Monday, August 29, 2011

MWF 2011: Meet Maggie Stiefvater

From the MWF Program: Best-selling US author Maggie Stiefvater makes a very special appearance to talk about her incredible Wolves of Mercy Falls series: Linger, Shiver and now the long-awaited Forever.

Firstly I want to disclose the fact that I have (sadly) only read about a quarter of Shiver and so there may be a few minor mistakes in recording comments about the plot and characters of Maggie's Wolves of Mercy Falls series. I had intended to read Shiver before the festival, but unfortunately time got away from me - though after attending this session, I'm looking forward to reading the book shortly. Maggie was in conversation with the very awesome Adele Walsh (Program Director at the Centre for Youth Literature and blogger at Persnickety Snark).

Maggie and Adele (taken on my camera phone - sorry for the poor quality)
  • Maggie is an incredibly lively and engaging speaker! If you ever get the chance, I certainly encourage you to hear her speak.
  • Maggie spoke about some of the research involved in the writing of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series. She watched documentaries, read books and told us about her experiences actually getting to meet/touch real wolves in Hungary whilst she was on tour.
  • Did you know: Maggie's parents are dog-breeders?
  • I loved that Maggie referred to some paintings in Shiver (Grace's mother is an artist) as "breadcrumbs" for herself as a writer - something she feels could be interesting but isn't exactly sure where she wants to go with it, so the breadcrumb is a little reminder of something to come back to and explore later.
  • Did you know: Maggie Stiefvater is not a poetry fan! However, she does enjoy the work of Rainer Maria Rilke (and quotes I Am Too Alone in This World in Shiver) and Yeats, as they "make dark things beautiful".
  • Maggie and Adele discussed the relationship of Grace and Sam - and the way that unlike a lot of relationships depicted in young adult fiction, that it's quite stable and consistent (and opposite to that of Cole and Isabel in Linger). Maggie said that in writing the Grace & Sam romance, she wanted to write "an interesting relationship that you actually wanted to be in".
  • Adele bought up the point that Maggie's werewolves are based in science, rather than having a magical/fantasy story behing them. Maggie spoke about this being a conscious decision she made early on in her writing and stuck with it. She also wanted people to miss Sam when he changed, and therefore made the shift tied into temperature and the seasons rather than moon phases.
  • The role of parents in YA was touched upon - particularly the way that the Maggie has written absent (or dead) parents. I thought Maggie's rationale behind this was very interesting (and very true!): that she didn't want the adults in her books to be making all the big decisions for the younger characters (and as a reader, obviously it's far more interesting to watch as teenagers make their own decisions and read about the consequences of these.)
  • Maggie spoke about her desire, in writing Shiver, to write a story about losing your identity and being able to use the wolf motif to do this.
  • Did you know: David Levithan is Maggie's editor at Scholastic!
  • Maggie was super-funny and honest throughout the session. I love that she likened writing to "being pregnant with a really ugly baby" and that revisions and editing was akin to sending your ugly baby to private school to make it presentable.
  • Did you know: that Maggie wrote Sam's songs in the books, and the songs have been covered by artists like Jonas & Plunkett (featured in the Forever book trailer)
  • Like in the Why I Read session, Maggie spoke about her cynicism desire to toy with readers emotions. She also referred to herself as "that person you never want to be in the theater with".
  • Maggie spoke about the potential for a Shiver film - for those who aren't aware, the film rights have been optioned by Warner Brothers and Unique Features. The screenplay is finished and there is a director on board (and whilst Maggie won't name names, she is happy with the choice) but there are no recent developments.
  • She also shared some of her thoughts on idealised casting which included Rachel Hurd Wood as Grace and Alex Turner of the Arctic Monkeys as Sam.
  • Did you know: that as well as being a successful author, Maggie makes the most incredible stop-motion animations! Look at this!


Adele said...

Wow we covered a lot! Thanks for the report, Steph, it kind of whizzes by in a haze when you're up there. Glad you enjoyed it and cannot wait to hear what you think of the series.

Lux said...

Oooh I love Maggie! I just finished reading the Scorpio Races and it was so, so lovely.

This is such a wonderful post!

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