Interview with Sarah J. Maas

Posted by Goodreads on September 9, 2015
Celaena Sardothien is back. The fierce, part-fae heroine of the bestselling Throne of Glass series is known for her sarcastic quips and her fighting prowess—all the creation of author Sarah J. Maas, who was a teenager when she began imagining Celaena's world. With the publication of book four, Queen of Shadows, Sarah joins us to answer your questions about her characters' favorite books and how it feels to have so many fans, plus shares some encouragement for young writers.

Kelli: Have you always known the direction the story was taking, or were there surprises along the way?

Well, I've been working on this series since I was 16—so lots and lots has changed from those very first ideas/kernels to what's being written/published today.

I truly believe in letting my characters guide the story, and because I've been writing/working with them for over a decade, I know them well enough to trust them to lead the story where it needs to go. So sometimes that means I'll have plans that get uprooted—but it's always for the best and always makes the story stronger. I love that Celaena can still surprise me, even after all this time. And as this series is ultimately her story, I'm all about letting her steer the course of events. The times when I try to force characters into following a path/outline I'd planned have always resulted in disaster (aka it sucks, and I have to cut/rewrite everything), so I've learned the hard way to trust my gut, even if it means veering away from earlier plans and into new, exciting/terrifying territory.

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Bree: What does it feel like to have such a massive fan base now?

Honestly? It still blows my mind. This whole journey has been such a dream come true and is something that I've worked for since I was a teenager, so it's just…insane to see the fandom grow. And more than that, it's just wonderful that TOG readers are so kind, welcoming, and generous—I'm so incredibly proud to call them my readers.

Rhapsodylime: Who would you say is the most changed character since the original Throne of Glass draft you posted on FictionPress?

Definitely Maeve. She was pretty benevolent in the FP version—and pretty boring as a result. She's much more fun to write as an antagonist (especially when she and Aelin interact)!

Hannah: What is your writing schedule? Do you plan your day around writing or writing around your day?

I'm a full-time writer, so my days are built around my books. Usually that means reserving the morning for nonwriting book-related things, like answering emails, social media, website stuff, interviews, etc…. Then after lunch, I write (or revise, depending on what I'm working on at the moment) until dinner. Some nights, I'll write after dinner and until bed—some nights, I'll hang out with my husband and dog. If I'm on deadline, however, that usually means that mornings, afternoons, and evenings are all reserved for working on my books.

But outside of all that…my life is pretty normal/boring. I walk my dog, eat peanut butter out of the jar because I'm too lazy to make a proper lunch, go to the gym, binge-watch TV, go to the farmers' market every Sunday…I'm still finding the right balance of work/writing and having a life, but I do make a point to actually get away from the computer whenever I can (since I think it ultimately lends itself to feeling more creative/zen about things).

Gabriela: When you wrote Throne of Glass and A Court of Thorns and Roses, did you ever learn from your characters' mistakes?

I don't know about learning from their mistakes, but I have definitely used Aelin's "I will not be afraid" line a few times—and actually felt better/calmed by it!

Jamie: What led to Aelin choosing the name Celaena Sardothien? How did she come up with it, or did someone (Arobynn) select it for her?

You miiiight find this out in a possible future extra content/bonus scene! ;)

Dieg: Can Fae really lie? Lol, this bugged me after I read A Court of Thorns and Roses.

They most certainly can! It makes tormenting humans (who think Fae can't lie) so much more entertaining.

OpenBooksBlog: What kind of books did you like to read growing up? What authors/ books really inspired your writing?

Big surprise, but I read all fantasy, all the time. I was around 12 years old when I discovered Robin McKinley and Garth Nix, and they both opened the floodgates for me to devour all the YA fantasy I could find. When I devoured that (the section was preeeetty small back in the day), I migrated to adult fantasy and read whatever I could get my hands on: Mercedes Lackey, Terry Brooks, Anne Bishop, James Clemens, Jacqueline Carey, Peter S. Beagle, Anne McCaffrey, Raymond E. Feist, Tolkien, Juliet Marillier, Katherine Kerr, Charles de Lint, Patricia A. McKillip, Ursula K. Le Guin, Emma Bull…. The list goes on and on (and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few). These days Sharon Shinn has pretty much become my favorite writer ever of romantic fantasy. I'd read her grocery list.

Kendyl: If your characters were in the modern world, what would their favorite books be?

Love this question! Let's see…

Celaena: Either Megan Whalen Turner's Queen's Thief series, Diana Gabaldon's Outlander, or Nalini Singh's Guild Hunter series.
Dorian: The Alphabet of Thorn by Patricia A. McKillip.
Chaol: Terry Brooks's Shannara series.
Rowan: J. R. Ward's Black Dagger Brotherhood series.
Aedion: World War Z by Max Brooks.
Nehemia: Sharon Shinn's Twelve Houses series.
Manon: Sabriel by Garth Nix (if she bothered to read at all).

