One of the books Team Teen is most excited about this fall is Maggie Stiefvater's The Raven Boys. In this first book of her new The Raven Cycle series, Stiefvater introduces us to Blue Sarget and the Aglionby boys: Gansy, Ronan, Adam, and Noah. Blue is the daughter of the town pyschic in sleepy Henrietta, West Virgina, who has grown-up being told that if she kisses her true love, she will kill him. The boys all attend the private Aglionby Academy. They have no reason to cross paths until one St. Mark's Eve when Blue sees Gansey walking the ghost road.
This means two things:
1) Gansey is going to die in the next year.
2) Either Gansey is Blue's true love or she will be the one who kills him.
Add in a quest for a long-lost Welsh king, ley line magic, and heart-squeezingly well-written relationship dynamics and you get a story that is kissed with magic and prophecy, filled with adventures and friendships, and an observation of the bonds created by money, family, and friendship. It is, in my opinion, the best book Stiefvater has written yet.
We are so delighted to have Maggie Stiefvater here to answer a few questions. She also shares a peek into Gansey's infamous journal. Welcome, Maggie!
Indigo Teen Blog (ITB): For our readers: what can they expect from The Raven Boys?
Maggie Stiefvater (MS): Rich boys, fast cars, helicopters, magic and all kinds of Latin. It's the first book in a four-book series, so the trouble that goes down in this book is just the beginning.
ITB: How does your musical back ground influence your work?
MS: Oh, well, in three big ways. The first is that I have to listen to music while I write — I rely on it heavily to keep my chapter in the mood I want for it. And secondly, in that I think of my books as a mix CD, where the tone and length of each chapter builds on the last just like in a well-made mix CD (I spend a lot of time reading my words out loud, too, for rhythm). And finally, because I write music for each of my books — all those songs are available for free download on my website (www.maggiestiefvater.com) and are also the background for the trailers for each book.
ITB: Is there a “real” Gansey’s notebook and may we see it?
MS: There are actually two of them. One of them is somewhere in the Scholastic offices in NYC, and the other is in my office in Virginia. YOU WOULD LIKE TO SEE IT? I thought you'd never ask.
ITB: What made you choose ley lines and the lore of an ancient king?
MS: This is a hard question to answer as it requires considerable memory-work on my part. I wrote the first draft of this novel when I was 19 or so — 9 or 10 years ago. And it wasn't the sleeping king novel idea wasn't a new idea for me even back then, either. As a history major, I'd been entranced by the combination of history and myth for a long time. Now, the ley lines — that I remember. I needed a way to get a long-dead Welsh king over to Virginia, and the ley line stuff tied in perfectly. Marriage made in medieval heaven.
ITB: Did any major plot points change as you did researchfor this story?
MS: I have yet to write a novel where they didn't. The biggest challenge, however, was balancing the personalities of the boys. Because they were so tightly knit, just one tweak of one character would create a domino effect through the rest.
ITB: The Raven Boys is delicately balanced between dark and light, levity and heartache. We know you worked with David Leviathan. Do you feel he helped create that balance through editorial support or was this something that you found on your own while drafting?
MS: I love working with David; the fact that he's an author in his own right means that his notes come already translated into writer-language. Convenient! But generally by the time he gets a manuscript, it is pretty complete. The folks who see it in bits and pieces from the very beginning are my critique partners, Tessa Gratton and Brenna Yovanoff. Even then, their job is not to impose their own styles but rather to see what I'm trying to accomplish and make sure that THAT is what ends up on the page.
ITB: The locations are beautifully built out for readers from Blue’s house to the woods. Is it important to you, as a writer, to set spaces that are as evocative as the characters?
MS: Absolutely. Our settings make us who we are. To not build them up as lovingly as the people in them is to only tell half the story.
Thank you again to Maggie Stiefvater for answering our questions and our friends at Scholatic Canada for facilitating this Q & A. The Raven Boys is available now, and you can meet Maggie Stiefvater at Chapters Brampton on September 25th at 7 pm!