Last summer we were lucky enough to co-sponsor a stop on Maggie Stiefvater's driving tour through the Midwest for Sinner, the fourth book in the Wolves of Mercy Falls (starting with Shiver) trilogy. For all you math majors out there, it's actually more of spin-off novel, as a opposed to a chapter in the saga. We had a great time at the Franklin Public Library, with a great crowd, that came from all over the Milwaukee metro, and from far away as Janesville.
I asked former bookseller (once a bookseller, sort of always a bookseller) and current writer, and huge Maggie Stiefvater fan Jenny Chou if she'd be interested in meeting up with Stiefvater to write a guest post for the blog. We met together in the library's kitchen and Chou followed things up with more questions.
Jenny: Several of your characters in the Shiver series are musicians. Can you talk about the importance of music in your life? Also, do you really play the bagpipes?
Maggie: I play six musical instruments.
Jenny: For those keeping track, Maggie plays the tin whistle, the drums, the guitar, the Celtic harp, the piano and yes, the bagpipes.
Daniel: If I'd known that, I would have asked you to bring your bagpipes on tour. (Stiefvater on the bagpipes.)
Maggie: In college I played the bagpipes competitively. I once had a choice of buying a house or a piano and I bought a piano. Each book I’ve written has a playlist because I have to have music playing non-stop while I write.
Jenny: In the Shiver trilogy Grace and Sam are very sympathetic characters and very easy to root for, but Cole St. Claire less so. How difficult was it to transform him into a protagonist for Sinner?
Maggie: I think I'd already done the heavy lifting of transforming him into a protagonist half way through Linger, the second book in the Shiver trilogy, and definitely by Forever. Although he was still quite self-involved — or at least pretended to be — he was making a lot of heroic choices. I think that's really the key right there. Cole St. Clair blows a lot of hot air about being all about Cole St. Clair, but his actions betray him. He's a reader favorite in that series, and I think it's because all that hair gel isn't fooling anyone.
Jenny: I found it so interesting that you chose to put Cole in the center of a reality TV show. Certainly not one of your other characters would have agreed to such a thing! Did you watch a lot of reality TV as research?
Maggie: I feel as if it is part of the American condition: reality TV. We all end up watching it even when we never put it on ourselves. It plays at airports and in the dentists' waiting room and across the tabloids and magazines at the grocery store. Moreover, that sort of "reality" has filtered out of TV shows and into everyday life. What is Instagram culture but people starring in their own lives, filtered and cut into something more curated? I'm fascinated by the differences between who we are and who we tell others we are, and Cole St. Clair — who has such a disconnect between the two — was a perfect character to explore with.
Jenny: What are you working on now?
Maggie: The fourth and final book in the Raven Boys series. (The third book, Blue Lily, Lily Blue, was released on October 21st!)
Jenny's note to Daniel: Daniel, make sure you insert the gorgeous cover.
Jenny: Regarding the Raven Boys series, one of the
main characters, Gansey, is on a search to find a lost king of Wales,
Glendower, who mysteriously disappeared along a ley line leading from
Wales to Virginia. (A ley line is a line of energy, also called a corpse
road, connecting magical sites across the globe.) What brought about
your interest in ley lines?
Maggie: The idea of ley lines came from an interest in
Welsh history and mythology. (Maggie was a history major in college
after having been told she didn’t have the talent for writing, art or
music. She is now a writer, an artist and a musician!) During research
for the Raven Boys series I discovered there really is a ley line
connecting Wales and Virginia.
Kirkus called The Raven Boys cycle "a one of a kind series" with that reviewer expected it to come to a thundering close. Here's the trailer.
Thank you to both author and guest blogger!