A Life in Books: Maggie Stiefvater

April, 2016
Maggie Stiefvater

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It has been almost 15 years since prolific, bestselling author Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver, Linger, The Scorpio Races, etc.) began work on what would become The Raven Cycle, her riveting fantasy-mystery quartet about psychics, ley lines, fast cars, and an ancient sleeping Welsh king—in Virginia. The first book, The Raven Boys, came out in 2012 and won an immediate following thanks to Stiefvater's rich characters and thrillery, myth-steeped story. Now the agonizing wait to discover whether Blue's kiss will prove fatal, if Gansey will die, or if the Welsh king Glendower will finally be found is over with the release of the climactic concluding installment, The Raven King. Stiefvater describes five memorable books that have influenced or inspired her writing.

1. Book you read as research or inspiration for The Raven King:
The Mystery of Jack of Kent and the Fate of Owain Glyndwr by Alex Gibbon
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"This book is dedicated to proving that Owain Glyndwr and folklore figure Jack Kent are one and the same, a puzzle I confess I wasn't very invested in. What am I invested in? Magic, dammit. This book plucks at the legends that surrounded Glyndwr even in his own lifetime, compiling a heap of cool mythology that is otherwise buried in denser primary and secondary sources. As a history major, I always enjoyed how mythology and history are tangled helplessly together—mythology is really history's fan fic—and this book does a pretty snazzy job of introducing the reader to the magical raven kings of Wales before they dig into heavier texts."


2. The Raven Cycle centers around Blue and her friendship with a group of prep school students, the Raven Boys. Any favorite prep school or friend group books?
Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta
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"A handful of books changed how I wrote characters, and this is one of them (Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You, by Peter Cameron, is one of the others). Yes, Saving Francesca's about friendships at a school, which is why it is the answer to this question, but the school part is actually not why it fits so neatly into The Raven Cycle's pedigree. Marchetta wrote characters that my heart accepted as real—friends I missed when I closed the cover. That's when I realized that that was what I wanted to do as a writer: character first, everything else second. Give the reader people to miss."


3. What is the first fantasy book you remember reading and loving?
"This is a trick question. When you're a child, all times are the same, so there is no first. I can't tell you if I read Narnia or Wrinkle in Time or Dogsbody or The Black Cauldron first: They feel like I poured them all into my brain at the same time. I will say that one of those early fantasy series was the reason why I began writing The Raven Cycle. The Dark Is Rising series by Susan Cooper is a five-book story that mingles contemporary Wales with mythology in a dreamy way that left a lasting impact on me. The first book is Over Sea, Under Stone, but the book that really cemented the series in my heart is the second, the eponymous The Dark Is Rising."
The Chronicles of Narnia
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Dogsbody
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The Black Cauldron
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The Dark Is Rising Sequence
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4. Which YA book do you think everyone needs to read?
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"HOW AM I SUPPOSED TO ANSWER THIS? Books are specific, and what one person loves, another person will hate. Can I cheat and just link to my recommended shelf on Goodreads? Every time I read a book I love, I add it to my recommended page, and I try to add a few words to help readers decide if it's for them."


5. What are you reading right now?
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The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow
"Books about owls, because if a book doesn't have magic in it, I like it to have nature in it (spoiler: They are often the same thing). My current owl read is The Owl Who Liked Sitting on Caesar by Martin Windrow. No magic but plenty of owl action, and the prose is great. A++."





Comments Showing 1-6 of 6 (6 new)

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

"Give the reader people to miss." Great job on that, Maggie.


message 2: by Nancy (new)

Nancy  W'f I was thrilled to see that all the fantasies listed that you read and loved I had also read and loved! Great minds think alike ;-). And I will so miss the Raven Boys when the series ends (as all good things must, I'm told). They all leap off the page and have become very close friends indeed.


message 3: by Christal (new)

Christal Lavery Delighted you shared this list. Narnia series, Tolkein, The Keltiad Trilogy and Pern with its wonderful dragona started me on this path. Now that Witch Central is wrapped I am looking forward to reading the books on your list. Thank youbfor sharing your good reads.


message 4: by TinaC (new)

TinaC You can be sure that I´ll miss the gang. A lot. I guess I´ll get to visit them from time to time because I love to reread, but it´s different when you know that you´ll never again hear them say anything that you haven´t already heard from them :) ):


message 5: by Roxanna (new)

Roxanna Garcia Thanks for the list! I need something to fill in the pain that is finishing a fantastic and long awaited series. I'll definitely be keeping these titles in mind when I pick my next book!


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