The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Guest: V.E. Schwab

June 01, 2020 Marissa Meyer Season 2020 Episode 17
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: V.E. Schwab
Chapters
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: V.E. Schwab
Jun 01, 2020 Season 2020 Episode 17
Marissa Meyer
Transcript
Speaker 1:

[inaudible].

Speaker 2:

Hello and welcome to the happy writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thanks so much for joining me. One thing that is making me happy today is that this happens to be a very special episode. In addition, in addition to having our amazing guest author who we will get to in just a minute, I also happened to have a guest co-host today. Uh, this came about because a few weeks ago some very enterprising authors and illustrators decided to host and online auction called the creators for comics auction on Twitter, which went on to raise more than $400,000 to help independent book and comic stores that are currently facing some really difficult times because of the virus. Um, I joined that auction. I had a few different prizes up for grabs. One of those happened to be the opportunity to cohost an episode of this podcast. Uh, so I am super pleased that the winner of that auction is here with us today. She is a 17 year old junior at Concorde Carlisle high school in Massachusetts and she is a Y a super fan. So I am super excited that she can be with us. Please welcome Talia Westland.

Speaker 3:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here. I've been so excited forever. This is like my dream come true. I'm so happy I won the auction and that the money goes to something so important.

Speaker 2:

Thank you very much for joining the auction and for helping us support our local bookstores. Um, I know you sent out a tweet this morning that said you were losing sleep over doing this and you were really terrified about doing this podcast today. How are you feeling now?

Speaker 3:

Still terrified, but like kind of terrified, like this is the coolest thing that's ever going to happen to me, but like it's scary.

Speaker 2:

Well, yeah, I think by the end of the podcast it won't seem so scary. Do so it's so exciting. Um, so you as a part of coast hosting this episode, you got to choose our author guests for today. Uh, and I loved it when you sent me your wishlist. Um, and your, your number one top choice author happened to also be very high on my wishlist of authors to have on the podcast. So it worked out perfectly. Um, why don't you go ahead and introduce today's guest.

Speaker 3:

Okay. Today we get to talk to the insanely talented Victoria Schwab. Victoria has 15 published books and more on the way she's written books for every age. She's most well known for the city of ghosts for middle grade readers, the monsters of Verity for teens like myself and the shades of magic series for adults. She's even written comics. Her next book, the invisible life of Abby. Laura will be coming out October 10th. Please welcome Victoria Schwab.

Speaker 4:

That is the best introduction I think I've ever gotten. You may just follow me around, just follow me around and introduce me into every room that I go into. Please. That was so lovely. I'm so happy to be here. And Marissa, we go way back and I'm just, I'm delighted to have this excuse to get to talk to both of you. I am excited that you were here to Victoria. You and I were the very, very first writing retreat that I ever went on was with you. Um, and, and Marie Lou and Beth Revis and just a lot of really amazing authors and I have such fond memories of that trip. It was so great. We were so young, we were so young in the heart and publishing sense but in the life sense and it's amazing. I think publishing is measured in dog ear.

Speaker 4:

So we were very, very young. It's true now we are old and wise. I am a wizened crone. I pride myself on it. But no, it's crazy. Cause I think I was saying before we started that you really start kind of measuring time in books and it feels both like it was just yesterday and like it's been a generation. Yeah. Yeah. I know. I was thinking back, and at the time you, me and Marie were all working like in the very early stages of writing superhero inspired books, and you were doing vicious. And Marie was doing the young elites, and I was brainstorming renegades. And it's just bonkers to me that now, like all of those books are out in the world. And at the time they were just like these little twinkly ideas in our minds. You just, I mean, and that's kind of the surreal thing is if you are in this industry for awhile, you will invariably have spoken to your friends and to other authors about things which are just a glimmer of an idea.

Speaker 4:

And then they become weirdly nostalgic. I was just talking with Rachel Hawkins and she had a Facebook memory come up that seven years ago, this month we were in Edinburgh, Scotland. And that was where I first started writing a darker shade of magic. So like on that trip, and it's so surreal to watch a story go from, you know, a writer's retreat or a conversation or a tweet talking about, I got this weird idea. For dot, dot, dot to a year or five or 10 years later saying, Oh my God. Like I saw that on shelves the other day or the five year anniversary is coming up. Yeah, no it is, it is so strange. Um, to kind of watch it all unfold. Um, so Talia, what was it about Victoria that made her your, your number one top choice that you wanted to talk to you today?

Speaker 3:

I fell in love with her books before I read any,

Speaker 4:

Oh,

Speaker 3:

weird to say. I guess all the covers. I'm like those are pretty, and then when I was bored one day I was just on good reads, looking at quotes as all normal teenagers do and I just found myself scrolling through pages of her quotes and they were all so beautiful and I was like, I have to read all of these books right now. And then I ordered all of the books at once, which my parents didn't love.

Speaker 4:

That's okay.

Speaker 3:

A lot of books, but I needed them.

Speaker 4:

That's what I love that I can't tell you how flattering it is to have somebody come to your stories literally through the words, not just through the colors and the pitches or through word of mouth, but, but quotes are, are such an important part there. We were kind of talking about this again before we started recording, but they're kind of distillations of hearts of a story. And when you start to see as an author what gets picked and repeated as a quote like on Goodreads where you can see this thing has been liked, you know, 500 times or it's clearly speaking to a group of people. I think it's one of the most flattering things when somebody connects to the quotes of a story enough to want to record that. So the fact that you came to my writing through really that most distilled form of almost like the ethos of the book, that makes me so happy,

Speaker 3:

they were just so beautiful. Who wouldn't want to read it?

Speaker 2:

I also love that you had so much faith in her that you were just, I'm just going to order them all. I trust. I have trust that I am going to love these.

Speaker 3:

I was like, well the quotes are great. So that means everything else must be great. So order of ordering all of them.

Speaker 4:

I love it.

Speaker 2:

So Talia, I know you have a number of questions. Um, why don't you go ahead and get started.

