed down.

Can you see the road in this picture?


IMG_4881

It is the dark bits. It’s more obvious if you are following someone, like a Lover or a sister.

IMG_4879

See this face?

IMG_4877

It is a brother saying “Whoo!” and thinking “Sorry, Mom.”

IMG_4869

Lover is pleased to have not rolled his Jeep and is also thinking “sorry, mom-in-law.” He took a video of me coming down some rock, but the glare of the sunlight off my grin makes it hard to see anything besides my world-destroying joy. Anyway, the point is that there’s not much better than being on top of the world and knowing you crawled up there while your mother hyperventilated in the back of one of the Jeeps.

IMG_4884

Sorry, Mom, but it was sort of the best day of my life. Back in Colorado, we continued the theme of Things That Go by riding on the old Durango steam train.

IMG_4925

That was all right, too, but it would’ve been better if I was driving. And finally we went to see Mesa Verde, which was staggering, but my photographs do no justice, so google it and then go see it yourself.

IMG_4947

Will I be back to Colorado? Of course. I’ll be back next year to do more location research for my post Raven-Boys project (CODE NAME darknovel). I don’t know if there will be Jeeps or trains, but I would not be shocked in the slightest.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures

Pip Bartlett's Guide to Magical Creatures

Well, this is weird and cool to finally do: ta da! this is the cover of Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures, coming out 4/28/15. I co-wrote it with my friend Jackson Pearce, a process more fun than work has any right to be. But also: this is the first book I’ve ever illustrated. Way back when I was a starving artist, I dreamed of being a children’s book illustrator, and years and years ago, the first business cards I ever made said BLUE GRIFFIN ILLUSTRATION on the top. It seems revoltingly fitting that my first book illustration credit should be for a blue griffin.

Here’s the description: Pip is a girl who can talk to magical creatures. Her aunt is a vet for magical creatures. And her new friend Tomas is allergic to most magical creatures. When things go amok—and they often go amok—Pip consults Jeffrey Higgleston’s Guide to Magical Creatures, a reference work that Pip finds herself constantly amending. Because dealing with magical creatures like unicorns, griffins, and fuzzles doesn’t just require book knowledge—it requires hands-on experience and thinking on your feet. For example, when fuzzles (which have an awful habit of bursting into flame when they’re agitated) invade your town, it’s not enough to know what the fuzzles are—Pip and Tomas also must trace the fuzzles’ agitation to its source, and in doing so, save the whole town.

  photo-23

And if you’d like to win two of my original pieces, all you have to do is share the cover and then post the link of where you shared in the rafflecopter.

Details for that here: a Rafflecopter giveaway

AH!
 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Focus Features to Develop The Scorpio Races

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 5.35.30 PM

Ah, man, I've been sitting on this news for so, so long.

 More than any of my books, this is the one I long to see on the big screen, and it’s also the one that has had the most aggressive interest since publication. Fingers crossed that it makes it to filming. Double, triple, quadruple crossed.

Full story at the Hollywood Reporter here.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue is Out

So, it’s finally that day: Blue Lily, Lily Blue’s release day. It has been a little over a year since The Dream Thieves came out, and what a year it has been.

Readers, thanks for allowing me another year of hunting for Glendower and Cabeswater all over the mountains I love.

IMG_4143
cabeswater
IMG_4129
IMG_2597
IMG_2636
IMG_1810 IMG_2120
IMG_2942 IMG_2934
IMG_2889 IMG_2869

Friday, October 10, 2014

2014 Events!


I’ve finally updated my event info for the rest of 2014.

10/16: Aberdeen, MD (I’ll have Blue Lily, Lily Blue bookplates here)
10/25: Arlington, VA (first event after BLLB releases)(I will be bringing the remainder of the Sinner sunglasses to this one)
10/28: Decatur, GA
10/30: Charlotte, NC
11/10: Kansas City, KS (with Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff)
11/16: Toronto Book Fair (with Deborah Harkness)
11/22: Miami Book Fair (days/ times TBA)

Here are the full details.
Here, as always, is the Shy Introvert's Guide to Book Signings.

