Joining us today for Creative Spaces is YA author Maggie Hall. Her debut novel The Conspiracy of Uswas published this month from Putnam/Penguin:
To fight her destiny as the missing heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, sixteen-year-old Avery West must solve an ancient puzzle in a deadly race across Europe. Forbidden love and code-breaking, masked balls and explosions, destiny and dark secrets collide in this romantic thriller, in the vein of a YA DaVinci Code.
Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Circle of Twelve, and Avery is their missing heir. If they discover who she is, some of them will want to use her as a pawn. Some will want her dead.
To thwart their plans, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the landmarks of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And unless she can stay one step ahead of beautiful, volatile Stellan, who knows she’s more than she seems, and can decide whether to trust mysterious, magnetic Jack, she may be doomed after all.
Maggie is a world traveler and has worked as a bookstore events coordinator and marketing manager. You can learn more about her at her website, follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, or join her at YA Misfits where she blogs about young adult literature.
Describe your workspace.
I literally work in a closet! I love really small spaces—I feel like I can block the world out more easily. When I was traveling and didn’t have my office, I would sometimes throw a blanket over my head to get that same enclosed feeling.
I occasionally do want a little light and space, though, and then I’ll settle in my living room, in this big comfy chair with a big comfy blanket . . . though it kind of makes me want to take a nap just thinking about it . . .
Describe a typical workday.
I like to write really early, before I can get distracted. I usually drag myself out of bed at 5:30 or 6am, grab a cup of coffee, and write as much as I can before the day officially starts. And then I kind of try to write the rest of the day, but usually don’t end up getting anything more done on actual writing until the evening.
List three of your most favorite things in your workspace and why they are meaningful.
I got the Eiffel Tower picture at a thrift store, and Paris is important in CONSPIRACY (plus, it’s pretty)!
You can’t see it very well, but on the right are bookmarks and postcards from some of my friends’ books—I love having them nearby!
And, of course, my cover. This is the first dust jacket I saw, and the first time I saw how the whole thing was really going to look! I freaked out a little.
Do you have any rituals in your work habits? If so, describe them.
I’ve traveled so much and learned to write so many weird places that I don’t have much of a ritual—when you’re writing on your phone on the floor of the Shanghai airport or on a train through Thailand, it’s hard to follow writing rituals too closely. I do like to listen to music while I work—that always gets me in the mood!
What is your drink and/or snack of choice while you’re working?
Sour gummy worms. I have no idea why, but they taste like this book to me.
What keeps you focused while you’re working?
Deadlines! I swear, otherwise I would never be able to focus! Is there something that works for other people, because I’d like to know about it!
Do you write longhand, on a computer, or another way?
On the computer, always. I take a lot of notes in lots of notebook (and lots of random post-its, as you can see on the desk photo!), but I never actually write longhand.
How do you develop your story ideas? Do you use an outline, let the muse lead you, or another technique?
I’m working on CONSPIRACY book 2 right now, and I’m definitely outlining. My favorite outlining tool is actually the Save the Cat Beat Sheet—it lets me put my ideas in a logical framework without having to be too precise about it. And of course, once I actually start writing, the story tends to take on a life of its own, but I do find that having an idea of where I’m going with it is really helpful.
If you were forced to share your workspace but could share it with anyone of your choosing, who would it be?
Anyone I was sharing with would literally have to sit on my lap, so . . . hm. Can I say Chris Hemsworth, and I’ll sit on his lap? I think that would give me some good writing inspiration. 😉
Really, though, I’d say my writing friends. I would love having the smart, awesome people I’m lucky enough to call critique partners around to bounce ideas off of and to make me get back to work when I’m checking twitter for the millionth time. . .
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve heard or received?
Writing is rewriting. I have to remind myself over and over that the first draft doesn’t have to be perfect, and that the magic comes from editing. Otherwise, I’d worry too much and never get anything done!