Maggie Stiefvater is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Forever and Lament. She lives in Virginia with her husband and their two children. Recently she sat down with Brenna Yovanoff to discuss Yovanoff's debut novel, The Replacement. Read the resulting interview below, or turn the tables to see what happened when Brenna interviewed Maggie.
Maggie: Having read The Replacement, I have noticed that all of the people are weird. Having met you, I’ve noticed that you’re also weird. Which of your characters do you think is most similar to you? (Don’t say Roswell. Because he’s the only normal one.)
Brenna: Look, I know you’re trying to force me to say the Morrigan, because she likes dresses and dead things and being creepy. But I am not a petulant underground princess. Also, I’m taller and have fewer teeth.
But if I can’t say Roswell . . . (I wouldn’t say Roswell anyway—he is too normal). If I can’t say Roswell, I’d have to say probably Carlina—even though I really-really-really can’t sing—because she wanders in and out whenever she feels like it and is a fairly agreeable person. She’s kind of like a cat who sings blues and has a beehive hair-do.
Maggie: Again on this weird thing. One of the things that first attracted me to your writing, way back before you were published, when we first became critique partners, is the weird atmosphere in your books. On the back of The Replacement it says that your writing is Tim Burtonesque, which I think is incredibly appropriate. Do you consciously skew things toward the whimsical, or is that the way your writing comes out of the faucet?
Brenna: I wish I could say that it’s all a carefully-constructed technique full of forethought and intention, but it kind of just comes out of the faucet that way. I’ve always been a huge fan of ambiance, the creepier the better. I love anything macabre, especially if it’s whimsical or surprising. Also, as we’ve covered already—I’m weird.
Maggie: Will you ever name any of your characters after me?
Brenna: Yes, if you start spelling your name Mackie Doyle.
Maggie: Reviewers often call the relationships in my books things like “sweet” and “respectful.” If I had to classify most of the relationships in your books, I’d go for “hot” and “dysfunctional.” Is this just an extension of your characters’ oddness, or does it reflect what you see in real life? Who is your favorite literary dysfunctional couple?
Brenna: Brenna: I think it’s mostly an extension of the characters. I tend to write about really strange, dysfunctional people because I think they’re interesting, and then I feel like there’s absolutely no way they could go on to have functional relationships without a lot of time and personal growth, so I give them messed-up ones.
This probably doesn’t qualify as literary, but my favorite dysfunctional couple has to be Veronica and Logan from the TV show Veronica Mars. It is hot. And dysfunctional.
Maggie: No, seriously, are you ever going to name any of your characters after me?
Brenna: Remember what I said about spelling your name Mackie Doyle? Start spelling.
Maggie: One of the things that bemuses me most about being your critique partner is the way that you write your novels. It’s at these times that I most doubt your humanness. Would you care to share with the readers here on Amazon how you draft?
Brenna: No, I would not. Because it makes me look crazy. But now that you’ve called me out on it, I probably should, huh? Okay, kind people on Amazon, here’s the thing: it may come as no surprise that I am really weird about writing.
It’s sort of like I hear the story in my head, but not clearly enough to transcribe it verbatim, which means at any given time I only know about half on a sentence, and the rest is just a sound. So, I write down the parts I’m sure of and leave the other parts blank. Only to mark the blank parts so I remember to go back and fill them in, I do like this: ,,,, So, any given sentence in a draft could look like, “With,,,, he ,,,,, to the,,,,,,,and,,,,,.” It is basically the Mad Libs of drafting.
Maggie: As someone who writes and reads about homicidal faeries myself, I loved the creepy creatures who lived under Gentry. The Morrigan was my favorite character in the entire book. Do you think you’ll ever return to the world of faeries?
Brenna: As of right now this-very-minute, there are no concrete plans for another Gentry book, but that doesn’t mean my brain isn’t clamoring with possible scenarios (my brain clamors a lot). I make no promises, and leave it at this: never say never.