June 27, 2014

Interview with a Misfit: Maggie

It's the last Friday of the month, which means it's time for Meet a Misfit! 

Maggie Hall has played with baby tigers in Thailand, learned to make homemade pasta in Italy, and taken thousands of miles of trains through India. When she’s not on the other side of the world, she lives with her husband and cats in Albuquerque, New Mexico, dabbles in design, and watches USC football. Her debut THE CONSPIRACY OF US releases January 2015 from Penguin. Find her at maggiehall.com or on Twitter at @MaggieEHall. 

Hi, Misfit Maggie! Tell us about you and what you're working on!
If you follow me on twitter, you probably know that I’ve spent the last year traveling around the world. My husband and I have seen the Great Wall, spent Christmas Eve at the Vatican, eaten all the falafel we can handle in Morocco, and floated in the Dead Sea, and right now we’re newly back in the US to attend fellow Misfit Dahlia’s book release party for BEHIND THE SCENES! (Oh yeah, and see our families and stuff, I guess.)

I’m currently working on book 2 of my thriller trilogy, and getting ready to start promoting book 1, THE CONSPIRACY OF US, which now has an official release date: January 13, 2015!

Your YA Misfits nickname is The Prep. What'd you do to earn that one?
I wouldn’t exactly say I was preppy in high school, but yeah, kind of. I was that girl who was in all the AP classes, all the clubs…and I might have been known to dress a little preppy. Maybe I'll eventually post a photo...

How do you find your pep on a Monday, or any other day when writing is tough?
I feel like half of us have talked about music, but it’s key for me, too. The perfect song can put me in the zone like nothing else can, and when I’m not feeling it with my writing, soundtracking is a great way to give myself a push.

But if the going is really tough, I find that the only way through is by force. I’ll put on a timer or ask somebody to word war with me, and for the next hour, I have to work straight through. That tough love approach tends to break through the blockage!

What's your favorite writing tip?
I find in writing that structure can be freeing, so I love having a framework. I’m a huge advocate of the Save the Cat Beat Sheet—it gives enough plot points to help you think through a story and make sure you’ve hit all the high notes without squeezing all the creativity out of the project.

What bands do you go geeky for, both when writing or just relaxing?
Florence and the Machine crosses over for me—I love writing to her stuff, and it’s great relaxing music, too. For writing, I love a band called After Midnight Project—they’re rock with the perfect amount of angst. Same with Digital Daggers, who soundtrack quite a few of my scenes. For hanging out music, I’ve just discovered a band called The Royal Concept, and am newly obsessed!

What's your ideal kind of casual Friday?
It’d start out at one of my favorite coffee shops, where I’d be so remarkably productive I’d be finished with my work by noon. Then I’d take a good book to the park and spend the whole afternoon reading (since the ideal casual Friday happens in the summer) and cap off the day with a nice glass of wine at happy hour with some friends, and maybe an episode of one of the cheesy-but-great TV shows I can’t seem to get enough of.

Who's your dream interview subject for YAMisfits?
Does JK Rowling count as YA? Since we wouldn’t refuse if she came calling, I’m going to say yes. I’m absolutely fascinated by her planning process. Keeping plot threads and reveals and worldbuilding and character ARCs in line feels like a game of Jenga even with just three books, and I’d die to pick her brain about how she managed it so deftly through seven. I loved seeing the plotting worksheet of hers that made the rounds on the internet a couple years ago, and I pretty much just want her to plot my books. Okay, Jo? Sound good?

What are some of the best books you've read recently, and which ones are you looking forward to?
Misfit Dahlia snagged a wealth of ARCs from BEA, and since I happened to be staying with her recently, I was able to borrow some. I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN, by Jandy Nelson, was one of my favorite reads so far this year. (But it doesn’t come out until September! Sorry, guys! I don’t mean to brag! *brag*) And the other ARC that made me go grabby-hands was HEIR OF FIRE, by Sarah J. Maas, which I will be reading approximately 3.5 seconds from now. Also, RUIN AND RISING has been out for over a week and I haven’t read it yet! I know! So that’s high on my priority list, too.

Thanks for taking some time with me and the Misfit Bot! I'd love to chat with you any time. 


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