Speaker 3:

I was going to ask my first one, but we're talking about quotes, so I ask that one first. Um, so Victoria, you're having an amazing way with your words and like I said, I discovered you by just reading your good reads quotes. What's your personal favorite quote that you've written that you, it's not like, I want to say underrated, but it's not one of like the iconic ones. Like when someone thinks of you, it's the first time.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So my favorite quote, in terms of personal quotes, it's not unheard of because I know that people have posted it, but it's not like, like shades of magic is known for. I'd rather live on an adventure than die standing still. And yet my favorite quote from the chains of magic series is actually from the third book in this series. And it starts love and loss is like a ship in the sea and it's not how you can't really have one without the other. And I mean I don't, I don't know it well enough to repeat it off the top of my head, but it's probably to me one of the most meaningful quotes that like the one that I took most to heart, the one that I am probably proudest of. And then honestly, um, the middle life of Avalara, which comes out this fall was a book just about a decade in the making nine and a half years really, which is surreal and crazy.

Speaker 4:

And it's the first book where I was going through the first past pages of it, trying to find quotes just for like the countdown to release. As you know, Marissa, you're like trying to find a way as to like count down and not have everybody burn out. And it was one of those things where usually I can go through a book and I find maybe five to six lines that I'm really proud of and excited to share. And that book. I think maybe it just has so much of me in it that I had like 272 quotes. Oh my goodness. I know for a 600 page novel. So, um, so up until right now it's the love and loss or like a shift that's an a C but I think once Addy comes out, um, because it's a book about being remembered and about the power of identity and of memory and kind of a defiant kind of joy.

Speaker 4:

So I'm really excited to see what quotes show up on good reads in that good rates quote column after the book has come out. Cause that will really tell me what spoke to people most of those 270, how many do you realistically think that you'll release in advance? Oh like five cause it just became silly. Like I made a file and, and it's interesting because there are a few quotes where like over the last nine years I've obviously kind of compiled and written this book and there are a few quotes that are just distilled in me so much that I, they like conjured entire year's worth of work when I see it, if that makes sense. Like, I just know there's a line in the book that's blank and five years have gone and it's like this, it's a recurring theme in the book of like time sliding between your fingers in this way and add his greatest fear in the, in the story is being born and buried in the same 10 meter plot. And that line comes up. And every time I read it, I just, I know exactly who she is. She's just such a version of me. But I think the quote that people will pick most from that book, it's not for the emotion, but in that way of the, um, the dye on it, like diamond adventure live standing still is the never pray to gods that answer after dark that just gave me chills. We shall see. We will check back on good dreams around Christmas. Right.

Speaker 3:

I love your quote so much. I'm sorry. They just make me so happy there.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. Tell me what's your favorite quote?

Speaker 3:

More of a moment than like one person saying it, but it's, do you trust anything? He countered rubbing his wrist or anyone for that matter. The queen considered him her pale lips curling up the edges, the bodies of my floor. I'll trusted someone now walk on them to tea. I made everybody. Yeah,

Speaker 4:

no,

Speaker 3:

and do you and I want to talk to her. I was like, mom, I'm reading you a quote and she's like, I don't know what's going on in the book. I'm like

Speaker 4:

[inaudible]

Speaker 3:

Oh, it's beautiful and it's my favorite thing ever.

Speaker 4:

Thank you. I love dialogue quotes. It's interesting because culturally fall into descriptive quotes and dialogue quotes and dialogue. I get so proud of when I have a moment in dialogue but just encompasses something like that and I feel like Astro Dane is the precursor to another one of my characters. Marcella Riggins and vengeful and I feel like the two of them have the kind of quotes that just there, it's just a woman holding a knife. Like that's just the vision that draws to mind. A woman with a very sharp knife. And I think that their dialogue is just as cutting and I'm very proud of it. So thank you. Yeah, it's funny, the dialogue quotes, they are special because in a narration quote it can be, you know, just more thematic. Um, and you can really focus on, you know, the cadence of the words and whatnot or the dialogue quote though also has to speak to the character and also has to be in their voice.

Speaker 4:

Um, so then, then it can kind of cover all those bases. It's extra special. I agree that they really convey the entire mood of the character. And I think there's one in shades of magic by rye where he sent, he says he needs magic. When you look this good, just really good dialogue. Just kind of like codified. Laila says, if a thing is worth having, it's worth taking. You know, they really are. These kinds of manifestos. I want that on a tee shirt. Have you made t-shirts of this? I haven't personally. We'll actually have the Jordan Dean has shirts from the shades of magic series, but I feel like who needs magic when you look at this, when you look this good is going to be the next generation. Sure. Yes, totally.

Speaker 3:

Time on red bubble looking.

Speaker 4:

I would like to admit, Oh goodness. Well we will let you say Jordan and I will work on the next generation of shades and it's called a darker shade of clothing and so we will work on our next generation of quotes. That's hysterical.

Speaker 3:

Another quote related question. Is there a quote that inspires you?

Speaker 4:

Yeah, I mean there are many. There are many. I grew up on poetry, everything from Blake to Shel Silverstein. Really those were the first, the first things that made me fall in love with writing and why cadence and rhythm are so important to me regardless of whether I'm writing poetry or addiction. But there is a quote that, um, there are two, um, one is Vango and one Israel kit and I feel like then go is the one that I hold onto whenever things are just uncertain, which is I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars still makes me dream. Hmm. And I just kind of like hold on to that because it's true because you know, a lot of people look up at the sky and it tends to trigger one of two responses. The sky makes you feel small and that either makes you very frightened or the sky makes you feel small and that makes you feel very safe because you're kind of inconsequential, inconsequential illness either inspires fear or kind of dramatic release inside of you.

