They've been interviewing around the blogosphere, but we bet you still don't know about... their most embarrassing author moments, Margie's world-of-the-story trance, why they wrote such a long book, what BEAUTIFUL CREATURES would've been like without Diet Coke, Kami's penchant for Spike over Angel, and more!
What was the very first nugget (character/plot/line of dialogue) that inspired BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, and who claims it as hers?
Margie: The nugget happened to be a conversation over lunch, and there was so much Diet Coke flowing I don’t think even we know who said what. I do remember getting out the pens and writing all over the napkins as fast as we could while we talked. I think everything very quickly spun out of the idea of writing a Southern gothic, and a title we never ended up using, Sixteen Moons.
Kami: The setting came first, followed by the supernatural elements. And we wanted to define what it meant to be a supernatural in our universe.
What did you find to be the most difficult part of co-writing a novel? Or, how was the process of writing the novel different than you expected it to be?
Margie: Drafting was breathless and dazzling and fast, for us. Revisions were mind-numbing and painful and long. I don’t think either one of us knew quite how many times you write a novel over and over, by the time you’re through.
Kami: Our revision process is so exhaustive. I can’t imagine going through it alone. It was also surprising how little we disagreed and how easy it was to compromise when we did.
When did you know that there would be more than one book, and how did it affect the plotting of BEAUTIFUL CREATURES? How many books do you envision in total?
Margie: We scoped out a sprawling Southern saga from the very start, and we always knew the first book would be about the Sixteenth Moon and the last, about the Twenty First. We know how everything ends, just as we knew how everything began. How much of that story we’ll actually get to tell is up to the readers.
Kami: We really did talk about the story in terms of the beginning and the end. We knew where we wanted to go and to do it the way we wanted, we knew it would take more than two or three books to get there. But as Margie said, that’s all up to our readers.
4. Can you tell us briefly about your publication process – from querying agents to getting “the call”?
Margie: We had a little different process than most writers, although from what I am starting to learn, everyone’s path to publication is just so random. Once we had the idea, we actually sat down and wrote the book on a dare from my teen daughters and Kami’s teen students. They read our pages weekly, even daily, and when we started getting texts from their friends asking for more pages, we knew we had something. When we were done, we were just so happy we had finished it, we didn’t put much thought into what happened next. We even thought about putting it up online. Then our writer friend Pseudonymous Bosch sent it to his agent, who worked with us on one revision, then sold it in an auction to Little, Brown. Ironically, I knew the editor who bought it – but she didn’t know it was me, because we had written under the pen name Caroline March.
It’s no secret that BEAUTIFUL CREATURES is a pretty hefty novel, just shy of 600 pages. With agents and editors of YA generally steering clear of anything over 100,000 words, what made the two of you decide not to drastically cut down the text?
Margie: Our editors, Jen Hunt and Julie Scheina, really got behind the book from the start. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers is a wonderful group because they know what they want, which is to focus on making every book the book it needs to be. So we never knew it was a problem, and they never treated it like one.
Kami: I was expecting them to tell us to cut a hundred pages. We were totally prepared for that. But Jen and Julie focused on the story during the revision process, and in the end, they said it was exactly as long as it needed to be. I didn’t even know the word count until a month ago when another writer asked me, and I pulled it up in Word.
AUTHOR PHOTO CREDIT: Alex Hoerner
Margie: One funny moment was when I first got the call with Sarah Burnes, our agent at the Gernert Company, and called Kami and said, “I think we have an agent, but I’m not sure.” We didn’t understand enough about the industry to even follow the conversation, so it wasn’t until we were asking for revisions that we knew she was our agent. And by far the most memorable author moment was when the ARCs came in the mail. I cried like a baby. I think, if you really love books, the moment you see the physical book that you’ve written is just mind-blowing.
Kami: I was pretty embarrassed when I had to e-mail Pseudonymous Bosch to ask him what an ARC was. Getting the ARC in the mail was definitely the most memorable and the call when Sarah told us she was auctioning the book, and we realized it was going to be published.
What do you see as your greatest strength and greatest weakness as a writer?
Margie: My greatest strength is that I never think about anything I write as a commercial project. When I write I fall into a world-of-the-story trance, and I think that keeps me from freaking out about the book-as-job thing. My greatest weakness is that I hate to revise, so I am terrible at it.
Kami: My greatest strength is that I’m a teacher, so I know what kind of impact the right book can have on a person. I try to write stories worthy of that. My greatest weakness is that I also hate to revise. Margie thinks I’m good at that, but if that were true, it wouldn’t take us three months to write the books and six months to revise them.
What’s the latest book that you’ve read that you’re dying to recommend?
Margie: I think Kristin Cashore is a goddess, but my favorite undiscovered diamond is Ann Dee Ellis’ EVERYTHING IS FINE. She has the most distinctive voice I have ever come across.
Kami: I just read Holly Black’s WHITE CAT, which was so good it made me want to stop writing out of shame. Pacing like that comes from the gods. But I also loved RAMPANT by Diana Peterfreund, who writes a strong female heroine in such a fresh way.
Both of you mention that you love Diet Coke. What would BEAUTIFUL CREATURES have been like without it?
Margie: It would have been NO CREATURES. And it would have been a haiku.
Kami: Diet Coke is our muse.
One final question – BUFFY the movie or BUFFY the TV show?
Margie: That’s not a question. The question is, “Once More With Feeling” the musical episode, or “Once More With Feeling” the Broadway show. Come on Joss! I’m waiting for the best hour in the history of television to hit the stage!
Kami: The real question is Angel or Spike. In our world, the answer is always Spike. Because, do you want a perfect ending? Or a perfect story?
Excellent answers! Congrats on the overwhelming success, ladies, and thank you so much for stopping by!
You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com.
Visit Little, Brown’s Beautiful Creatures website at www.SomeLovesAreCursed.com.