Caitlin: What obstacles did you have to overcome while writing, seeking publishers, etc.? And what advice would you give to those struggling to be like you—an amazing, well-spoken, and kind author?

First of all, thank you so much for the kind words! That's so sweet of you to say.

Secondly… I'll be honest: It's a long, hard road to being published. (And a long, hard road even after that.) But it's not an impossible path, though it might feel that way at times.

I began writing as a teenager and wrote throughout high school and college, all with the goal of getting published one day. And during those years, the biggest obstacle I encountered was the negativity of other people. I had teachers, friends, family members tell me that what I was writing (fantasy) wasn't "real" writing, that fantasy books weren't worthwhile, that I should focus on other career paths, should write other/worthier things, etc., etc….

And I refused to listen to them. I refused to let them drag me down. I refused to let them rob me of the one thing that brought (and still brings) me true joy and purpose: writing.

So I ignored that noise. Because in the end, that's all that kind of negativity is: noise.

I focused on my writing, on making myself better, on pushing myself. Every. Single. Day. Even when it felt like no one believed in me, I believed in myself.

So that's my advice: Believe in yourself. Don't listen to anyone who tells you that you can't do it. The only person who can ever get you to stop writing is you. If I made it, so can you.

Comments Showing 1-35 of 35 (35 new)

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message 1: by Hady (new)

Hady Gómez About Queen of Shadows..


message 2: by Everett (new)

Everett Lake I have not read any of your books yet, however, they are now going on my hit list. Your answers to those questions are quite impressive. Your intelligence is showing:) I'm sure your books are as well thought out, and I'm looking forward to reading them.
Oh, and by the way, you are absolutely gorgeous!

Best Wishes,
Everett R. Lake

message 3: by Savieta (last edited Sep 10, 2015 08:28PM) (new)

Savieta Sarah J Maas, you do not surprise me one bit with your charisma and beautiful personality. And frankly, you are one of the best authors that I've ever encountered along with Marissa Meyer and Susan Ee. Honestly, I'd read your grocery lists repeatedly.

message 4: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Hdkfjeje thank u for the amazing characters

message 5: by Lari (new)

Lari I was one of the lucky ones to have read the first drafts of ToG online. I am so happy the books have been published! Can't wait to read Queen of Shadows.

message 6: by Naomi (new)

Naomi I loved reading this interview! Thank you for always believing in yourself!

message 7: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer This was a wonderful interview! Great questions and even better answers.

message 8: by Heidi (new)

Heidi Sarah, I've been so impressed with the depth and quality of writing in all of your books! The story arcs and development of every single one of your characters has been both believable and yet wonderfully unexpected at times. I was eagerly anticipating QoS, and you didn't disappoint (the only disappointing thing is waiting another year for the next book!). Thanks for giving us readers such a lovely way to while away some hours and giving so much love to your fan base... This remains one of my most recommended series to friends!

message 9: by Riikka (new)

Riikka Rowan's favourite book cracked me up. Keep up the great work, Ms. Maas! Thank you!

message 10: by Maxey (new)

Maxey Thank you so much Sarah, I loved reading this. I truly appreciate the masterpiece of your books, watching the characters grow has been wonderful. I'm so very excited to see where you go from here, I know you have an incredible journey ahead. Keeping shooting for the stars. I know you'll continue to rattle them. Good luck, and be sure to take care of yourself. =)

message 11: by Jace (new)

Jace Everett wrote: "I have not read any of your books yet, however, they are now going on my hit list. Your answers to those questions are quite impressive. Your intelligence is showing:) I'm sure your books are as we..."

I hope you mean the top of your hit list. They are amazing, and I like to consider myself a very picky reader.

message 12: by Hyacinth (new)

Hyacinth That was a very inspiring review. I have been a fan from book 1 and now I can't wait to open Queen of Shadows and be swept away again by this amazing world of characters that I've come to adore. Telling you that you have talent seems too tame. I'd say that you have magic. And its very powerful.

I too am a struggling writer for fantasy. And THAT struggle to be published in a 3rd world country is even more--overwhelmingly impossible--that its a fantasy in itself. For real. And i have no idea what to do and how to get there. I too have been thrown scoffs, snickers, wide-are-you-out-of-your-mind-glares and all relatives of not-so-encouraging gestures. And more times than a few, I feel like I'm reaching my breaking point. To just stop. To just give it up and get real. But because of what you answered in that last question, I'm back in my computer now and I'm going to be giving these fingers and keys a good workout today and everyday until--no, there will be no "UNTIL". Right after I send you my most heartfelt thanks first. So, thank you Sarah.

message 13: by Sonia (new)

Sonia I LOVE this series!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOEV LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was torturous waiting for Queen of Shadows, and like I got it two days after it came out and it was amazing!!!!!! I LOVE it!