Speaker 4:

And I look up at the sky and it makes me feel incredibly peaceful because it puts everything into perspective. And yet I look up at the sky and it also just fills me with this, this energy. So I feel like that poem that, that quote really does it for me. And then the real co one, I'm looking it up because it's only three lines long and I don't want to get it wrong, but I feel like it's very appropriate for right now. And I wrote it in the, in the front of my 2020 journal before I knew anything that was going to happen. Um, the quotas let everything happen to you. Beauty and terror just keep going. No feeling is final. And they feel like those two quotes really are the things that guide me. Those are good choices.

Speaker 3:

I like those quotes.

Speaker 4:

You try. Quotes are so important. You know, I, and I think, you know, as writers, we're also readers. We're also continuous consumers. We're also kind of addicted to ideas and so we tend to snack on quotes as much as anybody.

Speaker 3:

Yeah. Which just make me so happy if I have a bad day or if I'm bored, I just go on good reads and look up an author and just read all their quotes. I'm like, this makes me happy.

Speaker 4:

Sometimes the music quote will do it to me too. Like I've, I don't get words tattooed on me. I have several tattoos, but none of them are words. Um, because I think words are kind of fickle and I mean, I say that as somebody who writes them. I think about what kind of words I want to carry with me all the time. And I think about song lyrics and one of the, and song lyrics make me feel a lot better when I don't feel like a hundred percent strong and housey has one that's, I'm meaner than my demons. I'm bigger than my bones and I feel like whenever I'm having a bad day, I just think I'm meaner than my demons.

Speaker 3:

I love that

Speaker 4:

I have a Pinterest board, um, that actually started a long, long time before I thought to start this podcast. But the board is called the happy writer. Um, and it's, it's like probably 80% just inspiring quotes. Um, and things that when I'm having a bad writing day, I'll just go and look. And so it was like all of these, you know, motivating and inspiring quotes, but then interspersed with like beautiful pictures of coffee mugs and it's like, you know what, I think I know a lot of writers who will like listen to an Anthem or like a song to really get themselves going. And I do think it's about, it's about clearing that slate. It's the same as organizing your desk. How do you get your head ready to do the work that you're going to do and how do you declutter your space and kind of focus your energy?

Speaker 4:

You know, some people like put on real clothes, I don't know. Some people like auras for some people, you know like when we, when we're allowed to go to coffee shops. For me, like I'm a coffee shop writer because I think I need a delineation between my home and my office and I don't usually have that as a physical space. So I like go places and the act of buying a coffee or a tea is, it is a way of telling myself you're taking this seriously. Like you could have just sat at home and made yourself a cup of tea, but you're going out and you're purchasing something and you're putting yourself in a public space and you can't watch Netflix. You have to just sit and work, you know? Yeah. Now when I go out into the world to write, I always feel much more obligated to actually do what I came to do.

Speaker 4:

But if I lived in France, you live in France. I live, here's the weird thing. I live in Scotland, actually, I'm in France because my parents live here. And so when the lockdown started for quarantine, I came down here because I wanted to be with them because I didn't know how long the lockdowns would be. And so, and also because I don't like, I needed animal fixes. Animals are good for mental health and my parents have seven and I in Scotland don't have any. And so I was like, I will come down and just surround myself with four legged animals. Um, and that has been a really solid idea. But the hardest thing is, you know, in American culture, coffee shops stay open quite late often. And in Scotland, coffee shops close at like four or five in the afternoon because everyone just goes to pubs.

Speaker 4:

And instance only hard aspect is I have learned to write in pubs and stead because, but I need that public accountability. And I do find, you know, I do have the luxury of, you know, I'm not married and I don't have kids and so I can just kind of up and go. And it has been the weirdest thing about the quarantine is learning to write, sitting still. What are these four legged animals that they have? Well, actually I said there were seven, four legged animals, but they're actually, some of them are birds. There are now, well there are seven chickens. There are three dogs and two cats. So it's like a busy little farm house. There were only three chickens when I got here, but then we got four pandemic chickens because we decided we needed more eggs if we were going to survive a pandemic.

Speaker 4:

And so they're all named for different kinds of alcohol. Um, so there's like pina colada margarita, Tito's telling you you're too young for any of these, but you know, one day, um, and then the doll. So one of the dogs is technically mine, but I brought her down here for a couple of weeks, quote unquote while I went on tour last year. And somehow it's been a year and a half and she's still here. So I think this is my dog kind of lives here now. Um, and then we have a kitten who's now almost a year old, but he is like a bowling ball sized kid and it's very disconcerting. And then there's a 16 year old cat and two older dogs. Oh my goodness. I keep me busy. Keep me busy. I have to say, I mean listening many pets. It sounds like so much fun. Um, I have to say, listening to you talk about this, like idyllic

Speaker 2:

farm house in France situation. I just know my readers are thinking like, Oh, it's like she's living the life of Scarlet. I know, right?

Speaker 4:

A five. So my parents live in a 500 year old stone cottage.

Speaker 2:

Oh my God.

Speaker 4:

I thought walled gardens. So like basically one wall, like one of our garden walls used to be the um, castle keep walls for the like the boundary walls for the village where there was, when there was a castle. And one of my favorite things about it is so much of this village and this region was burned down during the a hundred years more like many hundreds of years ago. And a lot of it was wood and our house is stone and so in the terrace that overlooks kind of the walled gardens that are like roses and Ivy and everything, there are stones taken from the church that was torn down in the a hundred years war and they thought like the years etched into them and like little crosses etched into them and it's a very surreal one wall of our garden has prison cells in it. Gosh. Because it used to be part of the castle wall that is, it's very surreal. It's like a very cozy little farmhouse, like a cottage house with like a five foot tall fireplace, like opening, like you can climb into the firefights. Huh? This is my happy place. Yeah. And I'm in a place where pastry is considered an essential service.

Speaker 2:

Yes. So obviously I'm very grateful for that. I love the French for their love of pastry.

Speaker 4:

Yeah.

Speaker 3:

Um, we briefly talked about this, but can you please tell us a little bit more about the invisible lights of Addie LaRue? I'm very, very excited for this.