Also, I drew three Raven Cycle tarot cards and now I've been pleasantly coerced into doing the rest of the Major Arcana by the end of the month. We'll see if I can pull it off.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue contest

bllb arc

My publisher surprised me today by mailing me a box of Blue Lily, Lily Blue ARCs — I had no idea such things were going to exist, nor that I was going to get them, but now I intend to give them away. Here's how: Just post on your blog (blogspot, Tumblr, wordpress, whatever), Twitter, or Facebook one reason why you enjoyed reading the Raven Cycle, and then post the link to the status update (if you don't know how to do this, Google is your friend) into the Rafflecopter contest thingy.

THIS THING:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Because these ARCs were provided by my US publisher, they have to be sent to U.S. addresses. So you can enter if you're international, but only if you have a friend in the U.S. who can accept it for you. Posts on forums don't count, and you can only enter once. It's going to run for a little over 24 hours only. Is that it? Yes. I think that is it.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Blue Lily, Lily Blue Excerpts

Behold! I'm revoltingly pleased to be able to share an excerpt from Blue Lily, Lily Blue. There's two ways to experience it. You can listen to the prologue, read by Will Patton. 

  
Or you can read the prologue and the first chapter here.
   
And a reminder that you can get special things, such as doodles & custom bookplates, if you pre-order before October 21st from certain bookstores. Info on that here.

 skull 
 Blue Lily Bookplate Small

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bookplates for Blue Lily, Lily Blue

Blue Lily Bookplate Small 

Okay, I've finished the art for the Blue Lily, Lily Blue bookplate.

I try to make art every year to thank the readers who support me book after book, so please know that all of these pencil marks are my wordless (and now wordful?) appreciation.

The signed bookplates will go into every copy of Blue Lily, Lily Blue pre-ordered from Fountain Bookstore before the release date of October 21 (http://www.fountainbookstore.com/autograph-maggie). They'll also come with this skull doodle.

skull 

UK readers can also get a signed bookplate with every copy of Blue Lily ordered from Seven Stories.

Canadian readers can order them from Mabel’s Fables.

And if you're an Australian indie who would like to take part, please let me know.

 If you've already pre-ordered from Fountain, you don't have to do anything special to make certain this will appear in your book.

Again, thank you!

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Artist & Thief (an excerpt from my SCBWI keynote for those who weren't there)

I used to think that my ideal job was to write. To make up stories. To lie for a living. Now that I’m in it, though, now that I’m comfortable in my novelist skin, it doesn’t feel that way at all. I observe for a living. I steal for a living. I stylize for a living. I find things in the real world, I take them for my own, and then I hammer them into a story-shaped thing. Writer? I am a thief and an artist.

One of my loves is mythology and folklore, and one of the earliest folkloric traditions I got into was Celtic fairy lore. Probably I can blame my mother for this. We were Navy brats and moved about all over, and one of the ways she would distract us children on long coast-to-coast moving trips was pointing out the window and saying LOOK! THERE! DID YOU SEE THAT FAIRY? BEHIND THAT TREE? The reasonable response would have been: No, mother, we did not, because we are traveling at 65 miles per hour and that tree is a thing of our now-distant past. But my mother was very persuasive, so instead, we always craned our necks and tried to see the fairies in between the trees or dancing on the lakes or hiding in the fog in the hills, etcetera, etcetera.

Anyway, one of the traditions around fairies is that they live in grand underground worlds, ruled over by the powerful fairy queen. Stories talk about how humans descend to this underground world and are dazzled by the beauty and wonder they see. The most beautiful citizens, the most intricate of architecture, the most delicious of fruits hanging from enchanted trees. But they also talk about how the longer you are underground — the more canny you are — the more you begin to recognize your surroundings. Because the fairy queen, for all her power, can’t create anything from scratch. She can only observe beauty and wonder in the real world, then take it for herself and assemble it in different ways. She is a thief. An artistic thief, but a thief nonetheless.

Increasingly, I’ve realized that I am very rarely creating something entirely from scratch. Instead, I am a thief as well, stealing from everything I see, everything I do, everyone I meet. And then I’m an artist — choosing carefully how to stitch them back together.

For instance, I shall set the scene. A few years ago, I began bringing a sketchbook with me as I toured. I wanted to get better at sketching people in real time, and the only way to get better in just about anything is practice.

