Tomorrow sees the release of The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, published in the UK by Scholastic. This is an outstanding ending to the truly superb Raven Cycle – surely the most-anticipated book of the year for many readers, it absolutely lives up to our high expectations! I am beyond thrilled to be celebrating the week of the release by kicking off a blog tour with an exclusive interview. Thank you so much, Maggie, for answering my questions, and Scholastic for arranging the interview!! (Also a huge thanks to the awesome Caitlin for helping me come up with questions!)
1. Celtic legends have a rich history of inspiring children’s and YA books – are there any that you’ve read that you think fans of the Raven Cycle would particularly enjoy?
Oh, man. Have you ever come to an intersection and found a signpost so bristling with signs that you can’t really tell which direction you’re meant to go? That’s how I feel about this question. There are so many options and they are all very different places to vacation. Celtic legend can get weird very fast. I reckon I’d recommend starting with the stuff that’s actually in the books, to tell you the truth. I only skimmed the surface of Glyn Dwr’s mythic roots in the Raven Cycle. I thought The Mystery of Jack of Kent and the Fate of Owain Glyndwr by Alex Gibbon was useless for the historical puzzle it considered but top shelf for its consolidation of much of the Welsh myth that surrounded Glyn Dwr.
2. Did you spend much time researching the legend of Owen Glendower before starting the Raven Cycle?
I majored in British history in college, with a concentration in 14th century Scotland, which sounds super snooty and really just means that while my peers were drinking and partying, I read a lot of dusty books full of rebellion and starvation. So, yes, I dug back into my old texts and beyond before I began the Raven Cycle. Most of it I couldn’t use, unfortunately, but I tried to make sure the bits and bobs that did make it in were as accurate as I could muster.
3. Which character’s perspective do you most enjoy writing from?
Ronan. I wrote about that here, actually:
4. As well as being a superb author you’re an incredibly talented artist – the tarot cards you designed last year to accompany the Raven Cycle are gorgeous! What made you decide to release the tarot pack?
It was an accident. Scholastic asked if I’d do a few cards for some promotional purposes and it turned out that the readers were so excited about them and I was so entertained by drawing them that the rest of the deck seemed natural. Drawing the tarot deck was like a game designed just for me: every card has a complex meaning that must be distilled into a simple visual metaphor. It was 78 rounds of a language-arts puzzle, and it was more fun than I can possibly explain. Fun backstory? A psychic told me over her own tarot cards the year before that she saw me taking on a huge art project in the beginning of the next year and I said, NO WAY I AM FAR TOO BUSY.
5. You’ve spoken and written about mental health issues on numerous occasions – how important do you think it is that teens have strong portrayals of mental health to read about?
This is a difficult question for me to answer, because while I do think it’s tremendously important for teens to have versions of themselves in fiction, that’s not why I write those characters the way I do. My characters have mental health issues because I’m doing my best to reflect the world around me, not because I’m trying to write a Teachable Representation Moment. To me, once you start leaning heavily on the idea that This Book Will Be Good For the Children, you stop telling a story and start feeling contrived.
6. Like me, you’re a big fan of Irish music. What songs/artists would you especially recommend to people unfamiliar with it?
Remember that signpost up above that had too many options? Cut and paste that signpost here. I hate to direct you to posts elsewhere, but I’ve actually done a slow playlist and fast playlist for people wanting to get into it:
7. You have a massively dedicated fanbase – what’s the best thing about having so many devoted fans?
There is much positive to be said for knowing that what you write is wanted, even before its written.
8. And are there any drawbacks?
There is much negative to be said for knowing that what you write is wanted, even before its written.
9. I’m really excited to meet you at YALC later this year! What are you most looking forward to about appearing there?
I don’t even know where to begin with this. For starters, it’s been a very long time since I’ve appeared for professional reasons in the UK or Ireland, and so it’ll be lovely to meet up with readers who haven’t gotten a chance to see me for years. And for finishers, I don’t think I can overstate how much I love the UK. I have been every year for nearly a decade, and this year I’m staying up north for several weeks before YALC, just puttering around and working on books and climbing on rocks and things. I’ll be in a very good mood when you see me at YALC.
10. Finally, you beat John Green last year in a car race which looked amazing! If you could race against any other YA author, who would it be and why?
It was pretty epic, what with the fire and everything.
So who else would I race? Must it be a YA author? Jon Muth is a very good picture book author who I’ve heard has a motorcycle and an itch to race. And rumor on the internet has it that Leigh Bardugo has a need for speed.
And as to why? Why? There is no why. To have something fast is to see how fast it will go, it is the way of things.
Don’t miss the rest of the tour, as lots of my favourite bloggers celebrate this fantastic release! Tomorrow, there’s a amazing giveaway on my friend Daphne’s wonderful Winged Reviews blog, with more to come throughout the week! See below for a list of blogs taking part.