Speaker 4:

Yeah. So, um, the invisible line of Angela Ru, as I've said, has been almost a decade in the making. It was actually way back in 2011. I was living in a really, really bad environment in Liverpool, which is another story. But I, um, had a housemate at the time who, who would travel for work and she would drop me off places for the day and I could just kind of wander for seven or eight hours and write, and then she would come back and pick me up. And one day she dropped me off in the, almost called the Highlands, but that's not what's called an England. And like the Lake district, which is kind of a hilly, really picturesque region. She dropped me off in a village called Ambleside and it's a really surreal little place because it feels a little bit stuck in time.

Speaker 4:

Like you're walking through it until they electric lights and come on. And it's changed a little bit in the last few years, but you could really kind of see what it looked like several hundred years ago. And I went for a walk and as I went for a walk, my mind wandered as mines are wanting to do. And I started thinking about Peter pan, which is one of my favorite stories of all time. And it's an extraordinarily sad story because at the end of the story, obviously Peter pan begins to forget. I'm really like the characters aren't even off screen and he's already starting to forget them. And I was taking

Speaker 5:

this walk through this very wild, ancient countryside on a gray day. And I was thinking about memory and how sad it is to forget. Um, and I had had a grandparent who had dementia for about 10 years and you watch somebody basically become a racist in this way. But I was thinking how much sadder it would be to be forgotten. What of your memory was crystalline? What if your memory was perfect and everybody forgot you? And that was kind of one of the original seeds for what would become the invisible life with Addie liver. It's about a young woman in, in the French countryside who, um, has blinked and half of her life has gone by her, a quarter of her life has gone by. She's looked up and she hasn't lived at all and she becomes terrified that she's going to be buried in the same place she was born without ever, ever having seen the world.

Speaker 5:

And in a moment of extreme desperation, she decides to summon the old gods to ask for help to find a way out and all day of her wedding because that's the problem that she's going to be married away. And all day of her wedding she tries to some in the old gods and none of them answer. And then at dusk she tries again and she's been warned never to never pray to the gods that answer after dark. But she's desperate and she does an Addie accidentally summons the devil. And she tells the devil that she wants freedom. She wants to live forever. She just wants time. Really. She's just scared of time passing her by and, and the devil refuses to do a deal with her and you find out it's because the devil only deals in souls and he only gets your soul when the deal is done.

Speaker 5:

And if Addie lives forever, then he'll never get her soul. And in this desperation, Addie says to the devil, you can have my soul when I don't want it anymore. And something an incredible opportunity. The devil agrees any grants or immortality. And she doesn't realize until after he's left her there that he's granted her immortality in exchange for everyone, for getting her, not just in that moment, but throughout her entire immortality. The moment she's out of sight, she's out of mind. Every single person that she encounters forgets her. She can't leave a physical Mark. She can't write, she can't draw, she can't do anything. And it becomes a question of how do you leave a Mark on the world when you can't be remembered? And it's about her relationship with the devil over about 300 years as he becomes the only person who remembers her, the only constant in her life. And conversely she kind of becomes the only constant in his existence. So it's about this very tangled animosity turning to friendship almost. And then it's about her coming to terms with the fact that she'll never be remembered only to meet a young man in present day New York city in a bookstore who remembers her name. And it's about those three people. I'm going to destroy me, people who have read it. So I'm very, very pleased with their emotional reactions, which is,

Speaker 3:

it's like I'm already like, Oh no, I don't. This is sad. Like I can't, and I haven't read any of it yet.

Speaker 5:

What's interesting is it, I was asked when I was revising the novel, my editor asked me to figure out the core of Addie and keep her really close to my heart. So that I wouldn't lose her while revising. So I had to do a lot of thinking about what the core of Addie was and, and it's so interesting given the time that we're living through right now, because the core of Addie is a defiant kind of joy. It is a really stubborn hope because if she didn't have the stuff I enjoy the stubborn hope, she would've given up. She would've given into the devil, you know, 10 years in or 50 years in her a hundred years. And instead she's 300 years in. And the reason that she's still exists is because she continuously finds things to live for. And so it is a story about defiant joy.

Speaker 3:

I already love her.

Speaker 5:

You love her when you meet her in October. Yeah, I know. Everything sounds incredible. It was the scariest thing I ever wrote because it was so different from my other books. And I'm sure you know this feeling of mercy. You sit down to write something new and you feel indebted isn't the right word. It's not that you feel indebted to the past work that you've done, which you're aware of your audience and you're aware that like you have asked your audience to follow you this far and every step you take off the center line of your, of your brand, of your identity is a step you're asking the audience to take. And in the beginning, as I started writing this, even though my, you know, 1516 novels are quite diverse in the themes and the styles and the audience, I felt like they all had a common thread and I knew that this was going to be something that stepped off the path.

Speaker 5:

And it's interesting because over the course of revising the book that became, it went from being a weakness to a strength in my mind. It started to coalesce into a book that became the center point of all the other books that I had written. It kind of became the cog at the very center of the wheel and now I'm desperately excited for people to read it because it is completely different from everything I've ever written and a guarantee they're going to be people out there who hate it because of that. They're going to be people out there who are like, I wanted more adventure or I wanted, you know, I wanted more X or more Y or more Z. Maybe this book will be too quiet for some. Maybe this book will be to anything. I don't know, I can't predict it but I do know that I wrote the book that I am most proud of of my entire career so far.

Speaker 3:

I speak on behalf of a decent amount of fans cause I am friends with a lot of readers and I know that they're going to love it no matter what because you wrote it and we love you and you're so talented and I'm already in love with it and I've read a few quotes that you've posted on Instagram and thank you for writing this book.

Speaker 5:

Of course. And I do want to say, I think that's my, my, the thing I'm most grateful for about the readership that I have been able to cultivate the community is that you guys give me the courage to take chances and to try things and to take risks because I know that even if this isn't the book for all of my readers, there is a respect there among my readers that they know that I'm trying something, that I'm doing something that I authentically believe in and I will, I can never promise that people are going to love my books, but I can promise that I put 150% of the effort.