Here’s the annoying thing about people who are alive, though, something you, too, may have noticed: they move. They move even more if they get wise to the notion that you’re sketching them. So by this point, I had begun to choose my victims rather carefully. People reading books. People staring at signs. People dozing on their hands. People studying their lunches with distrust. In this case, I was on an airplane, traveling from a tour stop to a tour stop. Normally I didn’t sketch on planes, because all you can see are the backs of people’s heads, or your seatmate, who can definitely spot that you’re sketching them, and will definitely move around, even if he or she is distrustful of his or her lunch.

Also normally I write on airplanes. I very much enjoy writing on planes, but only as long as I am in the window seat with only one flank to protect. This is because of a flight when I was trapped in a middle seat and after I wrote a joke into my novel, the man beside me laughed. I asked him: why did you DO that? And he said SORRY, it was funny. And I told him: YOU HAVE RUINED MY LIFE. From then on, I only wrote in window seats.

On this particular day, I was in an aisle seat, so there would be no writing. The seat in the middle was empty. In my coveted window seat was a young man whom I hated for being in the coveted window seat. Once I got over my resentment that he had stolen my throne, however, I realized that he was an ideal victim for sketching, as he was sitting with his ball cap pulled over his face. He was so still that it was possible he was dead. PERFECT. Dead people rarely move! I would check him for a pulse after I was done.

So I sketched him with delight, and then, a half hour later, I heard a voice.  “Is that me?” He had this real soft Southern accent — the sort I’d grown up with back in the Shenandoah Valley — and it was audible because he’d removed his hat from his face and because he was alive. I showed him the drawing. He was pleased. I told him that I couldn’t write because I wasn’t in the window seat, and it was a long plane ride, so he might as well tell me his life story. It wasn’t long enough for his entire life story, but he did tell me how his hand. I had noticed it while I was sketching: it was oddly shaped, and I’d drawn it oddly shaped. When he noticed that I noticed, he told me the tale of how he’d broken it. It turned out that, although he assured me he was a peaceful creature, he’d broken it on someone’s face. He’d been in a minor altercation defending his sister’s honor. As he was telling me this story — which may or may not have been true — I was listening to him with my mind on record. I was getting ready to steal him.

I used to steal the surface of a thing. I would have stolen that story of the barfight, for instance, and all the details around it, wholecloth. I would have recorded it as truthfully as I could imagine and I would’ve been proud of myself for accurately transcribing the human experience. But that’s bad thievery. Shallow thievery. Copying, not artistry.

Now I know that when I’m stealing someone, it’s not their details I need. It’s their soul. I’ve learned to solve for x. To simplify to the essence. It’s not about the punch. It’s about why he threw that punch. No, it’s about why he threw that punch then and never any other time. It’s about how he’s telling me the story. How he includes his sister’s honor in this story of a single, crippling punch, because her honor adds a weight that the mere velocity of the swing does not. He can’t own that punch — that single punch — even to me, a stranger on a plane, without including the backstory of its purpose. It’s about how he wants me to know that he’s not bragging about a casual barroom brawl, this hand — this broken hand — he broke his hand for a reason.

Here’s the thing: he could’ve been lying to me. His story could be completely fabricated, and then, if I stole that story, I’d be telling a lie of a lie. A copy of a copy, each version a bit less like reality. That would be bad stealing on my part.

But here is solving for x, simplifying for the truth, stealing the essence. Here was the truth, sitting beside me, a confession in the knit of his eyebrows and that soft Southern accent. Here was a boy who had lost his temper once, much to his shame, and here was a boy who had had to look at that moment every day since it had happened. Everything else was details. Just noise. But THAT was the soul: and that’s what I stole.

That boy became Adam Parrish from the Raven Cycle.

A boy who made a mistake and has to live with it every day. A boy who carries physical evidence of a moment’s anger.

Writer? I am a thief and an artist.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

A Shy Introvert’s Guide to Stiefvater Signings

I’ve gotten a lot of messages and asks about what to expect/ do/ not do at one of my signings, so I thought I’d do a big post about it. Many of them strike me as the questions of shy introverts — I could be projecting, as I'm still an introvert, and used to be quite shy myself, but I think not.Back in the day, I used to dread speaking on the phone and hated to go to any sort of social event where I might inadvertently violate some unspoken social code that everyone else somehow knew but I had missed. I’d do as much research as I could before the actual thing, and then, if I still couldn’t figure out if I’d feel embarrassed not knowing how to get in line or how to get a drink or where to park my car or whatever, I just wouldn’t go.

