Q and A
This page is a bit of a ragbag.
It will not
tell you where to get the best pizza in Massachusetts nor how often,
really, you should rotate your tires. (Rotating them while you drive on
the highway is a good start.)
It will fill
in some of the blanks about the creative process involved in Mr. Maguire's
books, about his awards and citations, and will provide a list of some of
books he has most enjoyed reading.
Who represents you (and how can I contact them)?
agent is: William Reiss
John Hawkins and Associates/71 West 23rd St.,
Ste. 1600/NY, NY 10010
agent is: Stephen
Paul Kohner Inc./9300 Wilshire Blvd.,
Ste. 555/Beverly Hills, CA 90212
is Gary Reznick Gary.Reznick@harpercollins.com
HarperCollins/10 East 53rd Street/NY, NY 10022
Is there some way I can be informed about when you have a new
book coming out?
Yes. One of my publishers, HarperCollins, has set up an "author
tracker" for me. If you want to be on their list to receive email
notification of my new books plus any events, promotions or other news
about me, click on this link and you'll be able to sign up. Gregory Maguire Author Tracker
Where do you get your ideas?
tries not to steal ideas from other writers. However, it is the nature of
they rarely appear full-blown, like the visitation of an angel or a muse
or a fairy godmother, but they grow in good soil, like a pumpkin or a
I try to keep
the soil of my mind moist and rich by feeding it with other people's
inventions (good books, movies, not so much with TV, except occasionally
The Simpsons), and with a steady variety of different experiences.
Trips to new places, meetings with friends old and new, times spent in
memory. I use a journal to help me remember and record what I see and
The works of
other artists, the effect of a busy and curious life, the active exercise
of my imagination and memory through a journal
—these are the three main sources of ideas. But
dreams, wide and gusty dreams, are a big help, too.
What prompted you to write Wicked?
I was living in London in the early 1990's during the start
of the Gulf War. I was interested to see how my own blood temperature
chilled at reading a headline in the usually cautious British newspaper,
the Times of London: Sadaam Hussein: The New Hitler? I caught
myself ready to have a fully—formed political opinion about the Gulf War
and the necessity of action against Sadaam Hussein on the basis of how
that headline made me feel. The use of the word Hitler
—what a word! What it evokes!
When a few months later several young schoolboys kidnapped and
killed a toddler, the British press paid much attention to the nature of
the crime. I became interested in the nature of evil, and whether one
really could be born bad. I considered briefly writing a novel about
Hitler, but discarded the notion due to my general discomfort with the
reality of those times. But when I realized that nobody had ever written
about the second most evil character in our collective American
subconscious, the Wicked Witch of the West, I thought I had experienced a
small moment of inspiration.
Have you had any experience with adaptations of your
Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister has been filmed as an ABC
TV program for the Sunday evening Wonderful World of Disney. It is a
serious two-hour drama, suitable for all ages. It stars Stockard Channing
and Jonathan Pryce, and features as the stepsisters Azura Skye and Emma
I went to Luxembourg to loiter on
the set and watch the professionals do their work—
different kind of magic from writing.
For information on how I approached the business of watching Wicked be transformed into a Broadway play, read the liner notes of the original cast recording. I will add, though, that the play required a more streamlined plot—and a plot more suitable for general audiences—
and therefore I observed the story change in ways I
hadn't anticipated. I understand that the translation from
medium to medium requires modification, patience, and good spirits.
However, haven't I made my own story by modifying earlier material, deeply
beloved and staunchly supported by Oz purists (who called me heretical at
first) and Judy Garland devotees? Art requires daring and sacrifice, and I
was happy to let the professional dramaturgs do their work. And, for the
record: I love the show.
What places do you love best in the world?
The heart of the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York is Blue
Mountain Lake. It is isolated, beautiful, and serves as the setting for an
arts colony called Blue Mountain Center, to which I have gone many times
over the past fifteen years.
I feel myself at home in London, where I lived for five years, and
in Greece, where my family on the maternal side originates. I don't speak
much Greek, and I don't get there often, but I feel fully at home when the
Olympic Airways jet touches down at the Athens International Airport.
Places that have literary associations can't
help but thrill me —the Lake District in England, and Lucy
Boston's Manor House at Hemingford Grey, Cambridgeshire; the tomb of Nikos
Kazantzakis in Crete; the Emily Dickinson homestead in Amherst. I love
Frederic Church's home, Olana, outside of Hudson, New York, as well as
certain lively streets in Manhattan.
