Maggie Stiefvater's Blog: Words on Words - Maggie Stiefvater

December 1, 2014

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:

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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.

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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?


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

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See this face?

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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Published on December 01, 2014 19:08 • 400 views

November 14, 2014

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.

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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!  
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Published on November 14, 2014 08:47 • 452 views

November 5, 2014

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.
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Published on November 05, 2014 14:46 • 184 views
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.
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Published on November 05, 2014 14:46 • 797 views

October 21, 2014

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.

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Published on October 21, 2014 07:24 • 622 views

October 10, 2014


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.
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Published on October 10, 2014 05:58 • 612 views

September 8, 2014

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.
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Published on September 08, 2014 17:08 • 650 views

September 2, 2014

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
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Published on September 02, 2014 09:41 • 599 views

August 16, 2014

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.

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UK readers can also get a signed bookplate with every copy of Blue Lily ordered from Seven Stories: http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/

I'm working on a Canadian indie now — I'll update when I have one. 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!
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Published on August 16, 2014 11:21 • 705 views

August 12, 2014

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.

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Published on August 12, 2014 19:11 • 350 views

Words on Words - Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater
I don't read blog comments on Goodreads, but I do on my original blog at http://www.maggiestiefvater.com/blog. Thanks for reading!
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