Readers are often shy people — that’s why they like books, I mean, is a novel going to LAUGH AT YOU BEHIND ITS HAND? No. Books do not have hands. So this is a guide for my shy readers (and perhaps useful to not-so-shy newbies).

1. Pack all of the books you want me to sign. I’m happy to sign copies of all your other books — just remember to buy at least one from the store sponsoring the event. If you have a lot of books and you feel awkward about it, feel free to hang back to the back of the line. You’ll usually find a handful of other people with giant stacks and perhaps you can bond over your large collection of novels written by people with the last name Stiefvater. Or, if you’re both painfully shy, you can just stand close to each other and avoid making eye contact.

2. Arrive at the event. If you want a seat up front or to be early in the signing line, you can get there early, but you don’t have to go crazy with the earliness. I sign for everyone who comes, no matter how long it takes, so you’re not going to miss out there. Last year, the events ranged from 20-200 people, so the worst case scenario is that you’ll be at the end of that line. Usually the events last two hours from beginning to the very bitter end of the signing line.

3. Buy the book. For the painfully shy, this is also a good excuse to ask any questions you might have about the event structure. Also, sometimes the events give out numbers to attendees to reward the people who arrive first and get them closer to the front of the line. Usually if they’re going to do this, you get one of these suckers when you buy a book. If you’re confused about the format, remember that everyone else there is probably confused too, because there’s no standard-issue-book-signing-protocol, so everyone is just playing along.

4. Poof — I arrive. I’m driving Loki my ’73 Camaro to all of the Sinner tour events, so I will manifest in a cloud of exhaust fumes and gasoline odor. I shall have my sister with me for all of the events through Omaha, and then in Denver I will pick up Brenna Yovanoff, and then for the Utah events all the way through L.A., I’ll have Tessa Gratton and Brenna stuffed in the car. I’m telling you this because if you also enjoy Tessa’s or Brenna’s novels, they will be loitering aimlessly in the store and will be happy to sign their books too, if you ask them or just wave the copies in front of them.

5. I talk. Probably for ten or fifteen minutes, I will say something enlightening about Sinner or the writing process, or perhaps just give readers a status update on my goats. Then I take questions from the audience for another fifteen-twenty minutes. I’m happy to answer questions about any of the other books, but if it’s super spoilery, it’s better to whisper it in my ear as you come through the signing line.

guitars

6. Giveaways. At the first event and last event of the tour: Charlottesville, and Los Angeles, the store will raffle off one of the electric guitars I doodled on. You have to be there to be eligible for those, and they’ll hand out the raffle tickets there — probably when you buy a book. Sometimes the stores have other giveaways, too, but they’ll all sort of go like this.

book wrappers

7. Book wrappers. Everyone who buys a copy of Sinner at the tour events will get the custom book wrapper I did — you don’t have to do anything special to earn one, and you don’t have to ask for it, and probably they will be set up on the table beside me for you to just take one. Before you ask, you can have one for every copy of Sinner you buy. So that means if you want one for a friend, you’ll have to buy her a copy of the book as well. That’s just fair to everyone else who bought a book in order to get one. (and for those of you who can’t get to a tour event, do remember that if you pre-order a copy from Fountain Bookstore before July 1, they will send you one of the book wrappers).

8. Post-it notes. While you stand in line, the booksellers will often ask you your name so they can write it on a sticky note. This is not because they want to call you later. It’s for the personalization in the book. It’s often loud, and names are hard to hear, and this makes it easier for me to not write a really embarrassing spelling of your name in your book. It’s totally okay if you don’t want your book personalized, too. Sometimes people ask me to write something long and complicated in the front and I stare at them, not because I think their face is weird, but because it’s hard to think of something clever on the spot.

9. Meeting my face. I know this can be the nerve-wracking part. Dread slowly seeps through your bones as you get closer and closer to the table where the author sits like a hulking vulture. Trust me. I know it. People often get flummoxed or embarrassed or sometimes they just stare into the middle distance as I sign. Here are some things that I like to hear if you can’t think of anything else: a) which of my books you like the best, b) where you first read my books, c) things you’re hoping I’ll write about some day. Or, if you don’t want to say anything, that’s fine, too. I will not think that you’re socially awkward. The painfully shy can always just smile and avoid eye contact and possibly slip an index card with a song recommendation on it over the table. I’m sorry that this moment is sometimes anti-climactic, too. Because it only is a minute or two after standing in line.

