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OBS EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: KAMI GARCIA & MARGIE STOHL

by Dawn, January 3, 2010

Kami Garcia: I have an MA in education, and taught in the DC area until I moved to Los Angeles ten years ago. In addition to writing YA fiction, I am a Reading Specialist and continue to teach and lead book groups for children and teens, part-time. I have learned more from my students than I ever learned in school. I still live in LA, with my husband, son, and daughter. I’m very superstitious and have lots of charms. I love disaster movies, and I could easily live on pizza and Diet Coke.

Margie Stohl: 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…)

To read the rest of Kami & Margie’s bios please check out their Beautiful Creatures website here: http://beautifulcreaturesthebook.com/

OBS: What are some of your favorite books?
Kami: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE by C.S. Lewis, THE OUTSIDERS by S.E. Hinton, TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, A GOOD MAN IS HARD TO FIND by Flannery O’Connor, FARENHEIT 451 by Ray Bradbury & LORD OF THE RINGS by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Margie: THE DARK IS RISING by Susan Cooper, A WRINKLE IN TIME by Madeline L’Engle, LABYRINTHS by Jorge Luis Borges, THE CHRONICLES OF CHRESTOMANCI by Diana Wynne Jones, and TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD by Harper Lee, of course.

OBS: Who is your favorite literary hero or villain and why?
Kami: I think Freak in Rodman Phibrick’s FREAK THE MIGHTY is one of my favorite literary heroes. He is different, but he refuses to be anyone other than himself. And more importantly, he empowers Max, his best friend, and stands by Max at all costs.

Margie: My mom’s parents used to work for FDR in Washington until they moved back to a tiny town where my grandfather became a farmer, the postmaster & the head of the local Democratic party. They loved their town but had nothing in common with it. So from a young age, I inherited my mom’s great love of the heroic Atticus Finch from TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. I never met my grandfather, but that’s how I imagine him.

OBS: How did you two meet and what made you decide to write a book together?
Kami: We met when Margie’s oldest daughter was in my third grade class, eight years ago, and we became friends right away. Friends, then critique partners, then finally writing partners.

Margie: We came up with the idea for BC over lunch, but went through with writing it on a dare from my teen daughters and Kami’s teen students. We had talked about writing something together, but they are the reason we actually did it!

OBS: Describe the process you used to create such a wonderfully cohesive story with two authors. Did you work together in person or over the internet?
Kami: We outline loosely, and split up the chapters. After we each work on particular chapters, we switch and add, delete, make changes. We hand each chapter back 3-4 times, so by the time we finish, we can’t even remember what we wrote individually.

Margie: I always say it’s like a running stitch, where you move back and forth, over and over again. Sometimes we work together in our office, at my house, and sometimes we’re on the phone or online working. I like libraries, Kami likes houses. We make it work!

OBS: Does having a partner make the process easier or more difficult? Is it fun to bounce ideas off one another?
Kami: For us, it’s easier. But we have been friends for a long time. You have to have a lot of respect and trust to work this closely with someone.

Margie: It’s also more fun to talk about the universe and brainstorm with someone else. BC is a true collaboration. Everything we do comes out of a conversation – and many Diet Cokes!

OBS: What made you decide to write from a male perspective? How were you able to get into the head of a teenage boy and develop his character?
Kami: We knew we wanted to write from a boy’s POV right away. We wanted a strong female character that was powerful and mysterious. We also wanted to readers to see the way a boy experienced the relationship – his concerns and fears – because you don’t see that as often.

Margie: We have six brothers between us, so we grew up around lots of guys. I think that’s why we feel comfortable writing from a boy’s POV. That’s probably also why we wanted Ethan to be more than the boy from “boy meets girl.”

OBS: Your characters powers are very distinct and detailed, how did you come up with the traits of Casters, Sirens, Sybils, Shifters, Illusionists, a Natural, Evo, etc..?
Kami: We are both huge fantasy and sci-fi readers, so we loved the idea of defining Supernaturals in our way. World building is something we really gravitate to. It’s fun to imagine what kind of powers you wish you could have…

Margie: The traits of the Supernaturals came from a lot of brainstorming, and the impulse to define our universe specifically for our book, rather than using what was already out there. Kami was a huge comic book fan and I built videogame universes, so this is something we love.

OBS: How many books are planned in the series?
Kami: Originally, we envisioned six. But we’ll have to see how long it takes to tell the story.

Margie: We are busy finishing Book 2 right now, which we’re really excited about.

OBS: This book wasn’t originally intended for publishing correct? Were you surprised at the amount of success that you’ve encountered?
Kami: No it wasn’t. As we mentioned, we wrote it for the teen readers in our lives, and we have been so surprised and grateful for the response.

Margie: The YA community has been so supportive, and it has an amazing group of authors writing today. The YA readers, authors, teachers, librarians, bloggers & tweethearts have adopted us and we love them!

OBS: Since the book has officially launched, have you received any praise from someone you admire or think of as a role model?
Kami: One of the most exciting things for us has been meeting and corresponding with writers that we’ve been reading for years. It’s so unbelievable when one of them tells us how much they loved the book.

Margie: It’s true. We are readers first, and there is nothing greater than meeting one of your literary heroes – except when they tell you they loved YOUR book.

OBS: Has there been any negative response? If so, how do you handle the criticism?
Kami: I’m a teacher, and I tell my younger students that books are like ice cream: Not everyone likes the same flavors. We don’t expect every reader to love BC.

Margie: You can’t expect everyone to love your book – it’s impossible. We just feel lucky that people are reading and loving BC.

OBS: How important do think it is to maintain on online presence? What purpose does it serve?
Kami: It’s important to us to stay connected to the YA community – the writer that write the books we love to read – and the readers who read those books.

Margie: We also love to hear from our readers. We value what they think, about our book and others. Now that we are beginning to hear from other countries as well, it’s especially cool!

OBS: What helps you stay focused when you work? Music, snacking, isolation, noise?
Kami: For me, it’s a comfortable place to sit, my laptop, Diet Coke, and silence. I need to hear the characters’ voices as I write.

Margie: I can’t work without giant headphones, my MacBook Air, multiple pairs of reading glasses, and Diet Coke. We also love Joe’s Pizza and milkshakes from Jack –in-the-Box. I write blasting music as loud as I can to drown out the rest of the world.

OBS: Since ‘Beautiful Creatures’ has been optioned for the big screen, do you have any plans to be a part of the filming process? Have you ever saw an actor and said “they would be perfect for ____”, if so who?
Kami: We stick to writing. BC is in very capable hands with Warner Brothers, screenwriter and director, Richard LaGravanese, and the producer, Erwin Stoff.

Margie: Our characters are so real to us that we don’t really imagine anyone else being them. But it will be fun to see who the filmmakers will choose!

Thank you very much Kami & Margie for taking time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions. Nothing is better than authors who insist on pleasing their fans not matter what it takes. We wish them the best on their next two books and can’t wait to read and review them this coming year.

You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl here:
www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.com

Join the US Fansite here:
castergirls.com

Also visit Little, Brown’s Beautiful Creatures website here:
www.SomeLovesAreCursed.com

Remember that this months YA book club is BEAUTIFUL CREATURES and if you’d like to read it along with us, answer dicussion question, or just want to chat with other BC fans, check out our Book Club HERE.

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