Stephanie Garber’s debut novel, Caraval ($19), has been on our to-read list for what feels like ages. A YA book full of magic, sisters, an eerie carnival and twisted games? Yes, please! As if that wasn’t enough, she has the blessings of some of our fave authors, including Sabaa Tahir, Marie Rutkoski and Roshani Chokshi. It turns out Stephanie’s novel deserves all the praise. Trust us when we say that just a few pages of Caraval will whisk you away from your cozy armchair for the adventure of a lifetime. This week, we’re chatting with Stephanie Garber about her creative process, her newest Insta obsession and the books she can’t stop gushing about. Scroll on to hear more from this brilliant writer.
Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.
Stephanie Garber: Magical. Sisters. Legend. Games. Lies. Fantasy.
B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?
SG: I write all day long. When I’m not at my computer I’ll jot down things in a composition book, on Post-its, in my phone or on the back of envelopes. When I sit back down in front of my computer I like to be able to spread all my notes out. So I have an office, but I tend to do most of my writing at the kitchen table.
B+C: What’s your go-to cure for a creativity rut?
SG: I usually get stuck either because I need a break or I need a fresh perspective. If I’m stuck because I need a break, I might pick up a new book I’ve been excited to read or relax with some television. If I’ve hit a wall with a project, then I usually call up a friend or someone from my family to bounce my ideas off of and get a fresh perspective. This week I hit a lot of walls, so I made a lot of phone calls.
B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration and why?
SG: I think Buffy of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Sydney Bristow of Alias will always be my favorite heroines. I first watched Buffy after my heart had been broken by a boy. So I think I related to Buffy because her heart was always breaking as well, yet, despite the heartbreak, she was still strong. Same for Sydney Bristow.
I love both these heroines because they’re fantastic examples of strength and vulnerability. They’re also always trying to protect their friends and family with the same intensity they put into saving the world. (Photo via Getty/Hulton Archive)
B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?
SG: I love @puppystagrams on Instagram. It is pure adorableness. Lots of cuddly, fluffy, smiling, funny little puppies. It tempts me to go out and buy a puppy of my own on a regular basis.
B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?
SG: Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee. It’s one of my favorite books. Beautiful and intense, full of friendship and love and perseverance and hate, it’s a deeply moving story about a Chinese girl and a runaway slave who dress up like boys and team up with a group of cowboys to cross the Oregon trail.
B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?
SG: Frostblood by Elly Blake. Fantasy. Romance. Elemental Magic. I love all of these things, so I’ve been really eager to devour this book. I also just received an advance copy of The Sandcastle Empire by Kayla Olson. It’s a thriller that takes place on our Earth after it’s been wrecked by climate change. It’s also been compared to the TV show Lost, which makes me even more excited to dive in.
B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?
SG: Don’t be ashamed of what you want. When I first started writing, I was embarrassed to tell people that I wanted to try to get my work published. I was afraid of what they might think of me. I was afraid I would fail and then look ridiculous. I was afraid people would think I thought I was a better writer than I actually was.
But finally, when I began admitting that I love writing young adult fantasy, rather than people laughing at me, I started to meet other people who had the same passion — or who just had passions in general that they wanted to share. Suddenly sharing my love became something that gave other people the opportunity to share theirs. It also freed me to stop judging myself.
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(Featured photo via Stephanie Garber)