Maggie Stiefvater visits Dayton to promote new book

Photo: Maggie Stiefvater (center) and fans spray paint her car in resemblance to an earlier novel

By Megan Garrison

Young adult fiction is a genre that, in recent years, has been synonymous with vampires, werewolves, and post-apocalyptic worlds where a hero is needed to show people a new dawn. Its often these repeating themes that have led to an oversaturation of a market for older, but not quite young, readers that fall into the category of YA fiction. Authors had to adapt their stories of traditional monsters and heroes or fade into the overpopulated shelves.

Maggie Stiefvater was one of those authors that adapted and not only found success but a readership that has now followed her throughout her career.

When “Shiver” was published in 2009, Stiefvater had no expectations outside of simply telling a story. However, “Shiver” would go on to make the New York Times bestseller list for 40 weeks, and continue to be a well-received trilogy with companion novels. Thus, beginning her career in YA fiction.

“I figured the world had seen enough of werewolves—the adult urban fantasy world was absolutely saturated by that point,” said Stiefvater when asked about the success of “Shiver.” “But it was freeing, because I wrote it without any pressure and without feeling like I was doing it for anyone else. That meant my werewolves didn’t have to obey all or even many of the rules of werewolves, which was good, because I was less interested in writing about werewolves and more interested in writing about, simply, wolves who happened to have been human once upon a time.”

Stiefvater always wanted to be a writer, but that hasn’t stopped her from exploring all of her creative outlets. From a B.A. in history to an interest in art and music, Stiefvater weaves each of her talents into the novels she writes.

“I actually tried to convince my college to let me into the music, art, and English departments before I settled on history,” Stiefvater said when asked about her path to her first novel. “They deemed me not promising enough to even take courses in those areas as a non-major. I do love history, though, and it was a useful major—I had to learn to write massive papers to short deadlines, which is basically my job now.”

Her first published novel being “Lament”, a story of the faery realm and musician who falls into its grasps, intertwines history, music and elements of folklore that make it a captivating read. Though, the third book in this trilogy has been mysteriously absent for years.

“I wrote a draft of the final book that I felt was fine, an unforgivable sin in my eyes,” she said when asked about “Requiem.” “I have not yet worked out how to make it better than fine. As I refuse to release a book into the world that I think is only fine, it will sit until I figure it out.”

Her next great success was the “Raven Cycle,” a series that also spent time on the NYT bestseller list and has been optioned for a TV series. It was clear by this point that YA fiction had found an author capable of pulling the traditional apart to insert new life in the genre.

“…there’s no denying that YA fiction is incredibly popular—there’s also no denying that it’s largely bought by adults,” said Stiefvater in response to her success. “Estimates currently put adult buyers as three-fourths of YA sales, which doesn’t surprise me. When I go on tour, the folks I see in the audience are largely college-aged and up. Young adult has become less a meaningful genre and more a promise of a world-view. A promise of a way of story-telling, a natural evolution in the way that current thrillers don’t read just like vintage John Buchans or Ian Flemings. They’re tech savvy but in love with the aesthetic of print books, wary but hopeful, eager to change the world but uncertain how to do it. That’s also who’s writing YA books, and so I’m fairly certain that until readers feel they can readily find books with that style and worldview, they’ll keep coming to the YA section no matter how old they are.”

It certainly is hard to deny that Stiefvater has found her home in YA fiction and her readers have found an author that’s capable of keeping up with their thirst for a more interactive experience. Catering to her demographic of readers, Stiefvater makes book trailers for her novels that introduce that story and show off her artistic and musical ability. Her favorite trailer would lead to a surprising, but pleasant, ending.

“My favorite trailer is actually a terrible trailer, really, as it tells you nothing about the book—it’s the one I did for the “Dream Thieves,” where I spray paint my car to match a car in the novel. I like the music for that one, too, but I’m mostly fond of it because it triggered a long series of events that ended with readers spray-painting my car twice and me racing John Green in it years later.”

Stiefvater has always given off a particular persona which is best represented in her characters Ronan Lynch or Cole St. Clair, which she says her readers think she is most like because, “they seem like they wear impressive boots and stand on tables and drive fast, and I wear impressive boots and stand on tables and drive fast.”

Her new book, “All The Crooked Saints” is a standalone YA novel that deals in miracles, scientific dreams, dark saints, and forbidden love through the eyes of three cousins in Colorado.

Stiefvater is currently on tour to promote her new novel “All The Crooked Saints” and will be coming to Dayton at 6 p.m. on Nov. 13 to the Dayton Metro Library on 215 E. Third St., Dayton OH 45402.

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Megan Garrison grew up in the small town of Lampasas, Texas, spending her time immersed in Ernest Hemingway novels and dreaming of being a journalist one day. Now she attends the University of Dayton and is hard at work studying to be a war-time correspondent. Though she is very goal oriented and works hard to achieve her dreams she also loves to have a little fun. She DJs her own radio show on Flyer Radio and makes it a point to attend great movies and local concerts. But her greatest love will always be books.

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