Speaker 2:

I want to know what are some of those, you talked about how all of your books that you'd written up until this one, um, had some, you know, similar threads, some through lines in your mind, what are some of the, through lines of your career?

Speaker 5:

I recently tried to do a Venn diagram that figured out the center point of all my words, death, like death is the only commonality, but specifically the idea of death as like a poorest boundary. Like something that's not final. You know, you've got the villain series where superheroes are formed or super villains really are formed by their near death experience. You have this Savage song where the act of death, the act of violence creates monsters. You have the archive, which is about a library of the dead city of ghosts, which is about a girl who almost died and can now cross the veil into the realm of the dead shades of magic. Um, it's a very minor spoiler, but the relationship between Kellen rye is predicated on a porous boundary with death. Um, and Lila's, his entire definition of self is around this lack of fear of death.

Speaker 5:

So I do think that death is this commonality. And in a way, I mean Abby LaRue is about a girl trying to avoid death because she's not ready to end her experiences but and then what it means to be a mortal to need to be deathless in that way. But I think you know, I'm really interested in antagonism and an antiheroes. I'm interested in the idea that there is no concrete good and evil. There's no black and white to it. It is all shades of gray. I'm really interested in, I don't even like to call it a redemption arc, but I'm, I like shifting the markers of people's expectations of characters over the course of a series. So in shades of magic for instance, you meet Holland in book one as a Willan and he becomes an antagonist in book two and a protagonist in book three. And so I like, you know, and the same goes for Eli and vicious. And then in vengeful I like things that make you question your own morals and your own stance on things.

Speaker 2:

I love that too. I love, I love playing with those, those spaces between good and bad, right and wrong.

Speaker 5:

Also girls with knives. Apparently. I just really like all of my, like most of my characters are slithering and most of my boys are Hufflepuffs and cause I like to show the facet that we're told not to show. Right? Like so often men and boys are told not to feel overtly, they're told not to show their emotions, not to live that, that truth. And I want to, you know, I think as like a queer female author, there's this expectation that I want to like erase men from the narrative. And that's, it's the exact opposite. I want to show men that they can occupy space in the narrative, but one, they don't need to be the center of every narrative. And two, they don't have to be this quintessential masculine ideal, right? Like, like August and, and Kalmar rash, um, are both like, and Henry in the human man and in Atilla Ru are so deeply empathetic.

Speaker 5:

And, and I like my girls to be angry because I'm, I'm writing for a version of myself and, and I was like a super angry teenager. Not even in the most clear ways, I think. I just felt stifled. I felt like I was constantly like an energy force being contained and I want, I think so often I want to create powerful girls. And so often we're told through narratives that when a girl has power, she should be self-sacrificing. She should be willing to give that power away for the greater good, which is a demand. We don't make up male characters. And so I like to create self interested young women.

Speaker 3:

I love your female characters. I love how powerful they are. They make me feel so happy

Speaker 5:

cause they're ambitious. And the thing is like I, ambition is a beautiful thing. Ambition is not a negative. Like I'm a proud slither and yeah, sure the slogans can be terrible sometimes but like we did, we talk about their ambition as if it's a negative trait and ambition.

Speaker 3:

Yeah.

Speaker 5:

Yeah, exactly. And the ambition is, especially for girls, something I think we should be fostering. I think we should allow, I think we should allow girls to be angry. I think we should allow them to be hungry. I think we should allow them to be a little bit feral sometimes.

Speaker 3:

And so Addie is adult fiction, but you've written adult Y a N middle-grade. What's it like writing books in three different age groups?

Speaker 5:

You know, it's really interesting. I kind of hinted at this just now, but I'm always writing for a different version of myself. I really write for that one person audience because you have no other guarantees in this industry, in this career. You can't guarantee which of your books will be successful if any of them are successful. You can't guarantee what speaks to other people. And it can be really hard if you're trying to write for like a mysterious other audience. And so I try really hard to, to be very specific and to think who am I writing for? And I'm always writing for an age of myself. So the Cassie Blake books are written to 12 year old, 13 year old me and exactly what I was afraid of and exactly what I wanted and exactly what I felt like I would have made me happy.

Speaker 5:

And the monster severity books are written to 17 year old me. And I was angry and stifled and I felt powerless and I felt trapped. And so I'm writing for that. And you know, my adult books are really truly written to the age that I am at the time that I'm writing them. There's a really big sematic difference between vicious and vengeful. And it's largely because not only was the world a different place when I was 25 versus 30 but I was a really different person between age 25 and 30 I changed and grew in ways I couldn't have predicted. And those books reflect that. And I think it can be so tricky because we think, you know, books become static, books become unchangeable. But the authors that create those books are continuing to grow. Like I'm, I'm going back to shades of magic now for threads of power for the next three books and I'm so excited.

Speaker 5:

But part of me is really scared cause I'm a different person. I'm 30 I'm about to turn 33 I'm 32 now and I wrote a darker shade of magic when I was 27 and I'm so proud of those books. I don't, I don't want to change anything about them, but there's no doubt at the same time that I'm going to be a slightly different writer as a 33 year old than I was as a 27 year old. My, my, my brain is six years, seven years different, you know? And so I think it's really tricky. But yeah, I write for me, I just, so like Addie is in so many ways written for 30 year old me, that's when the story really coalesced. And so much of [inaudible] is about this really weird thing that happens when you start to circle 30 as an age where all of a sudden people expect you to know what you're doing and, and oftentimes you don't.

Speaker 5:

It's like an arbitrary line. 29 is no less intelligent than 30 and 30 is no wiser than 20 all of a sudden people treat you like you're fully fledged adults. And, and it's about the fear that comes with that. And it's about what happens when, you know, maybe this happens when you're 16 it happens when you're 25 it happens when you're 30 but this happens multiple times where you feel like you bent down to tie your shoe and you looked up and everyone else was arguing mile ahead of you. Maybe you're, you know, you're still in high school, tell you maybe it feels like everyone around you knows exactly what they want to do with their entire life. Maybe it feels like everyone has known since they were 10 you know there are people who are just, they know and it you can feel really lost.

