Exclusive ATWN post by Maggie Stiefvater

Maggie Stiefvater, author of several of my most favorite YA novels, stops by the blog today on her #DreamThievesBlogTour to talk about games, music, and playlists.

17347389[1]Back when I was a kid, I had a couple of games that I used to play with myself. They didn’t really have names — or need them — because mostly they were conducted in my own head. I was great company.

One of them involved spotting heroes. The rules of this game were simple. All I needed was a public space with a lot of people in it (airports and gas stations were my favorites). And then I would zone off into the task of deciding who looked like they could be the hero of a book. Who looked ready to have an adventure. Who looked like a CHARACTER.

The other game involved my siblings, especially my younger brother. It sort of had a name? ‘Horses.’ Or ‘Cars.’ Depending on whether we were using our diecast cars or our model horses to act out the story. It didn’t much matter that they were horses or cars. They were characters. Before we began each time, my brother would ask “what’s the way?” The way was the plot, but I didn’t know it back then. If we didn’t have a way, the game petered out really quickly and we went outside to build mud pies instead.

And the last game was all about music. It happened on long car trips (of which we took many as a family). And for every song that came on the radio, I’d try to come up with a story to go along with it. It had to match the mood of the song, so that in the movie version of the story in my head, it could act as the soundtrack. Eight hours in the car = dozens of stories beginning and ending in my head.

I no longer play Cars or Horses, since my career is sort of Cars & Horses. I do still sort of play spot the hero, because I steal interesting people that I meet and put them in my novels.

And I definitely still write books to music. For the longest time, all through my teen years, I let music guide my story-writing. Then, as the Internet took hold and weirder music became easier to find, I began to do it the other way around: I’d have an idea of what kind of story I wanted to write, and then I’d go find the music to help me.

Now, I can’t imagine writing any other way. When I get stumped, I buy new music. If I can’t figure out what kind of music I need, it means I don’t know my story well enough. Once upon a time, I used to have a single playlist for each book. Now, however, I have both a book playlist, to remind me what mood I want for the overarching story, and I have character playlists within, to remind me to keep these people true to themselves. Even though this system works really well for me, I’m a little sad that it has made the playlists more convoluted when I share them with readers.

So I thought I’d end this post by sharing a sample of the Dream Thieves playlist . . . and then decode it.

“Exile” – Enya (Ronan, the first scene at the Barns)
“North Col” – Shearwater (overall playlist)
“Breaking the Yearlings” – Shearwater (Ronan and Declan)
“Through Your Bones” – Lost Lander (Blue)
“I Followed Fires” – Matthew and the Atlas (Overall playlist)
“Dear Fellow Traveler” – Sea Wolf (Ronan)
“Slacker” – Secret Cities (Blue, first scene)
“Safe and Sound” – Electric President (Adam)
“The End’s Not Near” – Band of Horses (Adam, party scene)
“Fitzpleasure” – Alt-J (Ronan, overall playlist)
“Sun” – Two Door Cinema Club (Gansey)
“Nothing Else is Real” – Mackintosh Braun (overall playlist)
“Again (Original Mix)” – Elizabeth Rose feat. Sinden (Ronan)
“Radioactive” – Imagine Dragons (Ronan, street racing)
“Fingers Never Bleed” – Yeasayer (Ronan, street racing)
“Come with Me (Lucky Paul Remix)” – The Hundred in the Hands (Ronan, dreaming)
“Better Off Dead” – ZZ Ward (Kavinsky, Ronan, The Gray Man, the climax)
“Nothin’ Better to Do” – LeAnn Rimes (Ronan and Kavinsky)
“Iko-Iko” – Zap Mama (the climax)
“Yamaha” – Delta Spirit (Ronan, the best scene I ever wrote, one of the dream sequences)

Also, if you’re interested in way more of the music that I listened to while writing this book, I have a Tumblr which features a lot of the music, each song tagged with the character playlist it was on.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to go play Cars & Horses.

Courtesy of Maggie Stiefvater and Scholastic Inc. in conjunction with the Maggie Stiefvater Blog Contest. © Maggie Stiefvater 2013.

You can also check out Maggie’s Playlist HERE.

And you can enter to win a signed copy of the book HERE.

Happy Reading!
signature - kristi