I know everyone has probably heard about Caraval by now, so let me tell you… the hype is real. I first read Stephanie Garber’s book last June and knew it would be one of my favorite books of 2016 & 2017 combined (I know 2017 just started, but I’m already calling it). I NEED the sequel! Caraval was released on January 31, so Stephanie was kind enough to stop by and share some of her thoughts on writing this magical story!!

About the Book:

Welcome, welcome to Caraval―Stephanie Garber’s sweeping tale of two sisters who escape their ruthless father when they enter the dangerous intrigue of a legendary game.

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.

About the Author:

My favorite place in the world is Disneyland because it’s the one place on earth where I feel as if the fantastical stories I love to write about could actually come to life.

When I’m not writing, I teach creative writing at a private college in Northern California, where I’ve been known to turn assignments into games and take students on field trips that involve book signings. I’m also a blogger on PUB(LISHING) CRAWL. But I probably spend most of my time on Twitter where I tend to overuse exclamation points and emojis.

To help pay my bills during college, grad school, and the breaks in between, I worked as a barista, a waitress, a bartender, a customer service representative for an energy consulting company, and as a sales girl at Bath and Bodyworks. I also spent years working with youth; I worked as a counselor at space themed summer camp, volunteered at a school for deaf children in Mexico, and I took multiple groups of college students overseas to spend their winter vacations serving at youth hostels in Amsterdam. But out of everything that I’ve done, writing young adult novels has been my favorite job.

Author Q&A:

• What do you do when you’re not writing?
I’m on deadline for my second book right now, so I’ve mostly just been writing. But when I finish this book I plan on binge reading all the books! I also teach creative writing part time. I’ve taken off this next semester to focus solely on writing, but last year, when I wasn’t writing I was usually teaching or prepping for class. I’m also really close to my sister, so we go on a lot of adventures together.

• Which scene in Caraval was your favorite to write?
Can I say that every scene was my favorite? When I first drafted Caraval I actually had no idea what was real and what was a game, which made every scene exciting because I felt as if I was discovering the game, the world, and the romance along with Scarlett. But if I had to pick a favorite scene it would probably be the scene where I first introduce Legend’s backstory to the readers. That scene was especially magical for me because it was one of the first scenes I wrote, it was also the scene where I met Legend, so I had a lot of fun discovering his story.

• Are there any particular songs you listened to while writing this book?
Yes! I love music, though when I write I usually listen to movie scores. When I first started Caraval I listened to the Sherlock Holmes soundtrack by Hans Zimmer. That soundtrack is brilliant. I love how it’s sinister without being too dark, and how it slowly reels you in, which is the exact feeling I was trying to achieve in Caraval’s early chapters. For the later chapters I listened to a wide variety of soundtracks. Sometimes it would be Harry Potter, other days I’d put on the Pride and Prejudice or the music from Stardust—pretty much anything that sounded magical or as if it were stolen from another time and place.

• There were so many amazing plot twists and layers to the story! Did you do anything special to map out everything?
Thank you! And great question! I actually did the opposite. I have a theory that if I can surprise myself as I write then I can surprise my readers as well. So I didn’t a minimal amount of plotting. Instead, I actually tried to keep it a secret from myself whether or not everything was real or if it was all a game. I also really tried to let my characters make decisions for themselves. For example, I had one love interest in mind for Scarlett, but she had such great chemistry with a different character that I kept throwing her and that character together instead.

• What are some of your favorite YA books you read in 2016?
2016 was a great year for books! Some of my favorites include The Dark Days Club by Allison Goodman, The Star-Touched Queen by Roshani Chokshi, Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee, Rebel of the Sands by Alwyn Hamilton, A Torch Against the Night by Sabaa Tahir, Holding Court by KC Held, Ever the Hunted by Erin Summerhill, Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco, A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess. And those are just the ones that popped to my head first.

• Any advice to young authors looking to be published? 
Focus on writing and then think about the publishing. I think it’s great to have goals and know that you want to pursue publication, but I don’t think it’s good to let that fuel your writing. Let your love for stories and words drive what you write. And read everything you can! Books are your classroom. Read the type of fiction you want to write, and read books on craft as well. Even now I still read books on craft, because I’m always trying to learn.

Thanks for sharing and congratulations on Caraval!
Thanks so much for having me, Cait!


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