Maggie Shipstead




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Maggie Shipstead

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Born
Mission Viejo, CA, The United States
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November 2011

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Maggie Shipstead is the author of two novels: Astonish Me and Seating Arrangements, which won the Dylan Thomas Prize and the L.A. Times Book Prize for First Fiction.

She is a graduate of Harvard and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and a former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford. Her writing has appeared in many publications including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, The New Republic, Tin House, and The Best American Short Stories. “La Moretta,” a story published in VQR, was a National Magazine Award finalist. She lives in Los Angeles.

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Maggie Shipstead Sometimes! Mostly it's just interest, wanting to get to the bottom of something. I grew up in California and didn't have any contact with WASP culture…moreSometimes! Mostly it's just interest, wanting to get to the bottom of something. I grew up in California and didn't have any contact with WASP culture until I went to college in Massachusetts, and I was fascinated and puzzled by, you know, what preppy kids wore and what social codes people used to express wealth and status. That curiosity and "I don't get it" feeling is what eventually led me to write Seating Arrangements. And, with Astonish Me, I've always loved ballet and been intrigued by the lives of dancers. There's something so dramatic about the hierarchies of dance companies and how short (and vulnerable) dancers' careers often are and how they lead these very disciplined, physical lives. Once I started writing, I worked in other long-standing interests of mine, like Cold War defections and Orange County (where I grew up) and even the weirdness of Disneyland. Writing a novel takes so much time and thought--I couldn't possibly do it if I was intrigued by the subject I was digging into.(less)
Maggie Shipstead Thanks, Elyse! You know, one thing I've learned since publishing Seating Arrangements is that readers will perceive your characters in all kinds of…moreThanks, Elyse! You know, one thing I've learned since publishing Seating Arrangements is that readers will perceive your characters in all kinds of unexpected ways. It's really interesting! I don't think about likeability when I'm writing; I think more about if I'm interested in the character. (Not that my being interested in a character means everyone else will be or should be.) Seating Arrangements exists only because I had a lot of chemistry with the character of Winn Van Meter. I felt like I got him and like I had lots to say about him and lots of things I wanted to happen to him. I have a lot of affection for him! He's really my favorite character in that book.

In Astonish Me, some of the characters' self-absorption seemed to me like a natural by-product of dedicating their lives to a pursuit that requires you to stare into a mirror for hours every day, to focus so intensely on your body, to fight your way through hordes of competitors all in hopes of having a moment of glory onstage, being applauded. Not to say that there aren't plenty of well-adjusted, giving, generous ballet dancers--there certainly are. But a novel about them would be so bland!(less)
Average rating: 3.30 · 28,137 ratings · 4,001 reviews · 12 distinct works · Similar authors
Seating Arrangements

3.02 avg rating — 14,587 ratings — published 2012 — 22 editions
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Astonish Me

3.58 avg rating — 12,268 ratings — published 2014 — 22 editions
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Angel Lust (Kindle Single)

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3.50 avg rating — 18 ratings — published 2013
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La Moretta

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3.62 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2014
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One Story, Issue number 189...

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3.60 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2014
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Dich tanzen zu sehen: Roman

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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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Étonnez-moi

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Center Stage

liked it 3.00 avg rating — 1 rating
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The Best American Short Sto...

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3.96 avg rating — 1,241 ratings — published 2010 — 3 editions
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Mascots (Electric Literatur...

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liked it 3.00 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2014
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More books by Maggie Shipstead…


vintageanchorbooks:

Sarah Jessica Parker ignoring Tom Hanks and a hockey game to read ASTONISH ME.

The prophecy has been fulfilled.

Read more of this blog post »
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Published on March 25, 2015 15:13 • 81 views

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Maggie Shipstead wrote a new blog post
vintageanchorbooks:
Sarah Jessica Parker ignoring Tom Hanks and a hockey game to read ASTONISH ME.
The prophecy has been fulfilled.
More of Maggie's books…
“Female friendship was one-tenth prevention and nine-tenths cleanup.”
Maggie Shipstead, Seating Arrangements

“How strange it was that a dream, once realized, could quickly turn mundane.”
Maggie Shipstead, Astonish Me

“Marriage is difficult, perhaps the most difficult thing you can ever do, besides being a parent, but I think these two fine young people are up to the challenge. Here are two steady, responsible people who, I believe, understand the dire commitment they are about to make and will choose to keep that commitment. Because it turns out to be a choice, commitment-not some done deal. When you leave the alter tomorrow, there will still be a lifetime of choice and temptation and doubt and uncertainty in front of you. I didn't know that at my wedding. Getting married doesn't change you. Marriage changes you.”
Maggie Shipstead, Seating Arrangements

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