Interview with Margaret Stohl

Posted by Goodreads on May 14, 2013
Margaret Stohl is no stranger to secret powers. She spent years immersed in the witchy Southern Gothic world of The Caster Chronicles, starting with Beautiful Creatures, where a girl's decision had the ability to change her family's destiny. Before that, Margaret designed video games full of magic and mayhem for Activison and her own 7 Studios. Now she's back with a solo novel, Icons, a dystopian thriller about a group of teens trying to understand their mysterious survival in the face of an evil power. We asked Margaret's Goodreads fans to submit questions—read on for her thoughts!

Lizzie: Do you have any belief in witchcraft or the psychic world, [especially] since your books are strongly based on them?

Margaret Stohl: I'm very superstitious and a big believer in karma. My daughter and I have watched every old episode of Supernatural on Netflix, and I think my kid has freaked out the entire neighborhood by drawing "devil's traps"—which basically look like big pentagrams—in pink chalk on the sidewalk in front of our house. She really wants to drive those demons away!

Sama Amgad: There are various questions I would like to ask Margaret Stohl, including: How is she so awesome? and Why is Ethan such a fantastic male lead? and Does him being fantastic have anything to do with her being a stream of awesomeness? But honestly, I think we all know the answers to these questions.
So instead I'd like to ask Margaret Stohl: What inspired her to write this conspiracy theory, postapocalyptic book? What inspired this specific world building?

MS: How am I so awesome? Aww, thanks. And I'd have to say—Vegan Power! (Just kidding, go see Scott Pilgrim....) Ethan is pretty awesome, I agree. So is Alden Ehrenreich, the actor who played him in the movie. As for Icons, I really wanted to try something different from a Southern Gothic. Though I will always love paranormal romance—and there are different kinds of superpowers and plenty of romance in Icons—I made video games for 16 years and really am a sci-fi geek. This is just another side of me, and I'm excited to share it with my readers.

Margaret Stohl with fan art for Beautiful Creatures.
Katie Brown: When creating a fantasy world with supernatural or abnormal things, how do you keep it all organized?

MS: It can get very confusing. I think that's part of the reason I'm either on or off, writing 24/7 or not at all. I sort of have to get the whole story in my head and then work on it nonstop until it's done, which is probably not coincidentally also how I eat tacos. One big bite!

Lesly!: How do you manage to create a character well enough to connect with the readers? Do you feel the sorrow, happiness, madness, or love as you construct them?

MS: My characters are like collages of parts of different people I've encountered, and then also my own experience. I feel everything I write as I write it; I'm a Big Feelings kind of a person. (Or, as tumblr would say, ALL THE FEELS!) When people write and tell me how they cried during a Beautiful Creatures book, I promise them we cried more writing them!

Ashley: Did you take what you wrote about the love story in Beautiful Creatures from your experiences? Or is it all what you wanted love to be?

MS: Kami [Garcia] and I like to say we based Ethan on the OPPOSITE of every boy we dated when we were in high school. Some of the romance borrows from my own life, as I'm sure it does from Kami's as well. But also, Ethan and Lena became real people to us while we were writing them, so it really felt like their love story more than anything else. And what's not to love about love? It sort of gives everyone a little more hope for the world, don't you think?

SpecialK: How does it feel to be moving from a collaborative to a solo project?

MS: I do miss the constant feedback of a writing partner. With Kami, it was a much less solitary process, and I knew right away what was working and what wasn't. Even so, I still have Kami and my other writer friends to support me no matter what. I have a writing group with YA writer Melissa de la Cruz, the middle-grade writer Pseudonymous Bosch, and adult fantasy author Deb Harkness—along with my family, they help keep me sane!

Margaret Stohl's bookshelves at home—stuffed and well-loved.
Dani Moore: What was your inspiration for allowing your female lead to choose her own path rather than have it chosen for her? I found the premise fascinating and certainly empowering for those who feel the decisions about their future have been taken out of their hands by family expectations.

MS: I have three really strong, strong-minded daughters, but I myself grew up in a community that really didn't see women that way. I think that probably was part of it. And Kami was a teacher who was all about empowering her students. Between the two of us, we wanted everyone to get the message of standing up for who you are and "Claiming" yourself, no matter who you are. Just do your own thing; it's all good, people!

Tamra Flournoy: I have wondered how she felt about the movie...especially about having Amma's character altered to encompass Marian Ashcroft's character as well. Not to mention the removal of the great aunts and the humor they added to the story.

MS: I knew the movie would not be able to be exactly like the book. For one thing, the book is 600 pages long! I've always said it was like a really expensive piece of fan fiction. I think Richard LaGravenese is a brilliant writer and director, and though I know some of our readers were unhappy with the changes, I understand why they happened. I thought it was a beautiful love story, I loved all the actors, and I'm happy to have it as part of the Beautiful Creatures universe—different or not!

Idalis: I want to ask Margaret Stohl how she comes up with the ideas for her books. I personally know it is not easy because in one of my classes at school my teacher is having us write a short story, and I do not know what to write. [Does] she like to listen to music or something?

MS: I think short stories are even harder than long novels, if you want to know the truth. I do like to listen to music—when I'm really feeling uninspired I listen to Spring Awakening, and that always picks me right back up. Adele is good that way, too. I get inspired by lots of different things, but writing is always easier for me when I am traveling. When I'm in another country, I steal everything I see and use it in a story!

Shahd Ashraf: If Lena, Ethan, Ridley, Amma, and the main characters of your new book were thrown into The Hunger Games, who would win?

MS: Amma. Definitely Amma. #dontmess

Comments Showing 1-8 of 8 (8 new)

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message 1: by Tessa (last edited May 18, 2013 12:02AM) (new)

Tessa Don't mess with Amma lol :)

message 2: by Ben (new)

Ben Gaffney Who would mess with Amma?

message 3: by Zion (new)

Zion A Amma, Lol

message 4: by Ivan (new)

Ivan <3 it! hahaha

message 5: by Kelsey (new)

Kelsey Bower Haha Ama for sure :)
I loved beautiful creatures! It was an amazing series. One that you can reread for years :) . Thank you for making a phenomenal series that truly came to life as I was reading it.

message 6: by [deleted user] (new)

I love it!! No one messes with Amma!

message 7: by Daniela (new)

Daniela R #AmmaRul3z

message 8: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Shaw This was a phenomenal interview! I can't wait to read Icon!

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