10. Photos. I’m always happy to take photos with readers, so long as the flash is off. Usually there is a bookseller who can take it for you, or you can ask the person behind you in line. I have never seen anyone in line be annoyed about having to take a photo for someone else, so don’t feel bad about this.

11. Giving me things. Sometimes readers want to bring me things. I am very flattered by this, but it also makes me feel strange to accept gifts when I am giving you nothing in return but books that I hope will make you cry in public. Also, I’m always traveling by small car or plane, and so drawings and whatnot usually get crushed. And ever since I heard the story about what a deranged reader once baked into author brownies, I won’t eat any food that’s brought. So if you want to bring me something, just write your favorite line from a book, song, or poem onto a slip of paper and give it to me. That’ll be more than enough. I just like your shining faces.

12. Ta-da! It’s over! You have signed books. You have heard me talk and possibly asked me a question. You possibly have made eye contact with several other readers. You have totally survived. Does that answer all of the questions? Here are the tour dates in July, in their entirety. You can see that I drive from right to left across the country.

7/2: Charlottesville, VA, 5 p.m. NOTE: this is a guitar stop!
7/3: Baltimore, MD, 4 p.m.
7/5: Pittsburgh, PA, 4 p.m.
7/7: Chicago/ Naperville, IL, 7 p.m.
7/8: Chicago, IL, 12 p.m.
7/8: Milwaukee, WI, 6:30 p.m.
7/9: Madison, WI, 7 p.m.
7/10: Iowa City, IA, 7 p.m.
7/11: Omaha, NE, 4 p.m.
7/14: Denver, CO, 7 p.m.
7/19: Salt Lake City, UT, 7 p.m.
7/21: Reno, NV, 7 p.m.
7/23: San Francisco, CA, 7:30 p.m.
7/24: San Francisco/ Menlo Park, CA 7 p.m. NOTE: This is a group event with Brenna Yovanoff & Tessa Gratton — we'll be talking about working together as critique partners.
7/28: Los Angeles, CA, 7 p.m.
7/29: Los Angeles/ Montrose, CA - 7 p.m. NOTE: this is a guitar stop!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Eyes Up, Writers

On Twitter today — and everyday — there was some chatter and scuffle about Some Authors’ Careers and Some Authors’ Fame and whether they had deserved it. Some folks invariably said the chatter and scuffle was jealousy. Some others invariably said not everything is jealousy.

Here’s what I think: having a writing career is like driving a race car.

I’m not really a grand race car driver, mostly because I’ve discovered that I don’t really care about winning against anyone but myself, which turns out to be not the point of organized sports. But I have been in race cars, and on race tracks, and have spent many hours doing classwork at over 70 mph.

Enough to know that a writing career is a lot like driving a race car.

One of the things they teach you in every single form of car racing is to keep your eyes up. Up. Upper than that. Upper than even that. Don’t look at the dash, because then you won’t see what’s happening on the road. Don’t look at the road right in front of you, because you won’t see that the turn you’re going into links into another turn and you could set yourself up for both. Put your eyes up as far as you can see down the road, and look there. Only when you see the absolute farthest point can you start to calculate the best way of getting there.

(this is great advice to use when you’re driving normally, by the way)

A writing career is like that. Use your peripheral vision to look at the things that are coming at you day to day, but never forget that every decision should contribute that farthest-away-point you want to get to. Never forget that every tiny success and failure is just a steer or counter steer toward the real point of the thing.

And here’s the other thing they tell you about keeping your eyes up: don’t fixate on the person in front of you. If there’s another driver just in front of you, the tendency is to stare at their bumper and then take the turn just like they do. But guess what? Then the absolute best scenario is that you will take the turn just like they do. So if they’re taking it wrong, you’ll take it wrong too. If there’s a better way, a faster way, a cooler way, a way that involves painting a giant knife on the side of your car and listening to Finnish rap very loudly, you’ll never know.

Eyes up, drivers, they say: look past the car in front of you. All you need to do is to note them well enough that you can pass them when you find a better way to take the turn.

