Today, I am proud to welcome Margaret Stohl to Write For A Reader. Margaret, or Margie as some call her, is one half of the awesome writing duo that is responsible for the upcoming YA release, Beautiful Creatures (Dec '09). Let me share with you a little bit about her, in her own words.
Writing has gotten me in and out of trouble since I was 15 (back then, mostly just in trouble.) I have written everything from video games and video game manuals to live action screenplays (one optioned, many never happened) and animation (one optioned, one never happened), as well as poetry in the UK & the US, marketing documents in Vegas, coverage for a big Hollywood agency where a guy walked around with a writing crop hitting desks, and an Imax movie (come to think of it, not sure what ever happened to that...?) For 10 years, I designed &/or wrote for lots of video games, one of which was nominated for “Most Innovative Game Design,” but I lost to a rapping onion. If you know games you get why my two bad beagles are named Zelda and Kirby.
School: I spent more years in it than a person ever should, because let’s face it, reading books is so much better than having a job. I fell in love with American literature at Amherst and Yale, earned an MA in English from Stanford, and studied creative writing under the late great poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. I taught Intro to Film as a TA at Yale and Romantic Poetry as a TA at Stanford. Don’t tell the people at Yale but sometimes I taught the section before I’d seen the movie it was about...
I live in Santa Monica, CA, with my family, most of whom were enslaved into working with me in one form or another on my forthcoming YA book for Little, Brown. I’m not kidding; when my daughters wanted to go to school I said “Why are you so selfish? Get back in there and edit,” and by said I mean yelled and maybe threw things, it’s all a haze. I have a writing partner named Kami and she is why we ever get anything done. (Well, K and the daughter-slaves...)
And so we wrote a book this year, and it’s going to come out in lots and lots of countries in a few months. And I am really, really hoping there is no hot title about a rapping onion coming out at the same time.
You can find Margie on her blog, at Goodreads, at the Beautiful Creatures Facebook page, and at the Beautiful Creatures website.
I remember hiding in my closet with a pillow and Jello powder stolen out of the garage, reading the entire Narnia series. Sitting high up in our avocado tree reading A Wrinkle in Time and The Witch of Blackbird Pond. Crowding under the steps of our classroom bungalow with Pam Ling, to recite the poem from the front of The Dark is Rising books. “When the Dark Comes Rising, Six Shall Turn it Back/Three From the Circle, Three From the Track…”
Because of a book, I had Fancies. I knew that, if caught in a thicket, rowan and ash would protect you from Dark Magic. Likewise, a Highway was old magic, neither Light nor Dark, so our station wagon was vulnerable in traffic on the 405. I believed that eyes flashed when angry, a boy traced a girl’s cheeks with a thumb just before a kiss, and that you could be stricken if caught out in the rain, though I was vague on the details. I pined for lawn and muslin, fine whalebone stitching, dressing gowns and/or smoking jackets (and yes, if you had asked me I would have used the word pined.) Thought I had not even the smallest bustle, I still hoped to live in a gabled house overlooking an azure sea/apple orchard/Sunnybrook Farm with a cupola and a garret, a root cellar and a grape arbor. A secret garden would be ideal, but I’d settle for a veranda. In fact, I’d pull right up to it in my surrey and pass a pleasant afternoon on the settee in the parlor with a cherry cordial and a thick slice of icebox cake.
Because of a book, I’d hold warm salt against your ear if it ached, make an onion poultice or a mustard plaster for your chest if you had galloping consumption, the aigue, or even a fainting spell. Dropsy. Horsehair. Battenberg. Petit fours. Kid gloves. Real silk stockings. A muff. I’d have come calling and left you my card. My name was probably Lavinia, and I was here for the High Season. Or the Grand Tour. Or cream tea in the drawing room. Or as a companion for my aunt, Her Ladyship, who was of a Higher Station. I hoped I wasn’t being forward. I demurred.
Because of a book, I was never quite sure where I was, what you just said, or why I should know things like, say, 4 x 7. “Never hold a lady by her arm,” said I, at five, to my father, while getting out of the station wagon. “You, sir, are either a jealous husband, or you’re insane.” What can I say? I was always looking for a duel, or at least fisticuffs and a few boxed ears.
Because of a book, I went to study at the school that had Emily Dickinson’s house on campus. I took 36 English classes. I went to a Writers Program in the UK and took more. Because of a book – because of a thousand – I began to write.
Because of a book, I have never once had a single thing I Fancied – neither mustard plaster nor cupola -- yet I have somehow always had all of them. Because of a book, I had Expectations. Tens of thousands of books later, I expect I still do.
And that, as someone in a book once said, has made all the difference.
About Beautiful Creatures:
There were no surprises in Gatlin County
We were pretty much the epicenter of the middle of nowhere.
At least, that’s what I thought.
Turns out, I couldn’t have been more wrong.
There was a curse.
There was a girl.
And in the end, there was a grave.
Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power, and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything.
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