Speaker 5:

And I feel like this is a book about what happens when you feel like life is moving too quickly around you. Do you have a favorite age group to write for or is one easier than the other? Oh, I don't have a favorite cause I'm really drawn to the stories and I kind of figure out the age around the story. Sometimes it's very clear and sometimes it's not. But I will say that there's an easiest, which is, um, which is adult only because I'm an adult. So when I'm writing for a version of myself, I'm writing for something that's still very close to the surface for me. Whereas when I'm writing for, you know, 1617 year old me, it's a little trickier one because that's now, you know, 10 to 15 years behind me. But also because I really shut down a lot in those years and I find it really hard to access that part of myself.

Speaker 5:

I find it hard to access 1617 year old me because she's very much like Kate Harker in the Savage song. She's much like a walled off person. So I find the white voice is actually the hardest one for me. And I like, I wasn't like, I wasn't really interested in Rome in romance. I was like super closeted and I hadn't figured out I was queer yet. And so there's a lot that I find really hard to access about my white voice. And then middle grade I'd say is a little easier than [inaudible] even though it's a little farther back because weirdly like a middle grade and then adult have this like strange Venn diagram overlap where they appeal a little more holistically. And I think why a is such a specific experience to what you're going through and like to capturing that coming of age and that first, you know, a world of first in a world of fear and explosion and danger and all of those things that we love as readers.

Speaker 5:

But I find it is my least natural meaning it's the one that comes most slowly to the surface. For me it's the one I have to work foremost. Hmm Hmm. That's fast. And that's exact opposite of what I expected. So interesting. It's weird cause I mean I started Nya but I wasn't, I was never somebody that like expected to write a, I wrote like a really weird fairytale but happened to fit in Yia at the time. And I, it's interesting cause I feel like there's not a huge, like people always assume my adult books are going to be darker than my why and all of a sudden. Why, why and all those are miles darker than anything else that I,

Speaker 3:

well I know you've addressed this. You say you go by VIII Schwalben great adult books in Victoria when writing, why and children, but why is that?

Speaker 5:

Oh man. Um, you know what I want to say is if I could go back, I'd be V for all of it and it's going to be for a sad reason. But, um, so I started out as Victoria also. I just identify more as the like I feel more me and it looks nicer on a cover. And I, and the reason that I, I originally switched from Victoria to VIII as I entered the adults fantasy spaces because, um, adult genre and the adult field in general is pretty sexist. And it's really unfortunate that that's the case. But the fact is that there were, when I, when I started at seven years ago and still are seven years later, a lot of readers who will not pick up a fantasy or scifi novel if it has a woman's name on the cover. And that's such a sad thing to have to face because it's a judgment that you can't control at all.

Speaker 5:

Like I want somebody to pick up my books and love or hate or take issue with the content inside. The idea that somebody wouldn't pick up my books because the name on my cover was perceived female was something that made me so furious and I had very long conversations with my team about whether to basically say like, screw you, I'm going to do this, I'm going to do me. And in the end I decided to put a gender neutral name on my books because again, I wanted somebody to like not stop at the cover. I would rather, and I have this conversation, this happens with readers where they'll say like, and think they've said to me very bluntly, like, I never would have picked your book up if I had known you were a woman now though. And now they're fans though. And they have to like confront that what made them feel that bias.

Speaker 5:

And I'd rather create fans who have to then face their own bias than have never had the opportunity to make those fans in the first place because they didn't, they stopped at my name. And do you know, or have, have you ever met a reader who had that experience, um, where they, they wouldn't have picked up the book if they'd known it was by a female writer. Um, but now that they read this and Oh, it's written by a woman, but man, I really loved it. Do you think that those people then will go on to be more openminded in their reading selection going forward? I mean, I can only hope, right? I mean, we, you chip away at bias one instance at a time. It's usually not like a single instance that changes your entire life. It's usually unfortunately for most, not that regulatory, but I hope to be part of the solution in that case of showing you, you know, what your assumptions were and how wrong they might've been.

Speaker 5:

It is a really unfortunate thing. And now I think if I could go back, I would make them all just VIII. Not because of buying into that but because you know, for a long time I tried to give like the very correct answer on it, the very diplomatic answer and say, and this isn't, it isn't a falsehood to say, you know, I had vicious, which was my first adult novel and it had an illustrated cover on it and I had a young middle grade series called everyday angel with an illustrated cover at the same time. And I did not want like an eight or nine year old to pick up vicious because they saw my name on it. Like these are like the farthest end of my spectrum. But there's a valid, very diplomatic answer. But I think the greater truth is that I, I didn't want to be looked over in the genre industry.

Speaker 3:

I didn't know you wrote everyday angel until like this year. And I was like, mom, one of my favorite books when I was little was written by my favorite, now author,

Speaker 5:

it cracks me up whenever anybody comes across it. Cause verse, I don't know if you hear about this, like my life was like falling apart in publishing about seven years ago and I didn't think I was gonna be able to keep doing it because it's, it's a hard industry. And Scholastic came to me and asked if I would be interested in writing essentially like a fictionalized self help book for tween girls called everyday angel and, and, and I fell in love with this project and worked on it and it sold like 750,000 copies and book clubs and fairs. And so I have this entire generation of readers who like, doesn't even realize as as they come tonight, my middle grade WIA and adult books doesn't even realize that they read me in school and middle school because like you know when you're, when you're like eight, nine, 10 you don't pay attention to the author's name on the book. Like you're just, you're, you're reading a book. Like the author is usually meaningless. So it cracks me up whenever somebody is like, wait a second, wait a second, that's you. And I'm like, that's me. That's me. That's magic

Speaker 3:

being so excited to getting the book. Cause we have the little magazines and I'll go home. I'll be like, well you did okay in school so you can buy lots of books. The little book cart was home with all the books and your book was there. I was like, Oh my goodness. The best day ever I would have read it.

