Author Crush Friday: Stephanie Garber
Glitter girls, you have pressing questions for your favorite authors and we have their answers. Welcome to our weekly segment, Author Crush Fridays.
We love asking questions and we love the answers from some of our favorite authors. Today we’re talking to Stephanie Garber, the NY Times Bestselling author of the YA world of magic and mystery, Caraval (January 31, 2017; Flatiron Books). Thank you for talking to us today, Stephanie! We’re honored! And, PS, we’re right there with you on loving Disneyland! We even have season passes! Because everyone loves the mouse!
GLITTER: Tell us 5 random facts about yourself.
- I love the color pink.
- Disneyland is my favorite place on earth.
- I’ve never gotten over my obsession with Vampires.
- I have a nameplate on my desk that says Stephanie Garber, Director of Fun.
- I’ve never watched the Gilmore Girls, but I’m hoping to change that soon.
GLITTER: Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.
STEPHANIE: Becoming a writer was easy, but becoming a published writer was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever achieved. Before Caraval sold I wrote five other books that never sold. I couldn’t even get anyone in publishing to read the first book I wrote—and that was devastating. Over the years I’ve received hundreds of rejections, cried Kleenex boxes full of tears, and binge watched lots of Vampire Dairies for therapeutic reasons. I don’t think I would have persevered except I had a tremendously supportive family, and I truly do love writing. When I wrote that first book, which no one would read, I felt as if I’d discovered the thing I was made to do. Sadly I wasn’t very good at it. But the great thing about writing is that no one is born a writer, it’s something you have to learn how to do. So I spent years learning more about the craft until I finally wrote a book that sold.
GLITTER: What is the main plot of Caraval?
STEPHANIE: This is from the jacket copy, and it’s one of my favorite summaries:
Whatever you’ve heard about Caraval, it doesn’t compare to the reality. It’s more than just a game or a performance. It’s the closest you’ll ever find to magic in this world . . .
Scarlett has never left the tiny island where she and her beloved sister, Tella, live with their powerful, and cruel, father. Now Scarlett’s father has arranged a marriage for her, and Scarlett thinks her dreams of seeing Caraval, the far-away, once-a-year performance where the audience participates in the show, are over.
But this year, Scarlett’s long-dreamt of invitation finally arrives. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella whisks Scarlett away to the show. Only, as soon as they arrive, Tella is kidnapped by Caraval’s mastermind organizer, Legend. It turns out that this season’s Caraval revolves around Tella, and whoever finds her first is the winner.
Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is only an elaborate performance. But she nevertheless becomes enmeshed in a game of love, heartbreak, and magic with the other players in the game. And whether Caraval is real or not, she must find Tella before the five nights of the game are over, a dangerous domino effect of consequences is set off, and her sister disappears forever.
Welcome, welcome to Caraval . . . beware of getting swept too far away.
GLITTER: If you had to describe Caraval in only 160 characters, how would you describe it?
STEPHANIE: A tale of two sisters caught up in a magical game that blurs the lines between fantasy and reality, making them question what’s real and what’s only a game.
GLITTER: Some say it’s the fantasy and wonder of Alice in Wonderland mixed with the tension of The Hunger Games. Do you agree with that assessment?
STEPHANIE: I love both Alice in Wonderland and The Hunger Games, so I’m always flattered to hear Caraval mentioned in the same sentence. I can definitely see the parallels to Alice—Caraval is full of all sorts of fantastical objects, magical places, and bizarre bargains—but I’m not sure I would ever compare it to The Hunger Games. Just like The Hunger Games, Caraval has a very strong sister relationship that is central to the story. However, the Hunger Games is a deadly game that most people really would rather not play, whereas Caraval is a magical game that some people might bargain away years of their lives to get tickets for.
GLITTER: In Caraval, what was your favorite chapter/scene to write and why?
STEPHANIE: I really had a great time writing the entire book—Caraval is the book I would like to live in. But if I had to pick a favorite chapter I would go with chapter five when I delve into Legend’s backstory. Legend was the first character I created for this book, and from the moment he swaggered onto the page I was absolutely in love with him.
GLITTER: Caraval focuses on the sister bond/relationship between Scarlett and Tella. How much of your own relationship with your sister came into play when writing?
STEPHANIE: The sister relationship between Tella and Scarlett is one of my favorite things about the story. I’m definitely similar to Scarlett in that I’m a total rule follower and when I was younger I might have been obnoxiously overprotective of my little sister—in fact I still am pretty over protective. My sister is my best friend, and I definitely tried to put some of that love and friendship in the story. Other than that I wouldn’t say the sisters reflect my sister and me at all. My sister is more adventurous, like Donatella, but where Donatella is very selfish, my sister is one of the most kind and generous people you’ll ever meet.
GLITTER: How did you come up with the idea for this story?
STEPHANIE: I actually came up with the game about a year and half before writing the book. During that time I brainstormed a lot and found inspiration from movies—like Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby, which made me want to write a bright book full of fantastical costumes, and bleeding colors. I also gained quite a bit of inspiration from music. The Fall Out Boy song, “Centuries” was a huge inspiration for one of my favorite characters, Legend. The Florence + the Machine song, “Cosmic Love” definitely influenced some of the romantic scenes, and Hans Zimmer’s quirky soundtrack to Sherlock Holmes helped me set the scene for the opening chapters of the book.
GLITTER: What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
STEPHANIE: I don’t know if there’s been a best compliment. I’m honestly thrilled whenever anyone tells me they’ve read my book because I know there are so many books out there to choose from, and for years no one wanted to read anything I wrote. As far as tough criticism goes, I think I received the most difficult criticism long before I sold a book. Now I usually view criticism as a way to make my writing better, but when I first started writing I often saw it as meaning I’d failed. Someone once told me that I needed take a pair of scissors and literally cut up one of my manuscripts. Not sure if that counts as criticism, but it was definitely difficult for me to take.
Photo credit: Protege Production Co.