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May 15, 2017 BOOKLIST
Find more Guest Speaker
I woke to my heart racing, adrenaline firing every piston.
Nothing is impossible. Did the voice mean to threaten? Inspire?
As a child, I thought this dream was a nightmare. “Anything’s possible,” I fretted, as I tried to anticipate what might befall me. As an adult, I remember the dream differently. “Anything’s possible,” I think, as I push myself into higher and harder pursuits.
Fear. Magic. Which was it? The truth is that magic and fear have always made excellent traveling companions. They are so well suited to each other, in fact, that they are often mistaken for one another. Magic is the unknown, the wild spiraling unknown—because the moment it is known, it becomes science. And fear is often also the unknown, the wild spiraling unknown—because the moment it is known, it becomes common sense.
Nothing is impossible. The dream, of course, didn’t change as I grew up; the only thing that changed was my relationship with possibility. If you believe yourself a helpless entity at the mercy of the world, the possibility of the unknown is fearful. (What else could go wrong?) But if you believe yourself in control of your world, the possibility of the unknown is magical. (There are still wonders to discover?)
I write books with magic in them.
I’ve been writing for young adults for nearly a decade now, just rounding the bend on YA novel number 12, and every one of them has magic in it. I am fairly certain the next dozen will as well. Nothing is impossible: beautiful man-eating horses, wolves with human hearts, kings and queens and swords and things.
I also write books with fear in them.
So much of growing up, of moving from child to young adult to adult, is the process of learning how to be a hero in your own life. Making the transition from powerlessness to powerfulness. From fear to magic. Nothing is impossible: conquering anxiety, leaving abusive households, living through grief, accepting a crown and the decisions that come with it.
I don’t suppose I have too much of an overarching mission statement when it comes to writing my books—I want what most storytellers want, I suppose. To pull readers away from their lives for a few hours, to make them feel, to get a laugh, to introduce them to characters they’ll miss when they close the pages, to give them a world that might unexpectedly haunt them days later.
But most of all, I want to make teens believe in magic. Not small magic, not book magic, but big magic, magic that escapes the pages of the books and enters their real lives. Magic that can only happen if the teens are curious and powerful, heroes in their own narratives. We’re currently living in a fraught world bereft of wonder in many ways. The future looms, uncertain and fearful.
I also write books with heroes in them. A generation of thinkers and dreamers is growing up right now, reading books about thinkers and dreamers leaving fear behind as they come into their own. Nothing is impossible. Lean into the magic, dreamers.
That future might just turn out to be magical instead.
Maggie Stiefvater’s Honor Roll
Here are five books Stiefvater credits as influences and inspirations.
Fire and Hemlock, by Diana Wynne Jones (1985)
Keturah and Lord Death, by Martine Leavitt (2006)
Tales from Outer Suburbia, by Shaun Tan (2008)
The Monstrumologist, by Rick Yancey (2009)
Places No One Knows, by Brenna Yovanoff (2016)
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