When I met Maggie a few years ago, I figured she was a few years older than me. She was so mature, had an amazing vocabulary, and was obviously more educated them I was just from the way she spoke casually (am I the only person on the East Coast without a Master’s degree!?!). Oh, and she had already published one successful novel and was working on her second. NBD.
When her second novel, Astonish Me, came out this year, it reminded me to purchase both of her novels (Seating Arrangements was her first, published in 2012) and read them. I tore through both of them rather quickly this summer and wanted to interview her for my blog. (I recently wrote a post about Astonish Me and when she came to DC for a book signing.)
As I was doing a little reading up on her for this interview (because I hate to ask a stupid question that I could answer myself with a simple Google search), I found out she actually born the same year I was. It just made me think, wow, her parents must be so proud.
If any of you know me well, you know that I am a question-asker. Especially if I find someone’s profession interesting, and I find being a successful young author very interesting. Maggie kindly answered my long list of burning questions:
Interview with novelist Maggie Shipstead
Do you have a general idea of the overall plot of your stories when you start writing them?
Sometimes yes, but often no. Both my novels started as failed short stories, which was helpful because I had at least decided on how the voice should be and had a few landmarks for the plots. But mostly I just kind of embark on a story and hope my subconscious will solve the problems I create for it. What I’m working on now is more complicated, though, and I’m probably going to have to adjust my strategy.
Do you have an “idea folder” for possible ideas you want to develop? If so, is it digital or actual pen on paper?
I’m really disorganized about this. I have a document on my computer with stray sentences and potential titles and cryptic phrases that make sense when I decide I need to write them down but end up being mysterious by the time I come back to them. I also take notes on my phone and sometimes scraps of paper. It’s not a great system.