Amazon Exclusive: A Q&A with Author Maggie Stiefvater
Q: Shiver and Linger center on werewolves, yet your previous books were fantasy novels focused on the world of faeries. What draws you to the fantasy genre in the first place and what inspired you to switch from faeries to werewolves?
Stiefvater: Oh, I’ve always been addicted to contemporary fantasy--fantasy set in the real world. I’m thinking Diana Wynne Jones was possibly the one who first made me fall in love. But I remember all of these great middle grade books that were magic in the real world . . . The Girl With the Silver Eyes, The Castle in the Attic, The Indian in the Cupboard. All of the Narnia books. Mmmm. Now I’m wanting to re-read! I still have most of my favorites.
I guess I just love that feeling of otherness. Of moreness. That you could turn the corner and bam, something strange would be there. I was never drawn so much to a complete fantasy world. The appeal was slipping something fantastic very cleverly into our world. So werewolves . . . I happened on them by accident, when I was looking for something bittersweet to write about, something about losing your identity. I don’t think you’ll see werewolves from me again after this series. My next books are about other magical things altogether.
Q: What do you enjoy most about writing for young adults (and for those of us adults who can’t resist a good YA read)?
Stiefvater: I love writing for such a passionate audience. They’re not afraid to feel completely, to believe in true love, to want to be incredible people who may possibly also be astronauts or rock stars. Young adults want something more and that, in a nutshell, is what I like to write about.
Q: In Shiver, the narration alternates between Sam and Grace. In Linger, you add two more voices—Isabel and Cole St. Clair. What were the challenges (and joys!) of doing so?
Stiefvater: Oh, it was insane. The hard bit was keeping everyone’s voices straight and consistent of course. They had to sound distinct while still sounding like they belonged in the same book. Each had a distinct vocabulary. Sam, for instance, says “amongst.” The others can’t say amongst. Isabel has her own particular brand of swear words. Cole has his own way of describing the world. Grace sees action in a particular way. The challenge was picking which character narrated each scene; who saw what I needed the reader to see? They were all so different. Of course, that was the joy as well. Hard to get bored that way . . .
Q: At the end of Shiver, Olivia changes—a lot. What do you think she is doing right now?
Stiefvater: Something spoilery that I’m not going to tell you about.
Q: We read your blog and know you love music. If you had to pick one song each to represent Sam, Grace, Isabel, Cole, and Beck– which would you choose?
Stiefvater: First of all, thanks for reading my blog! And yes, I’m crazy about music. Okay. Songs for each character?
Sam: “A Message” by Coldplay. The sound is great, more acoustic than Coldplay’s usual stuff, and the lyrics are very appropriate for Sam.
Grace: “Winter Song” by Ingrid Michaelson & Sara Bareilles. It’s a song about wanting things, but it’s also a peaceful song, which I think speaks to Grace -- she’s very solid in who she is.
Isabel: “You’ll Find A Way” by Santogold. Isabel’s a very . . . noisy character. The mind at war with itself.
Cole: Oh man, Cole is difficult, because he’s so . . . volatile. He changes a lot over the course of the trilogy, but at the end of Linger, I’ll go with “Gutter” by Paper Route.
Beck: Oh Beck, you complicated thing you. Can I have two for him? Can you stop me? He’s many things to many people--most of all to Sam, and a big part of the series is Sam coming to grips with all those sides of him. I’m going to go with Bjork’s “Vökuró” and Gravenhurst’s “Black Holes in the Sand”.
Q: Who would you rather spend a Saturday afternoon with—a faerie or a werewolf?
Stiefvater: A werewolf. Just so long as it was warm and they weren’t a Pearl Jam fan.
(Photo by Kate Hummel)
Gr 9 Up–The wolves of Mercy Falls return in this sequel to Shiver (Scholastic, 2009), and familiar characters mingle with more recent recruits into the Minnesota werewolf pack. Sam, now cured of his werewolf affliction, is adjusting to year-round life as a human. His girlfriend, Grace, suffers from headaches and other symptoms that may be related to a childhood wolf bite. When her parents discover Sam sleeping in her bed, they ground her and threaten to keep the two apart permanently. Tremendous angst and declarations that parents just don't understand ensue. Meanwhile Isabel, whose brother did not survive the meningitis cure that saved Sam, feels a strong connection with Cole St. Clair, one of the newest members of the pack. In his old life, Cole was the lead singer of a rock band. This volatile bad boy is a welcome foil to Sam, who is sulky this time around. The addition of Isabel and Cole as narrators dilutes the intensity of Grace and Sam's relationship, and the spark between Isabel and Cole remains underdeveloped. The tantalizing possibility of Cole's true identity being exposed also deserves more exploration. The cliff-hanger ending suggests that the author will cover this territory in a future installment. Still, Stiefvater's slow-perk style of crafting suspense builds to a satisfying boil in the final pages. This novel works better as a sequel than as a stand-alone read, but it's still highly recommended for fans of Shiver and the blockbuster supernatural romance genre.Amy Pickett, Ridley High School, Folsom, PA
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