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Interview: Best-selling YA author Maggie Stiefvater

16/04/2013 14:51 BST | Updated 16/06/2013 10:12 BST

U.S. author Maggie Stiefvater has sold over two million books worldwide, with hits including the Shiver series, The Scorpio Races and The Raven Boys - YA stories with a fantasy twist.

Not only that, but she lives on a farm, which she shares with her husband, kids and various livestock including a much-loved cow and some fainting goats.

I met her in a nice patisserie in London during a recent visit, where she wasn't able to eat the cakes because of a flour allergy, but still managed to shoot her coffee all over me in a classic spit-take (the first I've encouraged) after I said something silly about cream.

All in all, she was cool and happy to chat about everything from selling more copies than the Bible (for a while) in Eastern Europe, to why the Welsh are novel-worthy.

You've sold millions of books. How does that translate from a fame perspective?

When I went to Lithuania, I was queen of the pygmies because the week that I landed my books were selling above all other books in Lithuania. There were paparazzi when I landed and when I went to dinner there were pictures of me and they were in the tabloids the next day, 'Maggie Stiefvater eats Lithuanian food' and it was very disconcerting. I'm like, "am I chewing with my mouth open?"

My first actual proper stalker I had to call the police about because she called and said she was going to kill herself unless I picked up the telephone. That was actually with my first novel. Stalking doesn't go along with levels of fame.

Your novels have a strong fantasy element. When you do signings, are you like William Shatner having to answer very specific queries about scenes in episodes of Star Trek, with people asking complicated questions about sequences in your books?

I get that as well. All Star Trek questions (laughs). When I was at one of the school visits [in the U.K.], one of them asked how I got so evil. Another one asked me if I hated all people. They're always quite happy about it.

So you have those kinds of fans...

I have a huge Italian male following, I don't know why. 55% of YA books in the States are bought by adults for adults. So when I go and do a signing in the U.S., a lot of times there won't be a single teen there.

Despite that statistic, you still find people compartmentalising YA books into being just for kids. Do you find that weird?

We have no problem as adults watching movies with teen characters, like Ferris Bueller's Day Off. That's the best movie ever and if it was a book, it would be a YA book.

But what about when it comes to censoring books for younger audiences?

I write for the teen I was. I don't change my content. When I wrote Shiver - because it's got a sex scene in it, it's very fade to black but it's in there - I was asked by book clubs if I would be happy to do a version without that chapter so they could sell it in schools. I said no, because I thought it was ridiculous to have two different versions of the same book. It's much easier to put sex into your book than put swear words into your books. I get much more flak about the swear words in Raven Boys than I do about the sex in Shiver.

When did you start writing?

I had 30 unfinished novels before I went to college. I'd write and then I'd get stuck and usually I'd have aliens come down and kill everyone! And then I realised I had to know how a book finished before I began or I'd just wander in the desert forever. I started writing a version of The Raven Boys when I was 19. I had a handwritten version of it. It's terrible. It's just been cooking my head all this time.

You like writing about Welsh mythology. Why?

I've been obsessed with Welsh mythology since I read the Black Cauldron series when I was a kid, which was all about that. And then I read Susan Cooper's The Dark Is Rising series. That series made me the writer I am now because she was the first writer I read who took mythology and put it in the present day.

So what are you working on now?

My writing is very much a way for me of processing the world. Right now, technically I'm working on 3 novels. I just finished the second Raven Boys book and I'm drafting a middle grade novel. And this year, I am racing rally cars.

Maggie's follow-up to The Raven Boys - The Dream Thieves - will be published by Scholastic in September. Follow her on Twitter @mstiefvater or via her website: www.maggiestiefvater.com