Don’t fixate, writers. Eyes up, writers. I don’t care if x or y is doing a or b. What does that have to do with me? I have my eyes on where I want to go, and no one else matters.

The race is Maggie vs. Maggie. Who are you competing with?

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Books Don't Make You Smart

Here is a lie we’ve all been told: books will make you smart.

This week, the Internet churns once more over the latest article denouncing adults who read young adult fiction. The argument is always the same: young adult/ thrillers/ romance/ sci-fi/ chicklit/ picture books/ subway maps are not as good for you as adult literary/ nonfiction/ dead Russians/ the calorie lists on Chipotle menus. Lovers of the former are always ready with a defense — either that the former really are as quality as the latter, or that not everything you put in your brain has to be good for you.

Rather than contemplating a new defense — surely, I could, as I write young adult fiction —I wondered instead why we keep seeing the same scuffle in different hats.

And I think it’s because of this untruth: books will make you smart.

I believe the book industry may be one of the few industries that promises you will actually become more clever if you buy their product. Car companies might swear you’ll look cooler in an Audi than a Kia, but they don’t tell you that you’ll actually become a better person behind the wheel of one. Computer companies might shout that their equipment is smarter, but they stop short of promising that your entire life philosophy will improve if you buy their products. When I bought my office chair, no one told me, “Well done. People who sit in leather chairs turn out to be stronger women.”
But we have this prevailing theory that books will make you smart, and it’s this theory that allows us to judge a book’s quality by how far it stretches your mind. According to this idea, if it doesn’t make you smarter, it’s a lesser book. It becomes a guilty pleasure, like food that doesn’t contribute to your daily vitamin requirement. Cue up the articles on the tragedy of the populace reading young adult, or turning to magazines, or — horrors, shall I whisper it — watching television in lieu of reading.

Don’t they know that reading makes you clever? Don’t they know that television and movies are for non-intellectuals? Hoi polloi turn the TV on. If you’re someone who’s going to be someone, you open a book.

But books aren’t smart: stories are.

Not all stories, of course. There are wise stories and flippant stories, stories that stretch your mind and stories that only make you laugh. Stories that are true and stories that won’t ever be true.
A book is merely a medium for carrying a story. So is a television series. So is a movie. So is a play, or a or a puppet show, a video game, a note from a stranger. The medium itself carries absolutely no promise of intellectual content. There are shallow books and world-changing movies. There are ridiculous non-fiction texts and complex young adult novels.

A book is just words. A movie is just images. These things can’t change you.

Only the story can.

So if we can accept that books can — and are meant to — fulfill all kinds of purposes, we can stop pretending that a good book only means a book that demands probing analysis. If we can further accept that genre is merely a jacket for the story, we can possibly also stop arguing that this shelf or that shelf in the bookstore has the corner on intellectual greatness. Someone who writes smart stories can put them into any form, any medium, any length — and they do. Look at the artists who work across several different forms. Do they grow more or less clever when their stories are filmed or shelved, packaged for grown-ups or packaged for teens? If you long for a mind-bending story, you can find them anywhere, if you look for them. If you’re looking for a stupid story, I promise you that you can find them anywhere, too. If you’re looking for grotesque generalizations, you’ll also find that confirmation bias is a powerful thing.

Books don’t make you smart. Stories do. And that is a truth I’ll defend to anyone.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Sinner Book Trailer - with Animation and Singing and Whatnot

I'm revoltingly pleased to announce that I've finally finished animating and recording the music for the Sinner book trailer.


Here it is!


 

The book itself comes out July 1st in the U.S. (July 3rd in the UK).

The song can be downloaded for free on my Soundcloud account.

You can find full tour date info here.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

MY CHARACTERS ARE NOT ME: But They Are The Questions in My Head

Today, a reader asked me about the source of the Gansey family wealth, and as I answered her, I thought about why Gansey is who he is, and why I wrote his family’s wealth, and what was I trying to explore when I invented him. Because there were ten thousand ways to write Gansey, and I chose this one: why?

