Margie: I’ve had my nose stuck in a book since Kindergarten. I didn’t speak to anyone outside my family until third grade. I went to a college where I could take only literature and writing classes. I went to a writing school in the UK. I wrote screenplays. I made videogames. I have a husband, three daughters, and two bad beagles. And I read a book almost every day of my life.
Kami: I’ve been writing since I was a kid, and spent most of high school filling about forty notebooks with poetry. I’ve always been a reader, drawn to fantasy in particular, since I’ve always been a little dark. I have an MA in education, and I’ve been teaching for thirteen years. Currently, I’m a Reading Specialist and when I’m not teaching kids to read, I’m discussing books with them.
WFAR: How did you end up writing a book together?
Margie: We’ve been friends for so long, we emigrated over from being book- swappers to critique partners to writing partners. I guess we just ran out of other things to talk about!
Kami: And the fact that Margie’s daughters, and some of my other former students, dared us to do it. We were always talking books with them, and I taught them to be demanding readers when they were in my class. They definitely remembered the demanding part – but it’s the reason we wrote and finished BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
WFAR: Can you give us some of the back story on BC? How did this story come to be?
Margie: It involves a long lunch, lots of Diet Coke, writing on the backs of many napkins, a love of the South, and the words “Sixteen Moons.” From there it was a short leap to Ethan, and telling a supernatural boy meets girl story from the perspective of the boy. Everything just sort of rolled out from there.
Kami: It was a completely caffeinated, salsa-induced, brainstorming session of epic proportions.
WFAR: BC is set in the South and you live in California. Did either of you live in the south once? If not, how did you decide on this setting?
Margie: Our maternal families are both from tiny towns, mine in the west and Kami’s in the South. We both eventually lived with these three generations under one roof, so we have a shared casserole culture between us. I also came to the South through spending many years studying American Literature, and loving Eudora Welty and Harper Lee and Flannery O’Connor.
Kami: My mom’s family is from North Carolina, and living with my grandmother and great-grandmother, I lived in a world of sweet tea and sass. My mom still remembers her summers on her aunt and uncle’s farm. But small towns are small towns, aren’t they?
WFAR: What made you choose the YA genre?
Margie: That’s what we read. My teenage girls and I are practically our own book club!
Kami: We read YA, so there was never a question about writing it. I think YA is raw and real in a way few genres are. We’re pretty raw.
WFAR: You have a blog called the Caster Girls. Can you tell the readers about the significance of the Caster Girls and how they can find out more about them? (plugging Vania's blog; it's shameless, I know)
Margie: The Caster Girls are the girls who have been our first readers, right from the start. The blog their own authentic teen voices, which we felt were important to put out there. They can always be found at www.castergirls.com, or from links at http://www.beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/.
Kami: The blog is actually theirs. They run it, write it, and maintain it. And they do an amazing job.
WFAR: Lena, the main character, is a strong-willed character. Is she based on anyone?
Margie: She’s more of a reaction to many YA heroines than anything else. We wanted her to be powerful and strong and opinionated. The teen girls we know are more individualistic and brave than we are!
Kami: Lena is as strong as we wished we were as teens. She wants to be herself. But more importantly, she tries to be.
WFAR: Can we expect a sequel? If so, have you already started? Title?
Margie: The sequel is just finished, hooray! And we can’t tell you the title yet, but soon!
Kami: We think the sequel will be out next December, and there are lots of surprises.
WFAR: What are your writing "must haves,” the things you just can't write without?
Margie: I think they’ve been fairly well documented: Diet Coke, Starbucks, Wheat Thins, Earphones, Reading Glasses, my MacBook Air and the soundtrack to Spring Awakening. Though sometimes my sister- in-law will make me a mix to go with what I am working on; I’ve had both a Sixteen Moons and a Seventeen Moons writing playlist that have really helped. And I have to start writing with the same song, every time.
Kami: Aside from food, which Margie covered, I need quiet to write. No music. I hear the voices of the characters in my head as I write, and I need silence to hear them.
WFAR: How does it feel as you wait to see your book on bookstore shelves?
Margie: Crazy. Surreal. Amazing. Like a dream. The first time I saw the ARC I cried like a baby. The first time I saw the book on the shelf I forced Anna the bookseller to autograph it.
Kami: The book is actually on the shelves, and it is totally surreal. It’s like I’m living in an alternate universe, looking at something that someone with the same name as me wrote.
Favorite food and drink – Cheese & Diet Coke
Place you've always wanted to go – Prague
Favorite place to read – In bed with my 8 reading next to me
Word you love to use – “You know what I mean?”
Your wish – for my family to finally not have the flu anymore. And once that happens, to get to keep writing!
Fast Five: Kami
Favorite food and drink – Hot Fudge Sundaes & Diet Coke
Place you've always wanted to go – Italy
Favorite place to read – In bed
Word you love to use – Seriously?
Your wish – For everyone I love to be happy and healthy, and readers to find the book that makes a difference for them. Hopefully, for some, it will be BEAUTIFUL CREATURES.
WFAR: Ladies, thank you so much for allowing me to interview you. Beautiful Creatures is a wonderful book and I can't wait for the sequel!!
You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl at http://www.beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/.
Visit Little, Brown’s Beautiful Creatures website at http://www.somelovesarecursed.com/.
Beautiful Creatures is out in stores and would make a wonderful gift for Christmas!
Buy it at Amazon
Buy it at Powells
Buy it at Indiebound