message 14: by Randall (new)

Randall Dunn Excellent & encouraging interview for all aspiring writers! Thanks for sharing! (:^D

message 15: by L.R.W. (new)

L.R.W. Lee Thanks for your words. I find your world building inspiring and your characters model-worthy... I love the inner conflicts they each encounter and how you make them so "real". Thanks for sticking with your dream, for we all benefit as a result!

message 16: by Jennifer (new)

Jennifer Thank you for your words of encouragement about writing. It's much appreciated. I'm going to check out the authors you mentioned too. Love learning about other authors from authors! (Excited to read some Sharon Shinn!)

message 17: by Noor (new)

Noor The words in the last answer are so beautiful and inspiring. I should print them and hang them everywhere so I never ever forget them!

message 18: by Steph (new)

Steph Nidd Absolutely loved Queen of Shadows. Your answer for the last question was very inspiring and motivational.

message 19: by Marsha (new)

Marsha I absolutely loved The Throne of Glass series. Is it really over? I so very much want more!

message 20: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Louise Oomg that last question. It's like been ny life story for over a year. I get forced to be put on another path because they don't believe what so ever that I will ever make it as an author. They probably don't even remember that I write. They get angry when I spend time doing it instead of something less important. They are it as a hobby and not I'm glad I'm not the only one being pit down. Isn't family supposed to be supportive?

message 21: by Josie (new)

Josie Greenwood I loved Queen of Shadows! I was waiting in anticipation for it to come out...

message 22: by emily (new)

emily t Omigosh! I love your books and I have just recently convinced s friend of mine to read your books and she is now officially obsessed like me. Everytime we meet up we always end up fangirling over your books. Even when we walk by each other during school we call out to each about TOG. I am so proud to be a reader of your books and today I just saw that Queen Of Shadows was bring advertised in a Girlfriend magazine and I was so excited! You are an intelligent and inspiring author and I'm so glad that you didn't let negativity from other people drag you down.

message 23: by Francesca (new)

Francesca Sarah J. Maas you are quite honestly my favourite writer. You inspire me hugely and you are the one I thank for bringing me into the world of reading and therefore into the creative writing fantasy!

message 24: by Izabela (new)

Izabela I truely love you, Sarah. I've never met you, you've probably never know who I am... but you changed my life. "I will not be afraid" is one of the most powerful sentence I'll ever have with me.
You're pure inspirantion and everything I'm working and hoping to become. Thank you for not giving up and for letting the world know this incredible characther and her journey. Thank you for your writing and for your stories. they mean the world to me.

message 25: by Hazel (new)

Hazel lovelace i am in love with chaol.......
ohh..ur work too...but chaol is just...._*sigh*
i just read ur biography...and found out u have been imagining ur characters since the age of sixteen...and this is such a motivation for me...cuz i have so many worlds in my head and i was afraid they would just stay there...but now i know that can be changed...after all " I will not be afraid"

message 26: by Gavi (new)

Gavi Klein That last comment trully inspired me. Thank you Sara J. Maas!!!

message 27: by Noellah (new)

Noellah oh,i haven't read any of your work so on them right now
you as kind as i am,and whoa!who wouldn't like to fantasize..
im def trying the fantasy lane


message 28: by Coraline (new)

Coraline Everett wrote: "I have not read any of your books yet, however, they are now going on my hit list. Your answers to those questions are quite impressive. Your intelligence is showing:) I'm sure your books are as we..."same! Throne of Glass is next on my list and I am going to tell all of my friends to read it too! Sounds really good from your answers and comments!

message 29: by Maryanne (last edited Oct 09, 2015 09:57PM) (new)

Maryanne Lewis This series actually blew my mind!!! I found the first book in my school library, and as I continued the series, I got more and more hooked into the characters and the story.

message 30: by Jeffery (new)

Jeffery Brickey One of the best books i hsve read in awhile I congradulate you on the success Mrs.Maas and please continue to write wonderful books.

message 31: by Crimson Tala (new)


message 32: by Jennifer (new)


YES! It seems like nothing compares after reading about them.

The Mad Hatter ~I'd rather have my kingdom fall than lose you to hatred's call~ 'Rushes off to read the entire Throne of Glass series for a fifth time.'

message 34: by Nerdy_Author04 (new)

Nerdy_Author04 I love your writing so much! Throne of glass was the series that really got me into young adult and fantasy novel So!
Thank you so much for writing Throne Of Glass. They are such amazing characters, and I will carry them with me forever.
Thanks again for writing such amazing books.
P. S. You should see how many times my friends yell at me because I'm fangirling over throne of glass XD bye

message 35: by Kathy (new)

Kathy I just finshed reading Queen of Shadows and feel disappointed that this is the end of the series. There is still another battle or two to come yet before the world is back in order. Are you working on another volume?

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