It's because Gansey is not me — none of the characters are truly me — but they do exist to answer questions in my head. Sometimes I write them because I think I already know the answer, and I'm showing my work. But sometimes I'm hoping to find the answer through my writing. For instance, the characters in the Raven Cycle:

GANSEY: I am not filthy rich. I was not born into old money. But I was born into all kinds of privilege, especially educational privilege. My mother taught me music from the moment I could read. My father has an encyclopedic knowledge of history and a love of reading and made sure that he passed that on. There is so much to be said for not having to reinvent the wheel, and the educational advantages that I took for granted when I was eight are now glaringly obvious to me. So Gansey — well, that part of Gansey, the questions of privilege and what you owe the world when you have it — started there.

RONAN: I am not an angry gay street-racing Catholic boy. But I was an angry street-racing teen who fought with her body, and I grew up fervently Catholic, and I had all sorts of beliefs about myself and gender and everything else that did not play well with Catholicism. Ronan — parts of him — are questions I asked when I was a teen and still ask now.

BLUE: I am not the only non-seer in a family of seers. But I, a consummate non-specialist, a professional dabbler, am so used to finding myself in a world full of language I understand but do not own. When I was in a rally car, I engaged with cars in a very different way from those who lived and breathed rally. When I was in a Celtic band, I did so with a German last name and the knowledge that I couldn’t really claim the music because the blood in my veins was from the wrong place. I am always finding myself places where I possess an encyclopedic knowledge of the elements at play — but know I don’t really belong. But what is belonging? Blue asks that question for me.

ADAM: I was not born in a trailer, nor was I abused. But I have been very poor with very not poor friends. I have been not poor with very poor friends. I have been given opportunities to get ahead by jumping the line and I have watched what happened when I turned them down. I've also given people opportunities to jump the line and seen what happens to both of us when they take them (or not). Adam is the Gansey question turned inside out. Also, I have also been super shitty to friends and had them be super shitty to me — how shitty can you be to each other and still be friends? Can you afford to give your whole heart to a someone who doesn’t have blood ties or other debts to you? Adam — and the rest of the characters in the Raven Cycle, really — ask this question.

NOAH: Asks the question of why glitter and kittens are so great.


So, readers are always asking me which character I relate to the most, but that’s really not the best question. I relate to all of them, or I wouldn’t be writing them — I’d choose a different camera to point at the story. The question, I guess is: why these cameras? What are you trying to look at, Stiefvater?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The Giant Sinner Tour & Also Book Wrappers & Guitars

Readers who have followed me for a while will know that each year, I try to do something special to some of the pre-ordered copies of my novels. This year I had a really ambitious idea and Scholastic was lovely enough to help me take this concept and run with it.

First, I did portraits of Cole, Isabel, and a wolf:

sinner, maggie stiefvater,  


and Scholastic is printing them on posters that just happen to be perfectly sized to do this:


   maggie stiefvater, book wrapper, sinner   

Coincidence? 

I think not. Scholastic was also kind enough to ship three white electric guitars to my house, and I did things to them too.

maggie stiefvater, electric guitars, sinner maggie stiefvater, book wrapper, sinner, isabel culpeper    

The guitars will be raffled off on the first and last event of the Sinner tour. One of them will be given away during a Scholastic/ This Is Teen online thingy. I’ll be sure to pass along info when this happens.

The book wrappers require rather less luck to acquire. Every copy of Sinner pre-ordered from Fountain Bookstore will be signed and come with one of the them. (Also, FB would like to remind everyone that if you pre-order Sinner and Blue Lily, Lily Blue at the same time, both books will ship in October when BLLB comes out — if you want two shipments, you will have to pay two shipping costs).

Also, the book wrappers will be available at every single stop on the Sinner tour.

 I’m also pairing up with Seven Stories Bookshop in the UK again this year, and their pre-ordered copies of Sinner will include this signed custom bookplate.


    

Now, on to the tour! Again, because Scholastic loves me, they are allowing me to do a coast-to-coast driving tour for Sinner in Loki, my Camaro. I did this for the Forever tour back in 2011, and I think it’s sort of nice and circular to head out again in the car for this return to Cole and Isabel. Also, it means I’ll smell like gasoline and exhaust at every event.

maggie stiefvater, camaro 

Here is the schedule. I’ve done a bit of math and it seems to be 3,964 miles one way.