Speaker 5:

So happy. It is really funny though cause they're by far the, I say they're the lightest books I ever wrote. They're like, they deal with like death and depression for like 11 year old girls but, but, but the magically they are, they are probably like the most hopeful or the lightest because of the age group that they were written for. And I always have to like I create a little train of my books that show you like and here's the like the lightest youngest end of the spectrum and then here's the other end of the spectrum. You've got to find your way down the train. Like as you grow up, if there is something so special about being in the Scholastic book fairs and cause that, that nostalgia from childhood and yeah, it's the best. Yeah. I tell you we had the same thing when we were growing up. That's one of the beauties of this classic book fairs is they've been around for so long that like ever grown up authors have experienced them as children. Yeah.

Speaker 3:

My first year of high school was really rough and I remember I came home and I cried and it happened to be the same week as the Scholastic book fair. And my mom saw me crying and she's like, so we're going to take you to the middle school so you can,

Speaker 5:

Oh, good mom. It was a very, like, it was a very surreal moment when I found out that those books were going to beat because those books, they just came out in bookstores. But like for a very, for many years, the only way they were available was through book clubs and book fairs. And, and when I found out that I was going to have a Scholastic lead, like book club title, it was such a weird full circle like reader book, lover, writer moment for me because it was simultaneously kind of the lowest point in my career. And then to have this, this boon that allowed me to write vicious, that allowed me to write a darker shade of magic, I would not have been able to write those books without this. That's so wonderful. What a great story. Um, all right. I do feel like we could probably talk forever and ever. Um, Talia, do you have any last questions that you really wanted to get to?

Speaker 3:

I think I have one more that's related. So I think it works. Victoria, you recently tweeted saying that your breakout book was the eighth book you published. What motivated you to keep writing?

Speaker 5:

Um, kind of like Addie LaRue. I am a person of sheer stubborn hope. I am somebody that and I, the thing is so a darker shade of magic is my eighth novel and that's the one that kind of, I don't want to say it didn't mean that. The funny thing is it didn't even like launch my career because vicious doing well. But each one of my books I started so small, there's this illusion that the only way to start in Yia or in any one of the industries is to come out like swinging with this massive amount of fanfare. And that is absolutely one way. But my book started tiny and so each book was like this little brick in the wall of my, of my career and the near which was tiny. And it went away after 18 months and the archive was just a little bit bigger and the Unbound was just a little bit bigger.

Speaker 5:

But none of them were big enough to, to have a career and vicious gave me a bit more hope, but it, you know, it was really a cult favorite. Like it's had this very slow and steady rise. And so it's not like I ever, I didn't feel hopeless because I had every day angel, which was allowing me to stick with it. And I just kept feeling like I kept reminding myself that for the vast majority of authors, your career will not be based on a single book. It will be based on a body of work. And I just kept telling myself, I have to keep putting bricks in this wall. And I was, I, you know, I had, I was so fortunate to have readers along the way, maybe a far smaller number than I have now, but a number of readers along the way who were saying, you know, we love this, we love this, keep going.

Speaker 5:

And I knew that I was, if I could stick with it long enough that, that, that would have enough traction. So I really was honestly just focused on getting from book to book. Like just get me one more book. Each book is a chance and I didn't ever think, Oh, I'm going to have a massive breakout. I thought I was going to have a book that just helped me get to the next step and the next step and the next step. And that's honestly the philosophy for my whole career and still, and so I often say after my people like a darker shade of magic came out and nobody really expected it to do well. So I was living in Scotland at the time, getting my graduate degree when it came out. And my publisher, who I love, like Tor and I have a great relationship and we have many books together and have gone on to create lots of wonderful things, but their expectations of the book were low enough that they under ordered the first printing so badly that it sold out before release day.

Speaker 5:

And that meant that the first three and a half weeks that the book was out, it wasn't available, which can be a nail in the coffin of a series. Like it came out, the series started. Nobody could get the book and I was so terrified that the book would come, you know, come back and become available and everyone would have already moved on to the next week of releases and next week and it would have been forgotten. And a darker shade of magic had this vary over the course of the year between a darker shade of magic and the gathering of shadows. It found itself, it found that traction and that was the first time I got to really see an audience grow in real time behind a story. But I don't want anyone to think that my career ever flung itself from ground to sky.

Speaker 5:

It has truly been one brick at a time. I love that because it's so inspiring, but no matter someone is on their journey. It's so true. Just work on the next book. Focus on the next book. So don't know what your backlist is going to do. I mean that's the thing, right? Like this has now like gained such a solid readership. It's gained that readership because it's my backlist and because people finish a darker shade of magic and then they go find vicious or they finished vicious and they go find the archive or they finished like it's about you want to create enough content that you're continuing to give your readership options of where to go when they have finished the book that they've finished. Yeah. I know one of my goals from, from the very beginning, you know, if I'm going to be a career author, it's not about getting movie deals.

Speaker 5:

It's not about bestseller lists. Like I want to reach a point where when someone opens the cover of one of my books, they have to go through pages and pages of lists also written by Marissa Meyer. I love it. It's the beauty of stability. It's the beauty of like we can tell like the overnight success and we can tell the big, shiny, this season's released, but if you want to be a career author, you have to really think a lot longer term than that, and I'm fortunate. My agent, Holly root always makes me sit down and create a one year, a five year and a 10 year plan and then every six months to a year to see how those are going. Hmm.

Speaker 3:

The best thing ever is reading a book, loving it, and then seeing that the author has like a million more books out and it's just the best feeling. In sixth grade. I read one of Sarah Dustin's books two months and my English teacher was like, Talia, you are aware you have to read things that aren't just, they're a Destin. Right. And that's like, but she has more books.

