An Interview with the Authors of Beautiful Creatures
You guys, I have two new heroines in my life (and a new inappropriate crush—more on that later). I already had a great, totally healthy love for Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia because they organize the most wondrous YA festival known to man, woman, and unicorn: YALLFest. Not to mention they wrote the ah-mazing Caster Chronicles series. And, of course, you know (because here at SparkLife, we are nothing if not in the know) that the first book in the series has been made into a movie. No, it's not a movie. It's a freaking film. Starring Jeremy Irons, Emma Thompson, Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, and these hot young thangs.
But then I talked with Garcia and Stohl by phone in their hotel room during the movie's press junket (because that's on the job description for super famous and talented author, apparently) and loved them even more because, you know what, they're NICE too. Read on.
Whenever a book’s adapted into a movie, there have to be some concessions to pack the book into a film. Was that hard, as the authors? Did you work with the screenwriters?
KG: Not really, because we never wanted to. Some writers actually want to write or co-write or help with the screenplay; we did not. We were incredibly relieved when Richard LaGravenese found the book and wanted to do it from the beginning because we knew he specializes in adapting novels. When we met Richard not only did he understand the romance and the love and relationships between Ethan and Lena and their families, but he also really loves fantasy and magic, so we felt he was the right guy for the job. Also, during this whole thing, we were still writing the books. Like, we were finishing four to turn in.... But how can you not be excited about Jeremy Irons and Viola Davis and Emma Thompson? And Alden was remarkable. He and Alice have such great chemistry as Ethan and Lena, so once we saw that, which is really the core of the story, we felt totally confident.
He (Alden Ehrenreich) is my new inappropriate crush.
MS: Yeah, everyone has an inappropriate crush. However, I don’t [on him] because I know his mom, so that would be really super disgusting.
Will there be more Caster Chronicle movies?
KG: We certainly hope so. Richard has ideas for the other movies, and the actors are all signed on for all four. So I certainly hope so. The truth is in L.A., it’s all about how the first one does. So if you guys want more movies, then I would encourage everyone to go and see it, like, five times. [Ed note: Do it.]
There’s an overarching theme of destiny vs. self-determination and this idea of claiming yourself. As teens, did you feel pulled between things you could control and things you couldn’t?
MS: I couldn't control anything. We’ve met with teenagers from Kuala Lumpur to Paris, and we’ve seen the same things all over the world. We’re all frustrated. Nobody feels like they're in control of their fate. Teenagers in particular feel like a lot of their future is out of their hands. Aside from that, Kami has her students in mind and now her children, and I have my daughters I was handing this to, and we wanted them to assert themselves and be the people they are and not be afraid. I was so afraid my whole life of what people would think or what I would do wrong. I wanted to write a book since I was five years old, and I wrote everything but a book. I wrote video games forever. [Ed note: Um, awesome?] I was afraid I’d mess it up. It took me working with my friend in a way that was safe to do the thing I wanted to do. Our goal is always to get teenagers to be braver than we are.
KG (laughing): Which is not hard.
What is it about South Carolina? Beautiful Creatures is set there, and you also host YALLFest there. What is that drew you guys to that particular setting?
KG: Gatlin’s really based on a small town in North Carolina that my family’s from and a small town in the west where Margie’s family’s from. But we both love South Carolina. We love Charleston. There’s also such a rich history there. The Great Burning really did take place there in the Civil War. The Gullah culture that Amma’s family hails from and the Greats, that is a very magical, mystical culture, so there’s a lot of things that worked there for a Southern Gothic [story]. And then once we started researching and traveling to Charleston, we became more and more invested in the town, and we felt like it was our adopted second home.
What's your favorite Gothic novel?
KG: The Witching Hour by Anne Rice.
KG: She read them in one summer for, like, weeks straight. She was like, "I can’t talk to you. I’m reading the Sookie Stackhouse novels."
MS: I think I also did that with Richelle Meade. I read every book she had ever written in, like, five days. She now sends them to me when they’re like not even ARCs yet, because I got so passionately involved in that. I also like Gothic, not just Southern Gothic, but Gothic Gothic.
Speaking of, Rochester or Heathcliff?
MS: Yeah, I think Heathcliff. But really I’m a Darcy. My answer to that question is Darcy.
What was your favorite movie in high school?
KG: The Breakfast Club.
MS: The Empire Strikes Back, which tells you how old I am. Because I broke the law. I was so in love with Harrison Ford that my friends made me a sweatshirt that said Margaret Ford and we crank-called him for a year. We somehow got his number from someone who was his dad’s attorney. And I snuck a tape recorder into the theater just so I could listen to him say “I love you/I know” every single night before I went to sleep.
KG: You’re crazy.
MS: I was completely insane. My oldest teenager is a passionate reader of young adult. She’s in love with Derek from Kelly Armstrong’s The Awakening books. I said to her, because she was driving me crazy one vacation, “You know he’s not real. You know he’s fictional.” And she said to me, “Mom, he’s as real as all the other boys who aren’t in my life.” That’s true. Like Harrison Ford really was my first boyfriend.
I hope you get to meet him through all this.
MS: You know what, I just want to meet Han Solo. I don’t really want to meet Harrison Ford.
Yeah, it might ruin the illusion. So, one last question: What’s your favorite pie? Buttermilk Pie was in the book. I actually had it in Charleston and thought it was a little bland.
KG: Mine’s a toss-up between Toll House Cookie Pie and Coconut Cream. I love Coconut Cream Pie.
That’s sort of like a chocolate chess pie, which happens to be my favorite.
And now we're all best friends! And they're going to send me their books before they're ARCs and invite me to the set and eat pie with me. Yay!