7/2: Charlottesville, VA
7/3: Baltimore, MD
7/5: Pittsburgh, PA
7/7: Chicago/ Naperville, IL
7/8: Chicago, IL
7/8: Milwaukee, WI
7/9: Madison, WI
7/10: Iowa City, IA
7/11: Omaha, NE
7/14: Denver, CO
7/19: Salt Lake City, UT
7/21: Reno, NV
7/23: San Francisco, CA
7/24: San Francisco/ Menlo Park, CA
7/28: Los Angeles, CA
7/29: Los Angeles/ Montrose, CA

Full details here on the website.  

Note: I will also be at BookCon/ BEA in NYC, IRA, ALA, BYU Symposium for Young Readers (Provo), and Decatur Book Festival.
Note, part two: I will not be touring overseas this year because I am going to need every second of spare time to finish the Raven Cycle on time (I trust you’d rather have that book than my body).

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Cover & Title of Raven Boys III is . . .

Happy St. Mark’s Eve! Behold the official cover and title of Raven Boys III, which comes out October 28, 2014.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Tonight I Tried Sketching Something Different

I have been sketching every evening for an hour or less (you can see them over on my Tumblr) and tonight I decided to try something different.

This was an hour and a half of fiddly problem solving-sketching and I didn't even get to the fun part in this scene from The Raven Boys.

I can see why graphic novels take so long — if I were doing this properly, I'd do this AGAIN with my real human references and actual ink and paper and whatnot.

beatadam

Friday, March 28, 2014

In Which I Am Earnest About the Barns

Screen Shot 2014-03-28 at 6.25.02 PM

Here is a confession about the Barns:

No, let me back up.

I started writing The Dream Thieves back when I was 19 — I know I told everyone I began writing The Raven Boys when I was 19, but really, it was it was DT, Ronan’s story. It was only later that I realized I needed to begin with The Raven Boys. Like Ronan, I had (have) recurring dreams and visceral nightmares, but unlike Ronan, I found out that if I wrote them down, I wouldn’t have them again.

I used to go to the Barns in my dreams — nearly every night — and it was precisely as it appears in The Dream Thieves and the later books in the series. Everything Ronan feels about the Barns is how I felt about it.

When it came time to give the Lynch family a kingdom of their own, I knew I was going to give them the Barns, but I also knew that to write it down was to exorcise it from my dreams. Nightmares and dreams really work the same way — the only difference is that you’re afraid of one.

And I was right. I’ve not been back to the Barns since I first wrote it down. Well, not when I’m sleeping, anyway. I guess what I’m trying to say is that every time a reader is pleased to visit the Barns, it makes me feel better about my decision to give it away. So thanks for that.

Here is the music I listen to while writing the Barns:

 “She Is Like the Swallow" - Lucia Micarelli

Through Your Bones" - Lost Lander

Da Pacem Domine" - Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir

Exile" - Enya

 “Taimse Im’ Chodladh" - Planxty

If anyone has any other suggestions for the OP, please let me/ them know! Anyway, here is my confession about the Barns: I miss it, even though there were almost always monsters in the shadows.

 (here is the link to my Tumblr).

Saturday, March 15, 2014

My GoatDay, In Photos

Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.01.53 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.01.58 PM Screen Shot 2014-03-15 at 5.02.00 PM

The story of my day was like so:

1. We head to goat farm to procure two more goats. Two. More. Goats. Please note, however, how the world presents us with Many Goats to Choose From.

2. Lover: no I don’t really want this extra goat even though my face says oh please extra goat

3. BrotherAndrew: this goat is also excellent, did you notice?

4. Thing 1 & Thing 2: these goats so great

5. Thing 2: In fact this goat is my spirit animal she has bonded with my soul and so therefore if we leave her you ask me to roam this earth a fraction of a man is that what you really want?*

6. I think there is a goat licking Brother Andrew’s car — oh. I see it started with this side.

7. Four is the same number as two, surely.

8. Lover’s goat and SmileGoat.

9. A portrait of the author posing with the two goats she went to get in the first place.

*Thing 2 has since named his goat Ranger Danger. In case you were wondering.  

 (larger photos on the Tumblr)

Friday, February 14, 2014

You Can Read the First Three Chapters of SINNER

I tried for seven minutes to think of a better title for this post.

 But.

 Sinner Maggie Stiefvater  

You can read the first three chapters of SINNER here! The rest of it comes out in July.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...