Maggie Shipstead

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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 Thanks, Elyse! You know, one thing I've learned since publishing Seating Arrangements is that readers will perceive your characters in all kinds of un…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)
Maggie Shipstead Thanks, Susanna! I'm glad you feel that way about my characters, although I don't have a very good answer. To a certain extent, being able to write fr…moreThanks, Susanna! I'm glad you feel that way about my characters, although I don't have a very good answer. To a certain extent, being able to write from a range of perspectives is something that comes relatively naturally to me, but it's also something I work hard at and think about a lot. For me, character is more difficult to figure out than, say, structure or language, so my revisions are often about adding depth and life to my characters. When I'm struggling, I often have to stop and focus very deliberately--like, eyes closed--on who this person is and what they would really say or do in a given moment. When I read a book or story I admire, I always try to identify what the author has done to create vibrant characters. Then I try to mimic their method.(less)
Average rating: 3.32 · 35,103 ratings · 4,726 reviews · 14 distinct worksSimilar authors
Seating Arrangements

3.03 avg rating — 17,455 ratings — published 2012 — 24 editions
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Astonish Me

3.57 avg rating — 15,453 ratings — published 2014 — 26 editions
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Angel Lust (Kindle Single)

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3.42 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 2013
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La Moretta

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3.55 avg rating — 11 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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Great Circle

it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 3 ratings
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Theory on the Origins of Time

3.25 avg rating — 4 ratings
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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 — 1,492 ratings — published 2010 — 2 editions
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A Paris All Your Own: Bests...

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3.89 avg rating — 650 ratings — published 2017 — 3 editions
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More books by Maggie Shipstead…

vintageanchorbooks:Sarah Jessica Parker ignoring Tom Hanks and a...



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

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Maggie Shipstead wrote a new blog post

vintageanchorbooks:Sarah Jessica Parker ignoring Tom Hanks and a...

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 »
Maggie Shipstead answered Elyse Walters's question: 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 unexpected ways. It's really interesting! I don't think about likeability when I'm writing; I think mo See Full Answer
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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