Um, absolutely amazing. I was actually nervous about seeing it for the first time -- as in butterflies in my stomach odd. Which anyone who knows me well can tell you is very, very bizarre. I knew my editor was going to give me one when he met up with me at ALA, and I was more nervous for that than any of presentations or signings that I had coming up. I think possibly it’s because it’s a hardcover, and my previous one was a paperback. Or maybe just because I am so in love with the cover. I’m not sure. I did, however, discover that the text inside is all in dark blue, which makes all of my obsessing entirely worthwhile. BLUE!
When did the idea for Shiver first hit you and what (if anything) did you know right off the bat?
Well, I already had in my head that I wanted to write a bittersweet love story. Something that would make people bawl. I was just trolling my mind looking for a plot to attach to it. Then it just so happened that my editor at Flux suggested that I look for short story contests to enter, to get publicity for LAMENT. Well, the only one I could find that I hadn’t missed the deadline on was a werewolf story contest. I don’t really do werewolves. They aren’t cool, they shed, and . . . they just don’t appeal to me. But I figured, I can do werewolves for 2,000 words.
But I couldn’t. I sat all day and tried to think of some new twist on werewolves, and I had absolutely nothing. Literally I thought of werewolves for six hours straight and then, as you might expect, when I went to sleep, my brain kept thinking about them. I had this lovely atmospheric dream about wolves in a winter wood and a girl with a secret -- though I didn’t know what the secret was. As the dream went on, it became clear that these wolves were werewolves, albeit with far less slobbering than was normal for their race. I woke up, wrote the short story (which was appalling), and then realized that this was the set up I needed for my love story.
I’m very big on dreams as a way for your subconscious mind to work out problems. Whenever I start to get into plotting mode on a new book, I always start to have very vivid dreams with little mini-plots in them. I can’t stop being a novelist, even in my sleep. (Although some dreams are not very ripe for adaptation, like the one where the aliens came down and stole all of the gas station pumps, realizing this would be a great way to cripple Americans before their big attack.)
Initially, I had a date at the beginning of each chapter, but it was sort of imprecise. After all, an October day in northern Minnesota is wildly different than an October day in Florida. And an October afternoon is drastically different from an October night. I was going back and forth with early readers at that point and one of them, Cyn Balog (author of FAIRY TALE) recommended that I emphasize the temperature aspect of the novel for added suspense. She meant the temperature of the characters themselves, the way their skin felt, but I thought -- aHA! And the temperature at the heading of each chapter was born. It’s one of the reason why I love my current critique partners, Tessa Gratton & Brenna Yovanoff -- even when they don’t have the answer to a plot problem, bouncing ideas off them will frequently help me come up with an answer.
How do you go about naming your characters? I heard it was touch-and-go there for awhile with Sam’s name. How did you end up getting to keep his name after all?
Well, I can’t write a book before knowing what the main characters are named. I think a name is really important to a person’s personality -- I myself legally changed my first name when I was 16 -- so I need those anchors before I can write. I need to have some idea of who these people are. So it was Sam and Grace from the beginning -- really simple, ordinary names.
So Sam. That was the issue. One of my editors brought up that there was a werewolf Sam in Twilight and wanted me to change my Sam’s name because of this. I tried -- I really did. I searched for names for two day’s straight, looking for a name that felt the same, and ended up with Lee. I did a find and replace. And then I tried to write the sequel, and it was just . . . it was like I was writing about a different person. So then I remembered there was a Sam werewolf in the Patricia Briggs’ series. And I had an idea -- I went and found a long list of werewolf Sams and instead of trying to prove how my werewolf Sam was unique, I proved how there were so many werewolf Sams that he wouldn’t stand out. And my current editor said “okey-dokey.”
So I got to keep Sam. Which made for some hilarious typos in the final manuscript, because words like “fleetingly” became “fSamtingly” when I did a find and replace. The copyeditors were very, very confused.
