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)?

My literary agent is: William Reiss
John Hawkins and Associates/71 West 23rd St., Ste. 1600/NY, NY 10010

My Hollywood agent is: Stephen Moore Stephen@paulkohner.com
Paul Kohner Inc./9300 Wilshire Blvd., Ste. 555/Beverly Hills, CA 90212

My publicist 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?

A writer tries not to steal ideas from other writers. However, it is the nature of ideas—I think—that 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 hollyhock.

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 feel.

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 novels?

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 Poole. I went to Luxembourg to loiter on the set and watch the professionals do their work— a whole 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 hour —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?


And writer's cramp.

More conversation with Mr. Maguire can be found in an interview conducted in late 2001.


2003 — Mirror Mirror, starred reviews, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus Reviews, etc.

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 Trust, England.

1998 — Artist's residency, The Hambidge Center, Georgia.

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 Reviews.

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 Lists.

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 Choice.

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.

Picture Books
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

Chapter Books
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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