Speaker 5:

I love it as a leader too. I find myself going down the exact same. I get so excited when I fall in love with an author and then I find out that there's more. Yes. Spoken like a true book fan. Um, I just have one last, uh, real fast question for you Victoria. Um, do I understand that you have also recently started a new podcast? Okay. So I am not fancy enough to have a podcast like you. I was told not to do it by everyone. On my team because they know that I'm set. Like I'm such a magpie. I want to do everything all the time and I can't. But what happened was I had been toying with the idea of a podcast for quite a while and I wanted to call it no right way because I really hate prescriptive writing advice. I just drives me absolutely crazy because I think we're often as creators searching for shortcuts.

Speaker 5:

Like just tell us the formula. Just tell us the way to do it. Right. And that makes us really susceptible to prescriptive advice. And prescriptive advice is terrible because the only thing that works is whatever works for you. And so I wanted to have an excuse to interview authors about what works for them, about what their process looks like and how different it is for mine and show that there really is no right way. And so I played with this idea for several months. I was trying, in the midst of trying to convince my team to let me do it. And then the pandemic happened and I thought, well, screw this. I'm just going to do a weekly Instagram live chat and like, and so what it is basically is, it's, it's been going on for seven weeks now. I have my eight uh, episode coming up this weekend is truly, I just get on Instagram live and um, and I chat for 45 minutes to an hour with an author and I ask about their creative process, their origin story, like what are their, you know, what's their kryptonite, what's the thing that they love most?

Speaker 5:

What are surprises of, uh, that they have found along the way and just really try and improve the point that there is no right way to write. When does it air like at a specific time? It's on 3:00 PM Eastern, um, on every Saturday, every Saturday. Now Instagram has like updated and so it's now automatically updating it to IETV. But for awhile I had like, my poor readers were like recording it on their screen so that it could upload. Every past episode is up on my YouTube channel. And then I think from here on they'll also be on my great. Okay. I will totally check it on. That sounds amazing.

Speaker 2:

Um, okay. We're going to wrap this up with our happy writers lightning round. Um, this time I'm going to ask the questions and we will have both of you guys answer. I'm looking forward to hearing what you both have to say. Um, and I think we'll, we'll start with Victoria and skin cancer first and then Talia. Sound good.

Speaker 5:

Great. All right. What book makes you happy? Searcy by Madeline Miller.

Speaker 3:

I have to say winter by you only because I made everybody I know read that book and if I'm sad, that's the book I read.

Speaker 2:

Oh, I'm honored. Thank you. What do you do to celebrate an accomplishment? I take a shot of tequila over over it.

Speaker 3:

Um, I go on Barnes and noble and order new books because clearly I don't have enough.

Speaker 2:

That's the right answer. The answer I would like to say. I also, I drink a shot of tequila and then I go on whole.com or bookshop.org and I order, those were both perfectly wonderful answers. I agree. How do you feel the creative? Well,

Speaker 5:

I consume content in every form possible. I binge watched television shows and movies. I read books, I listen to books. I am absolutely creatively voracious.

Speaker 3:

Um, yeah, I, I watch a lot of TV too. I binged too much of Lucifer too quickly because I felt that Victoria watch.

Speaker 2:

Okay.

Speaker 3:

It's like, well you guys are watching all of this.

Speaker 2:

I haven't seen him in three days. So good though.

Speaker 3:

It is.

Speaker 2:

What advice would you give to help someone become a happier writer?

Speaker 5:

Oh goodness. Um, okay, this is going to sound like a cop out, but it's truly some of the, it's the only thing I can think which is you will have got to write for yourself first. You have to write what you want to read because maybe you'll be the only reader and even if you're not, you'll be the first fan. And at the end of the day, the only way to guarantee that you are excited by what you're doing is by making sure it's something that you desperately want to read.

Speaker 3:

Um, well, obviously I'm not a super cool published author like you guys, but I just like writing the things that make me happy and I always lose interest when I like have straight the filler scenes. So I just stopped doing that and it's a disjointed mess. But like it's a happy, disjointed mess.

Speaker 2:

I think you have stumbled onto, one of the great secrets of writing is just don't write the fillers or make something dramatic happen

Speaker 5:

during the filler scenes. Like if you figure out what you need to tell in this moment, what can you have happen while you're trying to tell it?

Speaker 2:

Uh, lastly, where can people find you?

Speaker 3:

Okay.

Speaker 5:

Um, well it's a well known fact that I live inside the internet specifically that you can find me on Twitter and on Instagram. Both of them just at V. E Schwab. B. E. S. C H. W. A. B.

Speaker 3:

Um, I don't know why anyone would want to find me. Also on Instagram and it's Talia underscore, E. C T. H. A. L. I. A underscore E. A. S. T.

Speaker 2:

And did you say that you were going to be posting on your Instagram about this conversation?

Speaker 3:

Yeah, definitely. I mean you guys are my favorite,

Speaker 2:

so there you go. People might want to go check it out and get some of the behind the scenes look. Um, thank you both so much. Thank you Victoria. Thank you Talia. It was really, really great to get to talk to you.

Speaker 5:

That's was such a delight. Thank you so much for having me and thank you Tanya for requesting that.

Speaker 3:

It was so much fun. Thank you.

Speaker 5:

See, I told you we're not scary.

Speaker 3:

Nope, I knew you weren't scary, but I was like, I'm going to ask a really dumb question.

Speaker 2:

No, not the questions. Those were wonderful questions. You did great. I'm so proud of you, Talia. Nicely done. Readers. Definitely be sure to check out Victoria's books. She has written a gazillion of them and they are all amazing. Um, and be sure to look out for her newest, the invisible life of Abby LaRue coming out this October. Uh, is it available for preorder right now? All available for preorder now. Um, also, if you missed the creators for comics auction, um, you can still help struggling bookstores. Um, of course by making purchases, we always highly recommend to support your local indie, um, or you can donate to the book industry charitable foundation, uh, at being foundation.org. Please be sure to subscribe to this podcast. So you will always be in the know about new episodes. You can find me on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author or at happy writer podcast. Until next time, stay healthy. Hope you're staying cozy out in your bunkers and whatever life throws at you today. I do hope that now you're feeling

Speaker 1:

[inaudible].