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Thoughts About Maggie Stiefvater and Her Contribution to Storytelling

by Allie Burke

I haven’t much thought about Maggie Stiefvater being my favorite author as much as I have considered her to be my favorite person. When I’m asked for my favorites, I tend to gravitate to the works of John Green and Sarah Addison Allen because it was their words that got me to write. But if you ask me what my favorite first line of a book is (I’m a nerd for stuff that gets people to keep reading), I will always quote The Scorpio Races:

“It is the first day of November and so, today, someone will die.”

In my opinion, it is one of the very best first lines in modern YA fiction, and I have spent my career, since reading The Scorpio Races, to write something as good. So far, I haven’t come close.

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The world of young adult storytelling can not deny her amazing talent for writing, but I think what is impactful about this woman is the way she chooses to live her life. Along with being a writer who produces stunning pieces of literature, she is an artist, a musician, and racecar driver, a mother, a wife, a beautiful person. Once, at the end of the Wolves of Mercy Falls series, when readers started asking her about Sam and Grace’s future and whether or not they got married and had children, she revolted. Her response was glorious:

“I was asked in an e-mail about Sam/ Grace and babies/ puppies (after reading my April Fool’s joke about LITTER from last year). For the record, the idea of it makes me feel queasy. Sam and Grace are TEENS. They have barely figured out their own lives. I will NEVER write a novel that glorifies teen pregnancy.”

Whether she likes it or not, Maggie Stiefvater is a role model for young artists everywhere. (I was going to say we, but I am not even close to being a teen) They want to write like her; they want to talk like her; they want to live like her. They want to be her.

I have spent the last couple days reading the third installment of Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series, Blue Lily, Lily, Blue, and while I was looking for news about her next novel (because once I finish the fourth and final installment I will have read all of her books), I came across a blog of hers about a couple of real stories, wherein she talks about her young bout with OCD and anxiety and how she turned herself around by believing in success:

“If you tell yourself you’re a winner, you know what kind of story you’re telling, and you will march toward that. Everything that happens in your life will become a part of that narrative, proof of a trial you have to overcome to manifest your victory. Likewise, if you tell yourself you’re a loser, you’ve made that your story, and you will march toward that instead. The same setbacks could happen in the loser’s story as in the winner’s story, but the self-defined loser would let them be proof that they were never going to be anything.”

In this blog, she talked about how she invited fifty or so readers to spray paint her car and how people stare at her at gas stations because they think it is a very spray-painty decal but then remember her car is famous because she raced John Green in it. I realized, through this blog, my many years of reading her books, following her online (in a very non-creepy way), and wishing I could write a single sentence as well as she has written more than nine bestselling novels, is that there needs to be more artists like Maggie Stiefvater. I realized even more how much I want to just say fuck it (not that she says fuck it; she is very aware of her audience) and do the things that make us happy, the things that are really just the things we want to do in life but end up inspiring millions of people. When I finished Blue Lily, Lily Blue, I realized that I do not want to cry in the car because the book is over, but I want to rejoice in the inspiration of writing such a thing or doing such a thing that seems to come so easily for her. I realized that the meaning of life is never, ever wasting a second of it, and that fear of failure is not even a real thing.

So I really just want to take a moment to thank Maggie Stiefvater for the contribution she has made to our world. Because whether she knew it or not before she did it, she has provided motivation to so many young and oldish people alike to stare fear in the face and tell it to fuck off.

Thank you, Maggie. Really.

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Allie Burke is the creator of the literary magazine and writers society Organic Coffee, Haphazardly. Her writings have been featured in Vice Magazine, Refinery 29, and in bestselling books sold nationwide.
Allie lives in Long Beach, California.
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