Grace and Sam aren’t your stereotypical angsty teenagers. Grace is so analytical and cool, while Sam is thoughtful and warm. I found them both surprisingly mature. Your wolves are also not your typical urban fantasy alpha werewolves. Were these conscious decisions on your part or did they just spring to life that way on the page?
Well . . . I was not a typical teenager myself. I try to do more typical teenagers in my LAMENT/BALLAD series, but in the SHIVER series, I needed Grace to be someone who could reason through very complex issues and take deep risks for a very serious relationship. She needed to be mature for that, otherwise is would be just . . . squicky. I met my husband when I was 19 and we got serious very quickly (engaged in a month and a half), but I was also “born old,” according to my mother. I wanted Grace to be an old soul too. And Sam is mature because of his life experiences - he had to grow up in a hurry.
As to the atypical werewolves -- yes, that was definitely conscious. As I said before, I don’t do werewolves. I didn’t want to write about slavering monsters; I didn’t want to write horror. I wanted to play with metaphor and character building and emphasize the connection to nature. So my wolves are wolves. My humans are humans. The bittersweet comes from the very fact that there is no middle ground.
Is there a Shiver soundtrack?
Well, yes and no. I wrote and recorded two songs for SHIVER -- you can hear one in the background of my stop-motion trailer I did for it. And the other is on the Borders website as an exclusive track for them. Folks have been asking me to do more music for it, an album length recording, and it would be wildly cool to go back into the studio with my sister for it. So maybe . . . after I clone myself.
There’s also a soundtrack as in songs that I listened to while I was writing SHIVER. I plan on being totally geeky and posting that on my website soon.
(You can find the playlist here!)
What’s it like writing two separate series simultaneously? Do you ever find it hard switching gears and going from one world to another?
It’s actually really nice to be able to take a break from characters, especially when I’m basically writing in Sam and Grace’s world for two years straight. I can’t write two rough drafts at the same time, as it takes over your entire brain when you do, but I can edit one and rough draft another. I also switch gears to write original short fiction for Merry Sisters of Fate. I write a new short story every third week of the month, and then the last week of the month when we do a common prompt.
Do you have a particular time of day that’s best for writing? How do you work writing in around Thing 1 & Thing 2?
I actually seem to write best in the afternoon, which is ironic, because that’s the time of day which is most frequently occupied with Things 1 & 2. During the school year, I work when they’re in school. When they’re out for the summer, I work for two hours in the early afternoon while they watch a movie or read books, and when my husband has days off, he takes them to the park or swimming so I can work. It definitely makes me more careful with my time and more motivated when I do get a free moment. It’s also taught me that although I prefer to write in the afternoons, I can really write any time.
What’s the one book you’ve been gushing about nonstop lately?
For adults, I’ve been gushing about STITCHES, a graphic novel memoir that I brought back from ALA. For young adults, I can’t stop gushing about SAVING FRANCESCA and JELLICOE ROAD. Odd that neither of these creatures are paranormals, but they do have fantastic characters.
And just for fun, what’s the first word that comes to mind when I say:
Sam: Delightfully morose.
Books: My living room. And my shelf. And next to my bed.
Luke: “I am your father.”
Music: The Sounds “No One Sleeps When I’m Awake”
Writing: FUGUE, my next project
Candy: store! mmmm
Werewolves: Sam. heh.
Sexy: Sam. heh.
Faeries: The Golden Bough. I’m rereading it currently and it has nothing to with faeries but everything to do with folklore
YA: Basically the best genre ever.
Home: Thank GOD I’m here right now.
Thanks so much, Maggie!
Thank YOU, Angie!! Love your blog so much!
And now for the giveaway! Scholastic was gracious enough to offer up a copy of Shiver to one lucky commenter. All you have to do is leave a comment on this post telling me what your favorite werewolf book is and why. If you've never read one before, tell me why you think Shiver should be your first! The contest will run for one week until Sunday, August 9th at midnight and I'll announce the winner on Monday. Please leave an email address so I can contact you.