I love home best. Home, these days, is Massachusetts, though we spend time at homes in Vermont and in the south of France.
What is your daily writing process?
While I do some nonprofit work in literature education, and often have
spoken at schools as a visiting author, most days I try to write at home.
This involves packing the kids off to their preschools, whirling about the
house in a tornado of activity, doing beds, dishes, laundry, and general
domestic rehabilitation. When that is done—it usually takes an
—I get several hours at my
desk. The writing occurs on the computer or by hand in a notebook;
sometimes, to get myself started, I go out for a walk or a cup of coffee
at a local café first.
When I have writer's block
—which isn't often
—a walk usually helps get things moving
again, even if I don't feel that I'm thinking about anything pertinent
while I walk. The reading of good poetry also helps that part of the mind
that uses language to limber up, relax a bit
—it's akin to shaking your sillies out,
in the terms of that children's song. Working the kinks out, breaking your
own bad habits of easy thinking.
What do you hate most about writing?
More conversation with Mr. Maguire can be found in an interview
conducted in late 2001.
| 2003 —
Mirror Mirror, starred reviews, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews,
| 2000 — Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, New York Public
Library Books for the Teen Age List
| 1999 — The Good Liar,
starred reviews, Booklist, Publishers Weekly; ALA Booklist Editors'
Choice; 100 Best Books of the Year, New York Public Library; Booklist's
top Ten Historical Fiction for Youth; Cooperative Children's Book Center
Choices 2000; National Council of Social Studies/CBC Notable Social
Studies Trade Book.
| 1999 — Artist's Residency, the Virginia Center
for the Creative Arts
| 1996 — Oasis; pointered review in
Kirkus Reviews; 1997 New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age. |
1996 — The Good Liar named among 100 Best Books, 1996, by the Young Book
| 1998 — Artist's residency, The Hambidge Center,
| 1986—2000 — Eight residencies in creative writing at the
Blue Mountain Center, New York.
| 1994 — Artist—in—Residence, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.
| 1994 — Missing
Sisters named a Parents Choice Honor Book; pointered review in Kirkus
| 1995 — Seven Spiders Spinning named a Judy Lopez
Memorial Award Honor Book. Also named an ALA Notable Book 1994; One
Hundred Books of the Year by the New York Public Library; ABA Pick of the
| 1989 — I Feel Like the Morning Star selected as a
"Best Book for Young Adults, 1989" by the American Library Association
Young Adult Services Division; starred review, School Library Journal;
1989 Cooperative Children's Book Center (Madison, Wisconsin) Choices |
1983 — The Dream Stealer selected as one of the One Hundred Books
of the Year by the New York Public Library; also starred review, School
Library Journal; 1983 Children's Books of the Year, Child Study Children's
Books Committee; 1984 National Council of Teachers of English Teacher's
| 1980 — The Daughter of the Moon selected by the New
York Public Library as one of the One Hundred Books of the Year; also,
read aloud on "The Spider's Web," children's radio broadcast on the
Eastern Public Radio Network.
| 1978 — Fellowship to the Bread Loaf
Writers' Conference, Middlebury College, Vermont.
Quick! Without apology or explanation, in no particular order except, possibly, age appropriateness, here is a list of some of my favorite books of all time. Apologies for missing bibliographic information.
The Story of Edward by Philippe Dumas.
The Wild Washerwomen story by John Yeoman,
pictures by Quentin Blake
Otto at Sea by William Pene du Bois
We Are All in the Dumps with Jack and Guy by Maurice Sendak
Thelonius Monk by Chris Raschka
The Diamond in the Window and other books about the Hall family by Jane Langton
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Unleaving by Jill Paton Walsh
Lucie Babbidge's House by Sylvia Cassedy
The Children of Green Knowe by L. M. Boston
The Keeping—Room by Betty Levin
Novels for Adults
Mariette in Ecstasy by Ron Hansen
The Towers of Trebizond by Rose Macauley
Morality Play by Barry Unsworth
The Once and Future King by T. H. White
Knowledge of Angels by Jill Paton Walsh
A Fine and Subtle Address by Amit Chaudri
Senseless by Stona Fitch
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